I still have the wedding spreadsheet I used to budget for my wedding, stashed away in a folder with other important documents.
It may sound dorky, but I have just as much sentiment attached to those columns, rows and numbers as to the dress I wore down the aisle.
That’s because my wedding spreadsheet was the central hub for all things related to planning the day. Just looking through it reminds me of every little detail that went into preparing for the biggest day of my life. Without it, I don’t know if my special day would have been quite so special.
If you’re planning a wedding, you should use a spreadsheet to budget. Here’s how - and why - to do it.
Why Use a Wedding Spreadsheet for Your Budget
Whether you’re planning a small wedding or a 300-person blowout, you need a spreadsheet to keep your budget on track. Weddings are notoriously expensive, complicated and time-consuming to plan - so using a dedicated spreadsheet can keep you from melting down under the stress.
I used my wedding spreadsheet to track vendor contact information, rates, deposit due dates and whether the deposit would be refunded or not. With almost two dozen vendors, it would have been impossible to monitor everything without the detail and structure of a spreadsheet.
Unless you have an unlimited amount of money to spend, you probably need a budget for your wedding.
Another obvious reason to create a wedding spreadsheet is to manage your costs. My husband and I were lucky. Both of our families contributed money toward our wedding, and we ended up with enough to plan the event of our dreams - as long as we allocated the funds carefully.
I wrote down every wedding-related cost in the spreadsheet, from the $35 I spent on Kate Spade earrings to the $500 we set aside for tipping our caterer. Having that amount of control and visibility over wedding expenses helped to alleviate any stress I was feeling about the financial side of things. As long as everything went into the spreadsheet, I knew we were on track to meet our budget.
How to Use a Wedding Spreadsheet
First, create a spreadsheet using either Excel or Google Sheets. I prefer the latter because it’s easy to share with your fiance, wedding planner or any other interested parties. My mom and day-of-coordinator had access to my spreadsheet so they could refer to it if they had any questions. Tiller even offers the option to create a shared spreadsheet for you and your partner.
Once you have the document created, create a header row with the following attributes:
- Vendor: Name of the vendor
- Type: What service they’re providing, i.e. flowers, food, alcohol, etc.
- Deposit: Most vendors require a deposit before the wedding to secure the date
- Total Amount Due: How much the total is, including tip
- Status: Paid or unpaid
- Notes: Anything miscellaneous you need to remember, like invitation send-by dates or unsigned contracts
- Phone Number and Email Address: Always good to have these within reach
Here are the most common categories and vendors:
- Bakery/Wedding Cake
- Bridal dress shop
- Men’s formalwear store
- Hair stylist
- Gifts for bridal party
- Centerpieces and decorations
- Day of coordinator or wedding planner
- Rehearsal dinner
- Makeup artist
Next, write down how much you have to spend on your wedding and divide that between the various categories mentioned above. If you’re not sure how much to allocate, use sites like the Knot to look at national averages.
As you start planning your wedding, fill out the spreadsheet every time you book a new vendor. Compare how much you’re spending to how much money is left. Remember, it’s always better to overestimate expenses and be happily surprised than to underestimate and be shocked at the final cost.