How to Create Your Wedding Budget

If you are starting out on your wedding planning journey, you might be shocked to find out weddings are as much, or more, than a down payment for a house! Yes… weddings are expensive! Creating (and sticking to) your budget is the most important part of planning a wedding. Today, we are talking about how to create your wedding budget and our recommended percentages to aim for per category.

First, create a spreadsheet

I recommend Google sheets. This document can be shared with your partner, parents, future in-laws, and whoever else needs to be aware of anything budget-related.  Lots of transparency when it comes to money is critical.

As you start planning your wedding planning categories, it’s a good idea to focus on what is important to you by writing down all of the things you’d ideally want to have at your wedding. You and your partner should pick your top three wish list items so that you can allocate your budget around them. A must-have item from some couples, isn’t important for others.

Next, you need to discuss a realistic guest count.

In 2019, the average wedding in the United States cost $33,900 according to The Knot’s Real Wedding Study.  If you divide that by 150 guests, that is $226/guest. Of course, we have couples that go above or below that average, but that’s why they call it an average. Thinking about the cost of your wedding per guest is HUGELY important and will really help you to make smart planning choices.

Let’s talk percentages.

Remember, these numbers are averages and based on our market and experience as planners in Central Indiana. It is also critical that your spending is relative to all the other categories. Don’t blow your whole budget in one place only to be left with pennies for everything else.

National statistics by 2019 Brides Magazine

Wedding planners are going to be between 5-10% of your budget. We will save you money by keeping your from making expensive mistakes. And we’re awesome. Promise.

Your venue should not be more than 10-12% of your budget. For most all couples, the bulk of their budget comes from the venue & caterer. Your decision in these categories will most definitely set the precedent for the entire budget.

The ideal percentage for catering & bar is around 30% depending on the caterer, what type of event you are having, and what type of food you are choosing to serve. Be careful getting higher than 40% of your budget in this category and overspending in one place.

Floral will be about 8-10% of your overall budget. Keep in mind – when you add more guests, you add more of everything else. More people means more tables, which means another arrangement, linen, chairs, as well as food & beverage.

In our market, photography/videography will be about 8-10% of your budget each. Around $2500-$3800 is average for a good photographer in our region, and around $1,800 – $3,500 for videography.

Keep entertainment around 8-10% for ceremony & reception.

Rentals and decor will be about 3%. Some of these items might come with your venue or will be included in your floral proposal.

Stationery, postage, and calligraphy will be anywhere from 3-8% of the budget. Be sure to weigh a completed invitation suite before you purchase your postage to make sure you budget properly.

Looking to trim your budget?

It’s probably not going to be the most popular answer, but it’s the most honest. You need to cut the guest list. Keep in mind – number of guests doesn’t just impact the food and beverage budget. Adding extra guests means you will need more tables, more chairs, more linens, more centerpieces… it adds up after a while.

Couples opting for a more intimate wedding are more likely to keep their wedding costs low. Yet invite 100 or more guests for a larger wedding, and you’re looking at costs totaling twice as much (or more, if you’re getting hitched in a big city).

I hope these tips were helpful today for how to create a wedding budget!

Thanks for the wonderful team for these photos:

Venue: Ritz Charles, Inc.
Planning + Coordination: Lisa Norris Events
Arch and Floral and Decor Rentals: Blue Blossom Rentals
Stationery: Noteworthy Expressions
Photography: Alison Mae Photography
Table and Linen Rentals: A Classic Party Rental
Hair and Makeup: Black Swan Beauty
Cake: Moist Cake Co
Florist: Satin & Stems
Dress: The Wedding Studio
Videography: Everett Pictures
Tux: DC Designers TUX SHOP
Officiant: Memories to Last a Lifetime
Models: Kevin and Victoria
Dog Model: Lady