As soon as you have decided upon a destination for your wedding, it is time to start making a wedding budget. Starting early is important as the budget will be the force that influences a lot of your decisions.
Making a wedding budget is similar to any household budget. Your income has to either exceed or match your expenses. While the basic planning of the wedding budget is the same as any other budget, the expense categories are different as are the challenges of planning for an event that takes place a few thousand miles away.
Here are the steps to creating a budget for your destination wedding. Once made, the budget should take you no more than a hour to manage every month.
Step 1: Determine how much you can spend
Set aside some time with your fiance to get the destination wedding budget started. Regardless of whether you use a spreadsheet or a simple pen and paper, the important thing is to get started.
The first step involves figuring out how you are going to pay for all the expenses associated with a destination wedding.
How Much Do You Have Saved?
The days of when the parents used to pay for the entire wedding are gone so you can expect to use any and all of your personal savings for the wedding. Add up what you both have saved up and deposit it into a separate joint account specifically created for wedding expenses. Doing so will help you keep track wedding expenses and personal expenses separately without any hassles.
How Much Can You Save?
Take the number of months left before the wedding and multiply it by how much you and your fiance can save.
Find Out If Your Parents Can Contribute Towards The Wedding
Consider discussing your financial needs with your parents separately to get an idea of what each set can help out with. Remember that just because they can’t pay for entire wedding does not mean that they cannot help out in other ways. Consider having parents pay for something simpler like the bridal party spa treatments or the ceremony.
Add up the amount you have saved along with future savings to what your parents can contribute and you will have the total amount that can be spent. This number is the ceiling of how much you can spend on the destination wedding and will guide everything from the kind of favors you buy to the kind of wedding package you may choose.
Step 2: Make A List Of Potential Expenses
Create a list of wedding expenses that will cost money. Place each of these expenses into one of the four categories below:
- Wedding related expenses
- Travel related expenses
- Guest related expenses
- Honeymoon related expenses
Step 3: Prioritize Expenses
Now that you know how much money you have to work with, start allocating the expenses for fixed costs first. These are expenses that cannot be cut. For example, the ceremony, taxes, flights, hotel rooms, and bridal gown may be the kind of essential things that the destination wedding cannot be without. Add these costs up and take that out from the total you have to spend. The amount left is what you have to spend on the rest of your wedding expenses.
If you do not have any idea of how much things cost, then it is time to start researching both online and offline. Start calling vendors to get prices on things like wedding favors, get group rates for hotels, and if you have questions, ask them on message boards like the ones they have on WeddingWire or The Knot.
Some expenses that many couples forget to budget for during a destination wedding are
- Cost overrun (save 5% of the entire budget for unexpected expenses)
- Wedding gift bags
- Tips and taxes
- Bridal party room expenses
- Shipping costs (To ship favors, wedding dress, etc)
- Group activity (Golf, horseback riding, spa etc)
- Vendors that need to be flown in (Officiant or a minister, being most common)
- Post wedding brunch
- Travel expenses for your parents/grandparents
- Subsidizing guests (especially of you are at an all inclusive resort)
Once you know approximate costs of everything, you will be able to see if you are coming in over or under budget. If you are over budget, then you have two choices: Cut some of the expenses of lower the number of wedding guests.
Step 4: Cut Expenses By Being Smart
Just because you are over budget does not mean that you have to cut and slash your wedding into nothing. There a ton of tips to lower wedding expenses without having to cut the guest list or remove extras. These tips range from DIY invitations to combining the ceremony and reception into one event. Simply do a search for a term like “How to cut wedding costs” and you will get a gazillion search results. Alternately, you can buy the following book on Amazon.
Step 5: Revisit Budget And Stay Organized
Once you create the budget, spend at least an hour a month keeping it in shape. For instance, if a certain expense comes in above your expectations, then it’s time to add that to the budget so you can figure out what other expense can be lowered to compensate for it. Keep track of every dollar that leaves the bank account and make sure you save contracts and receipts in a shoe box of some kind. Having everything related to the wedding in one place makes for easier retrieval and is much better than many of the complicated organization schemes that are popular online.
Creating a destination wedding budget, as we have learned, is not all that difficult. Using the budget template we have created will make this even easier. Just make sure you keep up with it so you don’t come home from your honeymoon with a large credit card bill.
What Should You Do Next?
Read the article “How to save over 30% on your destination wedding expenses”.