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BRIDE WARS: Budget Planning – are you pay as you go or a spreadsheet queen?

We ask two brides to go head to head over a controversial wedding topic. This time it’s about planning style – are you better to pay as you go or track all your spending by spreadsheet?

Are you the kind of person that has a personalised, printed wedding planning checklist and are so organised you make Monica Gellar look chaotic, or are you a little more ‘ad hoc’ in your planning style? We asked two brides, You & Your Wedding’s Lifestyle Editor Hollie Bond, and writer Penny to go head to head to argue out the best planning style.

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Who do you agree with?

“I Have No Idea How Much My Wedding Cost”

“I have a confession to make,” Lifestyle Editor Hollie Bond reveals, “I have no idea how much my wedding cost. Before you write me off as having more money than sense, no, I’m not a millionaire, and I’m not up to my eyeballs in big-day debt either. I’m just an anti-budgeter.

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What’s your wedding budget style?

“Spreadsheets and budgeting tools simply have no place in my life. And guess what? I’m one of the savviest spenders going. If there’s a deal to be had, I’ll know about it, and I get that ‘mini-fist-pump feeling’ every time I save myself even a couple of quid.”

When Hollie got engaged to her husband Reid (and you can check out her sausage dog-themed wedding here), they didn’t have a ‘wedding fund’ at their disposal: “How couples can say ‘Our wedding budget is £20,000’ from the off is beyond me. How do you pull that figure out of thin air? Our budgeting was more akin to buying something on finance: every month we got paid and every month some of that money was used to pay for various elements of the wedding.

“We didn’t impose a set saving amount on ourselves each month, and we paid for things in no particular order. I have to admit at this point that we were also blessed with seriously generous sets of parents on both sides, but even if we had to go it alone, a set budget wouldn’t have been our style. We would have just had a much longer engagement to allow for more pay cheques to come in.

Read more: How to start your wedding budget

“The main reason I refused to be bogged down by a set budget is because I find people who obsess over money to be complete bores. You know the types, people who actually talk about their salary at dinner parties whilst everyone else stares awkwardly at their plates.

“Worrying about every penny wasn’t how I wanted to spend my time as a fiancée – there was too much fun to be had! While I heard fellow brides saying they were planning on spending 10% of their budget on the dress, I was twirling around boutiques choosing something I liked because of the design, not because it fitted nicely into a spreadsheet.

“So whilst you set-budget fans spend your evenings inputting numbers on Excel (yawn!), I’ll be out on the town enjoying myself – on two-for-one cocktail night, of course.”

“Planning a Wedding Without Knowing Your Budget is Utter Madness”

“This is my confession,” shares bride Penny, “I am one of those bores that talks about salaries and keeps tabs on costs all the time. Not because I love to boast about how much I do – or don’t  – earn, or because I am (whisper it) stingy. No, it’s simply because I think things are much clearer when you know where you stand with money.

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Are you a spreadsheet queen?

“To quote one of my favourite musicals, ‘Money makes the world go round’, and if you think otherwise then you’re naïve. And whilst I applaud Hollie for being able to track everything sans spreadsheet, the mere thought of not having those reassuring Excel tabs brings on a cold sweat.”

After getting engaged to her husband Will, one of the first things Penny did – after sharing the happy news with friends and family of course – was determine their wedding budget: “Planning a wedding without knowing how much you have to spend on it is utter madness. We were lucky enough to have some financial help from our parents, but by no means did we have an unlimited budget that meant we could just say ‘Go on then’ to everything that took our fancy.

Read more: How to have a wedding for less than £10k

“So, we started a spreadsheet. And do you know what? It was by far the best wedding planning tool ever. The geek in me absolutely loved colour-coding and seeing the total change every time we entered a new sum. Trust me, that feeling of ‘greening’ an outstanding sum is so satisfying, I don’t know why you’d want to deprive yourself of that.

“We did end up over budget slightly, but I suspect it would have been by a lot more if we’d not kept tabs on everything. And before you start thinking my fiancé and I spent our evenings ‘being boring’ and counting the pennies, we didn’t! We had a blast achieving our dream wedding and that spreadsheet is a lovely memory of everything we put into it.

Revealed: The average cost of a wedding

“One bonus I hadn’t foreseen was how much it would help my fellow wedding-planning friends too. Knowing what we paid for flowers, cake, and all the other bits gave them the confidence to negotiate with their suppliers and get what they wanted – and that’s just priceless.”

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Who do you agree with? If you love being organised, you’re going to love our free printable wedding planning checklist – make sure you download it now!