Steal our easy-to-follow wedding budget breakdown and ensure your expenses stay on track
When newly engaged, and beginning to make your first foray into wedding planning, it can feel almost impossible to know just how much should be in your budget. How much is too much? How much is not enough? Where is all of this money being allocated? Who will pay for the wedding? Can we afford designer wedding attire? There's no denying the task demands a lot, and right now, we're sure these questions and many more are rattling around in your head, and dominating conversations with your partner. But, we're here to help! Using our rich knowledge of event planning, we've put together an extensive wedding budget breakdown that should help you answer those burning budgetary questions, and kick-start your planning journey.
No matter the size of your budget, you must sit down together and discuss how much you can, and want to spend on your wedding. Before you look at venues, talk about photography styles, or even consider what type of cake you both desire. Set a wedding budget first and share your priorities for the celebration. Have you always dreamed of a grand castle wedding? Or maybe something more intimate? Talk to each other frankly and ensure you're both happy with each other's vision of what a perfect wedding is.
Discussing one another's priorities will also help you get a clearer understanding of what your total budget should be, in a way that searching for the average cost of a wedding will never do. Every wedding is different, and while looking at averages just to get an idea of cost is useful. It can also be quite misleading. As the amount you can, or want to spend on your wedding may be wildly different from the average. Which is why our wedding budget breakdown focuses solely on percentages, rather than typical spends. Meaning, no matter the size of your budget, you'll be able to take our checklist and apply it to your plans.
The Importance of an Online Wedding Budget Breakdown
Even the most financially sensible of couples find the prospect of coming up with a wedding budget daunting. But creating a checklist, or spreadsheet with all of your wedding expenses on, is a critical part of event planning. If you haven't set up your costings sheet yet, head over to our wedding budget calculator, and you'll find we've done all the hard work for you! This super handy tool lists every major expense the average wedding should expect, while also leaving you with plenty of room to add your unique expenses. All of which is then totaled together to provide your wedding cost breakdown. A supremely useful, and ever-changing number to possess at every step of your journey as a wedding planner.
It is important to keep in mind that when you create a wedding budget, you shouldn't expect the final figure to remain the same throughout the planning process. It's almost impossible for to predict precisely how much you'll need to spend before you actually start the nitty-gritty of wedding planning. Vendors often charge more than expected, while other parts of the process sometimes cost less. Therefore, it's good to have a wedding budget breakdown, like ours, that you can easily edit on the fly. Adjusting estimates with real-world prices as you go.
It may well be that your priorities shift quite dramatically during the wedding planning process, and you actually need to remove a whole category from the overall wedding budget. Maybe having a free bar has become too costly, and you've now realized the beer money would be better spent elsewhere. By having an easy-to-use spreadsheet, or wedding budget checklist such as ours, you can quickly and easily remove that category, and redistribute those funds elsewhere. Without the need to start over.
Wedding Budget Breakdown: How to Allocate Your Wedding Budget
Our wedding budget breakdown below should help you get a better idea of where funds should be allocated. However, it's good to keep in mind that these are just averages. Your percentage spend may not be exactly the same as ours, and that's ok. Treat these numbers purely as a guide. An indication of how much you need to budget for each part of your celebration.
The percentages below do not add up to 100% and this is because, again, they are just a reference.
- Wedding Venue 38%
- Catering 29%
- Wedding Band and DJ 17%
- Wedding Photography & Videography 18%
- Wedding Bands 7-9%
- Wedding Attire, Hair & Beauty 10%
- Wedding Flowers 8%
- Lighting & Decor: 6%
- Transportation 3-4%
- Wedding Stationery 3%
- Wedding Cake & Desserts 2%
- Wedding Favors 1%
- Officiant 1%
Wedding Venue 38%
Read any guide to planning a wedding, and you'll discover that wedding venues dictate almost every other choice you'll make surrounding the event. From the types of wedding vendors you can work with, to the decor of the day, right through to how many people you can have on your guest list. The cost too of your venue is key, as it will undoubtedly take up the largest percentage of your budget. Therefore, you need to know how much the wedding ceremony and reception venues will be fairly early in the process.
The perfect place to host your wedding day should comfortably fit all of your wedding guests, and offer different options depending on the weather. Not only that, but your venue should also fit your style. Whether you're dreaming of somewhere with a rustic chic vibe, modern minimal or maybe a little more timeless – it should feel right. Not every couple walks into a venue with a clear view of their theme in mind, and in fact, many allow their chosen space to dictate the feel of their wedding day. Which means literally no part of the event can be planned without the venue being selected.
When selecting a venue for your wedding reception, be sure to look beyond the advertised, or even a quoted price, as that figure can be misleading. Things like corkage fees for bringing alcohol from outside the venue, charges for cake cutting, overrunning and clearing up are all often added to a bill after the event and can really ramp up the final price. Request a detailed quote from any potential venue, listing any charge they may add on after the event. That way, you can properly ensure the space fits within your overall budget, or whether you need to change the wedding budget percentages slightly.
The biggest chunk of your wedding budget will likely go towards your venue and catering, which is pretty understandable when you think about it! Because your guests, whether there's 50 or 500 of them, will be expecting some delicious food and some drinks to be supplied during the day, into the evening. Preparing and delivering all of that food requires experienced staff and a lot of industrial equipment. Especially if you're handing over bar duties to your catering team too.
Catering may well be included in your venue cost. Therefore, it needs less consideration, budget-wise. But if not, it's good to think carefully about every culinary decision you make, as it will affect your entire wedding budget. If you're set on the food and drinks being served, but do want to bring the overall cost down, you may have to think about cutting the guest list. Not an easy decision to make, but if you're budgeting per head, this is the easiest way to keep your vision for the day.
Wedding Band and DJ 17%
Depending on the band, and their experience, live musicians often make quite a costly addition to the average wedding budget. Whether you want some traditional music played that'll remind you of home, or just want some guys to play through the hits, you should still expect to allocate at least 10% of your budget to the performers.
Wedding bands and musicians are an integral part of any celebration, and the most experienced performers can comfortably keep a crowd hyped throughout the evening, announcing events according to the schedule. A skill that's worth its weight in gold if you want to ensure you and your guests have a fun, carefree wedding experience. A good wedding DJ can also perform this role, and the very best performers really become part of the event.
Wedding Photography & Videography 18%
Wedding photography, and nowadays videography too, are the only true investments you can make in your wedding. They are the only vendors capable of creating something that'll live long after your celebration. A time capsule of memories that can be revisited time and again, for generations to come. For this reason alone, photography and videography deserves to take up a significant portion of your wedding budget. But it's also worth remembering that quality cost's money, and if you want a photo album or film you actually want to look back on years from now, it's best not to go down the cheap option.
Invest in the best photography your budget will go to. If you're struggling to find an experienced shooter with a style you like, that's on budget, consider adapting, or dropping something from your wedding checklist. Years from now, you will not appreciate the special stationery you ordered, or the extra expensive flowers you had to have dotted around the reception. But you will appreciate your decision to choose a photography team that matched your personality, and knew how to capture weddings.
Don't go cheap on keepsakes.
Wedding Bands 7-9%
Wedding rings, or bands often get forgotten when preparing a typical wedding budget, but they are integral to proceedings! A centuries old symbol of marriage, and depending on your taste, a sometimes expensive item.
Wedding Attire, Hair & Beauty 10%
Every couple deserves to feel their very best on the special day, in an outfit that flatters and fits their style. But getting that perfect fit, along with hair and beauty, doesn't come cheap. And can actually take up a reasonable amount of the budget for a wedding. If the high price of your future wedding dress is bringing you out in cold sweats, there are ways to reduce the spend. Renting a bridal gown, rather than buying outright, is really popular these days as it offers the opportunity to wear a designer style, at a fraction of the price. Of course, you have to hand that beautiful dress back, but at least another bride gets to enjoy it after you.
If you would rather keep your wedding dress after the wedding, you could still save money on it by shopping off-the-rack, and at sample sales. Bridal stores will often have a rail of dresses available to browse and take away that day at a heavily reduced price, as the dresses are no longer orderable from the designer. You will need alterations to make one of these dresses perfect, but all bridal gowns demand some type of tailoring, so it's not an extra expense.
Unless you've got friends or family in the hair and makeup business, it's always better to hire a professional service on the big day. Not only will they put together an unbelievable look for you, but they'll also help to create a special experience. Pampering you on your special day, and ensuring you feel at your very best.
Wedding Flowers 8%
There's no underestimating the transformative effect flowers can have on an event space. Well-thought-out, and carefully arranged floral displays can take a blank, four — walled room and turn it into a fairytale wonderland. Flowers are certainly worth dipping heavily into your wedding fund for, no matter the size of your celebration. However, if you would rather cut their cost, think seasonal and green. Selecting stems that are in bloom around the time of your wedding is the easiest way to save money on flowers, while also being eco-friendly. Vines, leaves, and mountains of greenery can also be picked up for a lot less money than typical floral choices. And can bring quite a modern feel to your decor.
Lighting & Decor: 6%
Alongside flowers, lighting is another hugely transformative event styling tool. One that actually, with a bit of expertise, can entirely change the feel of a room. Professional lighting can then be complemented with candles, low lamp lights and personalized installations.
Remember that decor is what makes a wedding feel unique. Choose items that feel personal, and say something about you as a couple.
Depending on the logistics of your big day, and wedding size, the budget for transportation can differ considerably. Those marrying in a different venue to their reception will typically need to transport guests from one space to another. This usually involves hiring buses, or shuttle vehicles, which can prove costly, but worth it if you want guests to arrive on time, and safely.
While guests get cozy on the bus, you will, of course, want something a little more luxurious to travel in, such as a vintage car or a limo. If you're figuring out your wedding budget, and you're considering cutting this expense, think twice. Not only will a special car or vehicle create a wonderful experience for you both, before and after the ceremony. It'll also provide a great prop for your wedding photos! Nothing says wedding day quite like a married couple posing in front of a limousine!
Wedding Stationery 3%
Your printed wedding invitations and save-the-dates play a massive role in not only getting your guests to church on time, but also hyping them up for the event! The perfect invite sets the scene for the occasion, while menus, table numbers and seating plans create ambiance on the day.
Wedding Cake & Desserts 2%
Is it really a wedding if there isn't a cake!? Even if it's a mountain of donuts, that's still better than skipping the tradition altogether! Guests love the cake cutting moment, and it offers a classic photo opportunity. Not all of your loved ones will like your choice of cake, so be sure to put together a spread of other sugary treats to satisfy their sweet tooth.
Wedding Favors 1%
A small gesture can go a long way with wedding guests, and they will certainly appreciate a thoughtful gift being handed to them at the end of the evening. Your wedding party and family members should get their own special gift. Something not necessarily pricier, but maybe more personal than the average wedding favor.
If you're not marrying within a courthouse or religious setting, you will need to hire an officiant to legally marry you. The best officiants create deeply personal, moving and even funny ceremonies for their couples. And their services are typically highly desirable, and therefore sometimes costly. If that style of ceremony is not for you, maybe consider something a little less in-depth, and go for an officiant who simply performs a service.
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