If you’ve seen our real wedding budget breakdown series, you’ll know that very few couples stick to their wedding budget, but we’re hoping that this feature will change all that. Managing a budget for a large event represents a brand new (and sometimes quite scary!) challenge for most engaged couples, but there are a few steps you can take to help you stay within budget. Here, we’re talking through them, and also identifying some of the most common pitfalls to watch out for. Ready to read our top tips on how to stick to your wedding budget? Let’s dive in!
Why do couples go over budget on their wedding?
If you ask us, the very best way to ensure you stick to your wedding budget is to identify at the outset where you might slip up along the way. So we’ll start by sharing the most common wedding budget issues to look out for!
1. Insufficient research. Some couples set their wedding budget based on assumed figures, or what they think weddings should cost, only to discover too late that they were way off the mark.
How to avoid it: A little research goes a long way towards helping you create a realistic wedding budget – this short feature covers the basics, and our budget breakdown series is helpful for this, too.
2. Loss of perspective. For most couples, their wedding is one of the biggest expenses in their lives so far, so it’s easy to feel disconnected from how much money is being spent. You might find yourself thinking, “We’re spending so much money, what’s another few hundred euro?” when it’s a sum of money you’d usually think long and hard about spending.
How to avoid it: It can be helpful to compare wedding expenses to everyday expenses like rent or bills to put things in perspective. It’s also a good idea to write down a list of priorities for your wedding day, and reference it when making big decisions.
3. Accounting errors. Most couples have never managed a budget for a large event before, so this one is fairly understandable.
How to avoid them: Many accounting errors are unavoidable, but they’re less likely when you and your partner work together. Ask your other half to check your spreadsheets after you’ve updated them, and vice versa.
4. Abandoned spreadsheets. Even for those of us who enjoy plotting out our finances, updating a wedding budget spreadsheet is far from thrilling. It’s common for couples to become lax about logging their expenses as wedding planning progresses.
How to avoid it: Set aside a time each week for updating your wedding budget – 10 minutes will probably be enough most weeks. You can set a reminder on your phone or use a goal-tracking app to hold you to it!
5. Hidden costs. If you’ve never planned a wedding before, it’s only natural that there will be expenses that you didn’t predict, for example, cake-cutting and corkage fees.
How to avoid them: Familiarise yourself with the most commonly-overlooked wedding costs as early as possible in the planning process, by reading our handy guide.
6. Last-minute spending. As the wedding day draws nearer, couples often get caught up in the excitement, and add last-minute details to their wedding. They may seem like small things, but the cost can really add up!
How to avoid it: We’ve got an entire feature on how to avoid last-minute spending here.
How to stick to your wedding budget: Our top tips
Now that you know the most common budgeting mistakes to avoid, it’s time to share our advice for how to stick to your wedding budget!
1. Be realistic about how much you’re going to spend. When you’re starting out in wedding planning, it’s easy to tell yourself that you’ll be extremely thrifty, or negotiate lots of amazing deals, but, as we mentioned earlier, very few couples actually spend less on their wedding than they’d like to. The best way to set yourself up for success in wedding budgeting is to be pragmatic about the kind of wedding you want to pull off, and how much it will reasonably cost. For example, if your friends spent a large amount on their wedding, and you’re hoping to create a similar event for a fraction of that, it’s time for a reality check. Our feature on how to work out your wedding budget has lots more tips on this.
2. Be realistic about how much money you’ve got. We often hear from couples who overestimated the figure they were able to save, which is a stressful position to find yourself in a few weeks out from your wedding. If you’re not sure you can save enough money in time, taking out a wedding loan could be an option, provided you can afford the repayments.
3. Keep referencing your priorities. We mentioned this briefly already, but having your priorities written down in black and white can be really helpful when making budgetary decisions. Ask yourself, “Is this expense necessary to satisfy our priorities?” If, for example, you didn’t identify your wedding dress as a top priority, but you’re suddenly tempted to spend 20% of the overall budget on it, it’s time to stop and remind yourself of your goals for your big day.
5. Find a budgeting system that works for you. Some couples love an Excel spreadsheet, others like to do everything on paper, and others still find apps easier to use. It doesn’t really matter how you keep track of your spending, so long as the system works for you and your partner.
6. Keep a written record of everything you spend. This one might sound obvious, but it’s all-too-easy to forget about money once it’s been spent. Be sure to get receipts for everything, and consider paying for wedding expenses with a debit card or a credit card, so there’s an easy-to-reference, written record of everything you’re spending.
7. Anticipate and avoid the details trap. We love the small details here at One Fab Day – in many ways, they’re what make a wedding special. But it’s best to have a few key details, and leave it at that. Many couples fall into the trap of believing that they have to include every cute wedding idea they see on Instagram or Pinterest, and it’s just not true. If you find yourself adding more and more elements, it might be time to take a break from wedding planning, and revisit it in a week or two with a clear head.
Further reading for newly engaged couples:
You can apply for an AIB personal loan today and make your dreams become a reality. Head to the AIB App or check out the online loan calculator on the AIB website for more details.
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