You and your spouse-to-be can agree on just about everything in life—maybe that’s why you’re getting married in the first place!—but if you can’t agree on a wedding budget, you won’t get anywhere fast. Having a shared budget plan for your wedding isn’t just smart, it’s essential for a smooth, drama-free and ultimately successful wedding experience. But don’t worry if you’re not on the same page yet—it’s easy to find common ground as long as you’re both flexible.
Here are a few tips for what to do if you and your future spouse can’t agree on a wedding budget.
Hash out your must-haves.
A lot of times, couples can’t agree on a wedding budget simply because each partner has a totally different vision for the big day. Maybe you dream of ultra-epic florals, but your partner could care less about florals. Maybe your partner is a total music buff and would shell out big money for the best band in town, while you’d be fine with a Spotify playlist and a speaker. You both deserve to have what you want at your wedding day, but you also both may be expected to compromise. Figuring out what’s most important to you before doing anything else is a great place to start smoothing over any budget disagreements. You might find you have more must-haves in common than you think! Also an important part of this step? Being honest about why you want these things—some reasons (like wanting to honor a relative’s love of florals) are more important than others (like wanting to impress friends).
Instead of starting with a grand total of what you both plan on spending on your wedding, which can feel pretty nebulous, first plot out your must-haves (start with ALL of your must-haves, not just the ones you agree on, then whittle down from there), then find the average costs of those things online or by calling your preferred vendors. Once you have those numbers, estimate how much in contributions you and your partner will need to make. Instead of splitting everything 50/50, shoot for contributions proportional to your individual incomes. If you land on numbers you’re both comfortable with, congrats! You’ve now agreed on a wedding budget. If not, you’ll need to do the tough task of lowering your costs—either by eliminating elements (fairly) or getting creative.
Know your non-negotiables.
There’s identifying your wedding day must-haves, sure. But agreeing on a budget is also about identifying together what you won’t do to help pay for your wedding. One or both of you may feel like your budget is a bottomless well, until, well, it isn’t. Are you willing to ask a parent for cash? Or a relative? Are you willing to get a side-gig to help pad your budget? Agreeing on a budget and not letting it budge is a great start, but you should also both decide what you’re willing to do (and not do) to stretch that budget if things come up. Of course, you should always commit to sticking to your original budget as best you can, but as long as there’s room to grow the budget for what you both want, everyone should stay happy.
Remember to have perspective.
When you and your partner are in the thick of wedding planning, it can feel like the most important thing in your lives. But believe me when I say as soon as it’s all said and done and you’ve both taken some space from your wedding day, you’ll realize that there are so many bigger things for you both to work on together once you’re married. Your wedding is simply not worth the budget woes and conflict. If you’re arguing over your bar—say one of you wants to save by offering just beer and wine and the other wants to shell out more for the full bar—you should both take a step back and remember how little it actually matters. You probably won’t remember the drinks you served at your wedding in 10 years, but you might remember the hurtful argument you both had.
Practice makes perfect.
Don’t stress if you and your future spouse go through a rocky period and can’t agree on a wedding budget. It just means you’re working it out and even though you both want what you want, you’re considering the other side too. And this is all great practice for when you’re actually married, because you’ll have many more periods of time when your finances—or other major life decisions—bring on conflict. That’s just a part of doing life with a partner! Working together is a work in progress (though if you're struggling, apps like Lasting can be helpful in building your communication skills as a couple); you can’t expect to be amazingly good at compromising during your very first big project together. As long as you remember that you are indeed partners, you do love each other, and you care deeply about making each other happy above all else, you’ll get through it. And the next big money decision, too!