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Creating Your Wedding Budget


We can’t stress enough how important it is to figure out your budget BEFORE you start looking at venues. Once you have a sense of your guest list, it’s time to start working on a budget.

Beginning a budget can be overwhelming, especially when you aren’t sure what everything will cost. That’s ok though, this is just a first draft and your budget is a document that you’ll want to edit throughout the process. Let's get started with some tips.


Be sure to scroll all the way down for a link to request the STP Budget Checklist with notes for free.

Estimating your total funds

Talk to your partner and figure out who will be contributing to the wedding. If parents are involved, discuss their thoughts on how much they are planning to put towards your wedding. This can be a tough conversation to have, but it’s an important one. Do your best to get an actual number out of them or at the very least, a plan for what vendors they would like to cover. You don’t want to make your budget a guessing game so it’s important to know figures from each party upfront.

Same goes for you and your partner- how much do you think you’ll be able to (or comfortable with!) put aside for the wedding? With these numbers coming together, you should be able to get a decent estimate of your overall budget. At this stage, it is really just an estimate for what you and your partner are comfortable spending. As a point of reference, according to the Wedding Report, the average cost of a wedding in NJ is $37,000.

Give your guest list another check

Make sure that your guest list is in order because this is a HUGE part of your budget estimate.

Figure out your budgeted Per Head Cost

Typically your venue is about 50% of your overall budget. If you are looking at non-traditional venues where everything needs to be brought in, this includes your rental cost, catering, liquor, and equipment rental (ie chairs, tables, glassware and so on). If your budget is $50k, you will want to check out venues where the cost will be around $27k or less. What does that really mean?

Well, if you have a guest list of 175 people, let’s assume for now that 150 people will attend (always assume more for budgeting purposes!). Most venues have a 20% (or so) service charge and 7% sales tax, so once you remove those, your $27k becomes $21k. That means you are looking at a per head cost of $140. Some venues include sales tax and gratuity in the per head cost number. In that situation, you would be looking for a per head cost of $180 ($27k divided by your 150 guest count).

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.

The items that will take up the bulk of your remaining budget include:

  • · Photographer

  • · Videographer (if you choose to hire one)

  • · Florist

  • · Band or DJ

  • · Hair/Makeup

  • · Transportation

  • · Invitations/Stationary

A good exercise is to go through these items and see what is most important to you and your partner.. 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

Want to check out our the full STP Budget Checklist with notes ? It's free! Click HERE to request it!




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