There are two ways you can start to calculate a wedding budget. You can either start by looking at your finances right of the bat or by looking at how much the event you want will cost. In full transparency, starting with your finances will likely lead to less of a let down. If you start with the event, then you may come to the realization after the fact that you can’t reasonably afford everything that you want. Starting with your finances lets you see exactly how much you have to spend before you start dreaming!
As a heads up, this is NOT a wedding budget breakdown! This is simply a how to guide on calculating your overall wedding budget total. I won’t go into detail about how much to spend in each category, but all Philosofi Celebration clients have access to a budgeting tool that includes percentages and estimates!
Your guest count is one of the most important and impactful elements that affect your wedding budget. It impacts the amount of food, place settings, tables, chairs, and centerpieces you need and dictates the size of venue you need. Start by figuring out how many guests you would like to have at your wedding.
Is it most important for your guests to dance all night long? Are your wedding photos the one thing you want to splurge on? Talk with your partner to decide what two or three things are most important to you for your big day and what you’re willing to cut back on.
Here is where you may get hit with a bit of shock. Take some time to research and understand what a wedding with your guest count costs in Kansas City (or wherever you’re located). If music is your biggest priority, try to see how much your dream band charges. You may even want to play around with a budget breakdown to get a better idea of what things cost!
If you’re realizing that your dream wedding is way outside of the realm of possibilities, you will want to make some adjustments. You may need to trim your guest count or redefine your priorities (good food is important, but maybe you don’t need to serve a four course steak dinner).
This is when you actually sit down and figure out how you’re going to pay for this wedding! Take a look at all of places money may be coming from for your wedding. This may be pre-existing savings from you and/or your partner, contributions from your parents, or generous gifts from grandparents.
Now that you have a starting point, figure out how much more you need to meet your wedding budget. Decide how much you and your partner can reasonably save each month and how long it will take you to reach that amount. Keep in mind that you will be making payments to vendors prior to the wedding day, so you may need to set your wedding date for a few months after you’re set to meet your savings goal.
To start calculating your wedding budget, figure out who is contributing what. Did your parents give you a generous gift when you got engaged? Has your partner been saving for their wedding since they were 12? Add up all of those sources to get your base budget!
If that base budget sounds good right off the bat, you can skip this step. If you think some additional funds will be necessary for the wedding you want, then come up with a savings goal. Decide how much you and your partner can reasonably save each month and how long it will take you to reach your goal budget. This will also help you decide when to get married!
Now that you’ve calculated your wedding budget, it’s time to start planning! Starting with your guest count will allow you to start searching for wedding venues and come up with a cost per guest. Your guest count majorly impacts your wedding budget, so be mindful! An extravagant , multi-course dinner wedding for 20 guests may still end up having a smaller budget than a laidback, simple, buffet-style wedding for 200 guests. The more guests you have, the more food, drinks, tables, linens, chairs, centerpieces, etc. that you need!
After you have an estimated guest count, you can start to figure out your priorities and what you’re willing to spend a bit more on. Maybe that’s keeping the bar stocked or having your favorite band play. Just know that these are the things that take priority over the little stuff!
Once you have your guest count and a handful of priorities, start doing some research! What do weddings with your guest count typically look like in Kansas City (or wherever you’re located)? I like using The Wedding Report to see stats about previous years’ weddings. Does that match up with what you’re hoping for with your own wedding? You should also specifically take a look at how much your priorities cost for more detail.
If your current budget is a complete mismatch with the kind of wedding you want, make a few changes to your wedding budget. This will likely mean adjusting your savings goal. After those adjustments, you should have a well thought out wedding budget!
be sure to reach out to a wedding planner! Wedding budget management is a service that many of us offer within full service wedding planning packages.
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