With so many options for financing a wedding today - setting, and sticking to, a budget is one of the best decisions you will make but where do you begin?

First thing that needs to be done, when you start planning, is to take the time to identify your priorities for the day – because this is where your money should go.  To sort this out; you and your partner should each write down the top three priorities you each have for the day then compare them.  This will give you a starting point on where each of you truly wants to devote time and money.  Remember to be flexible, as you get further into the planning stages, your priorities may change.

Once you have that established start discussing your budget.  You can download a simple and basic budget here.  This list covers the entire wedding in a nutshell.  Each item on the list has one or more sub items that you will need to consider further down the road. For example on this budget there is a line for Stationary.  What is stationary exactly? Well, that is up to you. It could be just your invitations or it could be invitations, RSVP cards, thank you cards, table plans, menus, etc. 

To get an idea on an overall budget, you must do your homework.  I suggest that for every vendor you want to hire – call a minimum of two.  Yes, two companies in each category and talk about prices, packages and options.  Websites and magazines will only give you an average of costs per category but not specifically to your area.   Also keep in mind if you are traveling for your wedding – either to another city, province or country – costs are going to differ.  So, get on the phone, schedule appointments and get talking.

Speaking of having two of everything… It also isn’t’ a bad idea to have two separate budgets to work with.  The first is the day of your wedding and one for the evening. This will allow you to see what you are spending where on a more detailed scale, helping prioritize what is important to you.

The first budget will be for the wedding itself. This will cover the ceremony, transportation, bridal party expenses, and miscellaneous expenses for the day.  Attire, such as shoes, gown, veil, tuxedo, and lingerie will also fall under this budget.

The second is for your reception, the biggest party you will ever throw.  Even if it is a small garden lunch, this budget will look at food, bar, and entertainment. Centre pieces, D.J, liquor licenses are also things you will be putting into this budget, further down the line.

When starting your budget, be sure to have a sit down with everyone pitching in financially and your wedding planner.  If certain people are paying for certain things, they need to be in the meeting so you are not going over budget and everyone is fully aware of any financial obligations.  If someone does not have a financial interest in the wedding they shouldn’t be involved in the setting of the budget.  It is a very important meeting that will prevent a lot of stress later down the road.  Be sure to include your wedding coordinator or planner, as they will help you understand the budget and keep you with in it! 

Now that is done – it is time to start planning!