Your Wedding Budget is Step #1
The budget for your gay wedding is one of, if not the most important tools you will use to manage the wedding planning process. It will help you make every other decision you have to make during the planning process. As such, creating your wedding budget should be the very first thing you do. Your budget might not be exact to start, but the grand total should be very close. You can expect that you will modify the way you have money allocated to different parts of your wedding, but you should stay true to that upper limit.
Answer Two Questions
In order to create a wedding budget, every gay or lesbian couple needs to answer at least two questions:
- Who’s paying for the wedding?
- How much money can we spend?
Who Pays for the Wedding?
The Equality Institute estimates that about three quarters of gay and lesbian couples pay for their own weddings. The rest of the couples usually get help from their families. Since traditions don’t apply when you have two grooms or two brides, the easiest approach is to split the bill among those who want to chip in. Or, you can have family members who want to contribute choose a specific part of the wedding ceremony or reception and sponsor it. Be prepared to give them some input into how that particular part of the wedding is designed if they are sponsoring it.
How Much Money Can You Spend?
The average cost of a wedding can be as low as $11,000 or as high as $45,000, depending on whom you ask. The Equality Institute estimates that gay couples spend a little less than the average because their weddings tend to have fewer guests.
The amount you have to pay for your wedding is very specific to you. Savings are a primary source for many couples, especially those who are already in a long-term relationship. If you decide to take on debt to pay for your wedding (not recommended), at least be smart about it. Don’t max out your high-interest credit cards with wedding expenses. Instead, take out a loan with a fixed interest rate and predictable payments over a fixed term. You will typically pay less interest than a credit card, you will know exactly what it will cost to pay back the money you borrowed and how much time it will take you to pay it back.
Once you know how much money to plan on spending, creating a wedding budget is a process of allocating the money you have to spend to the various expenses you expect to have, and then adjusting those. If you want to spend more money in one place, you have to be prepared to cut corners in other places.
To help with that, we’ve included a spreadsheet with a list of the most common wedding expenses and the percentage of the total wedding expense they typically represent. Enter the amount you have to spend and you’ll have a budget that’s a starting point for you to customize to your celebration.
Aspects of Your Wedding That Most Impact Cost
As you’re preparing your budget, keep in mind that there are a few aspects of your wedding that will substantially impact the cost:
Date and Time
June and September are the two most popular months for weddings, probably because the weather tends to be the most pleasant and predictable. If you choose a date in one of these two months, it’s probably going to be more expensive than if you choose a date in December or January.
Evening receptions also tend to cost more than receptions held during the day for a number of reasons. First, dinner is more expensive than a brunch, for example. People also tend to drink more at night than during the day. And you’re likely to spend more on lighting, decor and entertainment for an evening reception
The more guests you have, the more your wedding will cost. The two biggest expenses of a wedding reception are usually food and drink, and they are a direct multiple of the number of guests you anticipate (per-head charge). Fewer guests also means fewer invitations, favors, rentals, etc. Reducing the number of guests is the easiest way to reduce your expenses.
Location, Location, Location
The city or town where your wedding will take place and the venue you choose in that city or town will both impact your budget. Big cities and big ballrooms usually mean big prices, and they often come with a minimum headcount required. But even small, quaint towns that are popular with tourists often demand a premium price.
Your guests will probably have expectations based on the overall theme and style of your wedding. More formal weddings tend to be more complex, larger and more expensive than casual weddings. For example, compare a formal wedding with a sit-down dinner and dancing with a band in a large hotel ballroom to a casual wedding of cake and ice cream with your aunt playing the piano in your backyard.
Gay Weddings vs. Lesbian Weddings
Gay grooms usually spend a little less on their weddings than lesbian brides. That’s not surprising when you consider that two brides might require two wedding dresses and two diamond engagement rings. The average price of a groom’s outfit is around $300, and the average price of a man’s engagement ring is close to the same. That puts the bill for two grooms at around $1,000. The average price for one wedding dress is about $1,600, and the average price for a diamond engagement ring is more than $5,000. That puts the bill just for rings and dresses at potentially more than $14,000.