Wedding Budget

Last updated: September 13, 2009

Budget Your budget can easily be the most stressful part of planning your wedding.  But it doesn’t have to be!  Set a practical wedding budget now so when everything comes together on your big day, there will be no surprises. 

First think about your priorities.  Can you give up a four course elaborate dinner for nicer flowers? 
Since your venue will take up a good chunk of change, it is next best to choose the location for your wedding.  Do you want a wedding in a park, beach, fancy ballroom, on an island?  
How many guests do you want to have?  Keep in mind that expenses for each person can include the venue area (number of chairs, tables, servers, etc.), food and drink (alcoholic drinks can get pricey), cake (either by slice or by tier the cost goes up).
Note that many wedding venues offer many different packages that you can choose from.  These can include your ceremony and reception site, equipment, cake, food, drinks, servers, bartenders, security, DJ, planner, and more.  Many times, choosing a package option will be considerably cheaper than getting everything on your own, and much less hassle!

Here are main parts to a wedding and options you can choose to help decide your budget.  You decide which parts you want to spend the most money on, the least, some, or none at all.

Food: formal full course dinner, hors d’ oeuvres, brunch
Alcohol: wine, champagne, open bar, dry event
Flowers: how many, what kind, what are in season
Entertainment: DJ, band, orchestra
Photographer/Videographer: browse different packages
Attendants: affect cost of rehearsal dinner, bridal luncheon, bridal gifts
Dress: designer gown, sale price, used gown
Hair/make-up: professional work, do-it-yourself, what hair style/make-up brand affects price
Jewelry: new, borrowed, on sale
Invitations: professionally done, print them yourself, calligraphy, embossed
Cake: depends on design, flavor, fillings, fondant, professional designer, store bought
Favors: digital cameras for everyone, or box of chocolates
Transportation: limo, luxury rental car, your own car
Wedding Planner: very optional, if you think you need extra help planning, hire one

Ways to save $$$
  • Choose a location with plenty of natural flowers and trees
  • Sparkling cider instead of champagne to avoid alcohol, bartender, security costs
  • Bring your own alcohol
  • Avoid holidays
  • Transfer flowers and decorations from your ceremony to your reception area
  • Use candles,  fruit, or fake flowers for centerpieces instead of fresh flowers
  • Earlier time of day is usually cheaper
  • Look for sales
  • Buy in bulk
  • Make your own decorations
  • Have a friend do your hair/make-up
  • Borrow accessories from friends/family
  • Simple but tasty cake
  • Create your own programs
  • Print your own invitations
  • Use the talents of friends/family (ex. singer, guitarist, DJ, chauffeur, calligraphy, photographer/videographer)
  • Find free parking
  • Make your own CD of wedding songs
  • Have bridesmaids carry a single rose instead of a full bouquet
  • Choose favors that can be used as a place card holder as well as a gift
  • Choose a friend or family member with pretty handwriting to address your invitations

Fees/extra costs you might not have thought about:
  • Parking fee
  • Corkage fee- if you bring your own wine, you may be charged a corkage fee for each bottle opened
  • Overtime fee- if you run over your allotted time at the wedding venue, you may be charged an overtime fee
  • Cake cutting fee- if you bring in a cake from your own baker, you may be charged a cake cutting fee
  • Server fee- if you bring in food from a different caterer than your venue, you may be charged a server fee
  • Overage fee- if you exceed the number of guests you initially told your venue, you may be charged a overage fee
  • Officiant fee
  • Equipment fee- for using stereo equipment, things you may have forgotten such as unity candle, ring pillow, etc.
  • Alcohol tax- in certain U.S. states
  • Taxes/Tips
 bottle uncork fee server fees