Ah yes, time to start thinking about your wedding budget! In this ultimate guide to wedding budgets, I’ll walk you through everything you’ll need to do and know to erase budget issues (and headaches!) from your wedding planning.
In essence, we can break down your wedding budgeting process into 3 steps:
Before we get too far into it, I just wanted to make sure I let you know about the budgeting tracker I created for you. I’m super proud of it because it is really all you need to keep track of your budget. It will help you figure out how much you have, how you should spend it and then track and review what you’ve spent. It’s cool and you can download it from my wedding planning resource library.
So, let’s just jump right in with figuring out how much you have to spend!
How much you have
You and I both know that figuring out how much money you can spend is really the key to your wedding budget. And the great news is that it will be easy to figure out once you sit down and work it out.
Traditionally, the bride’s family pays for the majority of the wedding, but this tradition is a bit antiquated and doesn’t always apply — I mean, not all weddings even have a bride! So, the best way to work it out is to talk to your families on both sides and then look at your own finances and add it all up!
Talk to your family
As I said, it’s traditional for parents to pay for the wedding, so that’s where you’ll want to start with your budget. Speak with each of your parents and find out if they have set aside any money to contribute to your wedding.
Within this conversation, you may also want to discuss who will be considered a host and how many guests they are allotted. If it’s just one person’s parent(s) who are contributing, the hosts will be obvious, but if several different groups are putting money in, the host and guest issue might be a bit more complicated.
I know that money isn’t always an easy subject to broach, but starting out knowing where everyone stands and what everyone’s expectations are will truly help you in the long term.
Look at your savings
After you work out if and how much your families will be putting in, look to your own savings. You probably already know how much you have and want to spend personally, but speak with your partner as well.
I’m not here to tell you how much to spend or how you should do your wedding at all, but just be sure you’re starting out your married life with open communication about what you’re spending and what (if anything) you’ll have leftover after the fact.
Figure out what you will save
After adding up what’s already available to you, you and your partner might want to add a bit more to the pool by contributing savings over the course of your engagement. If you’re planning to do this, now is a great time to work out how much you’ll be able to add each month.
Once you have that worked out, all you have to do is add everything up and you have your budget! Now, the trick will be to figure out how to allot your cash…
How you’ll spend it
Now that you know how much you have in your wedding budget, it’s time to figure out how you want to spend that money. In this section I am going to start with a recommended budget breakdown. This will basically show you how the average couple divides up their budget. After that, I will offer some examples of budgets at different levels.
Before we get deep into it, I just want to remind you that these are just guidelines and can absolutely be adjusted to fit your wedding and your needs. Maybe you have been dreaming of a gorgeous dress that doesn’t quite fit the budget, or you know your cousin’s band will play for free. Or maybe you just want to focus on one element more than the others — adjust your budget for that. It’s your wedding, after all!
Breaking down your budget
Venue – 16%
This is one of the two biggest pieces because it’s where you’re celebrating. This section should include your reception hall rental fee, furniture rentals, linens, glassware and of course set up and teardown costs. Some venues will include all of these in one fee, while others will require separate vendors for each.
Food – 16%
The other biggest piece of your budget will go to feeding your guests. Whether you’re hosting a luxurious 5-course sit-down meal or a rustic buffet-style feast, you’ll include cocktail snacks, appetizers, dinner, desserts (apart from the cake) and of course catering & serving staff.
Drinks – 7%
Whether you’re hosting a dry event, a cash bar or an open bar, you’ll have to supply some sort of beverages for your guests. This section includes your cocktail hour, reception drinks, corkage fees and bartender costs.
Cake – 2%
One of my fave parts of the wedding! Your cake costs will include your tasting, design and delivery costs as well as any venue cake cutting fees and a groom’s cake, if you’re having one!
Ceremony – 2%
Well, obviously the day is all about actually getting married, but that comes with some costs. In this section, you’ll include officiant fees, your marriage license, the ceremony space, décor and music, especially if you’re hoping to have a live organist or string quartet.
Attire & Beauty – 8%
You’ll have eyes on you and of course those photos will last a lifetime, so you will probably want to dress up a little (ha!). This section should include your dresses and suits, any makeup and hair professionals, and beauty treatments like waxing and manicures, and please don’t forget your shoes!
Rings – 2%
Straightforward on this one, but the rings you’ll exchange should be factored into your budget as well — and don’t forget ring boxes if they aren’t included with your rings!
Flowers & Décor – 7%
Gotta make that reception gorgeous, right? Your flowers and décor should include your bouquets and boutonnieres, centrepieces, signage, lighting and ambient décor. If it’s there for making the space pretty, add it here.
Stationery – 5%
Oooh, I just love that gorgeous paper! If you’re anything like me, this is one of the most exciting pieces of the puzzle! From your save the dates to your invites, thank you cards, menus and place cards, your stationery will set the tone for your day — so don’t forget to add it to your budget!
Entertainment – 8%
Your wedding guests will absolutely have a great time once your music starts! This section will include your DJ or wedding band — and might even include your first-dance choreography or a photo booth.
Gifts & Favors – 2%
Showing appreciation will mean the world to your guests. This section should include your wedding party proposal and thank you gifts, guest favours and any welcome gifts for out-of-towners.
Photography & Videography – 10%
One of the best keepsakes for your day will be your photos and wedding video. This section should include your engagement photo session, wedding photographer, photo prints & album and your videography.
Transportation – 2%
Getting to the venue, shuttling your guests around, and of course ensuring there’s parking for everyone — your transportation costs should be budgeted for, just as with everything else!
Planner – 8%
Some people would die without their planner, others prefer to DIY or just have a coordinator. Regardless of your choice on the matter, add it to the budget!
Miscellaneous & Emergency – 5%
For all your unexpected fees, last-minute solutions and any sort of emergency.
$30K Wedding Budget
$50K Wedding Budget
$75K Wedding Budget
$100K Wedding Budget
Your spending & what you spent
You now know how to figure out your wedding budget in terms of what you can spend and how it should be divided up. So now it’s time to actually spend that money! Woohoo!
If you want to be sure you stick to your budget, keep track of what you spend and review it as you go. It doesn’t have to be super rigid if you decide to spend a bit more here or there, but it’s still a great idea to record and check in on your budget as you go.
To make it easy for you to do all of the things I mention in this guide, I’ve put together a wedding budget tracking tool. I’m super proud of it because it is really all you need to keep track of your budget. It will help you figure out how much you have, how you should spend it and then track and review what you’ve spent. It’s cool and you can download it from my wedding planning resource library.
And that’s that! You’ve got everything you need to put your wedding budget together and keep to it! If you decide to download the wedding budget tracker, I’d love to know what you think and if you’ve found it helpful. Best of luck with your planning and all the best for your wedding!