By far one of the trickiest (and arguably most tedious) parts of wedding planning is setting your budget! Wedding budgets are a frustrating, but necessary, evil. Because no two are exactly alike, there's no magic formula that works for every wedding. That's why for our Ultimate Wedding Budget Calculator and Guide, we've based everything off of the average percentage allocations spread across the most popular wedding expenditures.
Lets start off by getting some basic information that will help you further down.
Remember, if you're inviting a lot of couples and families, to plan wedding stationery quantities to be about half of your overall guest list size. A couple or family will count as multiple guests but will share an invitation.
Hiring an appropriately-priced wedding photographer can be daunting. Needless to say, it is one of the biggest decisions to make—since your photos will forever capture the big day!
The old saying "you get what you pay for" is doubly true for photography and videography. Book early, spend as much as you can for great quality, and get as many shots in as possible. No one ever said, "I wish I didn't have so many photos of my wedding!"
If photography is important to you—and you want to go big—don't be afraid to allocate money from other parts of your wedding budget to cover it. If your photography package doesn't include prints, albums, or photo discs; remember those may be future costs to consider. Read over your photography contract carefully to assure get what you pay for—including session time, rights to photos, and more.
Whether you want to DIY with fresh florals from a warehouse, or work with the best florist in town—your flowers help set the tone for your wedding.
From bridal bouquets to dazzling centerpieces, the budget here can increase drastically based on which flowers are in season, your location, and the types of flowers you're using.
If you're working with a florist, the consultation, delivery, and set-up is typically included—a bonus for your wedding budget! Spending more on your reception and ceremony flowers vs. bouquets and boutonnieres may be smart, since guests are more likely to check out your décor up close and personal. Plan to re-use ceremony flowers as chic reception centerpieces as another budget saver—(plus it doubles as a place for bridesmaids to stick their bouquets!).
Shopping for THE wedding dress is every bride's dream! This once-in-a-lifetime shopping experience can quickly get out of hand, so it's good to have a dollar amount in mind before checking out the latest dress styles. Knowing how you want to be adorned accessory-wise (think headpieces, veils, shoes, and accessories) is also important, as those costs can quickly accumulate. Be sure to include your alterations, make-up, and hair into this category.
Oh, and let's not forget the groom's apparel. Renting a suit or tux is great for grooms who don't have the need to keep a suit hanging in their closet. However, many men are opting to purchase a suit rather than rent a tux since it offers multiple uses beyond their wedding day.
This includes the venue fee, officiate, rentals (i.e. chairs, lighting, arches/backdrops, speakers, microphones), runners, the guestbook, and more. We'll also stick the marriage license into this section since it fits here the best.
From churches to parks, the wedding ceremony budget can differ greatly depending on location and if you need to provide guest seating, audio/visual gear, and more. Many couples combine their ceremony and reception into one location, which is a great budget saver – but not an option for everyone.
If your wedding venue doesn't require a rental fee (as is the case with many churches), it's proper etiquette to still offer a donation toward the venue and to the officiant.
Yes, your reception will often account for nearly half of your wedding budget! This whopping portion includes venue rental, food and beverages, linens, cake, rentals and décor (not including flowers). Obviously your guest list size plays a big part here. While it's scary to think about the costs here, remember this portion of your budget is responsible for the fab experience that guests are sure to remember!
Time, location, and the season will also make an impact. Reception venues generally cost less between November and April, while avoiding a Saturday night reception also saves money.
Paring down your menu (while still filling up your hungry guests), offering a cash bar, and creating your own centerpieces are just a few other ways to save.
Ugh! Some extra costs are bound to sneak up on you, so if you prepare for the unexpected ahead of time, you won't be left scrambling to come up with extra cash at the last minute.
Showing appreciation for your wedding party and family shouldn't be forgotten. The size of your wedding party may dictate how much to spend on each person. In the weeks or months leading up to your wedding, keep your eyes peeled for unique and fabulous finds. Or even keep the theme simple by providing gifts that may help make the wedding day events easier for the wedding party (think jewelry, make-up, flip-flops, socks, and more).
Chic favors to offer your wedding guests also fall into this category. Favors should definitely showcase your personality and wedding day theme—and be provided as a sweet keepsake from your wedding. Many brides opt to DIY their favors with quality craft time with friends and family ahead of the big day.
Go with your instinct, be thoughtful—and have a little fun! And don't be afraid to get a bit sappy, especially with gifts for your parents.
You can easily arrange your wedding day transportation on a budget. (But let's be honest—most grooms research and book the wedding day transportation!). From stretch limos to classic cars, the options are endless and the prices are diverse.
Your wedding party will surely appreciate a ride together to the reception from the ceremony site after a busy day—such as a luxury bus or stretch limo. Also, keep in mind transportation for guests if your reception site is farther away from your recommended lodging site. Many hotels offer shuttle buses, but there are sometimes fees and tips involved for events.