By Tatiana Sizemore, Owner and Lead Planner of Simply Charmed Weddings and Events

Yay! You’re engaged! Keep admiring that new ring!
Your recently married friend added you to all sorts of wedding Facebook groups and you’ve picked up every wedding magazine, including Richmond Weddings™! Sound familiar? Before you get caught up in the details of planning your day, there is one thing that must come first…determining your budget.

Weddings tend to come with a lot of sticker shock for couples. The average wedding in the United States costs around $30,000. That doesn’t mean you couldn’t do it for less, you absolutely can. No matter your budget, every couple’s goal should be to have the wedding they can afford without debt and without losing their sanity. A budget plan for your wedding can save so much stress and heartache. (Even Meghan Markle had a wedding budget, just saying!)

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Here are the steps to creating a realistic wedding budget

1. Figure out how much money you and your future spouse are able to set aside each month.
Do this by discovering your joint income and subtracting monthly bills. And with the number you have left, figure out how much you want to save for your wedding. If that number is smaller than you would like, see what you can cut from your monthly expenses, such as daily Starbucks, eating out, weekly manicures, etc.

2. Decide how much from your savings you’ll want to contribute to your wedding.
Keep in mind, you are getting married and starting a LIFE with someone. That may mean buying a house, kids, or a trip around the world. Be sure to remember this when taking money from savings.

3. Consider your parents.
Maybe they have been saving for your wedding day since you were born and have a generous amount to contribute or maybe they want to contribute to specific aspects.

4. Add all of these numbers together based on how long of an engagement you want to have.
BAM! It’s a budget.

PRO TIP: Avoid loans or borrowing from a credit card. You do not want to begin your married life in debt and a wedding is just one day; you have your whole life together.

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Now the real fun begins…
Determine what is most important to help you allocate your budget. Maybe you have always dreamed of getting married at a particular venue or hiring a certain photographer. Figuring out your specific budget is important so you can delegate money accordingly. Something important to consider, without a venue, you do not have a date, so start booking that before anything else.

Weddings are expensive affairs. Research your vendors and get an idea of what costs you are realistically looking at. There are many expenses couples tend to leave out of their budget as well. Dress alterations, stamps for invitations, and food and drinks for the wedding party to name a few. Ideally, leave a little cushion in your budget for the unexpected.

At the end of it all, your wedding should be a reflection of you and your future spouse. Think about the things from weddings you have attended and roll with that!

Tatiana Sizemore is the owner and lead coordinator/planner of Simply Charmed Weddings and Events. SCWE specializes in everything from full planning to month of/day of management and coordination. Couples interested in learning more about Simply Charmed Weddings and Events should visit simplycharmedevents.com