How to Start Planning a Budget Wedding (With a Free Wedding Budget Download!)

When I got engaged I was SO EXCITED…to create a wedding planning spreadsheet.  And to be engaged to the greatest guy on Earth, of course!  For me, I’m such a type A planner, it feels like my whole life was just leading up to this ultimate planning mission haha!  Along the way I’ve learned a few things about how to get the process started.  Read on for my tips on how to start planning for your wedding, and don’t forget to scroll all the way through for a free wedding budget template download!

  • RESEARCH PRICES TO BUILD A BUDGET.  If you go into wedding planning without keeping track of expenses and having a game plan you could EASILY end up with a $50,000+ wedding.  Maybe that’s okay with you, but for the rest of us a little preparation should be in order.  As scary as it is, you have to start looking at prices and getting an estimate for the total cost of your wedding.
  • CHOOSE AN IDEAL TOTAL COST.  At this point you need to evaluate how realistic your estimated budget is.  Have a conversation with your partner about what you’re comfortable paying.  Start to find a reasonable middle ground and ask each other questions, such as: Are you comfortable going into debt for this wedding?  Are you able to work overtime to bring in extra income?  Will you be saving for a honeymoon as well?  This leads into the next point:
  • DECIDE HOW YOU’RE PAYING FOR THE WEDDING.  Hopefully you already budget each month and know how much money you have to put toward savings.  If you have any inkling that your parents will be helping you pay for the wedding, I suggest having a conversation with them about it.  It might feel awkward to ask about money, but it’s better to know up front how much money you are dealing with.  You should also calculate how much money you’ll be able to save for the wedding.  Take the amount you can save per month and multiply it by the number of months remaining until your wedding.  If you’re lucky, this number will be higher than your estimated wedding cost!  If you’re like most of us, you’ll have to do some budget adjustments:
  • START SLASHING THE BUDGET.  After you’ve put together a rough estimate for your wedding cost, and had a conversation about your ideal maximum cost, you’ll most likely notice that your estimated cost > your ideal maximum cost.  Now is the time to have yet another real and honest conversation with your partner about what you’re willing to sacrifice.  If you are committed to having a wedding on a budget then there are certain aspects of the wedding that you’ll need to DIY, find a cheaper alternative, or cut out entirely.  You might need to find a cheaper wedding dress, have your family cater the wedding, or omit having flowers.  Check out the rest of my Wedding Series for ideas on how to save money on different categories of your wedding.
  • DECIDE WHAT’S MOST IMPORTANT.  While you are “slashing the budget” you’ll start to have a conversation about the things that are most important to you.  When you close your eyes and picture your wedding day, what do you see?  Is it important that everyone have a great time and dance the night away?  Then you obviously won’t want to skimp on a DJ.  Is it important to you that everyone remembers how beautiful the bride looked?  Then allocate enough money for the dress, hair and makeup.  Just know that if you are trying to have a wedding on a budget everything can’t be an essential item.  Be willing to compromise on some categories.
  • SET YOURSELF UP FOR ORGANIZED SUCCESS.  Keep track of everything you start to buy and keep a running total of your expenses.  The easiest way for me to do this is with a spreadsheet.  I am sharing the one that I made for my wedding planning – click here to download it!  If you prefer paper and pencil then feel free to keep a notebook of your expenses.  Or, make a binder for all your budgets and receipts.  Do whatever works for you!
  • DON’T STRESS!  Sometimes it will all pile up and seem like a daunting task.  If you’re feeling overwhelmed, ask for help!  Ask for advice, ask for encouragement, ask for a shoulder to cry on – whatever you need, a friend or family member is likely able to help make it better.

My last tip would be to ENJOY THE PROCESS AND GET EXCITED!  It’s such a unique time in your life, and you don’t want to spend the whole time stressed and panicked.  Don’t get so wrapped up in the details that you forget the most important thing: the love and the future that you are building together.

Leave your wedding planning tips and questions in the comments – I love hearing them!

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