How to Budget for a Wedding
Couples looking to marry should know how to budget for a wedding. A wedding budget can help them begin a marriage without debt or stress. Creating a budget can also enable a young couple to gather enough funds before their wedding day. There are several wedding expenses, but the highest cost goes to catering and venue.
If your guest list is long, you will need a big venue and meet higher catering costs. Factors like the preferred wedding venue, flowers and décor, and photography can consume a lot of cash. How to budget for a wedding event is not easy. That’s why we have made a comprehensive guide for you.
Factors influencing a wedding budget
Things that may influence the total cost of your ceremony when considering how to budget for a wedding include:
- Your locality
- If you will choose a local or destination wedding
- The guest list size
- Your preferred wedding style and traditions
- Inflation and supply chain disruptions.
Items to Include in a Wedding Budget
When considering how to budget for a wedding, consider including the items you can afford. These items can include:
- A wedding venue
- Rental fees for furniture pieces like tables and chairs
- Food and beverage fees
- Marriage officiant’s charges
- A marriage license
- A wedding cake
- Wedding guests’ favors
- Bridal party gifts
- Bachelorette or bachelor party expenses
- Wedding flowers and décor
- Wedding photography fees
- DJ and entertainment
- Wedding stationery and invitations
- Wedding attire
- Makeup and hairstyling
- Rehearsal dinner
- Passport, visa, and currency exchange rates if doing a destination wedding.
How to budget for wedding – Main steps to follow
Step One: Calculate the amount of money you have
To create amock wedding budget, count your money first. We can categorize your wedding money into three classes:
- Individual savings – Your partner and you have savings in your bank accounts. While allocating all your savings to your wedding costs is okay, doing so is unreasonable. Subtract three months of your living costs from your bank savings. None of you knows if they will lose a job after the wedding. Also, you cannot foresee emergencies that might crop up and demand money. When learning how to budget for a wedding, leave some savings for your emergencies.
- The money you can save from your salary – Set up a separate wedding expenses account. Then, pay all your loans and debts with your monthly income. Reserve ten percent of your monthly salary for wedding costs.
- Contributions from family and friends – A couple should aim to meet their wedding costs alone when considering how to budget for a wedding. However, it is okay to request help from family and friends. Their contributions can bring you closer to meeting your overall wedding budget.
Step Two: Create a spreadsheet for your spending
There are three columns you must include in your wedding expenditures spreadsheet. These are the Estimated, Modified, and Actual cost columns. A wedding budget excel sheet is like a business plan or proposal. You can use it to compare your estimated and actual costs.
In the Estimated column, enter the figures you get from your cost research. The Modified column includes the amounts you receive from vendors in your vicinity. Lastly, the Actual column shows the amount you end up paying.
Costs in the Modified column should include after-the-tax figures. A how to budget for a wedding planner can help you compute these figures with current local and state tax rates. Other columns include:
- Estimated tip – Are there vendors you will tip? Add these to the estimated tip column in the Excel sheet. These can include caterers, who can make up to twenty percent of your wedding budget.
- Extras – No matter how careful you are, you might forget some expenses. Thus, add a column known as Extras to your spreadsheet. It should make up fifteen percent of your overall wedding budget. Whenever you recall an item, you did not add to your budget, subtract money from the Extras column.
Step Three: Set your expenditure limits
Another step on how to budget for a wedding entail creating a spending limit you cannot exceed. Make this decision based on your savings, monthly income, contributions from others, and so on. Suppose you want to do a big wedding costing $30,000.
A wedding budget breakdown $30,000 fund is big unless you set adequate time to collect the money. If you want to raise it in ten months and have saved only $5,000, you must contribute $2,500 per month. If you and your fiancée make only $5,000 per month, saving $2,500 from your salaries is impractical.
Thus, evaluate your monthly expenditures to identify the things you do not need. It will give you the amount you can put in the wedding fund. If you can only save $500 every month for ten months, you will accumulate $5,000 plus the $5,000 you initially had in your bank.
Raising the remaining $30,000 will be impossible unless you make a small wedding event worth $10,000. If you still want a bigger wedding, look into personal loan options. Do not use your credit cards to finance your wedding costs unless you stay within the spending limits.
If the how to budget for a wedding objective is to avoid creating debts, then doing a $10,000 wedding is okay. Otherwise, each of you should take an extra job to increase your monthly income and consider taking contributions from people.
Step Four: Understand wedding budget percentages
A vital thing in how to budget for a wedding entail setting percentages. Budget wedding planners work with percentages, which you can also use. Assuming your wedding cost is $30,000, your budget percentages should look like this:
- Venue and catering take forty percent of the total cost. That translates to $12,000.
- Rental furniture fees require ten percent of the total cost. Hence, you would pay $3,000.
- Photography fees are ten percent of your budget, which is $3,000.
- Flowers and wedding décor fees are ten percent or $3,000 in your case.
- You should allocate ten percent to music and entertainment, which is $3,000.
- The bride and bridegroom’s attire makes up five percent of your total bill. So, you must allot $1,500.
- Hairstyling and makeup expenses will consume five percent or $1,500.
- A wedding cake requires three percent of your budget, which is $900.
- Wedding invitations entail the same three percent or $900 of your total cost.
- Guest favors should make up two percent of your wedding budget. It translates to $600.
- Lastly, wedding transportation cost forms two percent of the total budget, or $600 in your case.
You can use a free wedding budget calculator online to do accurate math. Additionally, consider getting a free budgeting app to track your wedding budget expenses on your smartphone.
Step Five: Get ready for hidden expenses
Hidden cost is another point to remember as you plan how to budget for a wedding. The costs on a vendor’s contract may change abruptly, and your wedding budget checklist should handle it. These variable costs include:
- Transportation – Accounting for transportation fees for your guests is insufficient. What if you have a far-away music band that must arrive at the venue? A professional videographer could also be coming from another city. Your vendor might not meet these hidden transportation fees. Sign the contract only after verifying this part.
- Overtime cleaning fees – How to budget for a wedding also includes cost of assembling and dissembling wedding equipment. After the wedding reception ends, your planners may have to clear the venue the same day. If your event ends late, the planners might charge overtime cleaning fees.
- Custom drinks and spirits – If you need custom cocktails, you might add up to $3,500 to a wedding party with two hundred guests. Who, according to the vendor contract, should meet this bill? If it is you, will you sign or avoid the contract? A how to budget for a wedding contract should interpret this hidden cost.
- Digital photo sharing charges – After the wedding, you might want to share your memories with friends who did not attend. Your photographer may charge a viewing and sharing fee of $1,200 if they put your photos and videos online.
- Mailing guests – A stationery shop can charge you up to seven dollars to mail every invitation envelope. If your guest list is long, you can overspend on this area. You may best invite some people in person and prepare the envelopes for mailing at home. When deciding how to budget for a wedding, consider stationery as something you can do in person.
- Wedding planner – If you plan to save money, avoid inviting a wedding planner who oversees upscale celebrity weddings. They might charge you twenty-five thousand dollars to coordinate your wedding expenses and activities. This can be a hefty fee if you do not want your total wedding cost to exceed $30,000. The best planner to hire is one who organizes a single day’s affairs. They will charge a thousand dollars on average. A venue-provided wedding planner can be more expensive. Selecting an affordable planner is part of how to budget for a wedding.
Step Six: Spend wisely if using a credit card
A wise tip on how to budget for a wedding is to charge your credit card responsibly. You can increase your cash flow with a credit card, but you will be sorry if you overdo it. Expert financial planners recommend charging only the items you can comfortably pay back in one month.
A credit card company charging zero percent purchase APR when you pay the whole balance within the preset timeframe is the best. Simply put, a card with a cashback program is the best. If you decide on using credit cards, make it one card, not two. This is to protect your credit score. When exploring how to budget for a wedding, avoid doing things that can ruin your credit score.
Step Seven: Reduce your wedding budget
If your final wedding fund is smaller than your estimated budget, do away with some costs. When looking into how to budget for a wedding, consider your life after the big event. You do not want to take loans from banks or people to survive through the months. Instead, cleverly reduce your wedding budget. Here are tips on how to achieve this:
- Choose a different venue – Is your current wedding venue too expensive? If yes, look for a cheaper one that can host the same number of people. Another trick of how to budget for a wedding is to turn a free space such as your barn into a lovely venue. If you do this, you will have to hire furniture and everything else found in a rental venue. Thus, compare the total cost of hiring these things to that of using a rental venue. If you will pay more to use a barn, stick to the rental place and vice-versa.
- Revise the guest list – When creating a guest list, consider the costs of each person. In addition to the meal, think about the transportation fees, invitations preparation cost, guest favors, a piece of cake, etc. Revise your guest list before sending out the invitations to avoid disappointing those you intend to skip. Experts recommend reducing a guest list with 135 attendees by about fifteen people to save around $1,300.
- Prolong your wedding engagement – A pertinent point on how to budget for a wedding is when to start planning a wedding after the engagement. Saving your wedding funds will be easier if you prolong your engagement period. You will have adequate time to look for money from all sources. Also, your vendors will charge you normal rates as opposed to those organizing a wedding in a hurry.
- Use the same venue for everything – Do not host the wedding ceremony and reception in different venues if you wish to save money. You can cut your transportation budget by four thousand dollars by using one venue for the whole event.
- Do not opt for a live band – When looking into how to budget for a wedding, focus on getting a professional DJ instead of a live band. A DJ will do an awesome job without charging a lot of money. On the other hand, a live band could ask for more than thirty thousand dollars. This amount is too high if we assume your total wedding cost is $30,000.
- DIY wedding invitations – Instead of using a stationer to create your invitations, do it yourself to save money. Find free paper samples online, print them on your printer, and assemble the envelope for mailing. When planning how to budget for a wedding with a planner, do not use them for this work. They will charge you more for anything you cannot do personally. If you want to use calligraphy on your invitations, get a pen instead of paying for the service. If you have never done calligraphy, use online tutorials for practice. Then, do it on the invites to save time and money.
- Do not upgrade items – Even if you cannot tolerate some décor items, avoid getting others for a higher price. Doing so can increase your wedding budget and put you in debt. Avoiding debts is the most crucial lesson when learning how to budget for a wedding.
- Use a few vendors only – A more practical thing to do is to hire one vendor who can offer many services at once. They can give you a discount because of giving them more work. Besides, delivery and installation fees will be lower because you will transport most items from one place.
Step Eight: Allocate expenses to different people
This is the last step in how to budget for a wedding. You are now sure of all the wedding expenses and how much they will cost. Next, you need to assign costs to members of the wedding committee. Your fiancée and you should bear the biggest costs.
A recent Newlywed report on Wedding Wire showed that parents incurred fifty-two percent of the total wedding cost. Also, it showed that those tying the knot paid forty-seven percent. Their loved ones tackled the remaining one percent of the total cost. As you delegate bills, consider the financial abilities of everyone.
In some cases, one fiancée can shoulder more financial responsibilities because they earn more money. If your wedding will be more traditional, chances are that the bride’s family will bear the heaviest burden. On the other hand, a more modern wedding tends to place the heaviest burden on the couple.
1. How Much to Budget for a Wedding?
How to budget for a wedding varies among couples. Some people prefer preparing a big ceremony while others prefer a small wedding budget. In 2021, the brides found that the average wedding budget stood at $28,964. The brides’ 2020 report showed that people now prefer doing mini weddings with about fifty brides. In the same year, The Knot found that forty-two percent of spouses chose to make a ten-people bridal ceremony costing only 1,400.23.
2. Is $15,000 a Good Budget for a Wedding?
A $15,000 wedding budget is good enough if that is all you can afford. Couples looking to wed have varying financial strengths and plans. Some have more sources of income; others make small incomes per month. The best wedding budget is one you can meet without ruining your plans.
3. What are the Top 3 Costs for a Wedding?
The top three things to include in your wedding budget checklist include venue, catering, and photography. In most places, these costs top the list of wedding expenses.
4. How Much Does It Cost to Feed 100 Wedding Guests?
You need six thousand to twelve thousand dollars to feed 100 people.
5. How Do Most Couples Pay for a Wedding?
How to budget for a wedding depends on the couple’s income. Data shows that most couples use their savings to pay for their weddings. Other sources of wedding funds include credit cards, personal loans, contributions from friends, and monthly salaries.