How to Set and Keep Your Wedding on Budget

Every bride has a wedding of her dreams planned out in her mind. However, at some point between the engagement and the wedding, reality sets in and she's forced to set and stick to a budget.

So how do you set a budget and, more importantly, stick to one? It's very easy if you start early and know how to plan.

Setting a Budget

Keep in mind that wedding costs vary not only according to the size and type of your wedding, but the location. Before setting your budget, it's a good idea to attend some bridal shows or call local vendors. This way you'll know exactly what prices are in your area. Once you've done your homework you can set your budget.

Know exactly how much both you and your partner can afford. This is good time to start talking frankly about finances. Be honest with one another about both your finances and your wedding expectations. If wedding costs will be shared by family members, know the amount they will be contributing. And remember, the smaller the guest list, the more money you'll save.

Open up a bank account specifically for the wedding. This will make it easier to know how much money you have and how much money is left.

Decide where you think your money is best spent. If you will be spending a lot of your budget on flowers, for example, you may want to cut costs elsewhere. Once you've decided where the bulk of the money will be spent, resist the urge to splurge on unplanned expenses.

Certain times of the year are busier in the wedding industry. Choose an off season wedding and you could save money.

Finally, budget 10%-15% extra for unanticipated expenses.

Keeping a Budget

Now that you've set your budget you need to keep it. An easy way to do this is to keep your budget posted in a place both you and your partner will see it on a daily basis. Write down any changes you make, and be certain you're both in agreement before making any changes.

Need some help keeping track of your budget? Then try this wedding budget worksheet (

Cut Costs

If you spend more in one area than you planned, you'll need to cut costs elsewhere. Try some of these ingenious ideas by BRIDES magazine.

  • Food costs: Have cake and cocktails instead of a sit down dinner. Brunches and lunches also are less expensive than dinners. Instead of a bar, serve only beer, wine and soft drinks. Serve less courses. Serve only vegetarian hors d'oeuvres.
  • Reception: Pick a location with its own tables and chairs instead of renting furniture. Use a DJ or even your own iPod instead paying for a band. Add flowers only in high traffic areas or better yet try candles instead of flowers.
  • Invitations: Design your own instead of having expensive ones printed. Send guests to your wedding website instead of printing maps to the venue. Have guests RSVP by postcard.

It's your wedding. Careful planning and cost cutting will prevent you from starting your marriage in debt.

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