I’m fairly anti-traditional budget. When we first started planning, my M.O. was “spend what seems reasonable”. To me, $5000 for a DJ is not reasonable. Neither was $8000 for a photographer. We did end up setting up a budget, but it’s not hard and fast. Let me explain:
So when we were first talking about getting married, FI and I looked around online and estimated the minimum amount of money we’d need for the cheapest possible wedding that fit within our standards/goals. We settled on 10k. Then we figured out how much money we’d have to save to have 10k by our proposed wedding day. This meant we would be living on a VERY strict budget (no ‘fun’ money at all), but we were willing to do it for the wedding of our (scaled down) dreams. Thankfully, his parents were able to contribute a small amount, and my parents were able to contribute a large amount to our wedding (we could use the money for whatever we wanted, but we opted to spend it on our wedding), so that put less pressure on us to save, and allowed us to increase our budget significantly (to be clear, we don’t expect or ask for any money from our parents, but were very happy, surprised, and gracious to recieve it).
So, after all that, once we all put all of our wedding monies into the pot, we’ll have 20k (FI and I each put $x in every month, so that money isn’t there now, but will be, and my parents are giving us 1/4 of the money they promised to us every three months). From that 20k, we decided to base our total wedding budget on 16k, to give us “wiggle room” and give us money for a honeymoon/in case one of us loses our job/etc.
So, I went online and using Wedding Wire’s budget builder, I made a budget using 16k and 140 guests. I adjusted their amounts (some things we didn’t need, some things we needed and they didn’t have, etc), and ended up with our total budget.
I have the luxury (and I realize not everyone does) to definitely have some wiggle room. I really use our budget as a guidline. So, for example, we had 1k budgeted for a DOC. After getting pricing packages emailed back, I realized we’d have to spend more to get the level of service I expected. We ended up booking a DOC who was $1250 – slightly over our budget, but I’m not beating myself up over it. Now, if you book EVERY vendor “slightly over budget”, you’ll very quickly end up spending an extra 3 or 4 thousand, so that’s why a budget is helpful. While we spent over on our DOC, I know at the end of the day we won’t go into debt because I spent less than half my dress budget (budgeted $1200, spend around $580).
More than anything, the budget to me is peace of mind. I don’t want to be scrambling the week before my wedding trying to figure out how I’m going to make the last payment to our photog/venue/etc, and I know we won’t have to because of the balance on our spreadsheet.
I highly recommend sitting down with your FI and figuring out how much you can each save every month. Set up a seperate savings account for that money, and only spend/sign a contract to spend what will, at the end of the engagement, be in that account.
FWIW, you are missing a TON of stuff on your budget (that’s why I recommend checking out Wedding Wire’s budget builder). Postage, for example. If you send out a postcard save the date, a regular-sized, not over-weight invite with a postcard RSVP to 100 guests, that’s about $100 in postage alone (and that’s not including postage for thank yous from the wedding and any showers you may have). Plus your invitation supplies/printing/designing/whatever. Candy bar containers, linens, and rentals you may need, alterations to your dress (can be as low as $50, but as high as $500!), shoes and accessories for you, bridal party gifts, transportation, hair, make-up, wedding night accomadations if you don’t want to go back home, food for the day of the wedding for you and your bridal party while you get ready, tux rental, ties, shoes, etc for guys. Do you want any signage? Any decorations? Bubbles or confetti at the end of the ceremony? There’s a lot of little stuff that will really add up.