As we close in on six months to the big day, the Pinterest slave in me couldn’t help but gravitate to all of those “Wedding Planning Timeline” posts. They all assume you’re engaged for over a year, so they’re so not for everyone, but since we fit in the presented timelines, I thought just maaaaybe I should give it a thought.

Finalize details with florist: Bwhahahahaha!

Establish plan with caterer: Ohhhhh, ho ho!

Choose and order bridesmaids’ dresses: Pssshhh! Ha!

The point is, according to these lovely little rectangles, all mint green and blush pink and seemingly better at this than I am, we’ve gotten a little behind.

I have a variation on the same dream where we reach the wedding day and nothing is ready, like, way too many nights out of the week, so it was time to get down to business and have what I’m calling “The State of Our Union” address. This one isn’t about saving money; it’s about making sure you know where your hard-earned dollars are going.

If you’ve been following my journey, you may have noticed the word “panic” and variations thereupon show up a lot. I’m … tightly wound. A bit, um, anal retentive. Oh yeah, and I’m a control freak, so I’d already made up my fiance’s mind for him: This was going to be awful and stressful and we were going to be v. mad at each other by the time it was over (spoiler alert: this wasn’t the case).

So, on a Sunday afternoon, Woody and I grabbed some adult beverages, a pen and ALL. MY. NOTES. and tackled this beast: what we have, what we need, and of course, how much money we have left to spend.

When we set our budget at $15,000, it was kind of unofficial. It was an estimation, at best. One thing was for certain: This is a cash-paid wedding. I’ll gladly sacrifice a few flowers here and a few appetizers there to keep us from starting our life together in debt. Not everyone has or can make the expendable income to do this and it’s always your call, but if debt-free is the way you wanna be, I cannot recommend a few powwows between you and your beloved enough.

The first thing we did was break down the budget into categories: Food, venue, clothing, etc., etc. Break those down into sub-categories like bridal gown, groom’s tux, accessories — anything you’re spending money on (yours or gifts).

When you’re making this list, be mindful of those things that often slip through the budget cracks: A marriage license is going to cost somewhere between $50 and $100 depending on where you live. The officiant could command anywhere from $2-$400. You’ll need stamps to mail those badass invites. It’s good form to feed your vendors and apparently, a lot of couples forget themselves in the catering headcount. Are you giving parents or the wedding party gifts? Go ahead and count that, too. budget

From there, we went through and gave a high-side estimation of what we were going to spend based on research. We know we have $1400 left to pay the venue and — file this under forgettable expenses — we also have to pay $400 for security. We’ve used every alcohol-party-calculator thing on the web and figure we’ll need about four cases of wine and 225 bottles of beer. Math-ing it out based on hand scrawled notes from our exploration trip to Sam’s Club, we’re in for about $600 worth of booze. When you’re doing a lot of DIY, you’ll have to ballpark some of your figures, but do take some time to research individual costs.


Next, we added it all up. $10,825.

With right at $3,000 already spent, that keeps us comfortably under $15k, BUT here’s where ish gets real. Based on our established record of savings, we’re going to be a little short without something financially good happening.

With our handy, super-detailed list before us, we started highlighting the things that we know we don’t have wiggle room with. The venue, required security and event insurance cost what they cost. Pretty much anything legal is set in stone. Then we went through and determined where we had the MOST wiggle room. These are your extras, but a lot of time it’s the fun stuff. Be honest about what is and isn’t a priority. If it’s going to break your heart to nix the band or a fabulous cake, don’t say it’s ok now, but end up bitter later. Be willing to compromise and if you have to, remind yourself that getting married is the most important part. That always brings me back to center.

So, it’s time to slash.

I gave up some of “my” decorating budget.

He gave up “his” vintage getaway car.

We figured we didn’t need a super pricey honeymoon suite for the wedding night.

All in all, we came down to the decision that we have $13,000 to spend on our wedding and it’s still going to be amazing. If we end up with a little extra before the day, sure we can add a few more flowers or the fun car, but in the mean time, we’re just going to say this is what we have for this and we’ll have to make it work.

So what about my other BABs out there? What are you doing to keep the positive budget vibes flowing? Let us know in the comments!

Share this!