How To Plan And Stick To Your Wedding Budget

wedding planning budget
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Your wedding budget is the most important decision you’ll have to make during the wedding planning process. The budget is where dreams and reality meet for the first time and force you to prioritize what’s truly important to you. There is no “right” amount for a wedding budget; it all depends on you, your family, your priorities and your tastes. What complicates it further is that there are two of you, two families, two sets of priorities and two tastes. The absolute most important thing to remember throughout all of this is that your wedding day is only one day, but your lives together are forever. Your lives will continue after the wedding and something that may seem important and heartbreaking now will become a fading detail and seem trivial in retrospect. So, when it comes to wedding planning, there is one area that we feel deserves a lot of thought, attention and time: your wedding budget. If you create a feasible and reasonable wedding budget, a lot of unnecessary stress and strain can be avoided in the entire wedding planning process.

wedding planning budget

How Much Does A Wedding Cost?

The first thing you’re probably wondering is how much a typical wedding costs. A common figure stated for the average wedding in the United States is around $27,000. However, this is an average across all regions, all wedding sizes and many other factors. You’ll also want to keep in mind that this is an average, meaning that the few very expensive weddings that are accounted for will increase the average number. You can learn more about what goes into determining the average cost of a wedding in our detailed blog post.

Don’t be scared by the $27,000 estimate. According to The Wedding Report, 40% of US weddings will cost $10,000 or less, and 65% of weddings won’t reach the $20,000 mark. Even in California, one of the most expensive states in which to get married, 51% of weddings won’t surpass $20,000.

creating a wedding budget

Learning about how much others spend on their weddings is very useful, but remember that the amount of money people spend on weddings varies greatly.  A wedding is comprised of dozens of different details, all of which are easy to get carried away with. Therefore, setting a reasonable budget is the first and most important step in planning your dream wedding.


Top Three Things That Impact Your Wedding Budget

Although it’s important to think of the big picture of all of the different costs your wedding will incur, we’re able to narrow down the three biggest things that will impact your wedding budget.

First, the guest list. The number of guests you have will probably have the largest impact on your budget due to the fact that you’ll have to account for food, drinks, invitations, space, etc. for each individual person. Remember that your wedding day is an intimate event and that you’ll only need your closest circle of loved ones there.

Second, the timing of your wedding. Just as with swimsuit season and ski season, wedding season is when wedding-related items are the most in-demand and most expensive. This season falls during the late spring to early fall months of May through October. Saturday weddings are the most popular, and as such venues and other vendors will book up quickly and be more pricey.

wedding venue budget

Third, the bar. Alcohol is one of the largest expenses at a wedding, especially if you plan to have an open bar. You can save a significant amount on your wedding by limiting the number of options at your bar.


How Do I Determine My Wedding Budget?

When thinking about how much you are willing and able to spend on your wedding,  remember that there is no such thing as the “right budget.” One couple may choose to spend more on alcohol and the rehearsal dinner while another couple might prioritize wedding photography and extravagant wedding rings. The best approach to determining your wedding budget is by prioritizing all of the items that could potentially be included in your big day. We’ve compiled a list of the most common items that couples will have to spend money on for their wedding to help you calculate what an appropriate and reasonable budget would be.

how to plan wedding budget

Another thing to consider is whether or not you will hire a wedding planner or wedding coordinator. Wedding planners and coordinators are there to help you organize and plan your event and play an integral role in your wedding. If you plan to hire either a wedding planner or a day of coordinator, you will need to factor their cost into your budget as well.


Calculate My Wedding Budget

Although every wedding is unique and will have different components, a typical wedding is comprised of the following items. Rank them in the order of your priority and set a total budget amount. When you have set a total amount, you will see the estimated budget for each of the categories. Based on your priorities, you can adjust the percentage allocations as you see fit.


Staying Within Your Wedding Budget

Now that you have calculated an estimated budget for your wedding, it’s important to do your best to stick to it. Take a look at what you have chosen as your top priorities and must-haves. Find out how much it would cost to make all of those dreams come true and see how far off you are from your allocated amount. If you are significantly over budget, you will need to make sacrifices in certain areas. For example, if your dream venue is your top priority but is way out of your price range, consider asking the venue what the price difference would be if you held the wedding on a Sunday morning or afternoon versus a Saturday evening. Or, if you absolutely must have a certain photographer, ask him what types of custom packages he can create for you to fit your needs. Feel free to shop around with vendors to find the ones who are right for you.

wedding budget

Keep track of what you are spending and take notes as you move along with planning your wedding. This worksheet will help you stay within your budget and pinpoint which areas are causing overspending and which are allowing you to save.

Download Wedding Budget Worksheet Here 

If you are still unable to reach an affordable cost for your top priorities, see what you can eliminate from the remainder of your budget, such as Save The Date cards or expensive floral centerpieces. You can also buy a smaller wedding cake to cut and serve inexpensive sheet cake to your guests. There are many different ways you can work around the expenses of a wedding to achieve your dreams. All it takes is the willingness to compromise.

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