It’s easier to make a wedding budget than it is to follow that budget. No wonder many couples still spend more on their weddings than they budgeted for. So, how do you stick to your budget and keep your wedding expenses in check while making purchases of wedding things and paying for vendors and venues?
We often hear about couples who went broke right after their weddings, and it’s usually because they failed to keep their wedding expenses within their budget. I know it can be hard to plan your wedding according to (your) budget, and that’s why in this post I am giving you the 21 practical steps you can follow to ensure that you stick to your budget, and spend according to the wedding budget amount you made.
The ability to keep wedding expenses within what was budgeted is one of the advantages that couples with professional wedding planners have over those that don’t. I know that not everyone can afford a wedding planner and that’s why in this post I am sharing my 21 tips on how to plan a wedding that spends according to your budget. Swipe/ scroll down for the tips.
How to Plan a Wedding According to Your Budget (21 Things to Do)
1. Sort out the Funding First
Weddings cost money, and so you need to first get the required money before planning the wedding. You need money to hire a venue, pay wedding service providers and buy things. Check your account – be realistic. Do you have the budget amount in cash? It’s easier if you already have the money you require for the wedding (aka your budget).
You source of wedding funds can be either from your personal savings (from your salary or business) in the bank or a combination of your savings and money contributed to you by friends and family.
Some people choose to first save up the required money before starting to plan their wedding. Others set the budget first and then take some months to save money for the wedding. Either way is okay. However, what is not okay is to start making wedding plans without any savings or plans to save money.
Also, it’s not okay to set a wedding date, have zero or little money and hoping that other people will fund your wedding. Instead, first, set your budget and then save up the money before starting the wedding planning. It will save you a lot of stress. I wrote a 7-step action plan on how to save money for a wedding.
You also should not depend on promised funds because promised money is not cash (yet) until it enters your bank account. Planning a wedding on promised money has led many couples to get stuck in the middle and frustrations or even leading to postponement and cancellations.
2. Set a Budget, a Realistic One
Before you spend a kobo buying anything, set a spending limit (budget) of how much you desire for your wedding to cost. It helps to keep your spending guided and focused. Be realistic here – budget according to your pocket size. I wrote a step by step process on how to make your wedding budget.
Your wedding budget should be realistic and not more than you have or can save up for in a year or less. Do not make a wedding budget based on wishes, hope or expectations from other people, which may fail.
You don’t have to start planning right after you set a wedding budget. If you have the complete budget at hand (either from your savings alone or plus a contribution from others), you can start planning. It’s okay to know your budget and work towards getting it, which is what I recommend.
3. Confirm How Much Cash You Have in Savings
Once you specify how much your wedding should cost (budget), next is to confirm how much you have at hand – in the bank and other places. Decide how much of your savings to set aside for the wedding.
4. Save Money Every Month (in Advance) Before Starting to Plan
If you do not yet have the complete money for your wedding budget, start saving. Even if you can get your parents and family members to pay part of the wedding expenses for you, a responsible thing to do is to save up a reasonable part of your wedding budget yourself. You can follow our action plan on how to save money for wedding.
Decide how much to save every month towards your wedding budget. Also, set a specific day of every month to drop the money. Next, decide how many months of monthly savings will get you the amount you require for the wedding.
Plan not to save for more than 1 year. A wedding at any budget can still be beautiful, as long as you don’t invite more people than your money can feed.
Open a separate bank account especially to keep your wedding budget or save into every month. That will keep you away from taking money out of unnecessarily. Call this account ‘your wedding budget’ account.
5. Ask Early for Financial Contributions from Parents and/ Relatives
While you’re saving up, inquire from your parents and/ or any rich relatives if they would be able and willing to gift you some cash towards your wedding or pay for a specific wedding vendor cost (e.g. catering/ food + drinks, live band or DJ, photography, venue, decoration).
If you have parents and relatives who are financially able and willing to give you part of the money, it’s time to solicit for funding support from them, but ask them far in advance.
6. Break Down your Wedding Budget or Allocate Money to Expense Categories
Once you’ve got money sorted out and ready to start making bookings and purchases, the next thing is to do a breakdown of your wedding budget amount to allocate costs to spending categories.
That will give you an idea of how much or what percentage (of your total budget) to allocate for each item in your wedding list of things to buy.
Later on, you can expand the list to make it more detailed, but having a percentage allocation for certain things will guide you to stay within budget.
This step also ensures that you do not overspend – similar to how a woman makes a list of things to buy (with amounts on each item) before going to the market.
To help you out, I created a Nigerian wedding budget calculator for you – all you need to do is enter your budget (amount) and the wedding breakdown will automatically display.
7. Know Exactly Everything You Need for the Wedding
You need to know what you need for your wedding. Make a detailed list before spending a kobo. Writing down your needs on a list has a way of giving you clarity, even before you start spending the money. I made a ready-made list of wedding things to buy – feel free to copy it and add or remove items from it, as you want.
Anyway, the categories below will make it easy for you to populate your wedding list of things and services to buy or hire.
- Make a list of the things/ items you need to buy (e.g. couple’s attire, food, drinks, etc.)
- Make a list of things you need to rent from others or places (for a fee) – for example, canopies, chairs, tables, etc.
- Make a list of the services/ service providers you need to hire. Examples are a photographer, venue decorator, caterer, DJ, MC.
8. Make a Detailed Wedding Expense List
Before spending a dime, you should first sit down to make a detailed wedding shopping list of things to buy, services to hire and how much to spend on each thing. So, you will need to make a detailed wedding budget list from scratch or expand the wedding budget allocation (if you did that).
A wedding budget list is simply a shopping list of every possible expense you are likely to spend on your wedding. Some couples also like to peep at sample wedding budgets from some Nigerian couples, to pick one or two ideas.
9. Make Room for Miscellaneous Expenses
Reserve about 20% of your wedding budget to make room for any miscellaneous unexpected cost that may arise or to take care of any previously forgotten thing. In our wedding budget calculator, I called this ‘Miscellaneous’.
You don’t want to get stressed out or consider taking a loan if along the way you discover that you committed something and now need to buy it. Reserving a miscellaneous expense in advance will take care of things and keep you on budget.
10. Don’t Guess Price of Items
Actually go to the market and shops to confirm the current price of your listed wedding items. You want to make a realistic budget and so it’s important that you know the actual price of things in the market. Go out there to do market research and price comparison shopping.
Meet face to face with vendors to get price quotes. Use the internet to research prices and contact vendors on Instagram or other social media to kick-off inquiries and request for price quotations.
11. Record Multiple Prices for Most Items
When you go out for comparison price research, make a note of items that are different in pricing and why they are so. Make a note of 2 to 3 price variants for each item, so that you have options if you later need a way to reduce your total wedding cost.
For example, if you found two different wedding gowns you liked and one was N300k and another for N350k, write down the address of the stores and phone numbers. Also, write a note about the features of each to remind yourself why the prices are different.
If after adding up the cost of things and your wedding cost is higher than you budgeted, you can remove the N350k dress and replace with the N300k one when trying to bring down your budget.
12. Record Your Plans and Contact Information in Your Wedding Notebook
Get a notebook for documenting your budget and wedding plans. You can buy a plain notebook and divide it into sections or buy a ready-made wedding planning book with marked section dividers.
Google sheets (inside GoogleDoc) is also a good online alternative for recording your wedding plans if you prefer a digital note-keeping. Or you can do both. Personally, I like pen and paper plans, and I complement with an online note.
Examples of things to have in your wedding notebook include your wedding budget list with columns for the budgeted amount and actual amount item was purchased, wedding guest list, the contact persons and phone numbers of your vendors and venue managers, your wedding checklist, etc.
Our wedding planning templates page is filled with the kinds of things you should put in your wedding notebook.
By having the contact information of shops and vendors you researched, you can easily go back to any of them when you are ready to buy.
13. Record and Track Every Spending or Payments You Make
It’s important to write down every dime you spend or payout. That’s because at every point you need to know the total amount you’ve spent so far – whether you pay out cash or via bank transfer.
You can first make a rough note in your phone or paper/ hardcover notebook, and later write it into your wedding notebook at the end of every day.
Actively tracking your expenses helps to give you a picture whether you’re in the overspending or soon going to run out of cash.
14. Add Up Cost of Items on Paper to Check Whether the Total Cost (on paper) is Within Your Budget
Once you have obtained prices of every item and vendor charges, sit down to add up the costs. If they are below or exactly within the budget you planned, you can start going out to hire venue, vendors and buy your wedding rings and outfits.
If not, review the cost of items in your wedding budget list and replace some expensive items with less expensive ones.
15. Cut Down Your Taste in Some Areas in Order to Reduce Cost
There are always many price options for every item in the market/ shops, depending on the quality and number of features. It’s nice to have the more expensive top-brand version of everything for your wedding, but they increase your total wedding cost. Okay, if your wedding budget has room for it.
If you find that the total cost of your wedding on paper is higher than what you budgeted, cut down your taste for a few items by replacing with less expensive ones.
Then add up the totals again to see if you’re now within budget. Repeat this until your total wedding cost comes down to your budget.
For example, let’s say your wedding budget is N800k, and after adding up prices of things in your wedding budget list, you land at N1.5m.
Instead of going back to the market to look for cheaper options, go back to your wedding notebook and pick cheaper alternatives for different items. Then calculate the totals to see how things look. Repeat until you get a desirable total wedding cost.
Maybe, you can pick the N30k shoes instead of the N100k ones you initially listed. Maybe you can rent your wedding gown or buy a cheaper version instead of buying the more expensive one.
More articles we wrote to help you as you plan your wedding budget:
- Nigerian White Wedding Checklist
- Traditional Wedding Checklist
- Nigerian wedding budget calculator – this one is a hands-free way to automatically determine a breakdown of how much you should allocate to/ spend on different areas of your wedding event. Doing a breakdown of your budget will help you know your spending limits when buying items on your wedding list. It basically helps you not to overspend.
- Answers to Questions About Wedding Budget – Read this post to find answers to any questions you and other about-to-weds have about wedding budgeting.
7 MORE TIPS TO HELP YOU PLAN & SPEND WITHIN YOUR WEDDING BUDGET
1. Preview Every Wedding Plan and Spending Plan with Your Fiancé
I created a fun couples’ wedding pre-planning quiz that you can print out for both of you to fill, so that you settle scores to agree on the same things before starting the wedding planning. This pre-planning quiz has helped many couples avoid the common fights that couples have during wedding planning.
2. Review Your Wedding Budget Down to a Realistic Number
If you find that it would take too long to save up more money, which would cause your wedding date to be further than you’d like, consider reducing your wedding budget to an amount you can realistically afford.
3. Reduce Your Number of Guests and See Your Wedding Budget Go Down
If you find that the total wedding cost on paper is higher than you have budgeted or can afford, consider bringing down the number of guests to invite.
If you do that, you will notice that the cost of food and drinks will drastically reduce, and you may even now need a smaller venue size which could cost lower.
4. Don’t Plan Your Wedding with Promised Money You Haven’t Received
Plan your monthly wedding budget savings on money that is predictable, such as your salary, to avoid disappointment. Don’t bank on promised money. Either wait to get the money before starting to plan your wedding or move forward and plan with what you have in hand.
5. Postpone your wedding if you need more time to save money
It’s best to reset your wedding date to after the budget money would be available. Some people get lucky and not get stuck when planning with an incomplete budget, but some don’t (and there’s no guarantee that any promised money would come).
6. Host a Wedding You Can Truly Afford
You shouldn’t go into borrowing for a wedding, because that is a bad way to start a marriage and has led some couples to separation. There are many things to spend money on after a wedding if your goal is to have a happy marriage.
A comfortable house or apartment is one of those. Therefore, it is advisable not to overspend on your wedding and end up living shabbily afterwards. The wedding is but only a day and you have many years of marriage ahead.
So, plan to organize the best possible wedding on a budget that won’t stress you. There are many ways to make a wedding look impressive on any budget, and keeping a low guest number is one way. Find out more ways to have a small wedding that looks good.
Brides who hit money-disappointments during wedding planning face severe stress, and you can save yourself that stress by first waiting to get the needed budget complete before starting to plan your wedding. Instead of going that route and wishing that money will come along the way, it’s better to cool down, set a realistic wedding date to when you’ll have a complete wedding budget.
[TRUE STORY: I know of a bride who fixed her wedding date and they were paying for venue and vendors as the money came in. The couple believed that once they started planning that money will come. So, a few weeks to their wedding and they had paid for a venue and most vendors, they ran out of cash to pay for the venue decorator.
When it was clear that money would not come in the few weeks before the wedding, hey postponed the wedding. The consequences meant that they would not be able to get a refund for some expenses already made. What a waste! A lesson for you: First sort out the finding before you begin any wedding plan.
7. Stick to Your Expense List
Follow your plan. Stick to buying only the items you listed in your list of wedding things to buy. Resist the temptation to add new things to your list. The only time it is safe to buy a thing not planned for should be when you are sure that everything in your wedding shopping list has been bought and all vendors paid for, and you have some change left.
What to Do If you Get Overwhelmed Along the Way
- Stop! Your sanity and well-being is important. If you ever get stuck or overwhelmed during planning, stop, take a breath, take time off to reset. Usually, couples find themselves bickering and fighting at some time during wedding planning. It’s okay to stop for a while.
- Postpone the wedding, reboot and come back with a better plan and wedding tiimeline that is not too choked to stress you.
- Take time off to de-stress. My post on how to deal with wedding stress has helped many brides, so check it out.
- Hire a professional wedding planner to complete the planning and take the stress off you. Don’t be afraid that a planner will not do things to your taste – they are trained to follow the couple’s wishes and dreams. Even if you cannot afford a full-on wedding planner services, consider hiring a planner half-way through or for the day-of-wedding coordinator services. You can read my post on what a day of wedding coordinator does.
Planning a Wedding (to Spend) According to Your Budget
One of things I tell my brides to do in order to ensure that they stay on budget and not overspend when planning a wedding according to their budget. Usually, after choosing a wedding date, the next thing couples think about to choose a venue, buy wedding things and hire wedding vendors that will help bring your plan to live.
All those require money, and without doing a wedding budget planning before spending money, many couples get to the point where they realize there’s not enough money to pay for the remaining wedding things. At this point, they either postpone the wedding until they have money again or go borrowing. We know how borrowing for wedding has wrecked many new marriages, and it’s not an option I endorse.
It takes discipline and effort to spend within a budget (and not overspend) when planning a wedding. If you aim for a beautiful quality wedding and don’t have a lot of funds, it’s worth it to do whatever you can to make your planned wedding budget work well for you.
I hope that the above tips will help you plan a wedding where you’ll spend according to your budget (and not overspend or borrow). Thanks for reading. If you like this post, please do me a favour – share it on your social media, subscribe to our NaijaGlamWedding newsletter and follow us on social media.
There you have it on 21 practical tips on how to stick to your wedding budget. Let me know in the comments if you’re following any of those tips, or what are you doing differently to help you keep your wedding expenses within the budget you planned.