While a wedding budget doesn't sound all that glamorous, it doesn't have to be a bad thing. In fact, planning your wedding without a budget is almost guaranteed to land you into serious financial debt. Wedding costs can rapidly escalate out of control which is why it's so important to begin the planning by devising a realistic budget. And once you've got the numbers crunched, it's equally important that you both stick to the budget.

What's the key to a successful budget?

Open, honest, two-way communication is an absolute must. Newly-engaged couples must talk about how each envisions his and her special day. Women work on the assumption that guys don't care about the details but that's not always true. It is, after all, the man's big day, too and he has a family to please as well.

It is important to openly talk about what's important to each of you in regards to your wedding day. Then, make a list of what you both want (a horse-drawn carriage, steak and lobster dinner, western wedding theme, color scheme, etc.) and what are absolute necessities (for example a photographer, caterer, rings, etc.). You're going to use this information when it's time to allocate your budget.

Once you both have an idea of what's important, it's time to crunch the numbers. You've got to determine how much money is available now (for example, in savings accounts, stocks/bonds, real estate, trust funds), how much you'll have to commit to saving from your regular income streams, and how much you can realistically expect others to kick in(parents and in-laws). Depending on how far away the actual wedding date is you may want to consider opening a higher-interest bearing account for the money so that it can earn interest.

When you know where the money's coming from and how much is coming, you'll know how much you'll be able to spend. Now make another list of all wedding-related expenses and allocate a dollar amount or the percentage you're willing to spend next to each item. This will help when you're actually contracting for these services.

Remember that if you exceed your budgeted amount in one category, you'll have to scale back another so your budget will stay balanced. Because budgeting is so very important for most couples, you'll find that wedding budget worksheets, software and other tools are available everywhere.