When it comes to planning (and sticking to a budget) often all that is needed is a visual. As in "lay it all out there and really see where the money is going" visual. In the past, this was accomplished by carefully writing each expense on the appropriate line in a little wedding planner-esque book. This was an okay solution but lacked the ability to be easily updated, personalized, and didn't allow for possible math errors.
Then came computers and couples everywhere rejoiced. Suddenly, they could create a simple Excel spreadsheet and personalize their wedding budget and categories to fit their own needs. These basic computer tools also allowed couples to update their purchase and alter expenses on an ongoing basis. However, there was still that pesky human math error problem.
And the gods said, "Let there be website plannig tools" and there was.
In today's wedding planning world – you can do it on your own and for free (and we love free!). There are a ton of wedding websites out there that allow you to customize your budget, update expenses, and even do the math for you! Here are my two favorites:
Photo Courtesy of: Martha Stewart
Finally! Martha Stewart has made a user friendly (-ish) wedding planner. This tool on her website has been a long time coming but (as you'd expect) is pretty looking and well-planned. To access this site, you must register for a free user account for all of Martha's sites (but you can choose to not be contacted by the site or any thrid parties).
The Good: Lots of categories and the ability to choose your own (and their amounts). I also love that Martha included a link to what the current industry standards are – that really helps out when trying to figure out what percentage of money goes to which area. I also love the charts! What a great idea. Some people need different visuals than others and actually seeing a line chart of estimated costs versus actual costs can really help out when planning a budget.
The Bad: For some reason, you can only have a wedding planner for one person. Huh, is Martha saying that only brides plan a wedding?
Photo Courtesy of: theknot.com
One of the oldest and best online wedding planners around. The budget planner at theknot.com is very simple and basic but highly customizable and efficient. To access this site's planning tools, you'll need to register for a free account – the registeration process is long and asks for a lot of details…you've been warned.
The Good: Instant calculations! This is a huge bonus for the mathmatically impaired (coughcoughmecoughcough) and allows you to see exactly what that $20 splurge on a second pair of shoes does to your budget. Plus, I love their sample budget feature – really helps with the budget planning in the beginning of the process. Also, theknot's tools allow you to calculate in the exact costs per wedding party member – so instead of creating a lump sum of $40.00 to cover gifts for 4 'maids; the planner calculates it as $10.00 per 'maid. And lastly, for each category, you can elect to have the knot show you tips and ideas of how to stay within you budget – Cool!
The Bad: Slightly user-unfriendly. The button to update changes and make saves is waaaay down the page and can be easily forgotten by users – thus, losing all their carefully plugged in information.