Let’s be honest: weddings can be overwhelming. But weddings aren’t nearly as overwhelming as the actual wedding budget, unless perhaps you’re Kim Kardashian and $10 million is pocket change. But on the off-chance that Kim’s wedding budget totals more than your total lifetime assets, here are five simple steps to prioritize your wedding budget.
Make a list of everything
Really, everything. This is your first step. Don’t create a budget yet, which is itemized and includes pricing; rather, brainstorm every category or expense that you can think of. Some ideas to get you started: Attire, Accessories, Reception, Food, Photo, Video, Officiant, Bridal party gifts, Rings, Transportation, Ceremony, Flowers, Other decoration, Stationary, Tips, and Miscellaneous. Next, create mini lists beneath each item of what each category might include. For some items, you can list out possible options, such as Hors D’oeuvres and drinks, Light refreshments, Cake and ice cream, Multi-course meal, Buffet, or BBQ under the main category of Food. For others, such as Rings, you can simply write Bride’s wedding band and Groom’s wedding band.
Rank your list based simply on how much you care
Now that you’ve written out every category of expenses that could eventually go into your formal budget, it’s time to rank everything. First, rank the large categories. How important are the design and materials of your save the dates, RSVPs, invitations, programs, and menus? If you care less about paper materials than you do about your videographer, rank accordingly. Once your categories are ranked, start ranking the mini lists within each category. For example, say you’re invitations are incredibly important to you, followed by your programs, but your save the date is less so and you’re fine with online RSVPs. You probably won’t even do menu cards. So rank in that order. During this step, you’ll also want to cross out any categories or mini list items that you simply won’t be including. If you still have four food options and aren’t sure which to choose, keep them—you’ll figure that out in the next step.
Now that you’ve ranked items, it’s time to price everything. First, for each larger category, decide the amount you’re willing to spend. Do the same for the remaining mini list items, where applicable. Now’s the most time-intensive part of this process: start searching for options that fit within your budget! If feeding your guests a multi-course meal is going to go way over your ideal food budget, you might want to pick one of the other, cheaper options. Or, if food is pretty high in your ranked list, just write down the amounts and look for items lower down the ranked list that can be skimped or eliminated. At the end of this step, you should have your final, comprehensive wedding budget—researched, ranked, and ready to guide the rest of the planning process!
These last two steps aren’t actually steps, but rather reminders as you plan the wedding. You might want to go through your final ranked, priced budget list and denote items or categories that you’re willing to budge with, and items and categories that are absolute must-haves. Be flexible with the ranking, too—things might change during the process.
This simply means that at the end of the day, if you’re a Mr. & Mrs. and your friends and family showed up to celebrate with you, the whole endeavor was a success. Although it can be easier said than done, try to remember to prioritize the wedding—not the wedding details. And have fun!