Decide on your non-negotiables, then table all foreseeable expenses with an estimate of how much you can afford to spend on each. As you research various options, fill in the actual cost of item on the list in a third column so you can see where you’ll need to make sacrifices. Set aside at least 10% of your budget for unforeseen expenditures.
Pay as much as you can upfront as soon as you have booked the venue, and set up a timeline for paying off all remaining expenses before the actual day. If you can get some delays out of the way a while before the wedding – venue and band deposits, car hire, bridal party attire, flights and accommodation (if it’s a destination wedding), reception decorations, invitations, thank-you gifts and wedding rings – your bank account will have some time to breath before payments for the food, drinks and the dress need to be made.
If you and your partner are paying for the wedding yourselves, open a dedicated bank account for all wedding-related payments. Consider linking it to a card that earns you rewards (such as miles) that you can use later. Afterwards, instead of closing the account, use it as a savings account for future spoils and ventures.
Don’t underestimate the advantages of using a wedding planner. They have key contacts and tried-and-tested suppliers, and will be able to point out factors that you probably won’t have taken in consideration. Saving on time and having access to their inside-track price is often worth the commission. Speak to prospective photographers and caterers about the planners they would recommend.