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How to create a wedding budget with The Firefly Method

April 11, 2018

So, how much does a wedding actually cost? If you’re engaged, this is probably one of the first questions that popped into your mind (after a little celebrating!). The cost of a wedding can feel so elusive because it’s difficult to pull a standardized number up and say THIS is how much a wedding costs. There are so many variables that contribute to the bottom line, like location, guest count, style, time of year, etc. (We covered some of these points in last week’s post.) The good news is that there are a ton of quality options out there to choose from, at almost every price point!

How do you crunch those numbers? After creating hundreds of budgets, we’ve come up with a two-step process that we’ll walk you through below. We’ve also created a two part worksheet for you to go along with these instructions, where we’ve laid out a checklist that you can fill in online (no printing necessary!) and an excel sheet all set up with formulas that we use, ourselves (this sheet should work with the Numbers program on your Mac, as well). You can download those HERE.

How to create a wedding budget | Photo by Judy Pak

(Photo by Judy Pak)

1. What are YOUR priorities?
We believe this is the foundation that your budget should be built on. This is a question that we always ask our clients to sit with for a little bit, instead of answering with their knee-jerk responses. Sometimes we can spit out someone else’s priorities, by accident ;). Your wedding should look and feel like you and this is the first step in that process! In our worksheet, we’ve listed out all the major financial aspects of a wedding and we suggest sitting down with your partner and going through the list with a 0-3 scoring system.

0 means you can cut this aspect out entirely (for example, if you know you don’t need to provide guests with transportation, give it a 0)
1 means low priority
2 means medium priority
3 means high priority

From there you’ll want to gather up all your 3’s and prioritize them from most to least important. They’re all still at a level 3 of importance,  but ultimately we want to find your top priority is . Ideally, this is the top priority for both you and your partner!

How to create your wedding budget | Photo by Erich McVey
(Photo by Erich McVey)

2. Apply some formulas (the mathematical kind)
After years of doing this, we’ve found some basic formulas that seem to work well with a wide variety of budgets. We use these to create a framework that can then be tweaked and updated to reflect those priorities you established in step 1. We’ve laid all of those formulas out in your worksheet and they’re not too scary, we promise! Once you’ve plugged those all in you can go back and refine those numbers with your priorities in mind. Typically we “borrow” money from the categories you’ve given a 1 score and give it to the categories you’ve given a 3 score to.

When you’re finished, this should give you a great blueprint to start working with!

How to create your wedding budget

(Photo by Norman & Blake)

Keep in mind these numbers will change and fluctuate throughout the process, which is totally fine. Often people will find that what they’re envisioning for a particular category (invitations, florals, dress, etc.) isn’t covered by the current budget, OR that they actually want to hire a cheaper vendor than what’s been budgeted for (maybe a DJ instead of a band) so these numbers will shift a bit. We always tell our client that this is a living document and as long as you feel comfortable with the numbers, that’s what’s most important. Don’t forget to have an open mind and do your research. You might be surprised at all the amazing options out there.  

Here’s that 2 part worksheet one more time, so you can get started on your wedding budget today!  

Teissia + Alia