We’re sure you and your special someone are glowing with love and we couldn’t be happier for you. If you’re here, you’re probably starting to get into the initial planning stages for your wedding and probably buzzing to get started. To borrow a few precious words from the fabulous Lizzo, we bet you’re feelin’ good as hell.
Planning a wedding means you’re now a savvy, possibly first-time, event planner and you’ve quickly realized that you’ll need to set a budget before you can move on to most of the wedding tasks.You may have researched a few other budget breakdowns as well, found some tricks to keep costs down, and even bookmarked an article or two about actually sticking to a budget. That’s awesome!
What follows is an outline of how to envision and create a wedding budget that doesn’t send you into sticker shock later, but also a budget that allows for some flexibility. It’s common to exceed an initial budget because small price differences and unexpected fees can add quite a bit to your original cost estimates. Luckily we’ve created a detailed, obsessively organized (and free) Wedding Budget Worksheet for you to use when building your budget.
It’s absolutely possible to have a wedding you love on a budget you’re comfortable with, and we’re going to show you how.
The Holy Trinity… of Weddings
There are three questions you need to nail down from the start of your budget building. We highly recommend that you and your partner make a choice, gather all the intel that you can, and create the rest of the budget with this information as your bedrock.
- What are the #1 priorities for you and your partner?
- How many people do you want to invite?
- Who is paying, or helping to pay, for the wedding? What are you and your partner comfortable spending?
Let’s break these down a bit more.
Your #1 priorities could also be thought of as the key components of your dream wedding. That’s right, we’re encouraging you to dream a bit about the wedding you both want. Do you want a destination wedding, or at a local beloved spot? What time of year do you want to get married? What features of your wedding do you want to spend the most money on: your vendors or venue, or both? Think photography, entertainment, food, and anything that really means the most to you. Outline the wedding details you want to be the highest quality.
The number of guests you want to invite plays a major role in the wedding budget. In fact, they’re likely to be the largest expense (unless you elope, which we 100% support). The average cost per guest is about $150, and the average number of guests at a wedding is 120, which puts this “average” total cost at $18,000. Of course, there is a lot of flexibility on price due to many other factors, but it’s vital that you have a handle on how many guests you’ll be paying for.
When it comes to the overall wedding funds and contributions we’re fans of sticking to a value that you and your partner are comfortable spending versus how much you could actually afford to spend. A wedding is one of the larger expenses that you and your partner will ever manage, and being comfortable with what you spend will help you avoid some stress as you move forward. Talk to your partner and your family, and decide how much, if any, loved ones are willing and able to contribute. We’ve seen successful weddings on a $2,000 budget, and there’s no need to spend the average $35,000 if you don’t want to.
In fact, a rapidly growing trend for modern weddings is dedicating a portion of their wedding registry to funding the wedding. If you’re curious how this might look, we do have a sample registry you can reference for tips.
Standard Budget Allocation
We gathered some info from industry professionals about how to allocate your budget for the wedding. While you’re welcome to change it up, we think the recommendations below are a good starting point.
Some Ways to Save
When you’re working on your wedding budget, consider ways that you might cut costs. Most of the time, this goes back to your priorities, and deciding which elements aren’t worth spending a lot of your money on. Some other ways you might save money are:
- Wedding Insurance: Get it. If something goes wrong, you want to be covered.
- Consider getting married on a Friday versus a Saturday (weekdays are even cheaper if you can swing it)
- Choose a backyard wedding, or wedding at a friend’s beautiful home
- Plan an off-season wedding (summer and fall are the most expensive times of year to get hitched)
- Have a small ceremony & a low-key reception (we love a good wedding BBQ!)
- Save on wedding gowns and suits by shopping smart or renting!
- Stick to beer and wine for the bar, have a dry wedding, or keep the menu simple
We cannot stress the importance of having a budget worked out in the early stages of planning. Budgets are necessary to achieve your vision and save you heartache when paying those final bills. What is most important is that, whatever you decide, you and your partner are happy with the results. You’re hanging with your favorite people and best of all, you’re getting married!