Keeping track of all the different costs involved in organising a wedding is hard, particularly when there are so many hidden expenses that can sneak up on you when you least expect it.
Dresses, decorations, invites and entertainment - wedding costs can quickly add up, especially if you don’t stay on top of your spending. Creating a budget that includes all the frequently forgotten wedding costs can help you avoid last-minute problems and make big savings.
A thorough, realistic budget is the best tool for preventing forgotten, unexpected and unnecessary costs from sneaking up on you during your wedding planning.
Work out how much you can afford to spend in total, make a list of everything you need and then decide how to divide your wedding budget.
Try to make your list as detailed as possible, and ensure you set aside enough for each item. It’s also worth having a small amount for unforeseen events - if you have to replace an outfit that didn’t turn up or pay extra for cleaning the venue, for example.
Recently married friends, wedding magazines, websites and blogs are all good sources of advice.
Suddenly realising that you forgot to budget separately for the bride's shoes, veil, or accessories after you have spent your budget on an expensive dress is the sort of stress you want to avoid.
You should also look at prices or ask for quotes early on to ensure that the money you set aside for each cost is realistic.
Here are some of the most frequently forgotten costs - make sure you remember to include them:
Registration fees to make your marriage official include giving notice, registering your marriage and the marriage licence
Stationery and postage costs for sending save the date cards, invitations, and thank you cards.
Accessories and alterations to suits and dresses for the wedding party.
Including the bride and groom in the headcount for the reception.
Favours, thank you gifts, and tips.
Extra charges on your bill from venues and suppliers, including delivery fees, corkage, VAT, overtime and service or cleaning charges.
Printing and framing photos and buying wedding albums.
Once you have a list of everything you need to pay for, you can start deciding how much you want to spend on each item. The way you do this should depend on your overall budget.
If money truly is no object, you can simply start arranging - think of using a cashback credit card, so you get a little extra back on your spending.
If like most people, you have a set amount of money to spend on your wedding, perhaps from your savings or a parental contribution, you should start from this upper limit and divide it into portions for each of your expenses.
You can easily create a spreadsheet, or adapt a general expenses template, to monitor your spending. Keep track of any overspends, which you should try to make up for by spending less on other items, or underspends, which will give you more to spend elsewhere.
If you are trying to keep costs to a minimum, prioritise your list into the most important must-haves and nice-to-haves you could do without. Do this before you start paying for things so you can focus on essentials.
If you are working with a limited budget, it is possible to cut the normal list of wedding necessities. For example:
Choose a venue where you can hold the service and the reception. This could help you get a better deal and cut down on transport costs.
Book your weddings outside of the peak season. Lower demand usually results in lower prices.
Look closer to home for your venue(s). Choosing a local place means you avoid the cost of travel and overnight accommodation.
Limit the number of guests you invite. This could be for the entire wedding or just for the wedding breakfast.
Have a buffet
Ditch the free bar
Give people the chance to celebrate with you at a distance with a live online broadcast of the event, no matter where the wedding takes place.
Consider doing more of the work yourself or asking friends or family to gift their time and services as a wedding present.
Another particularly sneaky cost that you might not expect when you set out your wedding budget is the sudden bump in prices that occurs as soon as you mention that you are ordering for a wedding.
Whether you are ordering flowers, transport or a cake, as soon as suppliers find out it is for a wedding, they often assume you can be talked into spending more to make your day perfect.
You can help avoid this sneaky extra cost by suggesting you are ordering things for a party rather than a wedding.
It might not work if you want a traditional tiered wedding cake, but if you are looking for something less conventional or ordering something non-wedding specific, it could help you get lower prices.
To give yourself a little leeway, make sure you set aside an amount to cover unexpected costs, ideally about 10% of your total budget.
If one of your suppliers lets you down, an unexpected guest turns up, something is broken or turns out to be unsuitable, or the weather forces you to change your plans, you need to have some emergency funds available to deal with it. Another option is to take out wedding insurance to cover some of your major expenses.
It might not be possible to avoid all unexpected costs, but at least you can be prepared for them. And if you don’t need to use this money, it can give you something extra to spend on your honeymoon.