Creating your perfect wedding starts by crafting a well-thought-out wedding budget. The task of creating a wedding budget might seem completely overwhelming and stressful but by using our clear-cut wedding budget guide you will be on your way to creating your perfect day. The most important piece of information for creating a budget is to know the wedding budget breakdown and see where you will be spending your money.
Brides Often Ask
What is the average cost of a wedding?
A wedding is a large investment of both money and emotions and since the average cost of a wedding in 2019 according to NerdWallet was $33,900 it seems critical to creating a wedding budget. Connecticut based event planner, Gayle from Events By Gayle told us
“There is really no typical wedding budget anymore. Couples base their wedding budget on many factors which include their personal financial situation, whether or not their family is contributing to the wedding and how many guests they wish to invite. There may be a couple who prefers a lower budget, casual celebration which allows them to put a down payment on a home or travel together after they get married whereas another couple may choose a luxury wedding with all the bells and whistles. I have worked with clients on many different styles of weddings. The average budget for my client’s weddings in Connecticut is approximately $38,000.”
How much does a simple wedding cost?
Weddings come in all shapes and sizes and so does the wedding budget. Couples all over the world have found a way to make their wedding dreams come true with the funds available to them. Even when planning a “simple” wedding a couple should expect to spend around $100 per guest attending the event. Unless a couple has decided to have a city hall wedding even the most simple of wedding events will add up to somewhere between $3,000 and $6,000.
Who traditionally pays for the wedding?
Traditionally the bride’s parents pay for the wedding cost and the groom’s family is responsible for the rehearsal dinner. However, in today’s modern world it seems couples have become extremely creative when figuring who will foot the bill. Many couples have taken on the responsibility of paying for their own wedding events due to the fact that couples are getting married at a slightly older age and have had a chance to work and save for such life milestones. It seems there is no one way to pay for a wedding anymore so we are seeing everyone from couples paying for the entire wedding themselves to both sides of the family chipping in or dividing up specific wedding costs, couples are getting more creative than ever to say “I do”.
How do you afford a wedding?
Planning a wedding and tying the knot is a very exciting time but the reality of how to actually afford the wedding is another issue. There are a number of different strategies to pay for a wedding including cutting back on your monthly expenses, taking a break from travel, creating a spending and savings plan and outlining the contributions from both sides of the family.
– Cutting Back On Monthly Expenses
When you take a look at where your monthly expenses add up you might find a way to cut back in a few areas and apply those savings to your wedding fund. Many couples give up eating out at restaurants or ordering food in for a few months in an effort to save a little, while some couples decide to give up their expensive gym memberships and opt for working out at home. Couples saving and planning for a wedding find that by cutting back on just a few important things can add up to big time savings.
– Taking A Break From Travel
Travel is a wonderful thing but it can also make a large dent in your bank account. Many couples decide to cut back on travel for the time when they are saving for their wedding day. Even cutting back on one trip can help add thousands to your wedding day fund.
– Creating A Spending/Savings Plan
Just as important as creating a wedding budget so is creating a spending or savings plan. Sitting down as a couple and outlining areas where you can cut back on spending and areas where you may be able to add to the savings is the key to having your wedding day funding not be a stress. If possible each person in the couple should be able to find one area of spending where they can cut back (gym membership, eating out, monthly subscriptions, coffee shop trips etc)
– Outlining The Family’s Contributions
You can’t just hope or assume that both sides of the family will help pay for wedding day so it is important to be clear and have an outline of how each family will contribute. It is highly suggested to sit down with both sides of the couples family and gain some real insight into how much of the wedding the family can help pay with and how they will be helping. Make sure you understand if they will just be handing over a check to you and your partner to spend on the day or will you be asked to have the vendors send the bill directly to them. The more upfront and honest this conversation is the better!
There is really no typical wedding budget anymore.
Wedding Cost Breakdown
A wedding is a large-scale event so with that comes many different areas where cost becomes a factor. A couple should look at every different area where they could be spending their funds so it is not enough to just have one dollar amount in mind that you are going to spend. A much better tactic is to break out the cost as separate line items so you can see where you are allocating funds and what those costs might be.
- On average most couples will need to allocate 50% of their budget to their reception, considering that includes the venue cost, catering, and bar cost along with decorations.
- After the venue cost the next largest expense typically belongs to the photography and videography department, taking up 12% to 15% of the overall budget.
- Next up in line for cost consumption would be attire, flowers, and entertainment reach consuming somewhere between 8-12% of the budget.
- After these larger areas of cost couples can spend smaller amounts, typically between 2-5% on items such as stationery. The ceremony, transportation, rings, gift, etc…
One of the best tips we received from a Brooklyn based bride, Kerry was that she put aside 5% of her total budget for “just in case”.
“I knew there was a very real chance that I would need some extra funds or that as the big day drew closer I would need to add some extra funds to one area of the wedding so I wanted to make sure I had a little extra ready to go”.
– Kerry – Married In Brooklyn, NY
There are many resources out there that can help you create the perfect budget and taking advantage of the available resources and technology is one great way to make sure you stay on task and budget.
Your budget allows for one outrageous sprugle. What is it?
How To Set A Wedding Budget
So, it’s pretty clear why you need a budget when planning your wedding. However, how to set a wedding budget is a different task. The earlier in the process you set your wedding budget the better off you will be. Wedding planner, Gayle of Events By Gayle suggests
“There are many helpful budget trackers for weddings that can be found online. Print one out and start filling it out the best you can. It is very important to start the planning process with a budget and work backward from there. A great wedding planner can also help a couple with their budget since they are familiar with what the local vendors charge for their product or service.”
The first step in setting a budget is to set your expectations and by that I mean make sure you have a realistic budget in mind. You can’t plan a $100,000 wedding on a $10,000 budget so being realistic is the best way to make sure your wedding day is the perfect day.
The second step in setting your budget is to know where the funds will be coming from and exactly what sort of funds you will need to plan your wedding. If both sides of the family are offering to contribute to the expenses it is important to know what that number is so you can add it to the budget and start breaking down your spending.
The third step in setting your budget is to have a good sense of what sort of wedding you want to plan. If you are considering a large, formal wedding at a large venue you will need to plan for certain types of budget areas whereas if you are planning a small, backyard style wedding you might not have to.
The fourth and perhaps most important step in planning your wedding budget is to “choose your non-negotiables”, meaning figure out what areas of your wedding are especially important to you and your partner and what areas you might be willing to compromise on or even do without.
Meghan from Meghan Elizabeth Events shared some great insight on how she helps couples focus on where they want to spend their funds.
“In addition to figuring out their spending comfort zone, they should discuss what elements of the day and experience are most important to them. If music and dancing is most important, maybe they allocate more for the band and trim somewhere else. Is there a photographer they’ve been following for a while that they just have to have capture the day? This will help tremendously when it comes to where to spend their money.”
Wedding planning is a huge and somewhat stressful job and just like anything else, there are some mistakes you will want to avoid when planning your wedding budget. A few mistakes you will want to watch out for are things such as not doing your research, not keeping track of your expenses, or committing to a vendor before knowing all of the cost.
- Mistake #1: Not Doing Your Research
Research is key in making your budget actually work for you and not against you. Doing your research means knowing the cost of particular details such as venues, photographers, catering companies, and so on. Make sure you spend time reading reviews about the vendors and knowing exactly what they will be charging you.
- Mistake #2: Not Keeping Track Of Your Expenses
It might sound like a no brainer to keep track of your expenses but all too often couples get very excited about planning their big day and they start booking items, purchasing decor or order items, and not keep track. With so many options to keep track of your budget available online and with phone apps, it seems crazy not to start keeping track ASAP.
- Mistake #3: Committing To A Vendor Before Knowing All The Cost
You see the venue and you are totally taken and you want to sign the contract right now so you can get your perfect day however unless you know all of the cost associated with a vendor you should take your time. Many times a couple wants to book a specific venue or vendor and they don’t take the time to really go through all the details of the contract, ask questions and get the specifics about what the cost will be, when the payments need to made and are there any charges that could come up that are not stated in the contract.
Ways To Track Wedding Expenses
Thanks to the wonderful world of technology it is now easier than ever to track where and how you are using your wedding funds. Having a budget is important but if you don’t keep a close eye on where those funds are being spent it is easy to get off track.
“There are many helpful budget trackers for weddings that can be found online. Print one out and start filling it out the best you can. It is very important to start the planning process with a budget and work backwards from there. A great wedding planner can also help a couple with their budget since they are familiar with what the local vendors charge for their product or service. “
– Gayle of Events By Gayle
It seems almost every online wedding site has a budget and tracker tool available so it is not as much about how to find a tracker but finding the one that works best for you. Some online trackers are as simple as a spreadsheet template where you can print it out and start filling it in while some are very advanced and allow you to have complete access online offering ways to customize your categories, color code areas, and more.
Here are a few of the best rated online wedding budget tools:
Wedding Budget Calculator
The wedding price calculator is the surest bet to ensure you’re on track. That makes a total of 100%.
Simply create a wedding budget outline and group similar items together. Find their average cost, subtract it from your total budget and work out the percentage. Everything must sum up to 100%
Work with the average industry figures, because prices change depending on season and location. Better to have some cash than run into debt.
Hidden Wedding Costs
No matter how well you plan or how on a budget you are with your wedding planning there will always be some hidden costs or costs that pop up last minute.
“Service charges, extra catering staff, corkage fees, disposal fees – these are catering costs that the couple may not think about when planning a wedding. When planning a tented wedding, it may be necessary to purchase a separate tent for the caterer, flooring and/or a dance floor, air conditioning, fans or heaters depending on the season.”
– Gayle of Event By Gayle.
“Tipping is something that often gets left out of the initial budget. Generally vendors who you would tip in everyday life, like beauty services and food servers, should be tipped for a wedding. For other vendors, tipping is never expected but always appreciated. So many of my couples want to thank their vendors for their hard work with a tip so to avoid that additional cost on the wedding day I suggest including gratuities in their initial budget planning and then adjust as necessary on the wedding day.”
– Meghan from Meghan Elizabeth Events
There are several hidden cost areas that couples should pay special attention to so they don’t go over budget. Working with a planner who is not associated with the venue is a good way to make sure all of your costs are being handled since it is their job to advocate for you. Here is a list of some areas where cost might hide.
- Vendor Tips
- Catering fees – Corking fees, clean up fees, and extra staff charges
- Additional rental charges – dance floor, air conditioning or heat, vendor prep tents, and more
Wedding Budget Breakdown Tips
Having your dream wedding day does not mean you have to give up everything you have ever hoped for just to keep your wedding on a budget but there are a lot of areas where you can save some money which will help give your budget a little breathing room.
Here are our top tips for saving money when planning your wedding.
- Consider A Wedding Not On A Saturday
- Keep Your Guestlist As Low As Possible
- Offer Just Wine & Beer At Your Bar
- Select An Off-Season Wedding Date
- Consider Non-Traditional Venues
- Go Paperless
- Explore Casual Dining Options
- Hold Your Event All At One Location
Real Wedding Budget Examples
Budgets and weddings vary with individuals and what they want. It’s a day most couples dreamt of for years. Now, it’s here and couples want to make it count. There’s a wedding for every budget, even with a wedding on a budget checklist. Below are real wedding budget examples going by the average wedding industry standard. See what works for you.
$2000 Basic wedding budget for a small wedding
- The venue of 6 guests with an officiant for 30 mins slot – $150
- Attire for bride and groom – $300
- 1-hour ceremony photography and portraits – $800
- Lunch and drinks in a restaurant for 8 – $600
A traditional wedding with a budget of $20,000
- Full catering service + wedding venue for 55 guests – $12,000
- Photography – $2000
- A week off planner – $2000
- Wedding invitations – $800
- Bride and groom attires – $1000
- DJ – $1000
- Decor and flowers – $1,200
Formal wedding + reception with a budget of $30,000
- Church or venue fee-based $350
- Wedding planner fee – $2500
- Full service for reception + venue for 140 guests – $16,000
- Wedding flowers – $2,500
- Videos and photos – $4,000
- Bride and groom attire – $1600
- Band – $3000
Getaway wedding budget with $31,000
- Destination venue for the whole weekend – $6,000
- Friday welcome potluck for 5 people – $800
- Breakfast and lunch on Saturday – $3,000
- Bride and groom attire – $800
- String quartet for the ceremony – $500
- DJ for the reception – $1100
- Full catering service coverage for Saturday night – $10,000
- Wedding decor and flowers – $3000
- Photography – $2500
- Brunch for Sunday – $2000
Your wedding is a true celebration of love so it should be nothing short of amazing. Making sure your perfect day goes off without a hitch depends on many factors but most importantly careful planning and good budgeting.