Planning Basics: How to Make a Stationery Budget that’s Perfect for You

Properly budgeting your event is SUPER important, but often times people miss certain sections that they feel are less important and then majorly regret not looking into them further.  Like your invitation and stationery budget. It’s not that people forget they need invitations, it’s that they don’t realize all that fits into this category and ultimately budget way under what they need. (Like WAY under!)  So today, I am gonna talk actionable steps to help you create a event budget (and stationary budget!) that’s perfect for YOU.

Image of Notebooks, Sticky Notes and Pencils

Whether for home or (in this case) your big event, setting a budget can really be a pain in the f*cking ass. There are people that all over the internet saying you have to spend at least $25K for your event to even be slightly awesome. Then on the other end you have people swearing that anything over $5k is just ridiculous. I mean really? That’s a huge difference!

Everyone’s tastes, inspirations, and priorities are different. Some people might want to focus their money on their guest’s experience or flowers, while others may what a upscale cohesive story that slowly introduces their guests to the event. The only person that can tell you if your budget is right for you, is well, YOU! I mean budgets aren’t one-size fits all….that’s just dumb!

Well let’s jump on in.

Creating A Budget that's Perfect for YOU!

you gotta know what your planning

Let’s be real, it is impossible to set a budget if you don’t know exactly what your planning. Is it a black tie soiree with fine china, velvet couches and a live big band or more of a cozy fall gathering at a local barn with burlap and shiplap throughout?

If your not quite sure what you want? Hop over here and check out 6 things to consider before choosing your vibe. Once, you have an idea of your vibe, start pinning your heart out. If you need some inspiration, check out some of these boards. After a while, if your boards start to look a bit chaotic be sure to organize them. If you aren’t sure how to do that you can head over here and see how to organize and prioritize them into a mood board.

Oh, I almost forgot, try not to rush this step. Take your time. If you are a #pinterestaddict like I am, then take a few days to pin like crazy and come back to your list and add more.

now let’s make some lists

Hey guess what? I have made a Trello budget template that has all these lists already made for you! You can grab it here I even added examples and organized them a bit to help you follow along and get an idea of what I’m talking about. Before editing the boards be sure to copy the board to your account, if you need help doing this you can find a tutorial on copying a board here.

Board One: What’s Most Important to YOU?!

So this board is all about keeping you focused with your eye on the prize while you are racking and stacking vendors and money.

what’s your mega goal?!?

To start off, let’s think BIG goals. This is your over arching umbrella goal that will help you better prioritize your smaller goals.

Things like:

  • Amazing Food
  • Cohesive Design,
  • Epic Party
  • Memorable Guest Experience.

In my trello template, I went with Cohesive Design (we are going with a potter theme if you hadn’t noticed…is this hinting at things to come?)


anyhoo….moving on

a couple mini goals = mega goal victory

Ok, so now we need to figure out the things that will make this mega goal happen.


Let’s say your theme is Harry Potter and your BIG goal is a cohesive deisgn.
(If you are as nerdy about HP as me, then you’ll love my inspiration board)

To make this possible, you might wanna:

  • Book a Venue that looks like Hogwarts
  • Find a Wedding Designer that is Potter Nerd
  • Order Custom Invitations that are Potter-centric
  • Find a Dress that looks like Hermione’s Dress Robes
  • Figure out how to make floating candles like in the great hall

If you aren’t quite sure how where to start on this step, here are some examples to give you a jumpstart:

These mini goals are your event’s priorities and where you will be spending the majority of your money. Which in turn has helped us create our next board: your Must Haves List. (and why we did this whole exercise…)

board two: must haves

So this board is where you will spend a good chunk of time before solidifying your budget. And since there will be so much information, let’s take a second to go over how I organized this real quick.

Each budget category has as a colored bar attached to it to make it easy to find. I didn’t color code it (believe me I wanted to, but I felt that may be a little over board.) Each vendor is underneath it’s category in all caps, again to make it easy to find. The items which that vendor is responsible are under the vendor. If you notice, some vendors are on multiple boards, this is based on your priorities. For example, Stationery is on both Must Haves and Things to Work In but for completely different items. As you can see, this is why so many people guess so low on their stationary budget!

Image of my Trello Budget Template

And we’re back…lol

So the first vendors to go on this board should be the ones that help crush your mega (and mini) goals most. Sometimes, vendors may accomplish more than one service so be sure to think and ask about what all your vendors have to offer, such as:

  • If you hire an event planner, they may include furniture and linen rental.
  • If you decide to work with a photographer, they may also do videography.
  • Venues sometimes offer catering services/alcohol.
  • The stationary designer you like may also offer calligraphy.

board three: things i want to work in

So once you have your must haves you are going to repeat those steps on this board, but with all the left over things that you want to work in, but can totally live without. These things would definitely help you accomplish your mega goal, but not having them won’t detract from your event either.

So…How much is this all gonna cost?

Ok, so we did all this prep, to finally get to the place where we talk money. So, let me be very clear about this step, because it is super important. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT just throw numbers at this. It will make you sad, disappointed and way over-budget. So here is what we are going to do, get a metric shit ton of quotes!

stocking your vendors…aka getting quotes

This part is fairly simple, stock the websites of the vendors you want for each of your categories and submit a custom quote request for each of them. Get at least 3 quotes (if not more) for each category. Here are a couple things to note:

  • Your quote request should be the same for all vendors in a given category (i.e. don’t ask for a 5 tiered cake from baker a and a sheet cake from baker b)
  • It’s OK to tell the vendor that you are shopping around so you can properly set an appropriate budget. They will appreciate your effort to make an educated decision!
  • Don’t commit until all the quotes come in! That being said, if you are feeling like you and this vendor aren’t a good match, walk away and find another vendor and get a quote from them.

NOTE: There is a major exception to the “at least three quotes” rule.  If this vendor is so super talented, that you have dreams about them working with you on your wedding.  You only have to get a quote from them.

As the quotes come back, be sure to attach each vendor’s quote to their accompanying card. Adding Details to the card about your interactions with vendor is always a plus.

apples to apples, not plums to grapes

Once you have all the quotes for a specific category you will need to compare them for important factors:

  • Are all the quotes for the same items or services?
  • Did one vendor have a minimum order quantity, while the others didn’t?
  • Did one vendor’s standard package include something that was an upgrade for another vendor?

If any of these things happen you can do two things, a. ignore it (which I don’t suggest) or b. go back to the vendors and even the playing field. Using the examples above the resolutions would be:

  • Clarify your requests so you and the vendor are on the same page.
  • Increase the order quantity on the quote with the vendor without a minimum order quantity, just to compare apples to apples.
  • Go back to the vendors with the smaller standard package and upgrade to make the playing field even.

This whole thing could take a week or six, it will just depend on the complexity of what your asking. So, don’t get too discouraged if this takes a while.

Ok, so now that everyone is on a level playing field (comparing apples to apples, not plums to grapes) to make a worse case scenario budget, take the highest number and enter it next to your category name. Go through and do all the categories and add it all up. This is you worst case scenario.

the final countdown

So, some people may see the worst case scenario and say no problem and leave it at that. While others, if not the majority, may blow a circuit. And this is where the hard part comes. You may now be second-guessing having a giant chess set custom built for your guests to play, and decide on croquet instead (just call it quidditch). Or maybe instead of shipping in ice cream from Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour you can make due with a local ice cream vendor (who knows, they may make you a Potter Inspired special flavor!) As you slim down your must-haves, be sure to move the extras over to Things I Want to Work In. That way, if for whatever reason, money apparates out of nowhere you have ideas on how to spend it all.

If you look at the list and just can’t part with anything, and you know that large number isn’t what you had planned you could extend your engagement to save a bit extra to have the wedding of your dreams!


I added a two additional cards to the Trello Template as bonuses just for you!

The first is a due dates list. This is where you would put all the payments you need to make. Don’t forget to assign a due date! If you click the calendar button in the top right corner of the board, the view will switch to a calendar where you can see all your due dates and can even move them around with a click and swish.

The second is a list of budget trackers to help you stay on track. Keep checking back as I will be adding more tools to this as I find (or make) them.

I hope this has helped you understand how to make a budget that’s perfect for you! If you liked what you saw of Trello, stay tuned for next week’s blog post. Sabra (She is my virtual assistant Wizard, and is the Hermione to my Harry.) is going to show you how she uses Trello to manage her to dos and organize her life.