Establishing a Budget

We always smile when someone calls or emails us and asks, “How much does a wedding cost?”  We resist the urge to answer, “How much have you got?”  We have helped clients with budgets that ranged from a few hundred dollars for a simple elopement to tens of thousands for an elaborate ceremony and reception.  
The first step in establishing a budget for your wedding is to take a realistic look at wedding costs in general.  Perhaps a friend or relative recently tied the knot.  Talk to them about the number of guests, venue, and what they spent.  Do a little research online on venue and catering costs in the area where you are getting married. This can give you an idea of what to expect.  Most importantly, talk with an expert.  An experienced, local wedding planner will be able to give you price ranges for various options.  In the U.S., the average wedding cost is now over $30,000.   But remember, that is an average of total dollars spent.  Some couples spent A LOT more than this, but far more spent less.   
Next, have candid conversations with anyone who will be contributing (parents, fiance, etc.)  It is important to know specifically what you will have to work with.  Some family members may wish to contribute a specific amount, while others choose to cover certain items, like photography, food, or the bar.  But, even then, you will need to know if there is a cap on what they are willing to spend for those items.  Now, take an honest look at your savings and what you can contribute.  

Working on a tight budget? Remember these 3 important tips from The Knot

1. Decide What’s Most Important
Pick your top three priorities and allocate a little extra money for them (like your gown, catering, and band). Next, pick the three things that come lowest on your priority list (maybe flowers, cake and invitations), and budget accordingly.
2. Cut the Guest List
We know it’s tough, but one of the fastest and most effective ways to lower your wedding cost is to pare down the invitees. Get out that red pen! At $100 a head, taking 10 guests off the guest list saves $1,000! Also consider the size of your wedding party: Gifts and transportation are cheaper for two than for ten. 
3. Pass on Pricey Details
Glamorous details on items that you’re indifferent about spike costs without adding any fun to your day. Free yourself of the pressure to upgrade and instead make honest choices based on what you want. As a general rule, before you sign a contract, look through the itemized list of what you’re buying and, ask yourself, “Will anyone notice if we don’t do this?”