(9 Months to 24 Months before the Wedding)
Once you have determined how much money you have available for your wedding, (monies from the bride's parents, your money, groom's parents, relatives, and friends) you want to divvy out the expenses to all the different wedding categories. This allocation process will give the wedding the proper blend of expenditures and to give you an idea what budget you have to work with as you meet with the many wedding vendors. If you feel you have found an exceptional vendor, you could sometimes make up the difference by finding expenses from another wedding category. You want to do your best to stay within each categories budget though.
Try as best you can to book vendors in wedding planning checklist order. About 50% of your wedding is geared to your wedding reception. The wedding reception includes your catering, the reception facility, all the rentals needs including tables, chairs, linens, and china, the wedding cake, the floral and reception decorations,
wedding favors, bartenders, the waitresses and cleaning staff. Since the catering and reception part of your wedding is your biggest expense, if you come fairly close to your budget there, you should have a lot of less strain to come close to your budget for the rest of the wedding categories.
The average wedding nowadays (2011) averages close to $30,000. When you add to that, the cost of an engagement ring, the honeymoon, and pre-wedding activities such as engagement parties and bridal showers the wedding in total ends up costing near $40,000. The thing to note, you can have a wedding for around $1,000 or you can have an extravagant wedding for over $100,000. Both weddings can be just as good, one could be in the backyard of a friend or relatives house and the other might be in a fabulous resort. Regardless of the cost you want to allocate expenses to formulate a budget for many of your wedding categories.
There are many budget allocation tools around to help you formulate a wedding budget for each of your wedding categories. You can find some from many of the wedding related websites on the internet and you can find some by using wedding apps on your IPhone or IPad. You can create one on paper and keep in front of your wedding organizer binder or you can create one from scratch using Excel or Google Docs.
Below is a chart that was created from a Google Docs spreadsheet. You can recreate a Wedding Budget Worksheet using the chart below as a guide. The allocation percentages were derived from average wedding expenses from 2006. The percentages are applied to a ballpark total of weddings over the past year. You can use this guide to formulate your targeted expenses for your wedding as a guide by each wedding category.
The categories displayed in columns going across the page are as follows, the first column is the Wedding Category, the second column is a guideline of expense Percentage Allocations you should apply to each wedding category, the third column shows you a guideline of a budget amount for each category, the fourth column is the Percentage Allocations again, the fifth column is used to formulate your own budget by wedding category, the sixth column are puts and takes that you can use to make adjustments for a specific wedding category, and the seventh column is your final wedding budget by wedding category.
As you build your budget from this chart, you start with a total amount say $40,000. Your first step is to put money on the side for tipping, pre-wedding activities, emergencies, and if there is any money left over after the wedding what is left can be used for spending money on your honeymoon or for a gift for something you need for your home. It is recommended you hold aside about 10% of your expenditures which in this case is $4,000. That leaves $36,000 in allocated expenses. You then go down the list and multiply out the $36,000 times the percentage allocation of each category. For example, Bed & Breakfast is 0.3% ($36.000 X 0.3% = $108), Bridal Fashions is 5.9% ($36,000 X 5.9% = $2,124), and so on and so on. Double check your multiplication to be sure all the budgets for all the categories adds back to your $36.000.
These amounts are a guideline. Sometimes you may end up bundling services, say you are getting married in a hotel and the hotel has the ceremony site, the reception hall, has their own chef for catering, has their own baker that makes wedding cakes, has there own decorations for the reception hall, has the tables and chairs and serving tables, has the linens, has their own musicians, etc. You can bundle all the services and subtract them all and put them in one category in column six, you would have negative amounts in catering, decorations, disc jockeys, live music, reception facilities, rental services and a big positive amount in hotels and resorts.
Your florist might also be your decorator, you would show a negative for decorations and an offsetting positive to your florist category. You may be having a church wedding and don't need monies for a ceremony site, you maybe can add a few additional guests, move monies with a negative from ceremony site and add money to catering. By the way, if you are using a ceremony site instead of a church you can subtract from the church and add to your ceremony site and now you can afford the pricing of the venue. The seventh column, your final budget you want to put those amounts in a wedding expenditure tracking report that measures budgets versus actual expenditures and show differences.
These charts you want to keep as a keepsake. They may be used to help out others on what different wedding categories cost in the event someone asks about how much did a so and so vendor cost you for your wedding and as the years go by, you can show your kids and grandkids how much your wedding cost and how you planned for your wedding.
You now have a guide and a budgeted amount as you go in and meet and interview with each of your wedding vendors. You can often find money in your back pocket if you find an exceptional vendor, try to stay on budget as best you can for each category. A note, try not to touch your wedding planning category until you really know you are fully planning the wedding yourself. You may be working along and find work is getting in the way of wedding planning and if you change your mind and haven't budgeted for a wedding planner it may disrupt your financial situation.
You now have a nicely distributed budget for all your wedding categories, it makes for meeting each wedding vendor easier. Try to stay within the budget to each category as best you can, if the vendor is exceptional and you need additional funds, you then can talk over things with your family and spouse and gain their okay. You can move monies from another category if need be. Remember, you have the upper hand when dealing with wedding vendors, there are plenty of other vendors that want your business. You want to be sure you find vendors that are out to make your wedding day special, provide exceptional service and work with you according to your budget.
That's how to create a Wedding Budget Worksheet, see you on the other side!
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