We all know that weddings can be as expensive as they are elaborate. The first step on the wedding trail that all newly engaged couples need to take is deciding on how much they can comfortably afford to spend on their big day. The Knot carried out a survey which showed that 44% of couples admitted that they did not set up a wedding budget before starting planning for their big day. Setting up a wedding budget is the best way to ensure that you do not overspend. You can see what amounts of money need to be allocated to each area of your wedding planning and it will give you an overall estimated cost for your wedding. It is helpful before you actually start spending money on wedding services to have in your possession a sensible estimate of what it is going to cost you to have your dream wedding. Your wedding budget must be realistic to your financial circumstances.
According to a survey carried out by the Condé Nast Bridal Group, which publishes Brides, Modern Bride and Elegant Bride magazines, the average cost of a wedding has nearly doubled in the past 15 years to $27,852. With one third of all weddings now being paid for entirely by the bride and groom, $27,852 is a vast amount of money for the average couple to stump up. This is why I totally recommend you use a wedding budget planner. These calculating tools are not only free (one of the few wedding services you will encounter which can claim this!) but they also take the stress out of managing your wedding finances.
How Interactive Wedding Budget Planners work:
♥ Usually the budget planners provide you with a comprehensive list of all the costs you will encounter when planning your wedding including: Reception, Ceremony, Photography/Videography, Catering, Rings, Attire, Music, Flowers, Honeymoon, and Decoration.
♥ Some of the websites allow you to add your own items which are unique to your wedding planning (e.g. cost of caricature artist, release of doves, firework display or ice sculpture at reception).
♥ With every planner you begin with the overall amount which you can afford to spend on your wedding. You input that figure and the wedding budget planner breaks the amount down and calculates for you what you can afford to spend on each aspect of your wedding.
♥ Most of the interactive budgeting planners offer you estimates and average prices which couples spend on each area of their wedding which help you to work out how much your wedding is likely to cost.
♥ You can enter into some interactive budgeting planners how many guests you are planning to invite (you only have to give a rough approximation at this stage, you don’t have to finalise that decision until you are ready to book your venue, catering and order your stationery) and some of the planners ask how many male and female attendants you plan to have. By inputting this information you enable the interactive planner to divide up the budget accordingly (e.g. catering might be $80 for each guest, so by inputting that you are planning on inviting 100 guests the planner calculates that the estimated catering costs for your wedding will be $8,000). Overall this helps you to work out how much each aspect of your wedding is going to cost.
♥ The interactive budgeting planners range in timescale from the moment you get engaged to after your honeymoon when you are at the “Sending thank you letters” stage.
Advantages of creating your own Wedding Budget Planner
♥ It is better to have a clearly categorized wedding budget set out before you rather than a vague list of wedding services and approximate costs. The more itemized your wedding budget is the better so that you can see clearly where your money is being spent and, if need be, where you are able to cut back.
♥ The budget planner will help you to understand from the outset how much you can realistically spend on each aspect of your wedding (e.g. $700 is too much to spend on a wedding cake if your total wedding budget is $5,000!). You have to know how much money you can afford to spend on your wedding.
♥ By seeing the figures set out in black and white on the budget planner it should help you to keep track of your wedding expenditure and stick to your original budget. You have to have to keep an eye on your wedding spending otherwise you will be paying for your wedding for the next 10 years!
♥ These planners are great because they show the areas you will need to think about when planning your wedding (e.g. you are unlikely to overlook flowers if it is on the list with $150 next to it). They pinpoint areas of your budget you have to consider when planning your wedding and help you create a “to do” list as you realize you have not even considered some of the wedding planning categories yet!
♥ A definite advantage of some of these planners is that if you are on a tight budget the planning tool might well be able to help you decide on what size of wedding you can comfortably afford. For example, if your budget is only $4,000 then you might prefer to have a lavish wedding for 12 guests than a budget wedding for 60 guests. Sometimes a wedding budget can help you to determine the number of wedding guests you invite or sometimes the number of guests you intend to invite help you to determine your budget.
♥ By using a budget planner you can easily choose which aspects of your wedding planning to forego if necessary. You will clearly be able to see where your largest area of spending has been to date and you can also see which “extras” such as favors, lavish centerpieces and extravagant catering can be sacrificed to keep your budget looking healthy. Of course every bride and groom want the wedding of their dreams for an affordable budget but you must use the budget planner to help you prioritize your spending.
There is no need for you to spend lots of money on paper and software wedding planners. I have researched eight of the online wedding budget planners for you and checked what facilities each one has. The interactive wedding planners I have reviewed below are all free to use.
♥ There are two blank columns for you to enter the estimated and final figures spent on each area of your wedding.
♥ The third column contains “average” figures for each different wedding planning category. The planner has calculated these already for you based on a total wedding budget of £17,740 or $27,852 (as mentioned above, Condé Nast Bridal Group who own this magazine carried out a survey and found that this amount is the average wedding cost in the UK and USA). This is really useful as you can use them as a guide price and check whether your own estimate is accurate or over-the-top!
♥ As you click out of each cell it automatically updates the whole budget planning table including the total amount at the bottom.
♥ The wedding categories it gives are quite basic but all areas of wedding planning seem to be covered (except wedding insurance).
♥ An advantage of this wedding budget planner is that you can save it (by becoming a Bride’s member, which is very straightforward and free) which means that you can come back to it and update it on a regular basis as you plan your wedding.
♥ The planner then breaks down the total budget you have given into different amounts for each of the categories, giving you their estimates for each area of your wedding planning and what you should expect to spend. This makes up the “estimate” column and alongside it you have the “actual” column for you to enter what you end up paying for each element of your wedding.
♥ The major fault with this planner is that although they call it “interactive” you actually cannot fill in any of the cells, you have to print this budget out and fill it in by hand!
♥ A further disadvantage is that the planner tends to lump things in together in each of the categories – for example “wedding attire” is for the whole wedding party rather than it being separated out into wedding dress, groom’s outfit, attendant’s clothing, veil etc. I think that the categories seem a bit vague as to what is being covered under each of them. It is far better to have as much of your wedding budget itemized as possible so that you can see clearly where your money is being spent and, if need be, where you are able to cut back.
♥ This planner gives you the option to email it to a friend or print it but does not have the function to let you save it and revise it at a later date (not that you would want to really as you cannot alter it online anyway).
♥ With this planner you enter in your available funds for your budget, add in your actual wedding costs and click on the “Calculate” button which updates your wedding budget and shows you what your overall budget is minus expenses so far.
♥ The only drawback with this interactive planner is that it does not suggest estimates for each wedding planning category and does not even include a column for estimates.
♥ The advice they give is to start by calculating your “ideal” wedding budget. You do this entering in your estimated wedding expenses into each of the categories and the resulting negative number in the "Wedding Budget Totals" is how much your ideal wedding will cost you. If you prefer to calculate how much you spend on your wedding this way then go for it but personally I would rather work out what I could afford to spend on the wedding and have that figure dictate what I spend on each wedding category.
♥ The categories are divided up into wedding planning sub-sections such as “Bridal Trousseau” which encompasses the wedding dress, veil, shoes, wedding dress cleaning fees, wedding night lingerie and more, and “Personal Appointments” which includes the categories hair, make-up, manicures pedicures and even dental appointments. These sub-categories have unambiguous headings and from what I can see they cover all aspects of wedding planning you are likely to encounter. They even include an “Essentials and Extras” category which includes all of the additional costs you might choose to add on to your budget from pre-wedding dance lessons to wedding planning books and software. Even if there are items within the categories which you think are unnecessary for your own wedding budget, they do serve as a reminder of costs to consider.
♥ I like the fact that each category is calculated separately – it makes it easier to see where the varying proportions of your wedding budget are being spent.
♥ An advantage of this wedding budget interactive planner is that the figures you enter will automatically be saved when you exit the website (so long as the cookies are enabled in your browser’s settings). I was able to re-access my wedding budget very easily and update it.
♥ The hints and additional information at the foot of the planner is really helpful and give you reminders for things you might otherwise forget when wedding planning.
♥ It has estimated and actual wedding cost columns. You can either type your costs into the columns and print this budget out, or just print off the blank budget and fill it in by hand as you go through each stage of your wedding planning.
♥ The categories seem to cover all aspects of wedding planning but they do have some random categories such as postage stamps, calligraphy and wedding parties. Again, this is another planner which overlooks wedding insurance on their wedding budget guide!
♥ It goes without saying that there is no option to save this wedding budget planner and add anything to it or update it in any way. It is only useful as a printable wedding budget checklist.
♥ You do have to register and log in to access the planner but this means that you are able to save your budget and come back to update it regularly.
♥ Each section has a link to local suppliers in your area (you give them your postcode when you register) so this is helpful if you need contact details and ideas for your reception entertainment, caterers and even addresses of local wedding dress boutiques.
♥ It has two columns, one with reasonable estimates and the other for the actual cost you pay for that aspect of your wedding planning.
♥ It is easy to remove items from the budget planner which are not required and you can update the whole planner with the click of a button – very user-friendly!
♥ One of the things I love about this wedding budget planner is that each sub-category has a little clickable information symbol next to it, which provides you with a helpful hint or piece of friendly advice relating to that area of your wedding planning (e.g. next to wedding dress it tells you that national average in the UK is £750 but that £300 can get you nice dress too).
♥ An advantage of this planner is that each planning category (such as “For the Bride”, “For the Groom” and “Fun Stuff”) breaks down into easy-to-read sub-categories and at the end of each section you can calculate the total amount you have spent solely on that section.
♥ At the bottom of the planner you have a “Total Estimate” figure and (my favorite) an “Under-budget by £xxxx” figure – what a great idea! Every bride wants her a dream wedding which does not break the bank so it adds a bit of excitement to your wedding planning as you see how long you can maintain that “Under-budget” figure for!
♥ It has four columns alongside each wedding planning category. One for “who pays”, “hitched estimates”, “your budget” and “actual cost”.
♥ Hitched’s estimate for an average UK wedding is £13,875 and they have broken down this figure and calculated the average amount of money which should be spent on each area of your wedding planning. The estimates seem quite low to me to be honest but they are serving only as guide price for you.
♥ You have to register at Hitched and log in to access your wedding budget planner but it does save your budget and allows you to amend and update it as often as necessary. It updates the figures very easily.
♥ You might find the “Who Pays” column useful to keep track of who is paying for a certain aspect of the wedding, particularly if your families are contributing towards the wedding costs.
♥ With this planner you cannot add in other categories of your own which is a disadvantage if you have your own wedding planning ideas which are not covered by Hitched’s various categories. However, you can easily delete the categories which you will not be utilizing for your wedding. I recommend that you do delete any unnecessary categories as it will make the planner totally personalized for your wedding and also easier to read.
♥ To be honest this is quite a basic wedding budget planner. Whereas some of the other wedding budget planners available online are slick in their design and add your name and sometimes even your wedding date to the top of the planner, this one is average but it does serve its purpose!
♥ This is quite a basic interactive wedding budget planner. You enter the amount of your total wedding budget, how many guests you are inviting, how many male and female attendants you intend on having and the planner then calculates an estimate of how much should be spent in each area.
♥ The planner has two columns, an estimated amount and a column for you to insert the actual amount spent. There are sub-totals for each section, and at the bottom is a reminder of your total budget amount and a tally of what you have spent so far – all very clear to read.
♥ The categories are straightforward but seem to cover most areas of wedding planning. However you are not able to add in your own wedding planning category and if you deselect one of the existing categories, rather than deleting it the planner simply enters a “$000” value into the column for it.
♥ You can update the planner easily by simply hitting the “update” button.
♥ I like the fact that if your spending has gone up in one area (way over their estimate of how much you should spend on this area of your wedding planning) the budget automatically re-calculates all of the other areas which you have not yet spent in so that you can see where you will have to make recommended cut-backs. That could prove invaluable to brides who pay double what they expect to for that dream wedding dress!
♥ A disadvantage of this planner is that you can print it but not save it, despite the fact that you have to register and log in to access the tool.
♥ You have to register on The Knot and log in to access your interactive planner but it does add your name and wedding date to the top of the page, as well a countdown counter to your wedding date which automatically updates every time you log in to your budget planner - I think that is a nice touch!
♥ They have laid out a sample budget which you can have a look at to see how it is done, which is helpful.
♥ The budget planner has two columns, the first is the estimated cost of each category and sub-category and the other is the actual cost you pay for each area of your wedding planning. The estimates are based on whatever you insert into the budget planner as your overall total wedding budget. In my personal dummy budget, which I have linked to above, I inserted a budget of $18,000. The planner breaks the total sum down for you - it couldn’t be easier!
♥ This planner is easy to navigate and clearly shows you their recommendations of how your wedding budget should be divided up.
♥ I think that the average costs it gave me for my dummy budget looked very realistic. However, even when I inserted a budget of $5,000 the planner still gave me achievable wedding cost estimates. I think that whether your wedding budget is $5,000 or $50,000 this planner is perfect for you as it will take the total of whatever funds are available to you to spend on your wedding and distribute it in appropriate proportions to each area of your wedding planning.
♥ In order to calculate your budget this planner asks how many male or female attendants you are planning on having. This is so that the planner can calculate the cost of dressing your attendants and how much you can spend on their thank you gifts.
♥ It also asks you to insert how many guests you intend to invite so that it can divide the catering and favor costs by this amount of guests to get a “per head” cost for you.
♥ I like the way this wedding budget planner breaks each section down (e.g. music - ceremony music, cocktail hour music, reception music). The details within each section help to remind you of costs you might not have thought about yet or might remind you of things you have yet to plan (notoriously you forget to include pre-wedding pampering costs for yourselves!).
♥ It looks to me like every wedding planning category is covered in this wedding budget planner. This planner also gives you the option to click on the categories which are required, unlike some of the other planners where you have to just leave the category blank. You are also able to add your own categories too, which is great if you have something which is not a traditional cost in a wedding budget (e.g. cost of wedding attire for your pet!). The items you add in can be inserted into a category which already exists on the planner rather than having to add random items in to the bottom of the planner. This is brilliant as it keeps your budget planner organized and allows you to modify the budget planner to your specific needs by deleting unnecessary categories and adding in your own wedding budget items.
♥ This planner give you the option to click a “View Advice” button which gives you advice and tips for each category (e.g. for the wedding gown category it reminds you to include the costs of possible dress alterations, cleaning costs, shipping costs etc). I think most couples will find these reminders and information invaluable when they are planning their wedding.
♥ At the foot of the planner it sets out the “total budget”, “spent to date” and “amount left to spend”. Each category gives you a sub-total too so you can clearly see where might be overspending. It is easy to add or delete wedding costs, you simply click on the “update” button.
♥ Additionally, The Knot provide you with a payment tracker which was a unique idea. There are several columns spread across the worksheet. As you enter figures into the wedding budget planner, the costs will also automatically appear in the appropriate columns on the payment tracker; “Deposit”, “Second Payment”, “Final Payment”, “Amount Paid” and “Balance Due”. You can insert additional details such as method of payment and diarize the payment due date which is fantastic news for busy couples planning their weddings. I speak from experience when I say that it is all too easy to overlook paying one of your wedding suppliers! You can add calendar reminders so that this does not happen to you. This worksheet, like the wedding budget planner, is printable and you are also able to save it.
Now remember, setting your wedding budget is the unpleasant bit - now you can move on to the fun planning stage!
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