Ask the Experts: Budgeting for a Wedding

Ask the Experts: Budgeting for a Wedding

Each year, Wallet Hub releases their list of “Best Places to Get Married”, highlighting cities with the lowest and highest wedding costs, most and fewest wedding chapels, event planners, bridal shops, and more. To supplement the research findings, the list also includes an “Ask the Experts” section, which asks legal experts, financial experts, and professors in family study programs for their insights on financial considerations for brides and grooms-to-be. Lauren Stansell, Partner and Senior Financial Planner in our San Francisco office, provided her thoughts for the article – during a time when she was planning her own wedding! – and we’ve shared her answers below.

What factors should couples consider when setting a budget for their wedding?

There are many factors to consider when planning a budget – it’s easy to think of the big ticket items like the venue, catering and music, but the little items add up, too! So it’s important to really think through all pieces of the budget together as a couple when making your initial plan. There are many sample budgets online that can show you typical spending by category, give ideas on where you can safely cut costs and find budget-friendly options, and provide resources for further research in each category. I found these very helpful in the early stages of budgeting because they provide you with a massive list of things that could come up – and they can also show you some ‘typical’ wedding expenses you may not care to include at all.

How should a couple decide where to get married?

Deciding where to get married can be influenced by many different factors (including family members and friends), but in the end, couples should decide to get married somewhere that feels special to them. The importance of the day is all about the two people saying ‘I do’. It could be where they live now or used to live, where they met, or somewhere they’ve always wanted to go. The venue fees, of course, need to fit within the budget, and planning a wedding from afar is something that needs to be specially considered as it can add another layer of planning and budgeting.

What tips do you have for a couple planning a wedding and hoping to stay on budget?

From personal experience, my tips would be:

    • Do your research before committing to anything
    • Look into multiple vendors for each piece you plan and read reviews! Wedding sites like The Knot and WeddingWire have great resources on their websites with lists of vendors in your area complete with reviews from real couples who used the vendor’s services
    • If you plan a budget, stick to it! If you absolutely can’t stick to the budget for one category, see if you can adjust the budget elsewhere to make up for it. It can be very easy to let one thing slide through over budget…and then continue to do so time after time. Before you know it the whole budget is blown. And that only adds stress to planning a very special day. So set a budget and do your very best to stick to it and hold your partner (and anyone else helping to plan your wedding) to it!
    • Have fun! The amount of planning can get stressful, but keep in mind the purpose behind the day and it is all worth it.

Weddings can often be an economic boost to local businesses. What measures can local authorities undertake in order to stimulate weddings in their respective communities?

I was a bit stumped for ideas on this one so I spoke with my coworker, Lauren Mireles, who recently got married and she had a great idea. Local authorities could stimulate weddings by organizing a way for couples to get discounts on their wedding venue rental if they use more than a certain number of local businesses for their wedding needs (i.e., wedding dress shops, alterations, florists, bakeries, etc.). This would require some definitions as to what businesses are considered ‘local’, but any offer to help couples cut costs is going to be enticing!