How to budget like a boss: our insiders guide to wedding finance

You’ve just got engaged? Oh wow, this is going to be such an exciting time for you! You’ve already set your heart on the dream Midlands wedding and you’ve nailed down your theme. You’ve picked your besties to stand by your side. You’ve started your Pinterest board and have been pinning up a storm. Now you get to enjoy the really romantic part…planning the wedding budget.

Say what now?

Ok, you’re right. Traditionally, we don’t gush and turn mushy at the sight of the wedding budget like we do for the perfect dress. There are some people out there who turn giddy at the thought of a spreadsheet riddled with formula (you know who you are). But for the rest of us mere mortals, the task can seem… unappealing.

Don’t be fooled, this is fun!

Budgeting for a wedding doesn’t have to be an impossible, or even an unpleasant, task. In fact, it can be very inspiring and if you approach it with the right attitude, it will generate the kind of creative thinking that’ll make your wedding memorable. You see, as you work to make things fit into budget, you’ll be coming up with all sorts of unique solutions which will give you a wedding that’s extraordinary and distinctly yours.

So, what’s the real story?

The bottom line is that wise financial planning for your wedding and sticking to your budget is critical, so let’s see if we can lift the veil on the mysteries of wedding budget bliss…

Step 1 - Only spend what you can afford

Here’s the most important pearl of wedding wisdom you are ever going to hear - thou shalt not go into debt! Do what you need to do - get creative with your cash; fiddle with your finances, splurge there and nip here - but only spend what you can afford. You must be realistic about your budget. The last thing you need as you start life as a newly married couple is a load of debt.

Get together and knock out those numbers

Step 2 - Know what you can afford

In order to only spend what you can afford, you are going to need to know exactly how much that is, right? This is the time to be very clear about who is contributing, and how much. Are the bride and groom using their savings? Will parents or other loved ones be contributing? Are there any friends or family who are willing to lend their talents free of charge or at a reduced cost? Once you find out the exact numbers, you’ll be ready to start budgeting like a boss.

Step 3 - Break it down into rough percentages

Now that you know your final number, you can go ahead and assign percentages (what you want to spend) to each category. Have a look at the example below. Remember, this is only a sample and it is not exhaustive. Yours will be different. Also bear in mind that the service providers will be able to guide you with percentages if you’re not sure. Ask the wedding coordinator at your venue. They are a fountain of information.

  • Venue - 15%
  • Catering - 15%
  • Accommodation - 15%
  • Attire - 8%
  • Beauty - 2%
  • Cake - 2%
  • Flowers/Decor - 10%
  • Gifts/Favours - 4%
  • Stationery - 2%
  • Video/Photography - 10%
  • Music - 10%
  • Rings - 2%
  • Emergency Fund - 5%

Each bride and groom is unique, and therefore each wedding is different, so percentages and categories will vary. You might be obsessed with the flowers and a little less interested in the wedding favours, so shift your percentages to reflect your own priorities (see Step 4 for more on this point).

Designer dress? Shift your priorities

Step 4 - Make it match your priorities

Your special day is going to be a reflection of you as a couple. So your priorities are also going to be reflected in your budget. If you are set on a particular designer gown but it is over budget, be willing to shift the money around. Spend less on transport, get a friend to do your make up, hire a DJ instead of a live band. Then take that money you saved by being savvy and use it to bolster your wedding dress budget to get you that dress of your dreams!

Step 5 - Be clear with your service providers

Let your vendors know from the get go what you have to spend on their services. This is no time to be shy or unrealistic. They’ll be able to work with your vision to come up with options that match your budget. Remember, these people are often experts who have been delivering wedding bliss for a long time. An experienced florist will give you more affordable flower alternatives or suggest seasonal blooms to help you stick within your budget. Caterers will offer you food stations or dessert buffets to help cut costs. If they are good, they will be able to tailor make solutions for you, so ask and be open-minded.

Step 6 - Keep a miscellaneous fund

Be prepared for those sneaky little hidden costs to jump out at you. They are lurking everywhere and they add up - gratuities, donations for the officiate’s church, extended hours charges, ribbons for the car, gifts for the bridal party, clear up fees… You can’t think of everything, so this little 5% is going to be your safety net.

So there you have it. You are now ready to budget like the wedding boss you are.

And to help you on your way, sign up to our Brahman Hills Wedding Blog (which is regularly updated with useful goodies and awesome inspiration) and we’ll send you a free wedding budget spreadsheet that’s tailored for the South African scene.

The Brahman Hills Team
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