Once upon a time, a spreadsheet was created. And on that spreadsheet was a list of every single thing I could possibly ever imagine that I could hand over money for.
There were the big things, like the venue, photographer, and food, but then there were other things that were related to it, like spray-tan trials, postage stamps, and bathroom baskets.
This list was the key to how I got the budget sorted.
Now—I read up about the budget, and the biggest thing that was shouted from the rooftops was “Set your budget first, THEN draw up your spending allocations.” But I tend to do things my own way, so I thought I’d do it a little differently.
Step one: Get that huge list into a spreadsheet.
Step two: Do some mighty research. (I found general prices on local websites, called up a few places for quotes, and sent out a few emails.)
Step three: Add quotes to budget spreadsheet.
Step four: Look at the total and cry a bit because you never really dreamt that it would really cost that much.
OK, so even with everything I wanted, our big massive total came to around £20,000. I didn’t throw in the most expensive quotes I could find, so this seemed to be a reasonably accurate number. And we’d been to see our venue and I already knew how much that was going to cost, so that was pretty good.
Some things jumped out as too expensive and not necessary. As much as I would have loved an open bar with waiters serving our guests, it was a luxury I just couldn’t justify. No wedding we’ve ever been to has had a free bar—it’s just not done in our circle—so although it would have been a great gesture, it wouldn’t be noticeably missed.
Did we really need canapés, a three-course dinner, wedding cake, AND an evening buffet all in the space of eight hours? No. No one I know eats that much food—we can have a few canapés, one course for dinner, wedding cake as dessert, and a cheese & meat platter buffet, and reduce the cost by £2,000.
Of course, this was all very well—but by this point I hadn’t had “that chat” with my parents and didn’t know if we would be footing the entire bill ourselves, or if we’d get some contributions from family. So I took that list and added a few columns. They columns were labelled “Essential,” “Want,” and “Would Like.”
The “essentials” were the venue, the church, the rings, etc. The “wants” were a hotel the night before, a car, a videographer. The “would likes” were mostly cosmetic and little things people wouldn’t notice if they weren’t there—a spray tan, a photo booth, awesome favours.
Once these things had been separated I really began to see my options. The “Essential” list came to £13,000. We could absolutely afford this ourselves with our savings, so that made my freak out less. It also meant that I could refine this list even further and get additional things for our money by cutting back on others, like the cost of my dress or our flowers.
This way of creating a budget may not be for everyone, but it definitely worked for me. I couldn’t allocate x amount to something without having any idea of what that something might actually cost, so this made the most sense for me.
In the end, we had £4,000 contributed by family, which was absolutely incredible. I got that £20,000 down to £17,000 whilst still keeping almost everything I’d originally set my heart on.
We have stuck to this budget 100% so far, and if we’ve ever gone over in one area, we’ve ensured we’ve paid less in other areas to even things out. I created a Cashflow Spreadsheet to help with the finance.
It’s so amazingly helpful. The columns at the top show the savings, and then the outgoings are deducted in the month they are paid in. It meant I could keep track of how much money would be in my account, and if I could afford to pay for both the catering deposit and my dress in the same month. I kept on top of everything and so far I have used it for every single budgeting decision I have made.
If you’d like a copy, send me a PM with your email address and I’ll send it over!
Did you stick to your budget? Did you do things my way or the “standard” way? I’m a bit of a crazy organisation freak, so I find stuff like this fascinating!