Even before looking for venues or deciding on a destination, you need to know your budget. This is truly one of the hardest things you’ll have to decide, especially if your budget doesn’t match your dream or expectations. Almost all my clients struggle with this. It’s only natural to want more than we can afford, isn’t it?
But what’s the fun in planning a day you honestly know you can’t afford? That won’t be fun for long.
You also need to consider that you may have one budget in mind and your partner has another. Priorities can differ when it comes to spending on a wedding. For one of you this could be the event of a lifetime, for the other, although equally important and exciting, something they don’t want to spend the rest of their life paying for.
Being honest about your expectations at the outset will save you heartache and frustration down the line. There is nothing worse than booking a wedding venue you know you truly cannot afford and putting your life on hold for two years to pay for it. The wedding will become a burden and you may end up regretting the whole thing.
OK, it’s time to get real
To start with, have an honest conversation with your partner. Work out how much you are willing to save and put aside each month towards the wedding. Make sure you allow money for eating out and other normal regular activities. No one likes to give everything up and you may end up begrudging the wedding altogether if saving so much means you have to give up hobbies and interests.
Do you have savings? If so, are you happy to put all or a portion of them towards the wedding budget?
Bank of mum and dad
Gone are the days when mum and dad pay for the wedding, unless you’re lucky, but do have a conversation with your parents. They may want to contribute in some way, perhaps towards your outfit or the honeymoon.
I would never recommend taking out a loan or putting a wedding on a credit card, but many people do this. If you are considering taking out a loan, think carefully about interest rates and make sure you can afford the monthly repayments.
One you have the above information, go to our Free budget tool (you’ll need to have a Luvana account to use it but it’s FREE) to work out your total your budget.
Then download and complete our FREE Budget Checklist to look at how a budget for a wedding abroad is typically allocated and have a go at working out your own wedding budget.
I would say these are the items most couples book;
- Your holiday/honeymoon: I recommend budgeting as much as you would usually spend on an annual holiday and addding some extra if you want to extend your stay or upgrade to a more luxurious hotel – after all this is your honeymoon.
- Venue hire, food and drinks
- Photography and videographer
- Decoration and flowers
- Bride’s hair and makeup
- Dress and accessories
- Groom’s suit and accessories
- Transfers to the venue and back for you and your guests
- Wedding cake
- Ten per cent contingency: with any event it’s a good idea to have room in the budget to cover unexpected costs, for instance, a fluctuation in the exchange rate, (could be good or bad), annual price increases if you’ve booked far in advance, or last minute guests you weren’t expecting .
Other essential items you may not consider in a usual wedding budget but need to be included.
- Holiday and wedding insurance
- Transfers to/from airport
- Legal costs paid locally, apostille stamps, certificate of no impediment, translations
- Pre-inspection visit to the venue beforehand; cost of flights, hotel, food and spending money
- Stationery including invites, table plans, name cards and order of service
- Pre-wedding get togethers
- Bridal party outfits and accessories (if you’re contributing or buying outright)
- After party at home
You’ll notice on the spreadsheet that I’ve put a percentage at the side of each item as a rough guide for budget allocation. You can adjust these as you work out your priorities.
Like with any wedding the biggest proportion of your budget will go towards the reception. The total amount allocated to your reception needs to cover your venue hire, food and drinks, devide the total by your intended number of guests to work out your spend per person. For example, if you have €6,000 from your budget for food/drinks and venue hire, this equates to €120 per person for a party of fifty or €200 for party of thirty, so you can immediately see what type of venue you can afford based on a quick calculation.
If you find a venue and fall in love with it but it’s over budget, you can consider if you can pull back in other areas – for example, a smaller guest list, or a cheaper honeymoon. If the compromises are too much, you’ll need to search for a more suitable venue with cheaper reception costs.
Whatever you do, don’t max out your budget on the basic costs of the food/drinks and venue hire. If you do, where do you expect to find money for the other extras you’ll want to add such as entertainment, photos or additional decorations?
From Andrea at Future Travel
Andrea recommends asking an agent to give you a cost based on the same time of year, so if you are looking to get married next June and its out of the date range, ask for a quote on June of this year –but remember that those flights may have been on sale for some time so the cheaper bands may have sold out. You should also allow for an annual increase. The figure is only a ballpark, but it will give you a guideline on affordability. If you explain to your agent what you are doing, they should be happy to help you with this as they will be looking to get the business when dates are available to book.
Real bride Sophie, who married in Santorini
We had a budget based on average weddings abroad but soon discovered we needed to increase this due to my expensive tastes when it came to flowers and decoration. We revised our budget and made decisions together on what was most important to us and allocated our budget based on this.
Don’t get carried away.
Be sensible when it comes to allocating the budget. If you can’t afford the high end photographer you had in mind, look for a cheaper one, or lose the videographer and just have the high end photographer. It’s unusual to not make at least one compromise, as nice as that would be. We do live in the real world!
Always come back to why are you getting married in the first place and figure out what’s most important to you both, then work together to find a compromise. This is good practice for your married life ahead.
Write a list of priorities individually and then come together to see where you match and differ and respect each other’s ideas.
Once you have the budget, you’ll know how much you can comfortably afford!
If your maximum budget is under €5,000, consider a holiday that includes a free wedding package or a low cost package with a travel agent.
Even if you have a larger budget, you still need to be realistic. Weddings abroad are not necessarily cheaper than at home.
Real bride Nicola, who married in Ibiza
We did go over our initial budget, mainly due to my wedding dress being more expensive than we’d originally budgeted for and my choice of decoration. I also forgot to budget for things like transport for guests and we wanted to provide as many drinks as we could on the day. We also paid a lot for our entertainment, but this was very important to us.
One way to make your budget stretch further is to reduce the guest list. By choosing a small venue your guest list will be automatically capped for you – a great escape clause.
Or simply cap your guest list and only invite those who mean the most to you. Some of the sweetest weddings I’ve planned have only had twenty to twenty-five guests. The same care, attention and detail goes into the planning, it’s just your budget can be spread on more things you love as your food/drinks and venue hire fees are lower.
TIP: If you decide to work with a wedding planner, tell them your budget, the number of guests you expect, the type of setting you want, and your vision for the day, so they can tell you if your expectations are realistic and suggest destinations and venues to best suit your requirements.
Consider your budget and guest size – having the same budget for twenty-five people to a hundred people simply doesn’t work! So decide your budget and maximum guest numbers before you start researching venues. That way, you’ll spend your time more effectively.
Decide at the start what your budget is:
- Calculate what you can save monthly without putting too much strain on your everyday life
- Consider any savings you have already that you wish to use on the wedding.
- Add contributions from parents or from a loan
Once you have your budget stick to it, this will save you stress, worry and frustration during the planning process.
Download and complete our FREE Budget Checklist, this has samples of the average percentages allocated to different suppliers. It’s a brilliant way to understand your budget and manage your expectations.
Or click here to go to Luvana’s free budget tool here.
Play around with different percentages. For example, if you wish to spend more on your dress and less on a photographer, do so. This is your wedding and there is no right or wrong; you are creating your perfect wedding day.
Photo Credit Story Studios