Wedding Planning Budget Checklist
How to Prioritize and Budget for your Wedding
Here at Bitton Events, you could say we have a bit of experience with planning and managing wedding’s after eight years in the business. With that in mind, we’d like to offer some helpful tips and advice to ensure that your wedding is everything you want, but more importantly, affordable. One of our event coordinator’s Dianna always asks our clients this question: “What do you want your guests to say immediately in the car after your wedding?”
Would you want them to comment on the experience, the food, the décor or a combination of all three? Of course most would say the latter but think about what’s most important to you.
David, Bitton Events’ Chief Entertainment Officer, likes to ask: “What do you want your guests to say one year, ten years, twenty years after your wedding?”
When people recall that special day and your family or friends look at that photo album, they may not necessarily remember all the minor details but they will remember the big things, and if they weren’t there then they will build an opinion off what they see in photos.
The most important question of course is: “What do you want?” (And what does your partner want).
Unfortunately most people end up spending so much money on things that their guests don’t remember but usually we find that people either loved it as a whole or they didn’t. So what do you want them to say about your wedding? Ask your fiancée what’s most important to them so that you both have a wedding day you can be happy with. Be mindful of how far you can stretch your budget, though so that you can remain happy afterwards.
For instance, David and his wife were married just about six months ago and both still have fond memories of the events but for different reasons. David was most concerned with the entertainment aspect while his wife cared more about the décor. On his part—and thanks to being in the entertainment business—David was able to have a DJ, musicians (saxophonist, violinists, drummer), stilt walkers, a light show, and even a cold air gun to make it a wildly entertaining atmosphere. On the other hand, his wife focused her attention on having the best linens, tables, flowers, chairs, and other decorative lighting that suited her classy taste. She found gorgeous centerpieces by the celebrity florist Preston Bailey and brought it to the creative Raffi from Petal Productions who made her vision and dream a reality. Six months later, all of their friends are still telling David how crazy and fun the wedding was which is what he wanted to hear, and are commenting on the beautiful flower arrangements which is what his wife wanted to hear.
Generally, people focus on one of these four different aspects more than the others because about 80% of your budget will pour into these, so let’s discuss them so that you can prioritize what you care about most.’
- Venue. Arguably, one of the most important aspects to take care of but it can also be one of the most expensive if it includes food and catering but we’ll hit more on that later.
- Lighting. How much do you plan to spend on lighting? If we could recommend spending it on only one type, we would say LED uplighting. This helps set the tone and atmosphere of your event and can really add some flair to the room and décor.
- Flowers. You will usually spend a large amount on this decorative trend. A good tip is to get on Pinterest or Google—not that you haven’t already—and collect some photos of your favorite centerpieces or floral decorations and bring them to your florist’s attention; they may be able to make your dreams a reality. Set a reasonable budget for how much you want to spend per table so that they try and work within that.
- Linens and Chairs. Sometimes venues will already include tables with basic linens and chairs but maybe you want something different or more decorative. Whatever the case, think about your color scheme or theme and if you want to match these two with it; also be mindful of what you’re willing to spend on this small detail.
- Drapes. Some venues may already have draping in place but if they don’t or if you want a different setting than what they offer, then consider having floor-to-ceiling draping done to the space.
- DJ. Disc Jockey’s are versatile in the sense that they can play all genres of music for any occasion from the wedding ceremony to cocktail hour to the reception. They can take almost all requests and are able to MC your wedding to keep an upbeat vibe and add a fun atmosphere as well as play for a multitude of hours if needed. They are the more affordable choice for your budget if you want to keep it minimal, but can also include light shows and effects if you don’t mind spending more.
- Musicians. A 3-piece string quartet or single guitarist can add class and intimacy to your wedding but they’re set list are very specific and usually will only play for a smaller amount of hours or more but it will become a bigger cost. They’re price range runs in the middle of the pack so if you’re budget allows it, go for it.
- Band. A live group that can feature 4-10 musicians grouped together who are able to play a set list of music of various decades or genres. They bring a live and rich vibe to your wedding and can play for various hours but keep in mind that requests will not be as easy to fulfill and equipment and band members will take more space. They are also more costly and are on the more expensive end of entertainment but if you can afford it, the choice is yours.
- Fusion. With our newer generations, it’s all about reinventing the music scene. One popular way to combine all of the aforementioned is through fusion style where both a DJ and ensemble of musicians (saxophonists, electric violinists, drummer, etc.) perform simultaneously via popular recorded music with a touch of live music infused. It could be considered the best of both worlds and is cheaper than a live band or getting musicians and a DJ separately.
- If you really want to learn more about the difference between these and fusion style, just click here and read more: http://www.bittonevents.com/news/difference-between-dj-vs-band
This will arguably be the most exponential cost of your entire wedding thinking about 40-50% of your budget depending on the amount of guests and food you will be having. There are three styles from which you can choose from. There’s a large misconception that buffet is always cheaper than sit down but that isn’t always the case.
- Sit down dinner. The sit down dinner is of course where your guests are seated and are served their usually pre-planned meals by the wait staff. Sometimes some will choose to offer a menu but that will be more costly since you’ll have to account for every plate.
- Buffet. The buffet style is where a table is set with all the food and your guests get into a line and serve themselves from the choices offered. Sometimes food may run out depending on portion sizes so make sure to budget for this.
- Cake & Dessert. The cake and dessert are separate entities in their own right but are usually provided by the caterer as well which is more cost effective. If you want a separate caterer for this due to décor or have to use one, it will take a hit on your budget.
- Photographer. People tend to spend the most money on the photographer and for good reason. This is where all your choices are showcased and kept permanent for long term memories. When you’re friends and family is looking through the photo album on your coffee table in the years to come, this will be the only thing to go off of so make sure to book a good photographer in advanced to keep the best wedding memories embedded. As David puts it, when your children or grandchildren are looking through your album, what do you want them to see or say? Various people will go through this so make sure you put some thought into this.
- Videographer/Cinematographer. This is something great to have though not as popular. Sometimes you want to have the actual experience—the music, the lights, the vows—so this is where a video or a cinematic clip comes in. Cinematographer’s are more expensive than videographers because of the equipment, editing and quality of footage though videographers may offer more length. But again, this isn’t necessary and if you’re budget is tight you may either go with the less costly choice, or none at all.
- Photo Booth. This can serve as a fun party favor for your guests to take home and will add to your memories because you can get copies of the photos to add to your album. This is an extra cost, though so be mindful of what your budget allows.
Overspending on one category
Some people will blow their budget on one aspect and will consequently debilitate the potential of the others. For instance, you may pay a lot for the floral arrangements or the food menu but had to book a less-than-stellar DJ and a cheap photographer so while the tables may look perfect, your photos won’t show it since the photographer didn’t use the right lighting or while the food may be ready to be served, your guests wouldn’t know it since the lackluster MC’s equipment isn’t producing sound quality. But that can go vise versa as well so the point is make your to prioritize what matters most to you but be very careful in allocating your budget correctly to each section so that you don’t have to sacrifice too much.
One very important tip we’d like to offer you is to have an excel spreadsheet so you see on paper how much money you’re spending on every section and so that you can account for everything. While we usually would only share this with actual clients and our employees, you can click on the link below to look at our detailed wedding planning checklist and spreadsheet so you can gain a better idea of how to prioritize and budget for your wedding.
Again, when budgeting and prioritizing your wedding, think about these four categories and see which ones you care most about with your newfound knowledge! Allocate set budgets, the largest portion going to what matters most and smaller but sizeable portions going to all other aspects. Try to keep an organized sheet of your budget so you don’t lose track of your spending and so that you know when to cut or downsize things. If you have any questions or just need some advice, feel free to comment below or send us a quick email and we’ll be happy to help you out. Congratulations on this new adventure and good luck in your future wedding plans.