Congratulations - you're engaged!! Pop the bubbles and lets plan a wedding! Excitement levels are at an all time high. You start picturing what your wedding day will look like and then...oh wait..it kicks in...you've never done this before! How the heck do you plan the biggest event of your life? Suddenly confusion and an overwhelming feeling rises in your stomach, while your friends and family are already asking if you've set a date yet. Eeeeeek!!
There is soooooo much that goes into planning a wedding, but to ease some stress and get you started in your wedding planning journey I'm going to coach you through the first THREE tasks you need to do using 5 steps. Once you've done these 5 steps then you'll be well on your way into the world of wedding planning.
1. GUEST LIST:
Time to decide if Aunt Susan is on or off the list. Depending on how many guests you want will massively impact on your budget, and your venue option. My first task for you is to write a guest list of everyone you WANT to invite, this is your draft guest list. This is completely up to you and what you prefer, doesn't matter it you only want a small, intimate wedding with 15 guests, or if you want a big wedding with 150 guests, write down every name that you want to invite to your wedding.
Tip: Don't forget to include you and your fiance in the guest list total.
2. BUDGET CALCULATING:
It's not the most exciting topic but lets rip it off like a band aid. Figuring out how much your wedding will cost is a balancing act between what you want to spend (or don't want to spend) verse what you want your wedding to be like. To start things off nice and easy, and get an idea of the budget you'll be working with, I want you to focus on this one key element: Catering. Food and drinks will be around 40% of your wedding costs. Take the estimated guest count total you just drafted up and times that number by $150 per person, that's your estimated catering costs. As this is around 40% of your budget, it will give you a good idea of what you're overall wedding costs will be.
3. GUEST LIST REVIEW:
A re-visit to the guest list now that you have worked out the catering costs, and have a good idea of how much your wedding will cost, and how much you need to save. You can keep the guest list as it is for now, or you can make some serious cuts. Take what you've calculated for catering and work out what you actually want to spend on catering then cut the guest list to meet that number. It's o.k to be ruthless, we've all been there! Promise!
4. BUDGET SAVINGS:
Once you've decided on your wedding budget, there are two methods to calculate savings. The first way is if you don't have a wedding date in mind, then you can decide how much you want to save each week into your wedding funds. Calculate how many weeks you'll be saving for, then choose a wedding date for sometime after you meet your savings goal. The second way is to pick your wedding date first, if you don't have a exact date in mind then I recommend being flexible by choosing a few dates so you have options for booking your favorite venue. Work out how many weeks are from now until the estimated wedding date, then divide the total estimated budget by the amount of estimated weeks left till your wedding date. This figure will tell you how much to save each week. If this savings amount isn't possible then try the first method, otherwise lower your budget by going back to step 3 again.
Your venue is around 10% of your wedding budget. Take the estimated budget of your wedding, lets say $30,000 as the example, this gives us a venue budget of $3,000. This can obviously increase or decrease depending on your preference, and you can choose to really budget in other areas of the wedding if you want to spend more on your favorite venue. The second part of finding your venue is to take your estimated guest list count, lets say you have 120 guests, these two things gives you the exact requirements of what venues you should be looking into. Find the venues you love the look of, note them all down and then run the numbers on each one to find what is closest to your budget and what can hold all of your guests. Loving the look of a venue is no good if it will cost $6,000 and only hold 70 guests. Remove the venues from the list that won't cater to your requirements. Although, if you find the perfect venue and want to adjust your numbers, then by all means go back to step 1.
Repeat these steps as many times as you need to work out your perfect balance of the right budget, the right amount of time to save, the right guest count, and the right venue. You'll know when you've cracked it because it'll feel right.
After you've completed these tasks and are feeling good, I highly recommend that you download my free wedding budget template (attached)
Wedding budget template tips:
-The first tab is the summary, you only need to enter your name, wedding date and wedding budget into the top section, but you don't need to enter any other data in here. The graph will populate as you enter 'actual' costs.
-Work your way through the second and third tab, entering estimated amounts you would spend on each item. You can always adjust this if you go over budget.
-Remember that you've already estimated 50% of your wedding budget on the catering (food and drinks guest allocation) and venue. So you only have the other 50% to work with on everything else.
-The Decorations section on the third tab has empty fields for you to enter specific decor you want to buy or hire so you can track these costs as well.
-Stay on top of your wedding budget by always adding in actual costs once you have made payments, and add in items you purchase if they were not originally on the budget.
-Review your budget half way through wedding planning and see that it is still working for you. Are you still able to save what you had planned? Are you sticking to your estimated costs? Readjust if need be.
-My personal opinion; always hire a good photographer, and make sure to have some type of videographer. These are the only ways to capture your wedding day and they are worth every penny.