Real Dubai Bride Maja Lunsjo: How To Set A Wedding Budget & Stick To It
3Our BCME Diary Of A Real Bride contributor, Maja, is back! We followed Maja’s wedding planning journey right up until the big day itself, last November, through her monthly BCME diary features. But now Maja is back to talk about what happens after you’ve said ‘I do’, and this week, she’s sharing with us her top tips on how to set a wedding budget, and more importantly, how to stick to it!
You can check out Maja’s stunning Dubai wedding at Al Qasr Jumeirah Dubai in our Real Weddings section here.
Over to you Maja! …
It was clear to me from the very start of our wedding planning process that when it comes to spending money on a wedding, it is extremely easy to get carried away. It is your special day, so naturally you want the best of everything. But unless you have a bottomless bank account, going all out on everything from décor to gifts and entertainment is not financially sustainable.
So here is a summary of the approach we took to creating our wedding budget in a way that ensured we not only spent our money wisely, but were also left with some savings afterwards.
♡ Consider What You Can Afford, Then Decrease It By 20% ♡
A common misconception amongst wedding couples is that they hear of an average wedding cost, perhaps from a friend or a bridal magazine, and they assume that this is what they should spend on their wedding. This is so misleading! Each wedding is unique and will come with a cost that is personal to you based on your taste, location, and what you want to spend.
In order to ensure you can cover the costs of your day and avoid financial pressure down the line, take an honest look at what you can actually afford in total. This includes your current savings, what you realistically believe you will save before your wedding date, and any money your families are willing to contribute. Once you have a rough idea of how much you can spend, decrease this by 20% to get your baseline target budget. This extra 20% will serve as a buffer for unexpected costs because trust me, no matter how well you plan, there will be some surprises along the way!
Also, consider how much money you want left in your account at the end of the wedding. Are you willing to blow it all, or do you want to have some money left in the bank afterwards? This also needs to be factored into your overall total budget.
♡ Identify Where The Money Is Going To Go ♡
The last thing you want to do for your wedding is ‘settle’, but in order to spend smart, you have to have a detailed understanding of what items you are going to have to spend money on and then prioritise them in order of importance.
The way we did this was to first write a simple list of all the key items we needed to budget for. There are the obvious items like the venue, food, flowers and clothes, but don’t forget to include the additional items such as a guest book, printing (menus, invitations, RSVPs), gifts for bridal parties, etc. Remember, your wedding is so much more than just the day itself and each item comes with a cost. Do you want special transportation to and from your wedding? Do you want to spend more than one evening in the venue? Do you want to go on a honeymoon right away?
My advice is for you to spend an evening as a couple over a nice meal, pen and paper in hand, and really map out what your dream wedding looks like. As you discuss, write down each item that is going to come with additional costs and then…
♡ Prioritise! ♡
Give each of the items a priority score. We opted for a scale of 1-3, with 3 being extremely important and 1 being less important. For example, our venue was a 3, meaning it would require a big chunk of our budget, whereas we were more willing to compromise on flowers which scored a 2. My wedding dress was also (perhaps surprisingly) a 2 because while I wanted it to be a nice fit, I didn’t necessarily see the need to spend a fortune on it or buy from a particular brand. The list may evolve as you continue your planning, but it was a good reference point for us to go back to whenever we found ourselves getting carried away to spend more than we planned on for lower priority items.
♡ Get Organised ♡
My excel wedding planning sheet became my holy grail during our wedding planning process. I created a simple, but effective, template which contained the following columns:
- The item, e.g. Dress, Bridesmaids gifts, venue, food, DJ, etc.
- The quantity of items: 1 dress, 6 bridesmaids gifts, and so on.
- Unit price.
- Total cost (quantity of items x unit cost).
- Payment due date. This was very important so that we ensured we always had enough money readily available in our debit accounts for upcoming large payments.
- Status: Paid in full, X% paid, signed, not started, etc.
- Comments: This contained key contact details and any questions I needed to raise with the vendors.
Having the budget above allowed us to get a really detailed view on not only where our money was going, but also when it was due, to whom, and what had already been paid.
♡ Don’t Forget To Save! ♡
Each month when we got paid, we would move the amount which we had agreed to save for the wedding into a joint savings account, ensuring we didn’t accidentally overspend on our non-wedding activities and that we would actually hit our target.
Lastly, I just want to add that a wedding is about celebrating your love with friends and family, not about how many tiers the cake is or which designer your dress is from. Don’t bankrupt yourselves trying to show off to your friends and family, that is not what they are coming for. Spend smart, save what you can, focus on each other and trust that your loved ones will have an amazing time no matter what. At the end of the day, all that matters is that you get to say ‘I do’ to the person you love.