One of the first most important steps to wedding planning is figuring out your wedding budget. How to budget for your wedding? I partnered with my friend and colleague MK Anderson, lead planner and owner of Your Day by MK, where she walks you through the most important steps to creating your wedding budget.
How to Make a Wedding Budget with MK Anderson
Credit Card debt isn’t sexy. Start your life together with a balanced checkbook and the most wonderful memories to last a lifetime.
Reception costs take up 45-50%.
The wedding reception will be about 45-50% of your budget. This reception cost also means food, drink, and venue rental.
The more people, the more money.
Let’s say it’s about $100/pp, a table of 10 is $1,000, and that adds up quickly.
You need to have some honest conversations.
This is non-negotiable. Sit down and look at your finances, savings, projected income, and frank conversation about what you all are comfortable with. Maybe you have some family members who have voiced that they want to contribute, that’s amazing. You need to have a real conversation with them about what they’re willing to contribute. If they mention that they’ll cover a specific item, outline to what extent. You don’t need to sign a contract with one another, but you don’t want to bite off more than you can chew.
Be sure to have these honest conversations all throughout the planning process. When you get quotes and get excited, it’s easy to feel like it’s all good. Take a breath, do some calculations, and be sure it is all within budget.
Do some initial research.
Think back to the weddings you’ve attended. Reach out to those venues and see what their costs and minimums are. Look at photographers and see how much they charge for their services. Various wedding websites will tell you the “average” cost for a wedding in your state, but if you live in cities like Chicago, New York, DC, Boston, etc. – these numbers will not be correct. If your friends are open to it, ask them about their wedding costs.
If you haven’t talked to your pals yet, you might get “sticker shock”. This first round of research will help you better understand what your market/city/area provides and what you can expect from amazing, experienced vendors down to folks in their first month of business.
Set your priorities.
Now that you have a basic understanding of how many different vendors, you will cost take your budget and break it down. Unfortunately, catering costs can’t usually be cut in half, but you can decide things like Band vs. DJ, photo, AND video or just photo. Maybe you go for a minimal floral look versus extra lighting. Take your budget and decide what you care about getting a “fair slice” of the pie.
Make a top 3 list for each of you. When you reach out to folks, you now know what items are non-negotiable and what can be discussed. It’s easy to look up percentage breakdowns on the internet, but if you don’t care about an item, re-allocate that money towards something else.
Have a contingency fund!
As with all things in life, things happen. In 2020 it was the pandemic. In past years, it was more people RSVP-ing “yes” than you expected. You will inevitably find items you didn’t initially decide to put within your budget, but if you distribute every dollar to an item, what will pay for these surprise items? This means budgeting it in from the get-go. If your budget is 70K, your working budget should be 65K. Or maybe this means setting a weekly direct deposit to a savings account.
Most importantly, there is no “right” budget.
Maybe you have a huge family, and it’s super essential they all attend (Yo I see you my Irish Catholic folk), your budget will look different from folks who are 35, trying to buy a house in the next year start their family ASAP.
Personal finance is PERSONAL.
MK Anderson is the owner and lead planner of Your Day by MK. Your Day by MK is dedicated to making your wedding day fun, relaxed, and a blast for everyone – especially you! Let them handle the logistics so you can love, laugh, scream-sing Mr. Brightside, and enjoy your loved ones. Your Day by MK has planned weddings all over the Chicago area, as well as all over the midwest. Aside from planning, you can find MK watching the Sound of Music, playing ultimate frisbee, lifting up other women, or drinking LaCroix, petting dogs, and eating cheese at a Notre Dame tailgate.