Congratulations on your engagement! It’s exciting to begin the planning process for your Mormon wedding. And of course, you need to run out and buy the perfect dress and start combing Instagram for fantastic wedding photographers right away! Right?
It’s tempting to start spending right away when you find something that fits your dream wedding, but try to be patient. A wedding is a very emotional event, and enthusiastically spending without a wedding budget is going to lead to impulse purchases. If you’re not careful, that will quickly throw you into overspending mode.
When you get engaged or even before you’re officially engaged, the first thing you need to do is sit down and set a budget. Creating and sticking to a wedding budget is going to ensure that you make wise, logic-filled decisions. This is especially important when your Pinterest is telling you to throw it all out the window.
Wedding planning can be intensely detailed and stressful. Reviewing your budget regularly will help you remember your priorities and allow you to have a more enjoyable experience.
1. Plan the contributors
Have a face-to-face meeting wherever possible with the people that may be contributing to the wedding budget. Traditionally, this includes the bride and groom and their parents.
But you may have a doting aunt or grandmother that is dying to purchase flowers or your dress. It never hurts to ask, but don’t feel hurt if the answer is no.
Also, avoid assumptions that because a person gave money in the past to a sibling or relative, they are planning on doing so now. To get a realistic idea of how much money you have for your wedding, you need to base your budget off of current information, not past precedent.
During this meeting, finalize who can contribute, how much they can spend and then add in what you are reasonably able to afford or have saved. This is your budget. This is how much you have to spend on your wedding. You may be thrilled because it’s more than you hoped for, or you may be disappointed that it ended up less. Either way, spending more than this number will not make you happy, so stick to this number.
2. Research and set realistic expectations
Once you know your boundaries, it helps to do preliminary research and get an average idea of the cost of a wedding in your state.
For example, the average cost of a wedding in Utah is approximately $13,000 while a wedding in New York is closer to $49,000. This doesn’t mean you have to spend this much money in Utah or even New York to have a lovely wedding. It just means that if your budget is less, you can mentally and emotionally prepare yourself to trim and say no.
Because most of us don’t fall into the “one percent” income category, you won’t get the wedding of your dreams. Harsh? Maybe a little, but that’s the reality. It will not be possible to do every single thing you want to do for your wedding, which is why this initial research is so important. It’s going to help you set expectations for what’s feasible.
You may find that you’re a bride with rose and orchid tastes on a baby’s breath budget. But if recognize this early, it can help mitigate feelings of loss or disappointment and allow you to have a wonderful time planning your wedding.
One important aspect of a Mormon wedding budget is to remember is that in the wedding industry, you generally get the work and the quality you do (or don’t) pay for. If you ask great-uncle Bruce to shoot your photos with his new iPhone X to save money on a photographer, you know exactly what to expect.
3. Create a sample budget and detail priorities
With realistic expectations firmly in place, it’s time to wisely manage the resources available to you. Start with creating a sample wedding budget with line items for all the purchases you’ll be making.
Real bride Michon said that finding a sample budget on Google Drive helped her see all the different things she would need to spend money on. It also included items she hadn’t previously considered. From there, she was able to evaluate which of those were most important to her. She put those at the top of her budget and worked down from there.
It’s essential to prioritize which aspects of the wedding are truly important to you. It will help you take responsibility for your spending and make better choices.
Michon realized early on that, at the end of the day, all she would have were the photos. So, affording a top-notch photographer was an absolute must in her budget. Then she worked out more frugal ways to source other vendors for the details that were lower in priority.
These kinds of details will feel important because your wedding is important. But setting priorities in advance will help you focus on what’s really worth investing in.
4. Allocate funds
Once you’ve listed and prioritized your wedding, you’re ready to start allocating funds. This will probably be the most difficult task of budgeting. That’s because most LDS couples are planning a wedding for the first time and don’t know what to expect for costs associated with flowers, cake, dress, venue, etc.
Many wedding planning professionals prefer to allocate a percentage of the overall funds to each line item. For example, if you have $1,000 to spend on your wedding and 8-10% of that is supposed to cover flowers, you will have approximately $80-$100 for your flowers. Others prefer to research each vendor, form an idea of a price range and quality level, and give budget preference to their top priorities.
As you go through and assign dollar amounts to each item, leave a comment or note detailing what it should include. You might think that you’ll remember, but believe me, you won’t. For example, say you assigned $50 to cover the cost of each bridesmaid. But then you realize that only covers the dress. If you want matching shoes, jewelry, professional hair and make-up, and a bridesmaid bouquet, you’ll end up going over budget.
Be detailed and specific as you allocate your funds. Note everything you want it to include because this will help you narrow down your list of possibilities as you do your shopping. If you have $1,200 to cover a venue, decorations, tables, chair, and linens, then you’ll be looking for a specific type of venue. Specifically, one that doesn’t need a lot of extra décor like an art museum or a garden center. This type of planning will prevent you from booking a venue you fell in love with but doesn’t suit your needs.
5. Debt-free Mormon wedding…obviously
Last, but very certainly not least, a wedding is never worth going into major consumer debt. People can have lovely receptions at the park, the church, or the ballroom of the Grand America Hotel and stay happily married.
Michon’s best tip for those planning their Mormon wedding is to carry their budget with them to every meeting and consultation. Have it in Dropbox, Google Drive, or accessible in your e-mail. You can even print it out and refer back to it as you talk numbers with each vendor. This way, you can stick to your budget from start to finish.
Managing your money is a skill you and your partner will have to learn either now or later. Avoiding debt during the wedding planning process can help you avoid money problems in marriage later on.
You can’t just spend money on a wedding and hope you don’t overspend or blow through your savings. You can, however, create and stick to a wedding budget that will support you and your families in helping you take the next big step in life.