Wedding Series: Budgeting 101: Who, How and How Much To Ask
Hello, HENRYs! For those who didn’t already know, I am newly engaged to my longtime partner, Zach - YAY! It has been the most blissful four months. I am trying to soak up every minute as fiancees, but also having so much fun wedding planning + can’t wait for our big day!
In my initial planning, I have come across countless posts on color schemes, florals + all elements of design, but not as many that talk about the finances behind the big day. As managing (and openly talking about) money is so important, we’re starting a new series on Hello HENRYs sharing all of the important milestones related to wedding planning that aren’t as frequently discussed elsewhere. Because the wedding will be in Mexico, we’ll also add some fun travel pieces into the series, including a few posts from K - my maid of honor - on bachelorette parties, the finances of being a bridesmaid, etc. We’ll both try to be as honest + transparent as possible!
First order of business - the initial budget.
A wedding is likely one of the largest expenses most people will have ever had. Even more than a down payment on a home in many cases. In 2018, the average wedding in the US was $33,000 - but that’s just average. In an expensive state or popular destination, it will likely be WAY more than this. For context, in New York, the average is upwards of $75,000! Big numbers. Knowing that half of Americans don’t even have $1000 in a savings account, this budget is even more shocking. Even though it isn’t the most fun or glamorous part of wedding planning, getting real with the numbers needs to be your first step. Below is an outline of how Zach + I came up with our budget + what worked for us.
1) Determine Your Vision.
It’s hard to figure out how much a wedding would cost if you don’t have an idea of what you want. Zach + I sat down over a bottle of wine, each visualized our dream wedding + described it to the other. From this, we also wrote down the key elements or categories that the other had shared. When all was said + done, a few things were mutually clear in establishing our wedding vision:
Weather - Both of our visions were very set that our wedding day would be sunny, warm and free of rain. Because we didn’t want to wait much longer than a year to get married, Seattle was almost immediately ruled out as late winter/early spring is almost always grey, rainy + cold.
Size - While both Zach + I are very social people and always love getting out, spending time with friends + family, both of our visions of our wedding day were intimate. We have never been ones to throw huge birthdays or parties at home, always preferring to just celebrate with a few close friends. For our wedding, we knew we’d want to keep it under 100, if not 75, people.
Quality - Zach + I’s most important category, after the venue, was food/drinks. We knew we wanted to offer our guests an unforgettable, sit down meal with multiple entree options + a top shelf bar assortment.
A destination wedding immediately became clear after discussing our vision - and a destination that was a little further than nearby Chelan or Walla Walla to also help maintain our vision of intimacy, as well as a destination with renowned chefs+ mixologists.
2) Do Some Research.
Once you have your vision + have narrowed down the most important elements, it’s time to figure out just how much that vision will cost. While we knew we wanted a Mexico wedding, we knew we didn’t envision a beach wedding. In Los Cabos, there are just two major venues that are either not on the beach or not at a hotel. We reached out to both to get pricing.
Secondly, because food + drinks are almost always charged per head, we made an initial guest list. I’ll break down the specifics of how to allocate your wedding budget in a future post, but generally the venue + food/drinks are 50% of your total wedding budget. Once you get the cost of your potential venue + food/drink, just multiply by 2 and you can have a RELATIVE ballpark of what your wedding might cost.
3) Have The Awkward Conversations.
When it comes to funding a wedding, there is no set formula for how it happens. Some couples take on the whole cost themselves, some have parents who foot the bill, but, for many, it’s a combination of both. The important thing is to figure this out as early as possible. It’s sensitive to basically ask for money, but it’s important to know where everyone stands. You wouldn’t want to cut costs on your dream wedding, only to receive a big check from your parents on your wedding day + realize you could have had that dream videographer or venue after all. I took the lead when talking with my parents + Zach took the lead when talking to his. I led my conversation by sharing, clearly, our vision + expressing wholeheartedly that no money was expected.
In addition, you should go into these conversations knowing what you are comfortable to contribute as well. If you’ve been following Hello HENRYs for a while, you are already familiar with talking money with your SO. You both need to determine how much you are willing to contribute from your savings, as well as how much you can commit to saving in the upcoming months to get your total budget. Your parents, or other contributors, may want to see that you are willing + prepared to contribute if you’re asking the same from them.
At the end, we came away with each group contributing equally - 1/3 of the wedding budget coming from each group + everyone understanding our vision. Note - this is super important to express. You don’t want to accept money without first ensuring everyone is on board with the game plan. If you want a beach wedding, but your parents are firmly set on a church wedding, it will be harder to turn them down after accepting their money.
Be sure that everyone comes away from the conversation knowing A) what your dream looks like and B) who the final decision maker(s) will be.
Super excited to share all of the upcoming wedding milestones with you all! Please feel free to send us any and all topics that might interest you - planning a destination wedding, what to cut costs on, how to allocate your wedding budget, you name it!