In order to establish a legitimate, realistic wedding budget, there are a few steps you must do before throwing out that lump sum number. The four W’s are the best practice to use : Who (How many guests), What (Style of wedding: cocktail, sit down, buffet), Where (Beach v. Inland, Hotel v. Unique Venue) & When (What Day/Time of Year). Guest count and how flexible you are willing to be with location and time of year/day will drastically impact the budget and what you can plan for. Our best advice, compose an excel spreadsheet with all of the different categories & start filling them in based on our pie chart. You can adjust the number of guests as you go to see how you can or can’t fit certain vendors or aspects into your big day.
For about 100 guests, we usually tell our couples that a budget of $30,000 is very realistic for a San Diego wedding. Weddings in California in general are on the higher side, with $35,000+ being the average cost. We have done weddings for under $30k, but such wedding was honestly possible by the bride and groom sacrificing some details or cutting some guests off their list. Removing even 10 guests takes away a table, a linen, all of the china/flatware/glassware and floral arrangements needed for that one group of folks. Cutting guest count isn’t the only way to reduce costs of course, it just comes down to spending where your priorities are.
Venue restrictions and regulations can really drive up your costs. For instance, some venues (golf courses, wineries, country clubs) might have an affordable rental fee but then require you to use their expensive caterer. Others that are outdoors and beautiful might not have ample lighting, kitchen equipment or any rentals included. These factors of course play into the “We’ve gotta have it” mindset and ultimately boil down to what is most important to you and your Mr. or Mrs. Additionally, aside from venue & location, you will need to truly keep your budget in mind at all times when booking other vendors. It can be very easy to fall in love with a $5,000 photographer or the most amazing wedding band with a $7,000 price tag!
The biggest advice we can give is to establish your budget up front. Money is one of the most fire fueling topics that can and will come between you and your fiancé for years to come. Designing a budget might mean getting those uncomfortable money conversations out of the way. When it comes to in-laws, tread lightly. It’s not appropriate for you as the bride or groom to have or be present for conversations regarding money with your future in laws. Money is a very personal subject and should be discussed in private. Once you have all parties on board and you know what you are working with, use our pie chart below for a start on how to breakdown your wedding day budget!