The Ultimate Guide to the Budget: How to Allocate Your Funds and Tricks to Stay on Track

Wedding Budget Saving Tips

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Breaking down your wedding budget is one of the trickiest (yet most important) wedding planning tasks. Since creating this figure influences all of your other decisions — like how many guests you can invite, which meal options to select, and if you can spring for that pricey DJ — it's essential you select this figure correctly. Last week, we explained how to decide your on budget, so this week we're breaking down how much money to allocate to each particular part of your wedding and how to stay in the black throughout your planning process.

The average wedding costs around $30,000 and has about 150 guests. Use the handy guide below as a rough outline for spending breakdowns and adjust according to your priorities. Hiring a wedding planner? A day-of coordinator can charge $1,500 and up, while an event designer will cost around 10 percent of your budget.

— Venue and catering: 45% of your budget
— Photography and videography: 12% of your budget
— Wedding attire and beauty: 9% of your budget
— Music: 6% of your budget
— Rings: 6% of your budget
— Flowers: 5% of your budget
— Favors and gifts: 5% of your budget
— Transportation: 3% of your budget
— Stationery: 3% of your budget
— Cake: 2% of your budget
— Décor: 2% of your budget
— Miscellaneous: 2% of your budget

And keep these questions in mind: Is your dream venue (or that dress, or imported peonies, or whatever is currently weighing on your mind) nonnegotiable for you? If it will put you over budget, just cut down in another area that matters less to you. And if it isn't a deal breaker, then find another pick that you're sure to love just as much.

See More: The Money Talk: How to Merge Bank Accounts

To track your spending every step of the way, do what wedding planners do and create an Excel workbook or Google Doc. Here are the important elements to include.

Down the side of your document, break each category into its component's costs. For example, under "Bride's attire," make line items for the dress, accessories, and alterations.

Fill in columns with essential information. Every spreadsheet should include vendor contract information, estimated cost, actual cost, additional service fees, and tips, transportation and parking costs for off-site vendors, and taxes. Create a line for your grand total, and use the auto-sum function to add things up as you go.

Still stumped on how to stay above the bottom line? Plug your overall budget into the Brides budget tool and you'll get a personalized breakdown of how much you should spend on every part of the wedding. Plus, you can keep track of bill as they add up!

Don't forget to pick up Brides February/March 2015 issue, available on newsstands now or available for download here, for more great budget advice!

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