How Much Should you Spend on your Wedding?
Getting engaged is wonderful. For a period of time afterwards you are cocooned in a bubble of love, anticipation and champagne. You can float along in this blissful state for a distinct period of time, bouncing from one well-wisher to another.
And then. The set questions begin.
The rounds of:
- “have you set a wedding date yet?” and
- “have you started looking at venues” and
- “what sort wedding are you going to have?” and
- “have you let great Aunt Joyce know you’re engaged yet and she’ll want to know when the wedding is going to be too.”
Welcome to the world of wedding planning in earnest.
No doubt about it wedding planning has the capacity to be stressful. But with a soupçon of organisation you can alleviate as much stress as possible, making the planning process as joyful as the day itself.
The most important thing to determine, before you do anything else is your budget. This is critical. There is no point looking at any details of the day until you know if they are in your price range.
The big question : how much should you spend?
The short answer : how long is a piece of string.
The wrong answer : you should spend as much as you can because it’s a special day and you want it to be as good as possible. And your friends have all spent heavily on theirs.
The long answer : you should spend exactly as much as you are comfortable, able and willing to spend based on your personal financial circumstances and where your prioritise your wedding day amongst other monetary commitments.
In the UK, the average wedding costs £15,500*. Does that mean you should spend this too? Or more? Absolutely not. Not even if you are in the fortunate position to have very high joint incomes.
You need to sit down as a couple and have an open conversation about how much you think you should spend. Base this on your earnings, savings and any other big financial considerations.
E.g. If you’re intending to have a big budget wedding will that mean taking money out of a savings pot for a house? Are you really comfortable making that trade-off?
Discussing finances can be one of the most volatile conversations to have so try and keep it reasoned. Brides for example, rather than stating “I want Wang” as justification try rephrasing as “I have always dreamt of a designer dress and if that means living in a smaller house I don’t mind.” Grooms for example rather than stating “I want a 3 week honeymoon in America” try rephrasing as “Honeymoon is the holiday of a lifetime opportunity in my eyes. If that means I need to stay in a lot more over the next year I’ll do it without complaint.”
Many couples need to save for wedding payments during the planning process and aren’t fortunate enough to already have a pot of gold saved. Don’t over-estimate how much you can save between engagement and wedding. If you currently save £100 a month as a couple and you’ve bumped that to £1000 in the run-up to the wedding it’s clear something will have to give. Like going out. Or any sort of treat. Or any sort of holiday. Which could result in the distinct possibility that you come to resent the wedding for temporarily sucking the fun out of life. This is clearly not the ideal result.
The other thorny issue on top of what you can afford is what anyone else (and here I’m primarily talking parents) may be able to contribute. In days of yore the Father-of-the-Bride used to pay the whole lot. I’d advise modern couples not to make any such old-fashioned assumptions (assumption being the Madre of all f-ups). The only way you’re going to know for sure what anyone else is going to contribute is by – wait for it – asking them.
Welcome to a very uncomfortable conversation.
BUT it need not be. Try some sort of variation on a theme of the below and you should be ok.
Dear (Mum; Dad; other).
As you know (The fiancé) & I have recently got engaged. We’re over the moon and can’t wait to get on with planning the wedding day.
We really want to make sure we’ve involved you as much as you want to be right from the start. We want the build-up to be almost as much fun as the day.
This is a bit sensitive but we wanted to ask up-front. Were you thinking about contributing to the day financially or in any other way? There is no pressure or expectations from us but the last thing we’d want is to start planning without discussing this and for you to feel like you were left out.
If you were planning to contribute, would you like that to go towards a specific part of the day – e.g. the drinks reception – or would you not mind how it was used? Also are there any persons whilst we’re putting a guest list together that you feel very strongly should be at the day, or evening?
We really need to get cracking with bookings in the next (2 weeks), as wedding suppliers get booked so far in advance! Would you be able to let us know for definite by then? As we’ll be sure to take this into account with our plans
Every family circumstance is different and I’m not saying this is without pitfalls but at least you should know financially where you stand. I’ll return to the tricky subject of the trade-off between financial help and the requirement to invite people you don’t know very well / have your day planned for you another time.
Back then to the question of how much you should spend on your wedding. Hopefully I’ve answered it with a different question : how much are you comfortable spending. Can you get away with spending £3k? Yes. Will you need to make concessions to do so? Of course. Will it still be a good wedding? Remembering that the heart of the wedding day is the commitment you are making to each other for a lifetime, absolutely it will be.
One final top spend tip? Assume you will go 10-20% over budget. I became Attila with our spreadsheet and we still did. I consider it the third certainty in life – death, taxes, and failing to keep to your wedding budget.