What Is A ‘Normal’ Wedding Budget?

We speak to Cara McLaughin of The Mosaic Wedding Company about setting a wedding budget that won’t break the bank.
Compare Guru
2017-03-15

We spoke to Cara McLaughlin, owner of The Mosaic Wedding Company, on the best way to budget for the wedding you want, but also the wedding you can afford. The word you need to keep reminding yourself of is realistic. Am I being realistic with my budget and my expectations?

Here Is All You Need To Know About Financing a Wedding

How Do You Set Up a Wedding Budget?

My Excel spreadsheets have served me well. It is important to write everything down and keep track of the spending. Every planner is different, but I prefer to have a total amount that the couple is wanting to spend.McLaughlin warns against having a set amount for everything, as each provider offers something different. To start, she suggests calculating a proper amount (based on quotes) by figuring out what your top priorities are. What is the most significant part of the wedding that you would like to spend on?

I don't think spending 40% of your budget on a venue, and then 30% on a wedding dress makes any sense. There are many things that make up a wedding, so be wise in choosing where your money goes.

What Are Some Unexpected Costs That Couples Often Forget AboutCouples plan their wedding for an average of a year, but there is still one item they tend to forget: stationery. This includes menus, seating plans, name tags, and thank you cards, which all cost money - and more than you think. 

If you are wanting laser cutting and gold embossed name tags, this comes at a price. Travel costs are also another spend that is not often included.

Where Do You Start?

I always tell my clients to start with the larger spends in their wedding budget first. So, look for a venue, food, photographer, videographer, decor, flowers, and music. Then you can move onto the stationary, hair and makeup, favours, etc.McLaughlin warns that lighting is often a large spend that clients don't take into consideration. 
They want the naked bulbs and fairy lights, but these do come at a cost. I would book the venue first, then check out what is needed to be brought in and go from there. 

How Long Do You Need To Plan a Wedding?

McLaughlin recommends at least a year, but it does depend on your personal savings, and family contributions. 

Often, a father has been saving his whole life to give his daughter the best wedding, so we can whip up a wedding in a matter of months. Other times, the bride and groom are paying for the wedding themselves, and they put a set amount away each month, and pay suppliers one-by-one in order to save correctly.

How Can You Save For a Wedding And Still Lead a Normal Life?

Your wedding budget is there for a reason, so only put away what you can afford. 

There is no point in having a lavish one-day affair, but for an entire year you couldn't even afford to buy a soft serve ice cream and you showered in the dark in order to save on electricity costs.McLaughlin advises putting away a decent amount of money for your special day, but not if you don't have five cents to scrape together as a result.

What 'Big Payments' Should You Start With First?

Be prepared for a 50% deposit and then the remaining 14 days before the day.McLaughlin says if you can pay in full, you can sometimes receive a healthy discount. Some providers may also have a payment plan where you can pay in installments. This doesn't, however, mean you can pay R1000 a month for 12 months for a venue. What is likely to happen is that you lay a deposit of R4000 and then another R4000 six months before and the remaining R4000 two weeks before the day.

It is so important to be honest about your budget and lifestyle. If you can't afford a provider, but really want them, then ask them what their payment options are and be open with what you can afford to pay them.This doesn't mean you should try knock them down so low that they are basically working for free, either. You are expecting top class service from your suppliers, so they should be treated that way in return.
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How Do You Make Sure You Stick To Your Wedding Budget?

I think this is quite simple; be realistic. As planners, we totally understand that you have been dreaming about this day for years and want it to be extra special. But, you have to come back down to earth every now and then and look at your real budget. Keep the end goal in mind.Take a look at your budget and number all items in order of importance. Do you really need that confetti bomb for your first dance?

McLaughlin's Final Piece Of Advice To CouplesMcLaughlin's final piece of advice is to just relax and enjoy the planning process

Fall in love more and more each day. It's the whole point of the day after all. This journey is about marrying your partner, your lover, and your best friend, and starting your life together.