The very first step after you've got engaged is deciding how much you can afford to spend on your wedding. Sitting down and crunching numbers may not be as appealing as trawling wedding blogs for your perfect dress or wedding theme, but put in a little thought now and you'll save yourself a load of time and possibly a little heartache in the long run.
Get advice, avoid debt
Creating a budget before you start searching for suppliers will help you stay in control of your wedding cash and should mean you avoid over-spending or having to cut corners on things that really matter. Getting advice from friends who've already tied the knot can be helpful but it's your day and you should spend what feels right for you. However, be realistic - a big pile of debt is not a nice thing to come back to after your honeymoon.
Contributions from parents
Finding out if either set of parents intend to contribute will help you to work out where you stand financially. One way to bring up the subject is to talk about your plans with your family so they can see how much the day is going to cost (many people don't realise how expensive weddings are!). Having financial help is great but bear in mind, if you receive money from family members they may be keen to get involved in planning your wedding!
Estimate how much you can save
To work out how much you can save for your wedding, multiply the number of months left until the big day by how much money you and your partner can realistically put aside every four weeks. While you may have to put down deposits for some things at the time of booking, you'll be able to pay the balance much closer to your wedding date giving you time to save.
Unless you're Tamara Ecclestone you're probably going to have to compromise somewhere on your wedding plans because of budget. To help work out where you can cut costs, prioritising what's most important to you and your partner will help. For example, if you can't live without a Jenny Packham dress could you cut back on flowers? Or if you love fine food and wine could you spend less on your decorations?
Wedding costs you should never cut
There are some things you can scrimp on when it comes to weddings and some things you really shouldn't. Decorations, flowers, stationery, cake, and favours can be done on a shoestring with a little effort and creativity and still look wonderful. On the other hand, things like evening food and photography are really worth spending a bit more on - hungry guests are not happy guests and your wedding photos are going to be with you for a lifetime. Another thing you should never leave out of your budget is wedding insurance as the last thing you want is to lose money if suppliers let you down.
Expect to go over budget
Just like any big project, you should allow a margin for error in case you go over budget. This will avoid any stressful money situations in the run up to your big day. Most couples tend to exceed their initial estimates and go 10 - 15% over budget so include an extra 10-15% of your budget.
Happy wedding planning!
Images courtesy of Paul Willetts Photography ©