Wedding Budget Tips: Sane Advice for Budgeting your Big Day

So, here’s the deal about wedding budgets: The majority of the time, couples lowball their budget – sometimes significantly.

The reason why is because wedding planning costs are not transparent. Of the millions of articles on the internet about weddings, there is not one single wedding ‘calculator’ that can add up exactly what your wedding will cost.  Every single wedding is different, so it’s impossible to get a baseline number.  Frankly, it’s easier to prepare financially for buying a house than it is a wedding, thanks to information like zillow.com and online mortgage calculators.

A few more fun facts:

  • The approximate estimate I’ve researched for the average wedding cost in L.A. is $37,000 or so.  That said, most weddings I see typically start at $50k – and range into the six figures.
  • Venue and Food make up the majority of your costs, but it’s wise to have a professional weigh in on your entire budget first before committing to a venue – once you sign on the dotted line with a venue, it greatly affects what you have left to spend on the rest of your event.
  • Passed appetizers/buffet sometimes save money on food, but not always.  A served meal is easier for caterers to buy for – it’s a set amount of food (plus a bit extra) that they can more precisely plan for. Each caterer works differently; it’s best to ask each one their system for pricing out different menus.
Food trucks are a great idea for weddings, and can save money too. Kogi is a popular option for L.A. based couples.

Food trucks are a great idea for weddings, and can save money too. Kogi is a popular option for L.A. based couples.

A couple times, I’ve created a budget for a client, and then they respond saying, “I absolutely cannot spend more than xx,xxx amount.” I then have to tell them I’m not making up numbers – I cannot make the caterer slash the cost in half without slashing the food in half. I cannot make a $1,000 photographer a good quality photographer.  The Veuve Champagne you like is expensive, so meet us halfway and buy a different type.  I prepare couples from the moment they meet that I have to present realistic numbers that represent high quality.  From there we can set a strategy – whether it’s crowdsourcing the video as guests share their phone videos on a private social media app, or having a food truck instead of a formal three- course dinner.

Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, skimp on your music! Here's Dart DJs killing it at a recent No Worries Wedding.

Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, skimp on your music! Here’s Dart DJs killing it at a recent No Worries Wedding.

Before you sign on the dotted line with a single vendor or venue, research all elements of your wedding or give a wedding consultant a call about a budget analysis. It’s saved heartache and yes, dollars, for couples when they prepare accordingly.  Happy Planning!

We discuss budget, and more, in my wedding planning guide, The Five Biggest Wedding Planning Myths.  Buy it here or contact me for a free copy – we give one free copy away a month!

All photos by the talented and wonderful Hannah Arista!   www.hannaharista.com