The Wedding Budget Guide That Can Actually Help

wedding budget - krista fox
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Hi BrideBox Family!

Ok, so as a newly engaged woman (WOO!) this was the first issue I came across. I can’t do anything without a budget, but how do I create a budget without knowing an estimate of what to expect from different vendors? And then there’s a whole ‘nother step of having to create a guest count before I can start reaching out to vendors. *Cue me starting to have a panic attack on the way home from my surprise Nashville engagement.

Instead of you having to deal with the same thing I went through, here are the tips that will ACTUALLY help you!:

wedding budget

1. Have the Wedding Budget Conversation with Your Spouse and Family

This is inherently an awkward conversation to have, especially if your family didn’t see it coming. For some context, the average wedding cost in the United States is around $26,645. Because of this, many couples do consider a destination wedding, courthouse wedding, or even an elopement to keep costs down without compromising the beauty and importance of the day. If you are set on having a traditional wedding, look up the typical cost in your geographical area. For example, I’m in Southern California, where the average wedding cost is $40,000!! Yikes!

wedding budget - sophie epton photography

Photo Credit: Sophie Epton Photography

2. Create a Wedding Budget Spreadsheet

Ok, now you have an overall budget. Time to start allocating.

Ladies, Google Sheets has a preset wedding planning template. This is not a fire drill. The thing is awesome! Don’t get intimidated by the 20 different tabs, they will soon be your best friends. You can keep track of every single vendor you are talking with, their information, and their pricing. Once you input the pricing of your final vendor choice, it will update the main page that has the formula to help you keep track of your budget.

In the budget formula, let’s start with the typical percentages that brides allocate per each item.

*Keep in mind, yours may be different. For example, I really prioritized videography. Because of this, my videography/photography budget far exceeded what most brides spend, so I had to reallocate the money from other areas (aka my fiancé get’s to make all of the beer, thanks, babe!).

**Also, your honeymoon is not a part of this budget. It will have to be budgeted separately. 

wedding budget - krista fox

Photo Credit: Krista Fox Photography

Ok, here we go:

Rehearsal Dinner

Should be small and intimate, don’t invite every single person coming in from out of town 5-8%


Ceremony site price, potential chair rentals if needed, and decorations (if you’re not reusing for the reception)



Rentals (chairs, linens, tables, heaters, plates, silverware, etc)



Many florists will work within your budget. Keep in mind that keeping your wedding “green” will lower any floral costs as garlands typically cost far less than flowers.



DJ, Band, Ceremony music, Photo booth, Lawn games


Photography/ Videography

Photographer, videographer, and photo album


Printed Materials

Save the dates, invitations, POSTAGE, menus, wedding programs



Favors for your guests and gifts for your bridal party and parents. This also includes your bridesmaids and groomsmen proposal gifts.



Make sure you ask your venue these questions before signing off with them. Those answers will be included in this budget number!



Wedding dress, alterations, Groom’s suit or tuxedo



Wedding bands


Hair & Makeup

This is only for your hair and makeup. If you want to buy your bridesmaids, you’ll have to reallocate



Cake, donut bar, cupcakes, etc.


Caterer & Drinks

Outside of the obvious (food and drinks), this will also include their services (most gratuity is already included), sometimes linens and rentals


Misc If it’s an outdoor wedding, you need to budget for a tent in case there’s rain. This is also where tips can go if you’re not budgeting it per line item. Basically your “just in case” fund.


wedding budget - kelsey combe photography

Photo Credit: Kelsey Combe Photography

3) Start a Guest List

Like I said in the beginning, you really can’t do anything without at least having an idea of how many people you’re inviting.

Pro Tips:

  • Family – no second cousins or long-lost aunt’s and uncles. Only the family that you know on a first name basis and actually stay in contact with.
  • Friends – people that you see in your life in the long term. The last thing you want is to look back at your wedding pictures and videos and be like, who is that?
  • Coworkers – you’ll get back to work and literally, EVERYONE will ask you about how you got engaged. If your office situation is anything like mine, a lot of people are genuinely interested in you and wanting to be a part of your life. Once you get engaged, that is turned up even more of notch since everyone loves to love and everyone loves a good wedding. Only invite the co-workers that fall under the friend’s category above!

wedding budget - natalie watson

Photo Credit: Natalie Watson Photography

4) Start contacting vendors

Now that you’ve prioritized where your budget is going, you have ideal numbers in place, you can start reaching out to vendors. Don’t be surprised if you start getting quotes that are higher than your numbers. Your geographical area may be higher in one area than another. To make sure you’re getting a fair price, do your due diligence and get multiple quotes. That way, you can start negotiating!

wedding budget - ken kienow wedding photography

Photo Credit: Ken Kienow

Good luck! You’re already on your way to setting a date and marrying the love your life! I’m so excited that I get to plan alongside with you. Happy budgeting!

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