Practical Wedding Planning Tips So You Don't Break Your Budget
Updated: Jul 3, 2021
Congratulations — you’re engaged! The months of June until early fall are peak wedding
season in Hawaii. Growing up here, you know that Hawaii is a destination location for weddings primarily because it is beautiful year-round, so weddings become a year round event.
When my wife and I got married in 2018, we understood that wedding planning could be stressful, overwhelming, and expensive. Let's explore the best tips and tactics for planning a wedding on a budget you can afford– all without the stress!
There are now more resources than ever out there to help you plan a wedding. There are so many books, websites, and apps to check out that you may feel inundated by all the information and unsure where to start. This is before you even start to consider the unsolicited wedding advice from family and friends!
How do you sift through the sea of wedding resources to find the best stress-free wedding planning secrets?
When it comes to one-time expenses, weddings make the top of the list. The average cost of a wedding in the United States in 2020 is $19,000, which is a drop from 2019's average wedding cost of $28,000. (The knot) That tells me people are getting smarter about weddings, but we could always get smarter.
Follow these steps to ensure you get from engagement to the altar in a clear and organized manner while also sticking to your budget!
Calculate a realistic wedding budget
Setting a wedding budget before you begin officially planning is key if you want to have a wedding you can actually afford.
It’s important to go into the planning process by calculating an appropriate wedding budget based on your personal financial situation. Focus first on figuring out the amount that feels most comfortable, practical and achievable for you and your partner, so you can plan a wedding that is authentic to who you are and what you value as a couple.
Consider what you both can save to add to your wedding fund over the course of your engagement or any gifts that may come your way from family. If your budget allows, add in any personal savings you’re willing to put toward the cause. Keep in mind that you should still have enough savings to cover at least six months of expenses.
This should give you a good idea of your total wedding budget as you begin to get prices together and make plans. A good rule of thumb is to determine a maximum dollar amount that you’re absolutely not willing to go over under any circumstances in your budget. This strategy helped my wife and I stay within our budget and not get out of hand with our decisions.
If for some reason what you have budgeted doesn’t measure up to the type of wedding you want to have, then you may need to consider a longer engagement in order to save up or have a realistic conversation about needs vs wants. It’s all about determining what matters most to you and your partner, which leads to the next point.
Define your vision
It’s time to figure out what type of wedding you want. Sit down with your partner and discuss the who, what, where, when, why, and how of weddings. This definitely led to some interesting discussions between me and my future wife.
Who: Discuss a potential guest list and try to come up with a rough figure of the number of people you’d like to attend.
What: Discuss what type of wedding you want to have.
Where: Discuss the location of your ideal wedding. Would it be in the town where you currently live or a destination wedding? Or maybe you’d like to be married at a specific place that has special meaning to you? Would you prefer an indoor or outdoor event?
When: Consider what might be the ideal time of year for you to get married. Do you have a favorite season? Is there a special date on which you’d like to plan to tie the knot?
Why: Ask each other why throwing a wedding is important to you. Why are you going through the effort of planning an event to celebrate your marriage?
How: Talk about how you want to feel on your wedding day. Excited and energetic with a large raucous dance party? Or sentimental and romantic with a calm and intimate dinner?
Decide on your priorities
Once you’ve got a rough budget set, a great way to plan for how to allocate those funds is to outline what is important to both of you.
It’s likely that you’ll end up spending more of your budget on the areas that matter most to you, and less on the areas you find of less importance. While you may want your dream designer wedding dress, it could be a better idea to put those funds towards something that may be more practical.
Each couple’s priorities are unique, so be sure to discuss with your partner. An easy way to do this is to each decide the top priorities and then compare them. Budgeting for your wedding is a great first exercise in marital compromise! See where you overlap, and be willing to negotiate on dividing the budget to satisfy both sides.
Secure the large expenses first
You should end up booking high-priority items first, such as your wedding venue and the photographer. Other common early bookings include entertainment and catering. Each of these items contributes to the experience of the day, so they should be higher up on the to-do list.
Getting your bigger expenses taken care of upfront will also give you the opportunity to get creative on other costs, do DIY projects, or seek out alternatives to keep the rest of your items in plan and on budget. The larger expenses are usually what are most important to the couple.
No matter what
The best way to avoid wedding planning stress is to have a fully outlined plan. Get yourself organized, put a plan and budget in place, and stick to it. Trust that the plan will work if you work it! Happy wedding planning!