Know how much money you have to spend on your wedding, but having trouble knowing how and where to allocate all your funds? We’ve put together the Ultimate Wedding Budget Guide to help you know the items that you’ll see in most “typical” weddings, as well as the standard percentage of your budget you may want to have for each category. (Please keep in mind that the percentages are SOLELY based on industry averages and may not be right for everyone. Feel free to adjust the percentages based upon your own priorities!)
When creating your own budget for your Big Day, we suggest asking yourself, “What are the 3 main things I want people to say when they talk about my wedding in a year?”
If you say “I want my guests to remember the incredible food and dancing!”, you know you might want to spend more on catering and entertainment, and maybe less on decor and flowers.
On the other hand, if you say, “I want my guests to remember how beautiful the scenery was and how elegant the wedding looked!”, you know you may want to focus more on the venue and decor.
View our printable Wedding Budget Guide Below, and read further to get more information on that category!
1) Venue, Food, & Beverage- 50 to 60%
This is where a majority of brides spend the most of their wedding budget! When thinking about your Wedding Venue, you’ll want to consider a few things:
– Will my wedding ceremony and reception take place at the same venue or different locations?
– Will I need a separate or additional space for a cocktail hour?
– Does the venue include things like tables, chairs, linen, silverware, plates, and glasses, or is that additional?
– Does the venue allow outside catering? (Not all do!)
-Is it open parking or are there parking fees you or your guests may incur?
-Does the venue have a dance floor or will one have to be rented?
-Does your venue require a lot of guests to travel (destination wedding)?
When thinking about Food & Beverage, you’ll want to ask yourself:
– Does my venue allow outside catering?
– Does my venue allow alcohol on the premises?
– Do I want alcohol at my reception? (If yes, do you want an open bar or just beer and wine?)
– What kind of food do I want at my wedding? Is there any food I want to avoid due to allergies/health concerns?
A couple of tips to save on this area of your budget include:
-Consider having your wedding of an “off-day” or “off-season” for the venue. They may provide a big discount for having your wedding on a weekday vs the weekend, morning vs evening, or December vs October.
-Save on food costs by putting an elegant spin on “cheaper” foods (mac & cheese looks delicious and elegant in martini glasses!).
-Save on your wedding cake by opting for a smaller display cake and have a sheet cake behind the scenes to serve your guests.
2) Entertainment- 15 to 20%
This category is usually the 2nd biggest wedding budget breaker! When thinking about Entertainment for your big day, consider the following:
-Do I want musicians or a DJ to cover the whole day? Musicians may be more on the expensive side, but a DJ can’t replicate the look of a harpist, organ player, or string trio playing live as your walk down the aisle. DJ’s will also be good if you have a lot of specific songs you want to hear or your musical styles lean towards EDM, remixes, Rap, etc. Bands are a great choice if you love audience interaction, a big sound, and you love the band’s song list.
-Am I having a cocktail hour? Do I need music for that as well?
-Do I want to have mics for my wedding ceremony? (This is a big thing that most brides don’t think about- if you have 100+ guests and you’re ceremony space is big or outside, consider asking your entertainment provider if they can provide sound production for your ceremony- that way your guests don’t miss a second of your vows and aren’t straining to hear!)
-Do I want my entertainment to be JUST music? Don’t rule out entertainment like photo booths, cigar rollers, or any other specialty entertainment that will make your wedding unforgettable.
A few tips to help you get started on Entertainment:
-Try to book your entertainment at least 8 months in advance- especially if you want a specific band!
-Ask your entertainment company if they have “all-inclusive” wedding packages to save money instead of booking your harpist, DJ, and violinist all from different places.
-Take travel costs into account: booking a band in-town will reduce travel costs, and therefore, your bottom line! If you really want a specific band and want them to travel, make sure to mentally take that into consideration when reviewing your budget.
3) Photography/Videography- 10%
This category is arguably one of the most important for your wedding budget- every wedding needs a great photographer to capture all the memories and moments made on your Big Day! Don’t leave it up to an amateur- you’ll want to see these photos and video for the rest of your life and you want them to look just as good (if not better) than the day itself.
A few questions to ask yourself when thinking about photography/videography:
– Do I want only photos, or a video as well? If I want video, do I want a short film or long?
– Do I want the photographer to only cover the wedding day, or for an engagement session and rehearsal dinner coverage as well?
– Do I want prints or digital copies?
A few tips on picking a good photographer/videographer:
– Watch the videographer’s sample videos and view galleries before choosing your photographer. Also read reviews! You don’t want a photographer who’s going to show up late and miss you getting ready with your bridesmaids or miss other important shots of the night.
– Test out a photographer with an Engagement Shoot and if you liked them, use them as your wedding day photographer!
– Make sure your photographer will give you full rights to your photos and get them digitally for easy sharing capabilities!
– Make sure to ask/get clarity on when you should expect to receive your wedding photos. You don’t want to wait around for 3 months after your wedding to start getting your images!
4) Planner/Coordinator- 5 to 15%
This category has a bigger variance in wedding budget percentage, based upon how involved you might need your planner to be. Do you need help with EVERYTHING, from pre-planning to budget to finding vendors to purchasing decor? Or do you have most of the wedding planned out, but only in need of day-of coordination or a few consultations?
A few questions to ask when thinking about a wedding planner/coordinator:
– How much assistance do I need with planning/coordinating?
– Will I need her there on the day of the wedding?
– Will I need help with timeline creation and management?
A couple of tips to keep your coordinator costs low:
– If you only need a consultation or advice, a lot of wedding planners offer that as an a la carte service!
– Always, if possible, have a coordinator present on the day of the wedding to ensure everything goes smoothly and you as the bride aren’t having to worry about timing!
5) Attire- 5 to 10%
Of course you need to budget for that dream wedding dress! But don’t forget about all the other attire you may need from engagement to your wedding day.
A few questions to ask when thinking about your attire:
– How many bridesmaids will you have, and will they be contributing towards the cost of their dresses? (Same question for the groomsmen!)
– Do you need new outfits for engagement parties/photos?
– Will any of your outfits need alteration?
A couple tips when thinking about your attire:
– Are there outfits you already have that can be used for your engagement party, engagement photos, rehearsal dinner, etc.?
– Consider renting a wardrobe at a cheaper rate than purchasing the clothing outright!
6) Stationery/Paper Goods- 2%
This may not seem like a big category, but the cost of paper goods can really add up if you’re not careful! Invites, save the dates, postage, labels, thank you cards- are just a few paper goods that can add up quick!
A couple of things to consider for your wedding budget when purchasing paper goods:
– Are paper invitations necessary, or will electronic invites/email/Facebook events suffice?
– Will I save by printing at home or ordering custom-made cards?
Some tips when dealing with Stationery/Paper Goods:
-Go paperless whenever possible! It saves money and the environment.
– If you can’t go paperless, be smart about the amount of paper you use (i.e. you can save a post on postage and envelopes if your invite is a postcard!)
7) Flowers & Decor- 5 to 10%
Flowers and decor can turn even the plainest looking rooms into a magical wonderland. But be careful- the cost for all the small details can really add up!
A couple of questions to consider when deciding on your wedding budget for flowers/decor:
– Are the flowers I want in season?
– Are real flowers a must, or will fake flowers suffice?
-Can some of the decor items be DIY?
-Can you order all the decor items you need from one place?
Tips when deciding on flowers and decor:
– Try to buy flowers that are in season and local to save on costs.
– If you need a lot of custom decor, consider DIY projects to save on cash!
8) Beauty- 2%
After focusing on everything else for your wedding, it’s now time to turn the focus onto yourself! This section of the wedding budget includes all your beauty treatments, from waxing and facials to haircut/color and mani-pedi’s.
Some questions to think about when dealing with beauty:
– What treatments are necessary and which ones are “extra”?
– Does your makeup artist or hairstylist provide a trial appointment? You’ll want to see what you’ll look like before the wedding day!
Some tips when thinking about beauty:
– Schedule your trial appointments on the same day as other wedding functions (engagement shoot, bridal party, etc.) to get double the use out of your looks!
– Make sure to plan in advance and work out the timing. You won’t want to get waxed or spray tanned the day before the wedding as you might risk bumps or an orange tan on your wedding day.
– Don’t try any products or treatments if you don’t know how your body will react to it- you don’t want an allergic reaction or acne close to your wedding day!
9) MISC & Emergency Fund- 5%
After all of that, you must make sure you have some funds left over for MISC/Emergency Funds! This section may be the most overlooked section in the wedding budget, but could possibly be your most important.
A few questions to ask yourself for your Emergency Fund:
-Do my vendors have cancellation/rescheduling policies?
-If my wedding is outdoors, is there a backup plan for inclement weather?
-Do I have enough cash for tips for my vendors?
-Do my vendors have policies for overtime?
– What other hidden costs might I incur?
A couple of tips for your emergency fund:
– Be prepared and know your vendors’ policies on cancellation, overtime, and rescheduling.
– Get everything in writing! If a vendor agrees to do something not written in the contract, ask them to send you a confirmation in writing.
– Use the Emergency Fund as a last-resort only, and use whatever is left over towards your honeymoon!
Let us know how you liked our wedding budget guide in the comments, or head over to our inquiry form to book entertainment for your upcoming wedding!