Please welcome our new wedding contributor, Katie Jakub! She’s super saving-savvy and has so many great tips. Be sure to grab the free budgeting/planning template!
Several weekends ago, my fiancé, Brian, and I celebrated my mother’s birthday with a big family dinner at a hole in the wall. As the evening progressed and the BYOB wine loosened everyone’s lips, my sister hurled the insult, “Ryan [her husband] and I have decided that you two are the cheapest out of everyone in the family.” Brian and I looked at each other and laughed because each family has their own dynamic of you-can’t-take-it-with-yous and save-every-last-penny. My sister and her husband edge into the former while we are closer to the latter part of the spectrum. We attempted to explain the differences in our situation compared to theirs, but oops! my wine glass was empty and we quickly moved on.
Brian and I consider ourselves frugal by choice because we refuse to walk down the aisle in any kind of wedding related debt. We are willing to spend money on the wedding, but we understand that for every dollar that goes to our portion the wedding, a dollar comes from our joint fund. What this means is that both our home budget and wedding budget are akin to a holy text for us during this year of planning.
Budgets are yucky. Luckily for me, Brian hearts macros, spreadsheet, and formulas almost as much as he loves me (maybe more?). But he hates hates hates following a budget. On the other side of the marital venture, I get a kick out of the challenge of coming in on or under goal, but talking about the budget when we’ve gone over makes my eye twitch.
We have learned several techniques over the past months that have seemed to make a huge difference in discussing and following the wedding budget.
TALK ABOUT IT. Find time between your Sherlock or OITNB binge watching to talk about the budget together. Both people need to understand what it is going on and you should never let your partner off the hook when they say “I don’t get it”. I always hate looking at the numbers because they turn into a pile of math soup, but even something as simple as changing how we approached talking about the budget entirely shifted how I viewed the budget. We learned a simple trick at our Pre-Cana classes and it’s made a huge difference. The cornfield is on the right, but try rephrasing the discussion to something similar to “when you’re ready to talk about the budget, I’m ready to listen.” It makes us giggle and breaks the tension of the topic.
MAKE THE BUDGET YOUR OWN. To me, having pretty colors made the budget friendlier. To Brian, it was formulas. Even something as simple as having our budget on a cloud based drive has made it less painful to use. We can both access the budget at any point (it’s not stored on one person’s computer), edit as needed, and even check while we’re on the go.
DO NOT PLAN ANYTHING UNTIL YOU’VE SET A BUDGET. It’s nice to dream, but you can quickly become disappointed when reality doesn’t align. Brian and I are fortunate that both sets of parents are able to help us cover some wedding costs. The earlier you can have candid and honest discussions with any parents/relatives that will be helping pay for the wedding, the sooner you can move on to the planning stage.
This also means knowing how much you can cover. If you already have personal or couple budget in place, you’re a step ahead because you know what you can contribute. A simple overall budget number is a perfect starting place: we know that we’ve got $5,000 from your parents and $2,000 from mine and we can save $3,000 by the wedding. An overall budget number can influence your first big decisions such as the venue–especially if you have Plaza dreams on a fire hall budget. From there, you can start to narrow in on how much you spend on what with a more itemized budget.
HAVE A WISH LIST. Sometimes, keeping-up-with-the-newlyweds can feel like a three ring circus of vendors. Figure out what is absolutely essential for your wedding. Brian and I knew that we had to have cake and pie at our Pi Day Wedding (hilarious that we chose math as part of our wedding, right?) and that making our own candy flavored liquor would be a special touch, but that a photo booth, up-lighting, and a garden of flowers weren’t anywhere near the top of our list. It’s nice to want, but you definitely do not want to spend years paying off your wedding.
CELEBRATE YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS. You negotiated a vendor’s price down? Celebrate! Whether it’s putting that money you saved towards a night out with your main squeeze or putting it towards a wish list item, you’ve got a little wiggle room to do something for you. When you’ve come in on budget, do something a bit smaller like a drinks at a fancy restaurant. You deserve it–you’ve put on your grown up BRIDE or GROOM-TO-BE plastered undies on and followed your budget.
To help you achieve wedding budget bliss or at least find your starting place, I’m including a copy of our free wedding budget template Excel file which includes a countdown (no pressure!), budget sheet, guest info, vendor info, seating charts, day of timeline, drop of lists, must have photos, and songs for the DJ. And remember to make the budget your own!