“Sensible wedding” is not a likeable phrase, especially for people who work in wedding industry. They would try to convince you, “Spare no expense or you’ll regret it later!” – “This is the best day of your life!”
Spending a sensible amount of money is the only sensible thing to do, unless you’re Meghan Markle and your wedding is paid by the Royal Family.
Budgeting is not romantic. After getting engaged, it’s easy to throw yourself into beautiful photos of flowers and dresses. But unless you have unlimited income & saving, budgeting has to be the FIRST step of wedding planning.
Start wedding budgeting simply by discussing with your partner: “How much are we willing to spend on this wedding?” Take note that it’s not “How much can we afford” or “How much was <<insert friend’s name here>>’s wedding”. Just because you can afford a £50,000 wedding doesn’t mean that you have to. And obviously, just because your highschool friends spent loads on their wedding, doesn’t mean that you have to compete with them.
Discussing “how much are we willing to spend” also opens the room for other priorities in your lives. Check how much savings you both have, and if you might want/need to do these things in the near future: Buy a house/apartment, pursue further education, quit your job and have to live on savings for a while, etc.
In my case, we both agreed that £10,000 was the sensible amount we were willing to spend. We could afford to go fivefold, but what’s the point of spending your life saving on a night? Put the wedding into perspective. It’s not THE most important day of your life. It’s ONLY A DAY to celebrate your love and commitment to each other – technically you can even do it without spending a penny.
After you decide on the overall budget, it’s time to break it down – how much would you spend on venue, catering, dress, decor, etc. The formula for this is: at least 50% of your budget will be spent on venue & catering.
What about the rest? The answer varies on what you both value. I, for example, don’t bother much about decoration so I spent only around £500. Documentations i.e. photos & videos are important to me, so I splurged my budget there.
This was my wedding budget initial breakdown:
- £6,000 venue & catering
- £1,000 photographer
- £1,000 dress (head to toe) + make-up (I ended up spending much less, yay!)
- £500 flowers & decor
- £500 entertainment
- £200 wedding cake
- £300 groom’s suit
- £500 miscellaneous
When to stick to your budget, and when to be flexible?
Obviously you have to consciously try to stick to your budget. For example: if your budget for wedding cake is only £200, do not tempt yourself by checking the top baker in the city with dreamy cake photos in their site.
If you have something that you REALLY REALLY want but you didn’t budget it initially, discuss it sensibly with your partner. In our case, we added another thousand to our budget because we decided that we wanted to have a wedding video.
Focus on the things that actually matter for your guests, not for your Instagram feed. Adding better quality food or hiring a better DJ might be worth it. Spending hundreds to hire better-looking chairs, probably not.