When clients hires you for Full Service Wedding Planning the first thing to do is get the budget set up. In order to prepare their budget I first send them our Budget and Vendor Questionnaire.
This is the questionnaire that asks the important questions that I’ll need to know in order to properly set up the budget.
I do have a generic budget already set up inside Aisle Planner (my client management system). So it makes it super easy to plug in figures for each wedding based on that client’s style and wishes.
Tips for Creating Wedding Budgets
- Start Early: Begin working on the budget as soon as the couple hires you and completes your budget questionnaire. Time is a valuable asset in budget planning. You can’t hire any vendors or plan anything until the budget is established.
- Open and Honest Communication: Have a candid conversation with the couple about their budgetary constraints and priorities. Be clear about what can realistically be achieved within the clients budget.
- Itemize Expenses: Break down the budget into specific categories, including venue, catering, photography, attire, decor, entertainment, miscellaneous expenses, etc. This helps in allocating funds accurately. I have everything listed in the budget they could possibly need for the wedding to ensure we don’t forget anything. As well as add a miscellaneous category for things that arise we may have not thought of.
- Research Costs: Research local market rates and industry standards for each category if you’re a new planner. Knowing the average cost of services in the area is essential for realistic budgeting.
- Prioritize Expenses: Work with the couple to identify their top priorities. Allocate more budget to areas they consider most important and be prepared to make compromises in less critical areas.
- Misc./Emergency Fund: Include a contingency or emergency fund in the budget. A good rule of thumb is to set aside 10-15% of the total budget for unexpected expenses.
- Keep Track: Use budgeting tools or software to track expenses as they accrue. This helps in avoiding overspending in one category and having to make cuts in another. I use Aisle Planner and LOVE it!
- Include Taxes and Fees: Don’t forget to factor in taxes, service charges, and gratuities in vendor contracts. These can add up significantly.
- Payment Schedule: Create a payment schedule that outlines when payments are due to vendors. Make sure it aligns with the couple’s cash flow. Again, Aisle Planner keeps track of all of this and sends reminders as payments are due.
- Review Contracts: Carefully review all vendor contracts to ensure they align with the agreed-upon budget and expectations. Pay attention to payment terms.
- Track Deposits: Keep a record of all deposits paid to vendors and ensure they are properly credited in the overall budget. This should be noted inside Aisle Planner or whatever software you are using.
- Stay Flexible: Be prepared for unexpected changes or expenses. Sometimes couples change their minds or unforeseen issues arise.
- Prioritize What’s Important: Encourage the couple to focus on what truly matters to them. Sometimes, a smaller guest list or simpler decor can free up funds for their dream photographer or venue.
- Educate the Couple: Help the couple understand the implications of their budget decisions. Ensure they are informed about what they are getting for their money.
- Regular Updates: Provide regular budget updates to the couple so they are aware of how their spending aligns with the initial budget.
Remember that creating and managing a wedding budget requires careful planning and constant vigilance. As a wedding planner, your role is to guide the couple through this process, ensuring that they make informed decisions that align with their vision and financial capabilities.