Money may not be a fun or sexy topic, but your wedding budget affects every single aspect of your wedding planning process. Regardless of whether you have a limited budget or plenty of wiggle room, it’s essential to plan out your spending and determine what parts of the wedding day matter most to you. 

Not sure where to start with building a wedding budget? Check out our tips for creating a budget that works for you.

Research, research, research

Before you settle on a number, list out everything you need for your wedding: photography, catering, flowers. The list goes on. Once you have this list, look up local vendors and determine a general average for what each item costs in your area. Researching vendors in your area will give you a better idea of costs, rather than going off generic online budgeting lists.

Determine a maximum budget

Once you’ve done your research, you will have some idea of what the different parts of your wedding will cost. Adding those items up will give you a budget to start at, and if that number is too high, look more closely at your line items and see what you can cut or DIY. Keep in mind that, even if something is important to you, you don’t have to spend a ton of money on it. A lot of décor items can be thrifted or borrowed, and there are a variety of ways to save on bigger ticket items like flowers and food.

Know who’s paying

Talk to your partner about who will be covering the wedding costs. Maybe your families are both contributing, or maybe you’re doing this all your own. If you’re footing the bill, be realistic about what you can afford. You don’t want to begin your married life in severe debt because you overspent on a big party. If your wedding is still a long way off, create a plan to start saving now, so you have more money to work with. 

If you have family members who have offered to help out, sit down and talk to them about how much they want to contribute or what they want to buy. Maybe your parents want to pay for the wedding dress or the food, or maybe they’d rather give you money for the honeymoon. It’s important to know what funds you have before you start meeting with vendors and touring venues.

Get organized

It’s hard to keep track of your budget if you aren’t organized. Use a spreadsheet or binder to keep track of everything for your wedding: price estimates, actual costs, and even small budget items like postage and accessories. The more organized you are, the easier it will be to see where you’re starting to go overbudget and correct for it. 

Have a contingency budget

Chances are some things are going to cost more than you anticipated or something will come up that you didn’t budget for. This is why it’s so important to have a contingency budget—an amount over your budgeted amount for each vendor that you can spend if you really had to.

Whatever your wedding budget, there are many areas where you can cut costs with a little creativity. Talk to friends and family about how they can help with the preparations and look for items you can save on as you go.