There are many useful wedding-plannig tools that couples can access online for free, and budget tools are definitely among the most popular. Simply punch in your spending limit, and your wedding funds are automatically allocated by category based on recommended percentages. And if you're not keen on using online tools, there are plenty of budget examples you can access in books.
Alas, thse automated tools and traditional budget examples are not 100% fail-safe, and don't always work well with moderate spending limits. Read on for the top 6 issues with typical wedding budgets.
1. They Don’t Usually Account for Pre-Wedding Expenditures. Many budget tools and examples focus on costs related solely to the wedding, skipping over pre-wedding expenses you might be on the hook for. Bridal beautification alone can cost hundreds of dollars (gym membership, facials, etc.) and we defy you to attend your engagement party or bridal shower in a dress you already own. Add to that hair-and-makeup test drives, legal fees, and the rehearsal dinner (if you’re paying for the wedding yourselves), and you’ve got significant expenditures you didn’t factor into your wedding spending.
2. They Don’t Always Translate Into Realistic Spending Amounts. Most budget tools break down your wedding costs by category with a different percentage of your spending limit allocated to each. Unfortunately, those automated allocations can sometimes fall far short of the actual, reasonable costs of some of the categories. For example, spending 2% of your funds on your ceremony may sound completely fair, but if your limit is $30,000, you might have a really difficult time finding the venue of your dreams for $600.
3. They Allocate More Funds Towards the Guests’ Experience. That $30,000 you have to spend on your wedding? Count on at least half of that going directly to your reception, with much of it allocated for food and drinks for your guests. And the more guests you have, the higher your reception spending will climb, necessitating that you cut back on other areas of your event (like the flowers, your dress, the photography, etc.).
4. They Don’t Always Account for Tips + Gratuities. This is an expense that simply never occurs to many couples, and if it’s not a category in your budget tool or example, you may be shocked at the significant outlay you’re faced with when the Big Day arrives.
5. They May Be Missing a “Cushion” Category. Having a reserve of 5-10% of your spending limit to cover unexpected expenses is highly recommended, but this category doesn’t always make its way onto traditional budget examples and tools. Your venue(s) may require liability insurance, for example, or you may find yourself renting heat lamps and buying umbrellas if temperatures drop the week of your outdoor wedding.
6. They Usually Don’t Include the Honeymoon. Since the honeymoon is technically a post-wedding expense, it doesn’t always show up as a category on budget tools. Transportation, accommodations, meals, and incidentals are likely to add up to thousands of dollars that you didn’t include factor into your wedding budget.
Want to learn more about wedding spending? Visit our section on wedding vs. elopement costs.