I am learning that I love to operationalise things. Budget was something I was really laser-focused on ‘hacking’ (as much as I hate that term). It was so disheartening starting our planning process and learning the reality of wedding industry price inflation. Across the board, every detail can get out of hand and really blow your budget if you don’t keep on top of it. You’ve got to have the mindset of trimming every single expense where you can.
I started the budgeting process by finding a template online, and then immediately nixed a bunch of stuff from it (like ceremony programs, videographer, officiant fee, ring pillow, limo rental and a planning binder). Anything that wasn’t important to us was gone. I then did a bit of research and started to estimate what I think each expense should/would cost. From this, we could look over the first draft together and agree on a budget for our wedding.
We landed on “$30000-$40,000,” which I immediately changed to “$40,000” in my head, because I knew we’d push to the top of our range. Without the nauseating reality check of planning a wedding, this may seem like a lot of money. It is a lot of money! But in wedding standards, this is actually below average (the national average for a wedding in the US in 2016 was around AU$46,000). I had started the process self-assuredly thinking I could do it for under $25,000 because I’d planned a million events in the past and could piece it together without using wedding-specific vendors who’d overcharge. That thinking saved us a lot of money, but I was wrong about how easy it’d be.
As we started shopping around for vendors, I updated the budget with what we were willing to spend based on the reality of what things cost. If something went over the estimate we’d penciled in, I usually tried to trim back on something else. The wedding budget always stayed between $35,000 and $40,000 as we added and edited things because I stayed on it like a hawk.
Here’s a snippet of how I tracked estimates and purchases: