5 reasons couples fail at sticking to their wedding budget

couple sat at table look at finances

With the cost of living on everyone's minds, we've asked Isabel Smith, owner of Wed Start, to offer some insight into how couples can set (and stick to!) their wedding budget.

Last time, Isabel talked about how hard it is to create an accurate budget for the big day (if you missed it read it here). This week, she's guiding us through the pitfalls, which make sticking to the budget so challenging...

The number of couples who are going overbudget on their wedding is dropping, from around 2/3 in 2018 to somewhere around 50% this year. This may be due to savvier couples setting more realistic budgets, or people simply refusing spend a penny more than planned owing to future financial uncertainty, but either way, I am all for it! I've never been an advocate for getting in debt over your big day, no matter how special you want it to be.

For those that do overspend, it tends to be for one (or more) of five reasons:

1. Unrealistic expectations
Although we know that a lot of what we see online is fake, social media can create the illusion that everyone is enjoying mega-bucks, insta-worthy extravaganzas, and that you are somehow missing out if you don't. Worse still, there is a lot of bogus advice out there making couples believe they can achieve the wedding of their dreams on a shoestring, leading to shock and disappointment when the supplier quotes start coming through. That's when the credit cards come out and the spending can spiral!

As with everything in life, you have to cut your coat according to your cloth. Work with your partner early on to figure out what you can afford to spend, and then do your research to find out how much things actually cost and set your expectations and priorities accordingly.

2. You don't know what you don't know
The truth is, there's nothing else like a wedding. Even if you're the go-to in your group for sorting birthday parties, or the resident event planner at work, you just can't imagine the level of complexity involved in planning a wedding unless you've done it before. There are likely to be costs that just hadn't occurred to you (confetti cones anyone?) that can take you over budget if you haven't built a bit of wiggle room into the spreadsheet.

If it happens to you, don't panic – that's what contingencies are for!

money saving jar with pennies in it, hand putting more in.

3. Not putting your priorities in order
I see this all the time and it breaks my heart. You get engaged, you're really excited, you go to see a few venues (or dresses, or bands) and before you know it, you've put a deposit down only to find that once all the extras are added in, you've committed so much of your budget that there's nothing left for the rest of the wedding. Before you pay out a single penny you need to have discussed what elements of the wedding really matter to you both the most. I said it in last week's advice and I'll say it again here: Book your suppliers in order of priority! If you've overspent a bit early on and find the budget stretched thin towards the end of your planning, it won't hit you as hard if it's the things toward the bottom of the priority list that need compromising on.

4.Forgetting the importance of flow
Most couples want their day to last as long as possible (who can blame them!) so book their ceremony for somewhere close to the traditional 12 'o' clock mark. But if you want to party until midnight (or later) that's a mighty long time to feed and entertain people! One of my recent clients had fallen in to this trap, running the risk of there being nearly 2 hours of 'dead' time in the middle of the day during which they would need to either entertain or feed their guests to avoid a lull in atmosphere (£££!). By pushing things back just 90 minutes, not only did we eliminate the 'downer' time, but also between food and booze, and musicians and photographer's extra time charges, we saved almost £1,000! The lesson? Decide how late you want to party and plan your timings backwards from then to ensure you don't overspend on too long a day.

5.Overlooking overspend
Unless you are a bit of a geek (like me!), spreadsheets can seem so very boring. A lot of people are happy to start with a clear plan for their wedding's finances, but don't bother to track what they are actually spending as they go. Not only does this mean you have no idea how much of your budget is already committed to the suppliers you have booked, but it can lead to cash flow problems when they all want their final payments 6-2 weeks prior to the wedding. Lean in to the spreadsheet. Become one with the spreadsheet. The spreadsheet is your friend! Log every single cost against your initial budget, the deposits paid and the amount due in the final months ahead of the day. By checking in on your wedding finances regularly (at least monthly), you can see straight away if things are getting off course and react accordingly.

Get a head start to your perfect wedding by visiting Wed Start.

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