Wedding Budget – The Breakdown

Being on a budget of any kind is tough. Don’t let anyone fool you – EVERYONE is on a budget and whether it is smaller or larger in dollar value, there is an amount that everyone must stay within. The budget for your wedding is no different, it is just a little trickier.

Decide on the total dollar value you are able to spend on your wedding, and divide the finances as follows, using your preferred wedding budget template. Using a template or specific program is a must – and there are dozens available on the internet!

Remember that taxes and tips are included in the total amount:

40 Percent – Estimate to spend 40 percent of a budget on the reception venue. This includes food, beverages, staffing, taxes and tip. 

10 Percent – Ambiance. Flowers, lighting, decorations will add up quickly.

10 Percent – Music for reception; band, DJ or both.

10 Percent – Photography for the entire event. If you plan a photobooth, include it in this category.

10 Percent – Attire. Brides entire ensemble (headpiece, veil accessories, shoes), groom’s entire ensemble – head to toe.

3 Percent – Favors and gifts for guests, including all attendants’ gifts.

3 Percent – Ceremony. This includes marriage license, ceremony flowers, officiant fee,  musicians (different from reception music). This is it’s own category!

3 Percent – Invitations, save-the-date cards, table markers, guest book, place cards, gift card holder, pen that guests will use to sign the guest book, programs… are all included in this category.

3 Percent – Sweets. Cake, sweet table, individual cakes or desserts.

1 Percent – Transportation costs, bus, limousine, however you plan to get your party from point A to point B (here’s to find out more).

The last 7 percent is for ICE. No, not frozen water… In Case of Emergency. Use this money if something suddenly happens and the cost of one of your categories increases. You fell in love with  gown slightly out of your price range, there is an unexpected surcharge or corkage fee or cutting fee. Having an emergency fund  will save you a lot of aggravation.

It is important to remember that every couple’s budget may vary depending on their vendor preferences and that each couple may have different priorities when it comes to their wedding. You can set yours accordingly, borrowing a percent from one category to make up in an other.

However, there is only 100% so, make sure your figures add up!!!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

How to Spend your Wedding Budget article photo



Honeymoon – Now or Later?

According to industry statistics, an estimated 38% of couples honeymoon immediately after the wedding, about 27% honeymoon within 3 months and the remaining 35% opt for no honeymoon at all. No honeymoon? Hard to believe but,  destination weddings add up to a whopping 19%, which leaves a small percentage of couples who are either unable or unwilling to get away.

Now – The best reason to get away immediately after the wedding is to decompress and relax. Stress has been building since the engagement and with all of the preparations and details under your belt, disappearing with your new bride or groom is about the best thing you can do if it is at all possible. The Thank You cards can wait until you get back. Or better yet … take them with you and send them with an exotic postmark.

Later – There are many reasons that couples may choose to delay their honeymoon; unable to get time off from their job or other commitment, illness in the family, or perhaps weather concerns. Be careful, waiting more than three months after the wedding causes most couples to focus on other matters that need their financial attention, like using their honeymoon fund for a new car or  a down-payment on a house.

Destination – The upside of a destination wedding is the built-in honeymoon. It is a much smaller, more intimate gathering and you will only be able to invite your closest friends and family. The down side is that only about 50% of your invitees will be able to make it.

Whether you honeymoon now, or later or choose no honeymoon at all,  a really great idea is to spend your first night as a married couple in a luxurious hotel, making sure they know you are newlyweds so you can bask in the glory of the honeymoon suite!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago



Managing Your Finances – Together

Many couples today are paying for their own wedding, which makes it no great surprise that they would start their new life together in debt. Debt is that nasty four letter word that no one likes, we all fear and is hard to dig yourself out of unless you are prepared.

Not surprisingly, it is how you handle the debt that determines whether you will be a) successful at removing it and b) your marriage can weather the debt storm. According to financial guru, Suze Orman, money issues play a significant role in 90 percent of divorces.

Tips on managing debt  from Suze Orman:

Budget – The purpose of a budget is to control your spending. Think of it as a diet for your bank account; you cannot charge more than you make or your debt will weigh you down.  Be honest with each other about spending and never go over budget without giving the other person a heads up.

Joint accounts – Having a joint account to pay household bills is a good idea. But, each person should have their own separate account as well.

Equal Contribution – Each person should contribute the same percent of their income to the household. If you make $100,000 per year and your spouse makes $50,000 per year, your contribution will be double. Percent is the key word. If you don’t make equal money, you can’t contribute the exact same dollar amount.

Control – You should always be allowed to control your own money. If your spouse insists that you relinquish all of your money into a joint account and you have to ask for money, this is a recipe for disaster.

In most relationships, there is one person who is a spender and one is a saver. If you can combine your strengths and weaknesses for the greater good, this is a terrific combination. If you are both spenders, you should seek financial guidance early in your relationship so you don’t become a statistic.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Merging Finances – For Better or Worse

We all know that when it comes to money, people can get very strange. That’s why it is a good idea to be prepared for anything and everything when it comes to merging your finances before your wedding, especially if one of you earns significantly more than the other.

The best thing you can do is to have an open, honest conversation about money and bills and who will pay for what. This is critical if you are paying for your own wedding but important even if you aren’t. Although most people have a negative view of pre-nuptial agreements, they are a great way to tackle estate planning and cover the big question of what  to do in case of death, job loss or other unforeseen problems. I’m not a boy scout but I still think it is good to always be prepared.

Before your decide to merge all of your finances and go full force into joint checking, saving, home loan and credit debt, here are some things you will want to consider:

Get a copy of your credit report before you begin wedding planning. This goes for both of you. Sit down and compare your credit reports and find out what is on there that can be removed, offer to help your partner, if you are able. Focus on things like charge-offs, which can affect your credit score up to 200 points. A charge-off is an account that has gone unpaid for more than 180 days and generally the credit company has ceased trying to collect. Look at the amount, decide how much of it you can pay and call the company that issued the credit (not the collection agency) to dicsuss removing this from your credit report. This will be tricky since they may have to dig up old records and you may be put on hold and called back several times but, it’s worth it. Be persistent and polite (it is YOUR debt, not theirs) and make payment arrangements. Pay in full if you can or make monthly payments. Whatever you can negotiate with them will serve you well.

Make a monthly budget as individuals and as a couple. Use a calculator, pencil and paper – leave nothing to the imagination. Write down how much you make and what bills you have together and separately.  Decide who pays what and how. Did you know that you can set your due date on most bills? Yes! Contact utilities, credit cards, etc and ask them (again, politely) if you chould have your bill due on a certain date, they will comply if it is within reason and if you are current on all of your debt.   It is important to know what is going to be pulled out each month for bills and for incidentals so you may want to pad the budget a little. While you are at it- don’t forget the little things like tollway passes, lunch costs, birthdays of family and friends,  health care co-pays and other incidentals. Toll violations get reported to the credit bureau within 3 months and can drag your score down over 100 points. ONE toll violation can costs you hundred of dollars and render you unable to obtain a home loan if not handled properly. Myinstantoffer pre approval is a good option.

Joint credit cards are not always a  great idea. The main reason joint credit cards are not a good idea is because both of your salaries will be taken into consideration when determining the credit limit. The limit may be significantly higher than if you each applied solo. Although this sounds like a good thing it is the easiest way to get into debt. Credit cards are great but, try to maintain a balance you can pay off every month. Another reason they may not be a good idea is that if something happens and one of you loses your job or becomes unable to pay, you are both still responsible for paying the card. A better choice may be an authorized user. This  is someone who is not responsible for payment but can still use the card. Thats sounds great, right? Actually, this is only a good idea if you have firmly established trust and are assured that your spouse isn’t going to charge like there’s no tomorrow. The main reason this is a better idea is that you will be able to use the card in an emergency but will not have to sign on and be approved which sometimes comes with an additional fee. It is also a great help when one party makes significantly less money or is working on repairing their credit. However, being an authorized user will not improve your credit score . The best way to do that is to start with a card that has a  low limit and work your way up. You will slowly but surely get approved for more and more credit after you are prompt with payment and your credit score improves. Why did my credit score go down when nothing changed? You should take a closer look at this.

Combine balances, close accounts you never use and do not open a credit account at every store where you shop even if they offer you massive discounts on your initial purchase. Confining your credit usage in the beginning will lead to a brighter future. Keep the big cards  and  look for cards that offer incentives such as: miles, cash back on different services (like these listed in the 2019 review of Bestow term life insurance), lower interest, no annual fees, no interest if pai in full every month, etc.

According to Forbes, the  most common mistake couples make when they are about to be married is opening joint accounts for everything. It is always  good to keep an additional account in your name only to protect yourself in case of illness, job loss, bankruptcy,etc. You are not protecting yourself from your partner, but you are protecting your partner from unforseen, unknown factors and outside influences.

When it is all said and done, the single best way to merge two lives is through honesty and determintaion.  Relationships are hard work and finances can be  a touchy subject especially if one of you has had financial trouble in the past. This is the perfect  time to put that all those negative reports behind you and work together to build a platinum  future!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago