How to Balance Budgeting for Your Wedding and Budgeting for Everything Else

Life planning doesn't stop when wedding planning starts—and most couples are working to balance expenses for both. Here's how.

By Deanna deBara

Balance Budgeting for Your Wedding
Photo by Mikhail Nilov

The First Look ✨

Your wedding is one of the most important days of your life—and, in most cases, it’s also one of the most expensive. According to Zola’s First Look Report, which surveyed over 3,300 engaged couples for their insights into all things weddings in 2022 (including wedding budgets), couples are planning to spend anywhere between $5,000 and $100,000 on their weddings—with 28 percent of couples planning to spend between $10,000 and $20,000 on their big day (making $10K to $20K the most common wedding budget for 2022).

No matter how much couples have set aside for their big day, most are finding that their weddings are costing more than they anticipated—and, as such, a whopping 70 percent are spending more than they originally budgeted for their wedding.

Clearly, weddings cost a solid chunk of change (and, in most cases, more than the chunk of change that you think they’re going to cost). But, planning for a wedding doesn’t mean that the rest of your expenses disappear; so, if you want to enter your marriage in a good financial place, you need to figure out a way to balance budgeting for your wedding with budgeting for everything else.

How, exactly, do you do that?

What Are Engaged Couples Budgeting for in 2022?

Before we jump into how to balance budgeting your wedding with budgeting for all the other expenses in your life, let’s quickly touch on the expenses that couples will be trying to balance in 2022.

According to Zola's First Look Report, in 2022, couples will be trying to navigate paying for their weddings alongside budgeting for a variety of other major expenses, including:

  • The honeymoon. For many couples, the wedding is only the first part of the celebration, as seventy-seven percent are also budgeting to cover honeymoon-related costs.
  • Housing. You need a place to live after your wedding—and, as such, most couples are trying to balance their wedding budget with their housing budget. Seventy-three percent of surveyed engaged people reported that they are budgeting for a house or apartment (for example, buying a new home or renovating their existing home).
  • Expanding their family. In the midst of planning their wedding, many couples are also planning on expanding their brood after their “I dos”. Twenty-three percent of people surveyed said that they were currently saving to start a family (including putting aside money for fertility treatments).
  • Debt. In addition to paying for their wedding, many couples are also putting money towards living a debt-free lifestyle—including student loans (47 percent) and other debt (25 percent).
  • Other people’s weddings. For many couples, they’re not the only ones getting married in 2022—and all those other weddings are adding to their expenses. Two-thirds of couples are attending at least one other wedding in the coming year—and, as such, are having to balance their own wedding budget with budgeting for other people’s weddings.

That’s a lot to budget for—and a lot to balance. Luckily, there are tips, tricks, and strategies that you can use to keep all your budgets in balance—and ensure that you set aside enough money for your big day and all of your other financial obligations.

Get Organized

Organization is key to balancing budgeting for your wedding and budgeting for your life—so, the very first step of the process is getting organized.

First, determine how much money you actually have to work with. For example, how much money do you and your partner bring in each month—and how much is left over after covering your day-to-day expenses (such as food and transportation)? How much do you already have saved? Is anyone else contributing money towards your big day? (For example, according to the First Look Report, the majority of couples in 2022 are planning to split wedding costs with their parents and/or future in-laws.) Use those numbers to determine how much money you have currently—and how much you’ll have to spend in all between now and your wedding day.

Once you know how much money you have to work with, create different spreadsheets for everything that you’re currently budgeting for. You might create a spreadsheet for your wedding, a spreadsheet for the home that you and your partner want to buy after the wedding, and a spreadsheet for the weddings that you and your partner need to attend in 2022. Then, on each spreadsheet, list out all of the expenses that you’ll need to pay for.

For example, on your wedding budget spreadsheet, you’ll need to pay for things such as your wedding venue, wedding photographer, and rehearsal dinner costs. On your home budget spreadsheet, you might include lines for a down payment, moving costs, and furnishing your new home. On your budget spreadsheets for other people’s weddings, you’d want to include details such as wedding gifts and travel costs.

Laying out everything that you’re trying to pay and/or save for—and how much money you have to work with—will give you a better picture of your different budgets. And, the more that you understand your different budgets, the better you’ll be able to balance them—and avoid overspending in any single area.

Keep Daily Expenses to a Minimum

If you’re trying to balance budgeting for your wedding with a host of other major expenses (such as saving for a house or to start a family), you need to look for—and take advantage of—every opportunity to save.

One of the best opportunities to save—and strike a better balance between your wedding costs and other expenses in the process— is cutting back on your day-to-day spending.

Do you stop and pick up a latte every day on the way to work? Opt to make your coffee at home. Do you and your partner love trying new restaurants? Try cutting back on dining out until the wedding is over—and until you feel like you’re at a good place with your other big financial goals. Does your gym membership eat up a solid chunk of your paycheck? Save the money and opt for in-home workouts, instead.

The point is, if there are places that you can cut back in your day-to-day budget, it can give you more flexibility with your other budgets, which can make it easier to balance budgeting for your wedding and budgeting for life’s other major expenses.

Get Creative With Credit

When you’re balancing budgeting for a wedding with budgeting for everything else, spending is inevitable. But, if you have to spend, why not make your spending work for you?

Optimizing credit cards can be a great way to rack up points—points that translate to a host of rewards, including rebates, travel credits, and cold hard cash. But, only eight percent of couples are optimizing credit cards when planning for their weddings—which means that the majority are missing out on the opportunity to transform the act of spending money into making money.

Research credit cards with competitive rewards offers, and then explore which gives you the most bang for your buck and, thus, might be the best fit for your needs. For example, do you want to optimize credit cards to cover honeymoon costs? Get a great travel rewards card, and use it to cover your wedding expenses, then cash in your points to score free nights at a hotel or a discounted flight.

Now, one thing to keep in mind is that you should only take advantage of this budgeting strategy if you can be responsible with credit—and you have the means to pay off your balances every month. It doesn’t matter how many points or what kinds of rewards a card gives you, because going deep into credit card debt to save a buck is not worth it.

Keep Wedding Attendance Costs Low

Hosting a wedding is expensive, but so is attending a wedding. Wedding guests can spend over $700 on a single wedding, and if you’re trying to balance paying for your own wedding with paying to attend the weddings of a seemingly endless stream of friends and family members, it can add up quickly.

Luckily, if you’re getting married in 2022—and have friends and family that are doing the same—there are ways to keep your “other wedding spending” in check, including:

  • Prioritize which weddings to attend. You only have so much budget to spend on other people’s weddings—especially if you don’t want it to strain your own wedding budget. So, if you have multiple friends and family members getting married in 2022, you may need to prioritize which to attend—and which to RSVP “no” to. For example, you would never miss your bestie’s big day, but if a work acquaintance invites you to their destination wedding, you may want to pass.
  • Look for ways to split costs. If you’re planning to attend another wedding, look for opportunities to split costs with other people. For example, if you need to stay in a hotel, consider asking a friend to split a room with you. If the wedding is a long drive, see if you can drive up with a group of friends, and then split the cost of gas.
  • Gift strategically. If you’re stressed about balancing all the budgets (weddings and houses and babies, oh my!), don’t feel pressured to go big (and expensive) with your wedding gifts. There’s nothing wrong with choosing one of the more budget-friendly items on a couple’s registry; remember, if they added it, they want it.

Find the Perfect Budgeting Balance

It can be challenging to balance budgeting for your wedding and budgeting for… you know, your life. But, with the right strategy, you can allocate your budget in a way that makes you feel totally prepared for your big day—without sacrificing your other financial goals in the process.

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