How to Prioritize Your Budget Based on Your Wedding Goals
17 Aug 2023 •8 min read
Now that you’re engaged and the initial rush of excitement has swept past you and your S.O. like a wildfire, it’s not unusual to feel a bit scattered and undecided. Assessing and prioritizing what you absolutely need, can afford, and would love to have now, at this early stage, will help smooth out the bumpy road ahead.
Prioritize. Ask yourselves: Is having an amazing live band more important to you and your partner than having that five-star gourmet caterer? Do you need the wedding ceremony and venue to be decked out with flowers everywhere or would you rather spend it on an open bar with a bigger selection?
By knowing what you want from the get-go and prioritizing these elements into your budget will bring you closer to attaining your big day goals. The hard part is determining what you can afford and balancing these priorities with the must-have big ticket items such as the wedding venue, food vendors, your guest count, etc. …You may not mind having a smaller wedding just so long as you can book your dream venue.
With Loverly’s Videos & Guides at your fingertips, you’ll gain access to dozens of video tutorials as well as tons of spreadsheets including a sample wedding budget breakdown that’ll help you stay organized and on top of your wedding expenses!
Tier It Up
Once you and your S.O. have analyzed your bank accounts and know what your spending limits are, we suggest dividing your budget into two to three tiers based on both your savings, your incomes as well as anyone who you know for sure will be contributing to the budget and what amount of or item(s) they'll be contributing.
A few weeks after your engagement is the best time to begin taking all the ideas you and your partner have and start bringing them all together. Your research phase could include creating two to three Pinterest boards based on these tiers. Otherwise print out pictures and create an actual board to help visualize everything so it’s more tangible.
This is what your ultimate dream wedding day looks like! Decked out in lavish decor, a huge cake, tons of guests, this is the tier where you fit all the best elements that are important to you and then some extras too. With that said, this is also the one with the farthest reaching budget. You will either need to put some of the bills onto a credit card and/or ask your parents and any close relatives for financial assistance.
Things start looking a little more practical and realistic here. You’ll find yourself prioritizing a bit more: yes, you’ll still have most of your favorite big-ticket items that you’d have in the first tier, but mixed with a few losses in the smaller details.
One alteration could be that your headcount is lower, meaning you don’t have to spend as much money on a huge cake, not as many wedding invitations, etc. The quantity of everything in turn becomes downsized. Or, instead of hiring that awesome cover band, you hire a DJ and rent a professional sound system, giving you more wiggle room for better food or lovelier decor.
With this tier, you’re less likely to go into debt, but you should still consider asking for some help from your parents so that you don’t have to dig so deep into your savings.
Here’s where you’ll start to really think outside of the box and maybe even end up incorporating some of the ideas you found while trying to maintain this budget into the other two tiers even if you decide to go with them. You will become good friends with the DIY method in this tier and will probably end up discovering more ways to save while researching and fleshing out any unnecessary amenities.
Make Lists Based On Your Wedding Budget Priorities
Create lists in each tier that define your priorities so you can fulfill your goals in each and every aspect of these wedding budgets. With this in mind, the average wedding budget in America for 2022 was around $27K.
Venues are critical in conveying your wedding style. Once you have a better idea of how many people you’ll be inviting, you'll want to pick a venue that’ll not only fit that amount with some wiggle room, but will also help define both your styles. You essentially don’t want a huge venue if you’re planning a small wedding and vice versa.
Find a venue that will comfortably fit all of your guests without huge swaths of emptiness or anyone needing to stand. By listing two to three venues with different styles and vibes (all of which will definitely fit your headcount) for each tier, you’re setting yourself up for less stress the further you get with your planning.
One of the most popular trends we’ve been seeing lately are couples choosing unique locations for their weddings. The best thing about choosing a unique location (particularly one’s in Nature) is its inherent beauty which a lot of the time means you can keep the decor to a minimum. So whether you’re deciding to go with tier 1 or tier 3, these unique wedding locations will definitely bring down your overall wedding costs while adding another dimension to your style.
Keep in mind though, if you decide to choose a unique location or venue for your wedding that other expenses may be added to your budget such as an additional crew for your food vendors to deliver or cook on-site, tents, mobile washrooms, etc.
Immediately after the ceremony you and your guests are going to need some food and drinks to help calm the nerves. So whether you have a full fledged bar and buffet as you may want in tier one and two, or just a few waiters serving delicious aperitifs and select hors d’Oeuvres, don’t sacrifice quality over quantity. By feeding your guests as well as yourself deliciously healthy meals your giving them a reason to truly celebrate
The quality of the food will help keep you and your guests energy levels in shape and the party kicking well after the cake has been cut. Always request samples of the meals that your chosen vendor is providing for the evening.
If you both love live music or simply want everyone to stay on the dance floor all night we suggest hiring the best band or DJ that your budget will allow. Not only should they have a repertoire of songs that everyone knows and loves, but also top of the line equipment and amazing reviews.
With a lower budget you might want to consider hiring the band for only an hour or two instead of three full hours, then get your cousin or hire a DJ for the rest of the evening, so that you ensure everybody gets to show off their dance moves!
Regardless of your guests’ dress code, what you both wear should stand out from the crowd. But if you plan on wearing a long gown with an intricate train, how will you ever show off your dance moves?
Depending on your budget you’ll need to either have an evening gown to change into, a two-piece wedding dress, or make sure that the one dress you do choose is comfortable enough to dance in.
If you’re in tier one and absolutely need to feel gorgeous at the ceremony and comfortable at the reception, consider buying and/or renting two dresses. Otherwise, you may want to rent one that’s both comfortable and elegant which means you’ll need to skip that extra long train.
Stationery & Decor
Although the amount of stationery and decor does depend on your headcount and the size of your venue, the quality should at least ring true to your specific style and taste. Your guests will remember the decor and stationery the moment they receive their invites in the mail (or online) to be ushered by signs from the ceremony all the way to their reception table.
So one of your top priorities is to have both your ceremony and reception covered with fully bloomed flowers? Whether you’ve decided to go with tier 2 or tier 3, each tier should have a list of floral arrangements. If you’re trying to stay on budget you’ll want flowers that are in-season instead of paying top dollar for out-of-season floral.
By keeping organized and sticking to your priorities you automatically avoid mix-ups and paint a better picture for the people who will be helping you with your wedding planning process, whether that ends up being your wedding planner or your family and friends or both!
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