Setting Your Budget
When it comes to figuring out your wedding budget, there’s no one magical formula. Despite staggering figures that grow every year, your budget should be based on what’s comfortable for you, rather than what you’ve heard is the average cost of a wedding. The figure will likely end in the word “thousands,” but can start with a two, a twenty, or a two hundred. The answer lies somewhere between what you want to spend and what you can actually afford to spend.
Don’t base your budget on figuring out how much your dream wedding will cost then figuring out how to finance it. If you start with what your wedding could cost, you could easily end up trying to live some impossible expectations (“But I really don’t think our marriage will be successful if we don’t serve caviar at the reception!”).
You’ll either have to scale back, in which case the reality will never live up to the fabulousness of your original plan. Or you’ll stretch yourself thin trying to make it work, charging things you really can’t afford that will seem really frivolous later when you’re trying to buy a house.
Instead, start by figuring out what you have to spend and then allocating it properly. Add up what your parents can contribute, and possibly what your grandparents can contribute (if they’ve offered). Then see what you’ve got in savings. Stretching a little is okay, but when it starts to seem uncomfortable, stop. And while a little credit card debt can seem like a small thing in exchange for your dream wedding, you will likely not feel that way six months after the wedding when you’re trying to pay for real-life items like groceries and gasoline.
Oh, and don’t get caught up in the old etiquette rules about who pays for what. Chances are good that the money for your wedding is coming from a variety of sources—including your own joint savings— so come up with a lump sum, then figure out how best to throw your wedding weekend within that budget. It’s more appropriate for a destination wedding, and, besides: It’s easier!