This can be a touchy topic. The dreaded budget. As a little girl we plan a wedding in our head that is fit for a princess, and probably has the cost of one, but in reality, unless you really are royalty (or have enough money to hang out with royalty), your wedding will have a budget. There are many different types and sizes of budgets, but there will be some kind of budget to stick to when planning your wedding day.
Of course the first step is deciding how much your total budget actually is. This needs to include everything. There is so much that goes into creating your special day and you want to be sure you have enough money for each and every part. So be realistic when deciding how much you have to spend overall and then break it down into all the areas that you need it.
Food, flowers, your dress, his tux (or whatever the groom is wearing), a photographer, a videographer, musicians/DJ (or both), rings, transportation, ceremony & reception site, decorations, invitations, programs, favors, a planner/coordinator, cake, emergency costs, the honeymoon. (I threw that last one in there because if you are paying for your wedding yourself, and you are wanting a honeymoon, you need to keep those costs in mind when deciding on a budget for your wedding.)
Whew! That list can get long and overwhelming in a hurry! You also have to decide where your wedding budget is coming from. Are you paying for everything yourself, are the parents in charge, or are you splitting costs between you? Traditionally the wedding day costs would be the bride's parents responsibility, the groom's family would cover the rehearsal and the groom would take care of the honeymoon. However, for many reasons, including the fact that couples are waiting longer to tie the knot, the rules have changed. Discuss these budget options up front with everyone who is involved and decide what will work best for you. Just keep in mind, this is NOT the time to start a family feud because you want to spend all of your little sister's college fund on your dream wedding!
There are some great websites you can use to help in the budget planning process. The Knot is a great wedding website. They can help with ideas for colors, pictures, locations, favors, vows, and more. Basically their website covers any and every wedding planning question or detail. Here is their wedding budget page. If you become a member, which is free, you can access many helpful lists, including a tool that helps you create a budget list specifically for you.
Here is blog about creating a wedding on a tight budget that could be helpful no matter what your total budget.
After deciding on a budget, actually sticking with it is the hard part. Don't be too hard on yourself, there are areas where you will go over, just remember that means you will have to give up something in another area. Deciding what is the most important to you, and getting that done first (or at least a confirmed total price) will help set the tone for the rest of your budget.
A beautiful wedding doesn't have to cost so much it causes tension between you and your husband-to-be or your family. As long as you are all on board with the initial budget, and try your best to stick with it, you should be able to save yourself the "arguing over budget" stress that can come with wedding planning. When it comes to wedding costs there is a good chance an emergency of some sort will come up near the end of the planning time and it will not be a cheap fix. This is why I would advice a special "emergency fund" in your budget. Since it was already in your budget you won't be stressed at the last minute cost that came up! (Or if you don't end up needing the emergency money you budgeted, you will have a little extra cash for your honeymoon!)