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wedding planning tools

sticking-to-wedding-budget

As a child, were you ever asked by an adult to buy something using their money?

When I was a kid, my mom would often send me to the nearby provision store and buy rice.

Where I grew up, rice can be purchased in quantities of 250 grams, scooped from a heaping mountain of rice. I was expected to buy as much rice as I could with the money that I had been given. Sometimes I’d spend it all, sometimes, there’d be spare change.

This, for me, is a simple and clear picture of what it means to spend within a budget.

This principle of spending within a finite limit seems to be taken less seriously nowadays. With credit cards, quick loan applications, and even digital money, our spending is no longer limited to what we have in the bank.

The lack of discipline to practice this principle when planning your wedding can result in financial woes and relational tension in your future marriage.

So I’d like to share with you 8 foundational ways to stick to your wedding budget so that you’re also investing for dividends with your future spouse.

 

1.  Create a budget.

Planning a wedding without a budget is like taking a flight without a destination. You may not be able to come back!

So first things first:

Step 1: Talk to your fiancé about where your wedding funds will come from.

Step 2: Identify how much you can realistically afford based on your savings, plus whatever you’ll set aside from your income during your engagement period.

I talk about steps 1 & 2 more here.

Step 3: Create a comprehensive budget. In other words, decide on how much you’ll be spending on each wedding item. I provide guidance on this and a free Wiser Weddings: Budget WorkSheet that you can sign up for here.

Saying that you’ll set an overall wedding budget of $10,000 without further breaking it down is setting yourselves up for overspending. Because you’ll likely spend most (if not all) of that lump sum budget on the very first thing you’ll purchase.

 

Click the image to sign up for this 2-in-1 Free Pack that includes the 'Wiser Weddings: Budget Worksheet' and the 'Personal Finance Worksheet'.

 

2.  Talk about your "Guiding Principles."

There are tons of tiny details that you’ll be wading through as you plan your wedding. And most of these details will help determine your budget. You will be asking each other questions such as:

“How will we determine who to invite?”

“Are we going to allow our guests to bring a ‘plus one’?”

“Are we going to ask for financial help from our parents?”

Guiding principles help set the vision for the wedding planning period and create the boundaries you’ll need to stay on track. Agreeing on these ‘Guiding Principles’ from the very start will help you and your fiancé to make better decisions throughout the process. Ultimately, the goal is to protect and invest in your future marriage. Check out this blog where I talk about how you can write your guiding principles.

 

Questions-Wedding-Guiding-Principles
Check this blog post out if you haven't yet. I've got free stuff in there too!

 

3.  Meet up with a financial planner.

A financial planner can help you plan for how you’ll pay off debt, if any (and, please, not debt you plan to incur for the wedding), and how to start saving for your future marriage fund. It’s a wise move to talk about this with a financial planner during your engagement period so that you can be future-thinking even as you plan your wedding.

A financial planner who believes in tithing even whilst paying off debt, and before saving and investing, and who encourages you to be benevolent on top of tithing is one my husband and I personally seek.

 

4.  Have a financial vision for your early years of marriage thru Proverbs 3:9-10 and create a vision board.

If you really want to strengthen your resolve to be financially wise while planning your wedding, then you’ll need to have a strong vision for it.

One good way to give soul to your vision is to find a scripture (or a few) from the Bible that talk about God’s overflowing blessings following our obedience. I’ve chosen Proverbs 3:9-10 as one of them:

"Honour the Lord from your wealth and from the first of all your produce; So your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine."

As you honor God with your finances while planning your wedding, you are preparing the way for blessings to come to you individually, and soon into your marital home. Being financially free (let’s start with having no debt) during your first year of marriage also relieves you of lots of stress. Such bliss increases intimacy in the early stages, which is a crucial foundation for a life-long marriage.

And since we are visual creatures, try creating a vision board. A vision board is a physical display that contains images of the things you want to achieve, want to do, or want to be in your life (or in a particular aspect of life). It’s like the initial sketch of an architect, or a dress designer. Having the imagery of what you’d like your early married years to be will excite your senses, keep you focused, and help you achieve your goal.

 

My prayer is that no financial trouble would tear your relationship apart. And more importantly, that you start your marriage on a good financial note. It just makes life easier!

 

5.  Get organised.

Have you ever had to pay for excess luggage at the airport? It’s expensive! I’ve found myself having to take the hit whenever I don’t plan my packing well. A few minutes of good planning and organising can avoid a lot of unnecessary fees!

One of my husband’s favourite sayings is “those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” And the same is true with weddings. Weddings become unnecessarily wasteful and expensive when the couples leave things in disarray.

But I’m already so busy and there’s just so much to organise!” This is a cry I hear from many brides-to-be. And I feel you! What I’ve observed, and what I’ve experienced myself, is that much energy is spent on things that can be done more quickly, and less is spent on things that actually need more attention. 

Think late fees. Simply setting calendar reminders will help avoid missing payment deadlines. For more guidance in getting financially organised, check out my blog on how to get organised with your wedding fund.

Another way to get organised is to...

 

6.  Invest in a Wedding Admin Assistant.

I’m a believer that you’ve gotta spend money to make money. Now that may sound materialistic to you, but it’s a sound investment principle. Hear me out here:

Organising the various offerings of your suppliers in a worksheet may not be something that you or your fiancé particularly enjoy. And because you don’t enjoy the task, it will likely take longer, and cause frustration.You may even end up cutting corners and not reviewing the proposals thoroughly.

When it’s time to pick suppliers, you pick one that looks most economical on the surface. But because you missed some details about their offering (e.g. limited-use only clause, late fees, service charges, etc.) you end up paying more and getting less.

In a case like this, you may end up wishing you had spent a little bit of money hiring someone to look into the details that you couldn't be bothered with. In the long run, you would have saved more.

Where can you turn to look for wedding admin help? One way is to find an Admin Assistant on a freelance services online marketplace like Fiverr or Upwork. Hourly rates are as low as USD $5. Another way is to make a crowdsourcing post on Facebook among your friends (I do this often). Be clear that you are looking for someone to support with online, short-term, freelance admin work. When I do this, I often get connected with talented people who are stay-at-home moms, part-time students, or in between jobs.

If you want to delegate the admin tasks, but just can’t bring yourself to pay for someone’s services, then…

 

7.  Enlist friends and family to help.

My husband Mike is a master delegator and he knows how to do it with grace, order and integrity. And I’m learning from him in this area. I tend to hoard tasks, not considering that many other people would be willing, able, and happy to chip in.

When we were planning our wedding, two friends acted as our creative team, recommending colour schemes and design pegs. Another two friends (both skilled graphic designers) helped develop our wedding monogram and avatar logos. My sister helped me to compile a list of wedding dress suppliers within our budget and style. A few other friends helped distribute packages that we needed to send to our entourage members. Our officiant, our emcees, and our wedding band were all made up of friends who just wanted to pitch in and help!

Your wedding day is one of the most momentous events in both your lives. Family and friends would love to partake in it in any way. Asking for help is a virtue (humility) as it is an art. You’d want to do it in a way that holds them accountable if they fail to deliver, and allows them to find joy in serving you and your fiancé.

 

All of our bridesmaids and groomsmen had roles to play when we were planning our wedding. Partnering with them strengthened our friendships even more!

 

8.  Be wise about who to invite to your wedding.

Catering and venue are the two largest costs at any wedding. And of course, the price increases as your guest list grows.

It’s relationally restrictive if you reduce your guest list solely based on budget. But conversely, it’s financially burdensome if you let your guest list blow up to include your entire Facebook friend list.

Some dear friends gave us wise advice to use as a decision-making filter when compiling our guest list:

“When creating your guest list, don’t ask yourselves who have been an important part of your past as single people, but rather ask yourselves who you want to be a part of your shared future as husband & wife. Not everyone from your past is going to make it into your future.”

We followed this advice and we’ve been reaping the rewards of this principle.

First, if you heed this advice, you will be left with the really meaningful relationships on your list. Second, these people will feel so honoured and valued because you’re not picking them based on what they’ve done, but based on the value their friendship can bring. Third, while you’re not planning your guest list based on budget, this principle helps to bring down the number to the very relevant few.

 

 

Your financial decision making skills will definitely get a workout during this planning season. Allow them to be put to the test. Work together with your fiancé in every financial decision you make. This is an opportune time to win each other’s trust that you will be transparent with each other about finances during marriage.

Any thoughts on how else to stick within your budget? Please share in the comment section below. And if you haven't signed up for the Wiser Weddings: Budget Worksheet yet, you may do so here. Happy engagement!

 

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Sticking to your wedding budget while investing in your future marriage

 

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get-organised-wedding-funds

One valuable tip I’ve received when it comes to protecting wealth has been “count your change.”

You and your fiancé will be putting hard-earned money into your wedding. One way to be good stewards of God’s wealth is to be diligent and wise about managing it. Shepherds know where their sheep are sleeping and where they’re going. Likewise, we ought to know where our money “sleeps” and where it’s going!

Here are 6 tips on how to get organised with your wedding funds so you don’t keep losing your change.

 

1.  Use a reliable online budget worksheet.

“But I’m not a spreadsheet person!” is a familiar resistance I get when I start talking about using a cloud-based worksheet, like Google Sheets, for efficient wedding planning.

You can use Google Sheets in its most basic form - simply to list wedding tasks or items with their corresponding dates or costs. If you really feel more comfortable writing things on paper, then so be it. You’ll just need to make that tool work for you and your fiancé because you both will need to constantly see the numbers and track their movements.

The benefits of using Google Sheets are:

  • Collaboration. You and your fiancé may not always be physically together each time you work on wedding planning. If you have to do some planning over a call or video chat, you both can be looking at the same Google Sheet while typing your inputs at the same time. The file saves automatically with both of your entries.
  • Portability. Your worksheet sits on the cloud, which means, you can access it through any device as long as you have a Gmail account. You don’t have to email each other back and forth with an Excel, Numbers, or OpenOffice attachment labeled “Version 12.a”.
  • Automated Calculations. Other tools such as Excel or Numbers also offer this same functionality, and it’s tremendously time-saving. While those pull-out cardboard worksheets that wedding magazines provide may look pretty, be warned that you’re in for a lot of manual number-crunching.
  • Revision History. “Can we reduce our budget for catering back to what we had agreed last week?” This is made easier using Google Sheets because you can see revision history and restore those older versions.

I’m all about leveraging things that already work! It’s one of my productivity mantras. By clicking on this, you can sign-up for my free Wiser Weddings: Budget Worksheet!

 

 

Wedding Budget Worksheet Personal Finance
Click the image to sign up for this 2-in-1 Free Pack that includes the 'Wiser Weddings: Budget Worksheet' and my 'Personal Finance Worksheet'.

 

2.  Modify the Budget Worksheet based on your needs.

Every wedding is unique. So feel free to modify my Wiser Weddings: Budget Worksheet to suit your needs. Feel free to remove items which aren’t relevant for your wedding. I’ve endeavoured to build a worksheet as comprehensive as possible to cover details of even the most elaborate of weddings.

How much detail do you need in terms of organising information? My rule is just detailed enough to afford me more time in the future!” For example, I’d put the payment schedules for each supplier on the worksheet because that would save me time going through email correspondences with suppliers later on. Having these dates on the worksheet saves us time when strategising which suppliers to pay first.

Meanwhile, I would avoid adding links of the digital copies of the suppliers’ quotations on my Google Sheet because I can simply use Google Drive’s search functionality to find those quickly.

 

 

3.  Put your payment deadlines on your calendar and set alerts.

Oh, those late payment fees. You’ll want to avoid them at all costs!

Being late for a payment means that you owe someone money for a period of time. And debt is not good. We all want to exemplify integrity. The wedding planning process creates opportunities to work with so many people. I encourage you to treat each contact with your suppliers as a chance to inspire them about Biblical ways of dealing.

Solution? Put all those payment deadlines on your online calendar! I use Google Calendar because it’s free, integrated with my email account, and easy to use!

Here’s how:

  • For every wedding item you need to pay for, check the payment deadline.
  • Add the dates to your Wiser Weddings: Budget Worksheet under the ‘Budget Plan’ tab and under the ‘Payment Due Dates’ column. Having these dates on the sheet makes it easy for you to see the other payment deadlines for purposes of planning your cash flow.
  • Add them to your calendar, or your fiancé’s calendar, or better yet your shared calendar. If you’re adding them to your personal calendar, include your fiancé as an invitee so that he can see the payment schedules on his calendar too.
  • Set an alert one or two weeks before the payment deadline. This way you’re able to prepare the funds you need.

 

 

 

4.  Study suppliers’ contracts, check invoices, and ask for receipts.

Let’s go back to my first point in this blog about being wise in managing our money. Since it’s actually God’s money that we’re managing (Read Matthew 25:14-30 about the ‘Parable of the Three Servants’), we have a responsibility to be diligent about it. So don’t be naive when it comes to dealing with suppliers.

As a diligent consumer, you’ll need to:

  • READ contracts thoroughly. Ask about things that you don’t understand. Discuss them with your fiancé before signing together. A contract is meant to bind two parties, and if on your wedding day your supplier doesn’t deliver as agreed in the contract, you have the right to be compensated accordingly.

Wedding suppliers, especially those who’ve been at it for a while, think and act like business people (because they are). While your current state newly-engaged-bliss has you feeling like the only girl in the world (I recall the feeling), the reality is that you’re one of the many brides (and couples) that these suppliers are serving at this point in time. So contracts tend to be templated. But there is always room to modify based on what you agree on.

  • Put everything in WRITING. “I think I would prefer if you write our order down, please” my husband often suggests in his courteous (but firm) tone whenever a waiter attempts to commit our meal order to memory. We’ve had enough bad experiences with food mix-ups to know that it’s not worth the risk to rely on memory alone.

The same is true with your orders from your suppliers. Insist that everything be put in writing, even the modifications you make to your requests. Thank God for email apps on our phones, you can email your supplier right away:“Ella, as spoken on the phone, we will have 6 bridesmaids bouquets instead of 4. Please confirm this on email.” It can be as simple as that.

  • VERIFY the breakdown of what your suppliers are charging you. Once you receive invoices, make sure that you’re being charged correctly based on what you’ve agreed, and make sure that their computation is accurate. Check for taxes, service charges, miscellaneous fees, early payment discounts, and late payment fees.

One of our wedding suppliers had handed us a written invoice. All the components were correct. But I noticed an odd number. Their 10% service fee was computed as 20% instead! It was a matter of pressing the wrong buttons on the calculator.

  • ASK for a receipt. An invoice is different from a receipt. An invoice is your bill. It’s not a confirmation that you’ve paid. After you’ve settled your payment, immediately ask for a receipt. Do your part in letting your suppliers know that you’ve paid the right amount within the right time frame.

Getting into legal disputes is the last thing you want to do when you’re focused on getting married. So being organised from the very beginning can spare you a lot of headache and heartache.

 

 

5.  Upload digital copies of your contracts, invoices and receipts.

During the last stretch of our wedding planning, our planner fell silent for a few weeks. We were planning our wedding from Singapore and the planner was in Bali. We needed to know whether our service agreement included coordination with our guest transportation because we needed to finalise it at that point.

Having the contracts saved in our shared Google Drive folder saved us time from having to sift through over 150 emails with our wedding planner (no exageration!).

Another benefit of keeping these digital copies is so that you can attach them in an email later on to let your suppliers know of the status of your payments.

Tip for organising files on Google Drive: name your files in a way that’s descriptive, intuitive, and memorable, with simple words that you’d likely use when referring to the document in question. For example, ‘Latest Contract with 123 Caterer in Bali’. For the not-so-organised among you, you’ll be pleased to hear that you can just dump all of the files into one folder. There’s no need for subfolders because organising files into subfolders will likely take you more time than the act of doing a quick search on Google Drive using descriptive words.

 

6.  Update your budget worksheet with every dollar that comes in and out.

You may be diligently paying your suppliers on time, but if you forget to to reflect this update in your planning documents, your partner will be wondering why your wedding funds are depleting so rapidly!

Practice discipline by updating your budget worksheet right after you make a payment to a supplier, or when you receive some income that you’ll put into your wedding fund. This way, you are able to commit to the budgets you’ve set.

If you decide to only merge your bank accounts after marriage, that means your wedding money may be coming from at least two bank accounts. Both of you may then have to do the updating of the budget worksheet with the money that you disburse from your own bank account, or anything that comes in that’s intended for your wedding budgets.

There you go! As you follow these steps throughout your wedding planning process, take confidence that you’re learning valuable skills that will be useful for your work and homemaking. Consider this as a training ground for planning other marriage milestones like a surprise party for your spouse, facilitating papers for your kids’ enrollments, and purchasing a home!

How do you get organised when planning a major project? Share in the comment section below!

 

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How to get organized with your wedding funds

 

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