Wedding Planning 101: Budgeting

Today we are going to talk about the dreaded B-Word…that’s right BUDGET!


When planning your wedding, coming up with a budget for what to spend and how to spend it can be hard. Defining the wedding budget is THE MOST IMPORTANT planning step.  Your budget will be the guide for everything from how many guests can attend your wedding to what dress you pick. Here are 3 steps to making your wedding budget.

1. Define It


First things first, before you make a budget you must define how much money will you spend on your wedding.  How much are you and your fiancé willing to spend? Will you be saving up? Will your parents or family be helping to pay for the wedding?

Once you have answered these questions, you should have a good idea want you are working with for the overall budget of your wedding.

Be sure to not only define how much you will have to spend, but also when you will have the money.  Wedding vendors require deposits to secure the use of their services for your wedding and some have specific timing for when payments need to be made. If you are planning to save up for your wedding or getting money from your parents, be sure to know how much you will have to spend and by when. This will help pay deposits and meet the payment schedules.

2. Allocate It


Now that you have defined how much you have to spend overall,  it is time to break that lump sum down and allocate it to where the money is to be spent. Since there are so many little things to pay for in a wedding, it is best to start by breaking your budget into larger categories like reception, clothing, entertainment, etc.

From there you should define the max amount to be spent in each category. A good way to determine this is to look at it by the percentage of your total budget to be spent in each category. Below is a guideline of categories and general percentages to use to start off your budget.

Category Breakdown
Category Percentage of Overall Budget
Reception 50.00%
Wedding Dress & Formal Wear 10.00%
Flowers & Decoration 10.00%
Photo & Video 10.00%
Music & Entertainment 10.00%
Invitations & Guest Details 5.00%
Ceremony & Officiant 5.00%

Customize this based on what you think is important. Say you want to elope on the beach and then have a big party with family and friends. Maybe, take away from the ceremony category and add to the reception.

Once you have customized your maximums for each budget category, you then break each down further into specific components. For example, for the reception, you want to allocate how much you will spend on food, alcohol, wedding cake, and site rental. Make sure the money you are allocating does not exceed what you have designated as the maximum for that category. Be as specific as possible. If you want a wedding cake and groom’s cake, designate how much you will spend on both, not just a general item like cake. This may seem tedious but will help in the long run.

Want an example of what a detailed wedding budget looks like, check out Wedding Planning Tool Kit: Wedding Budgeter to download our FREE wedding budget template!

Do this for each category and you have a wedding budget! That was easy, wasn’t it?


2. Stick to It


Now here comes the hard part, sticking to the budget. When wedding planning, it is easy to get carried away and overspend, especially when everything cost so much. The best way to keep to your budget is to keep the maximum you allotted for each item in mind when shopping. If you say you can only spend $1500 on your wedding dress, don’t try on a $5000 dress. It will just lead to disappointment…trust me I know. When going out on wedding planning activities take your budget with you and refer back to it when getting vendor pricing. If it does not fit, you must keep looking.

Become very good friends with Microsoft Excel. Create a spreadsheet that allows you to compare vendor pricing and calculate the total cost for things like receptions that can have multiple components. A per person cost of $80 may not seem to break the bank on your $10,000 wedding budget until you multiply it by your 200 person guest list.

Also, be aware of hidden costs like dress alterations, service fees, taxes, and tips. These can seem like small additions, but they really add up. Add all of these hidden costs to your budget beforehand so they do not surprise you on the back end.


In all planning you budget boils down to defining how much you have, allocating how it will be spent, then sticking to it.



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