How to Budget and Plan a Wedding

The engagement ring is on your finger and friends and family have all heard the good news. Now the fun really begins. The countdown is on to planning the wedding of your dreams. Whether your budget is large, small or in between, a few simple organizational tips can keep planning in perspective and you calm, cool and collected before your big day.

Step 1

Decide on the date and time you plan to have your wedding at least nine to 12 months ahead of time.

Step 2

Allocate 48 percent of your budget to the reception. This will be the most expensive part of the wedding and will include the location rental fee, the wedding cake, favors, food and drinks. Contact a variety of venues, including hotels, and get quotes from each. Compare the costs, time allotted and number of chairs and tables provided. Ask people you know if they have any location recommendations for the reception based on your budget.

Step 3

Allot 3 percent of your budget to each of the following: fees associated with the ceremony, such as the location and marriage license; cost of the rings and engraving of the rings; and gifts for the wedding party and welcome baskets for out-of-town guests.

Step 4

Set aside 12 percent of your budget for photography. Make sure to select and reserve a photographer nine to 12 months before the big day.

Step 5

Set aside no more than 16 percent of your budget for flowers and music, spending 8 percent on each. The flowers will include decorations and bouquets. The music will include any bands or disc jockeys that you hire. Choose and secure both the flowers and music nine to 12 months before your wedding day.

Step 6

Estimate printing costs. Printing the invitations, imprints on the napkins, announcements, wedding programs and thank-you notes may seem trivial to some, but depending on your guest list, this can become an expensive task. Invitations and announcements should be mailed out between six to eight weeks prior to the event. You should allot 3 percent of your budget to all of this, including postage.

Step 7

Choose attire six to nine months prior to the event. The wedding dress is the single most expensive item as well as the most important piece of all. You'll want to show off a dress that fits perfectly and reflects your personal style. Wedding attire should account for 10 percent of your budget and include the cost of the tuxedo rental, the wedding dress, accessories, makeup and shoes.

Step 8

Plan transportation, such as a limousine, two to four months ahead of time. Take into account the location of the wedding and reception and the number of trips that will need to be made. If necessary, have everyone meet at a central place to be transported to the facility to prepare for the wedding. Allocate only 2 percent of the budget to transportation for the wedding party. This includes the limousine or any rental vehicles as well as parking attendants and guest shuttles.

Step 9

Finalize the details with the florist, baker, musical acts and venues between two to four months prior to the event. Make sure that you have the date and time scheduled for the rehearsal; arrange accommodations for out-of-town guests, if necessary; set appointments for makeup and hair; and confirm that all aspects of the event are on track with all parties involved.

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