Whether you want an intimate event or a grand celebration, one of the biggest challenges of wedding planning is figuring out the budget breakdown. Who is responsible for what? Does the bride really have to pay for the whole reception? Which things are worth a splurge? How to cut unnecessary costs? Do you have to stick to a traditional etiquette? Let us help you understand the how, what and who of the modern-day wedding budget.
The first step to making a solid budget plan is to make a fairly precise calculation of your costs. Don’t let things slip out of control when you start discovering hidden costs. Making an extensive list of all the costs (from hosting an engagement party to your honeymoon journey) is definitely a must-do. Of course, there is probably a limit so try to stay within it.
Did you know that the biggest chunk of your budget usually goes on your reception? And the most expensive aspects of it are the venue hire, the wedding date and the number of guests. If you need to make major cuts and save a substantial amount of money, begin by analysing these three aspects. You can either pick a less expensive location, choose an unpopular date, host a weekday event or cut the number of guests.
While you need to allocate about 50% of your wedding budget to the reception (this usually means venue and party equipment hire, food and drinks), the other half is reserved for all other expenses such as wedding attire, entertainment, photography, videography stationery and transportation. Expect to pay between 5 and 10 % for each of these elements. But don’t forget about pre-wedding events (from the engagement party to the rehearsal dinner), gifts and, of course, your honeymoon! Hiring a wedding planner is an additional cost, but it can also help you get more organised and even save some money.
If you are planning a destination wedding, the budget has to be divided in a slightly different way. While you may choose to invite fewer people and therefore save money on food and drinks, you will probably be tempted to spend more on a picturesque location and luxury venue. Costs of transport and accommodation should be added to the list and hiring a local planner and photographer is usually highly recommendable. Additionally, you may need to consider paying for the accommodation for at least some of your close friends or family members. And if you want to treat your guests, you should prepare welcome bags and maybe even book a sightseeing tour or another fun group activity.
Not sure who should pay for what? According to traditional wedding etiquette, there are pretty strict rules about this. Of course, you may follow them firmly, use them as a guideline or toss them all together, but here is what they suggest:
While the groom and his family should pay for the engagement ring, the bride’s family traditionally announces the engagement and hosts a party at their place or at their preferred venue
And while the bride’s family is obliged to host the engagement party, the groom and his parents should pay for the rehearsal dinner. Maid of honour and best man are in charge of hosting hen’s and buck’s party with the help of the bridesmaids and groomsmen. Additionally, friends can also choose to host other events such as showers.
Not sure who should pay for the wedding rings? Traditional wedding etiquette suggests that the bride should buy a wedding ring for the groom, while the groom (or his parents) should pay for both of the bride’s rings. The majority of costs is covered by the bride and her family. These include the venue hire, music, ceremony programs and flower decorations. However, the groom and his family are expected to pay for the marriage license and cover the costs of hiring a marriage celebrant.
Normally, the bride and her family decide to pay for her wedding dress, shoes and accessories, while the groom and his parents cover the costs of the groom’s attire. Members of the wedding party are expected to pay for their own attire, but it is also common that the bride and groom provide bridesmaid dresses and suits for the groomsmen.
Venue hire and all the professional services including wedding catering, table centrepieces and decorations should be paid by the bride and her family. The groom and his parents are, however, expected to cover the costs of a wedding DJ (or a wedding band) and pay for the drinks.
The bill for the wedding flowers should be split, but not equally. The bride is supposed to pay for all of the floral decorations for the ceremony and reception plus the bouquets, flower crowns and other floral pieces for the female members of the wedding party. The groom should pay for the bride’s bouquet, boutonnieres and corsages worn by the mothers and grandmothers.
Wedding photography and wedding videography should also be covered by the bride and her family.
From wedding invitations to programs, menus and other printed items, all of the wedding stationery should also be paid by the bride and her family.
Your wedding transport typically includes routes to and from the location of the ceremony and reception. The bride and family are responsible for this too. They should cover the transport of the wedding party.
And while the bride and her parents traditionally cover the majority of expenses related to wedding planning, it is the groom’s responsibility to pay for the honeymoon journey. Alternatively, the couple can ask their guests to contribute to their honeymoon budget instead of giving traditional wedding gifts.
Of course, modern-day wedding etiquette is not so strict and you are allowed to break the rules. Couples often choose to pay for their own wedding without involving their parents at all. This means that you can divide the costs between yourselves or make any other arrangement you feel suitable.
Kym Wallis, the founding director of Higher Ranking has over 15 years of advertising sales, digital strategy, and business development experience. He is currently working as Digital Adviser for Vergola NSW.