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You're engaged! Now, what's your wedding budget?


Rodney Bailey via Groom Sold Separately

You said yes! You’re engaged! Now what?

Typically couples like to book their venue first in order to lock in a date and of course, their desired venue. Before you begin looking at venues though, it is good to have an idea of your overall budget, as a huge chunk of that will go towards your venue.

Beginning a budget cane be overwhelming but it is much better to map out the budget before you begin looking at venues- that way you don't end up falling in love with a venue that you can't afford. So, here’s how we recommend tackling your first budget draft!

Estimating your total funds

Talk to your fiancé and figure out who will be contributing to the wedding fund. If parents are involved, discuss their thoughts on how much they are planning to put towards your wedding. Same goes for you and your fiancé- how much do you think you’ll be able to put aside for the wedding? With these numbers coming together, you should be able to get a decent estimate of your overall budget. Remember, it is really just an estimate to give you some paramaters for what you and your fiancé are comfortable spending. As a point of reference, according to The Knot, the average cost for a wedding is $31k.

Draft your guest list

Yes, it is really early to start a guest list, but it is the best way to begin to understand what your total venue catering cost will be. Just know that this list will likely change 100 times before your invitations go out (er and probably even after that)! Have a quick conversation with your families and get an estimate for the size of your invite list. You and your fiancé can work together on a friends list. For now, include people even if you aren’t sure if you would invite them or not- you’d rather over estimate than under estimate!!

Start Looking at Venues

When you begin looking at venues, make sure you think about the time of year and day of the week that you would like to have your wedding. Most venues offer discounts for the off-season (typically Nov-April) and for weddings held on Friday or Sunday. Typically the discount is around 10%, which when you are spending that much, it’s a big chunk!

Be sure to account for both venue fees and catering costs in here (including service charges, tax, etc). If you are having a wedding where you have to bring everything in yourself (ie linens, tables, etc) make sure that you add those to the list.

Overall, your venue/catering cost should be no more than 50% of your entire budget.

The Budget Checklist

Now that you know about how much you want to put towards your venue, it’s time to start breaking down the rest of the budget. Below is a list of items to consider including in your budget calculations. A good exercise is to go through these items and see what is most important to you and your fiancé. For example, the band you choose may be more important to you than the flowers that adorn the space. If that is the case, allow yourself to splurge a little on the band and then find a florist who is a little more budget friendly. Don’t forget, it’s always better to overestimate than underestimate in the beginning! Savings in the end will be a nice surprise :-)

  • Wedding Planner

  • Band or DJ

  • Photographer

  • Photo book keepsake

  • Videographer

  • Florist

  • Hair/Makeup

  • trial and day of!

  • DIY & Décor items

  • Guestbook, signs, card holder

  • Reception extras

  • Photo Booth

  • Candy Bar

  • Additional Desserts

  • Food truck

  • Favors

  • Save the Dates

  • ​Stamps

  • Invitations

  • Calligrapher or envelope printing

  • Stamps

  • Welcome Bags for guests (if staying at a hotel)

  • Menu & Ceremony program printing

  • Transportation

  • For you and your guests if needed

  • Ceremony fee

  • Officient fee

  • Marriage license fee

  • Bride and Groom’s Attire

  • Don’t forget all of the accessories like jewelry, shoes, purse, garter, tie

  • Honeymoon

  • Passport renewals cost money!

  • Gifts for wedding Party and Family

  • Wedding bands

  • Tips for your vendors

  • Rehearsal Dinner

  • Breakfast and/or lunch for you and your wedding party on the day of your wedding

  • Next day breakfast/brunch

  • Hotel Room for night before and night of

  • Don't forget most things have tax :-)

Real Simple's Wedding Budget Worksheet

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