Day 3 of our New Bride’s Guide tackles the most important — albeit the least sexy — part of wedding planning: the budget. It’s the first thing you have to agree on, because without it you can’t even look at dresses, venues, etc. Knowing how much you can spend, where the money is coming from, and the breakdown of where it will go, is key to a successful wedding — and your sanity remaining in tact.
Over all, the reception will probably be somewhere between 40-50% of your budget. There will inevitably be things you want to splurge on, maybe a great band, an open bar with top shelf liquor, etc. A budget calculator (there are lots of these online) will give you an idea of how you should spend on different area. From there you have to speak with local vendors and see where there is give and take in your budget.
With all the planning apps and online resources available, giant wedding binders may become a thing of the past. We found eight that will keep your funds in line, including one that calculates your wedding costs based on where you live. We love the internet.
Wedding Cost Estimator: If you don’t know how much money you will need to pay for your wedding, plug some basic information into this site such as your zip code, how many guests you expect, what services you will be hiring, etc. and they will give you an exact number. For a 200 person, black tie wedding in New York City, they estimate about $60,000. They also break down how you should spend that pile of cash. You could play with this all day long.
The Knot: Out of all the apps on iTunes, this one has the highest rated reviews. It’s free and offers a budgeting tool that will track payments, wedding checklists as well as ways to save all your clippings and photos. It syncs up with your account on The Knot, so you can take your to-do’s with you where ever you go.
Easy Weddings Planner: Another free app, it gets great reviews and offers a budgeting tool as well as a guest list manager. The budget planner will even makes price suggestions for items and services based on your overall wedding budget and it will warn you when you’re over budget.
Wedding Wire: If you’re not into keep financial information on your devices, consider Wedding Wire’s online budgeting tool. It tracks your spending, will update you on payments and will redistribute funds where you need them. When you initially put in your wedding budget, it will give you an estimate for what you should spend, which is helpful. (For instance, $3,200 for the band for a wedding budget of $80,000)
iWeddingDeluxe: If you’re willing to spend a little money ($5.99) consider the iWedding deluxe for the iPad. For all you Type A brides, it counts down to the Big Day down to the second. In addition to the budgeting tool it keeps track of guest list information — who needs what kind of meal, etc. Reviewers call it intuitive and say it is like having a personal wedding planner. Not bad for six bucks.
Martha Stewart Weddings: Of course Martha Stewart has wedding planning tools! In addition to the obvious budgeting tools, the site offers idea for everything from how to pick a location to bridal shower ideas. It’s all very easy to navigate. You can also sign up to get e-mail suggestions from her preferred vendors.
My Wedding Workbook: If want pro-level wedding planning tools without actually working with a wedding planner, try My Wedding Workbook. For $29.95 you get three-year access to not only the budgeting tools but the Etiquette Guide, a customizable wedding website, online RSVP and inspiration boards.
Wedding Worksheets: If you’re old school, or your parents are, you can still find actual worksheets to work out the wedding arithmetic. These from About.com list everything you could possibly spend money on, as well as what percentage of your budget they should be.