How to actually budget for a wedding without going into debt and choose a wedding date based on that budget
The biggest stress I encounter with writing a book, and especially with sharing it with you here is that I have these great ideas all bouncing around my head and they all feel like such great ideas, but as those philosophies and thoughts reach my finger tips they turn to mud.
So thank you for trasping through the mud with me as we write this book together. My gut tells me I'm just throwing your glbos of mud every day, so if there's some value here, let me know in the comments or in email to let me know my gut is wrong.
Budgeting for a wedding and choosing a date should be the same activity
Having explored the economics of the wedding industry, and before you start contacting vendors, let’s build on your mental model - your wedding planning philosophy - on how to budget for a wedding.
Normally when people start talking about wedding budgets they’ll talk about how much you should expect to pay for a photographer and how much to pay for catering. We’re not taking that route, we’ll make choices on vendors soon, as we survey the marketplace and decide who can provide services so that we can have the best wedding that expresses who we are and what our values are, a wedding with intent. Today though we’re going to provide a framework on how to approach budgeting and paying for a wedding, and instead of starting with a date and working backwards, we’ll start with cash and work towards a date.
My personal disposition is to not enter into debt for things that aren’t property, but I’m also a champion of adults making their own damn adult decisions, so if you want to enter married with a wedding-sized debt that’s your cross to bear, but I’m going to assume we’re not going into debt on this one.
Another assumption I’m going to make is that the two of you want to have a lifelong and joyful marriage, which means you either have done or are about to, combine finances and have joint accounts etc. Research shows that people who don’t combine finances don’t combine their lives and might as well save money on a wedding and just not get married. But hey, that’s just my opinion.
So as we would do with any purchase, we start with what we have:
a, how much money you already have saved
And then we figure out how much per month we can save:
s, how much money you can confidently save each month
Then we need to figure out how much we’d like to spend, and if you’re following this book chapter by chapter, you won’t know that yet, but we’ll create a variable for it:
e, for total wedding expenses
And when we put it all together in an equation with m being how many months away this wedding can be it looks like:
m, how many months away the wedding will be
So once you know how much you want to spend, pull out your calculator and go
(e - a) / s = m
So maybe you’ve decided that the wedding will cost $30,000. You’ve saved $20,000 already, and you can easily save $1000 a month.
($30,000 - $20,000) / $1000 = 10 months.
So if you’re reading this in January, you could be hosting your wedding in November!
Working out your total expenses will be an activity split between scalable and static expenses. For example, my job as a celebrant is static. Generally speaking, my fee doesn’t change if there are 20 guests or 2000 guests, but then if there were 2000 guests you might want to consider more audio gear so everyone could hear it. But a caterer’s price does scale and change depending on the guest list. Catering for 20 people is certainly a different price than for 2000. Some caterers might offer a per-guest fee, or they would need to quote on a head count. So there will be a little back and forth, but as we proceed into locking in vendors you’ll want to make an artistic choice on vendors, and maybe select two to three so when you have a guest list you can get quotes accordingly.
Circle back around to this chapter once you have vendors and prices in mind, but as we explored in the maths above, a wedding planned with intention and without going into debt, ends on a date, it doesn’t start with one.
Using the above math we might have decided on a November wedding. Or where you want to marry perhaps November isn’t the best time, so you choose a month after then, maybe April or May?
Let’s say we’ve agreed on an April or May wedding.
Now we choose a day of the week. Remember that Saturday is the most popular day of the week to marry, but maybe for you and your cohort of awesome guests you could select a different day of the week, and maybe that day of the week lines up with a public holiday or a special date for you? Choosing a day of the week that isn’t Saturday is the fast track to easier wedding planning.
You’ve already talked about a day part - as discussed in the earlier chapter on fleshing out your intentions.
In the coming chapters, you will have selected your individual vendors, or perhaps one to three vendors to meet your needs.
You’ll take this whole plan to each vendor with an email that sounds a little bit like this:
Hi awesome wedding creator,
We’re planning our wedding a little differently than most, we’re planning it with intent and with help from Josh Withers and his wedding planning book The Rebel’s Guide To Getting Married.
We would like to enquire with you to provide <insert services here> on a <day of week> in <month>.
We’re hoping to collaborate with all of our chosen vendors to find a date that works for all of them so we can have an awesome wedding with the right team.
Please reply with fees, packages, and availability and we’ll come back to you promptly with a date that works for everyone.
So let's go choose some wedding creators, some vendors!