The Wedding Budget Breakdown

Let’s be honest here for a second. No one likes to talk about budgets. No one. And if you do, then you can step aside from the other 99% of us who don’t.

BUT planning a wedding is absolutely something that you need to figure out a budget for. And that’s because the current average cost of a wedding is $30,000. 

Take a look at a typical breakdown of wedding day costs:

50% Venue and Catering

Covers: The venue, dinner, cocktail hour food, alcohol and beverages, bartenders, rental items (tables, chairs, china, etc.), cake and desserts.

12% Photo and Video

My biggest piece of advice with this category is to not skimp. Your photos and video are the only things you’ll have left decades later!

9% Clothing and Beauty

Covers: The gown, alterations, suit or tux (along with the shirt, tie/ bowtie, suspenders, pocket square etc.), shoes, veil, jewelry, cufflinks, hair stylist (be sure to include any maintenance like a cut or color before the wedding day), makeup artist.

8% Decor

Covers: The bouquets and boutonnieres, centerpieces, ceremony decor (arches, aisle runner, etc.), uplighting, candles, linens, guest book, signs.

7% Entertainment

Covers: Live band or DJ, musicians for the ceremony, extras like sparklers, glowsticks, or kids activities.

3% Wedding Planner

This number will vary based on what your wedding planner will be responsible for, whether that’s everything right from the moment you announce your engagement, or just having one there on the actual wedding day to make sure everything goes smoothly.

2% Stationery

Covers: Save the date invitations, wedding invitations, wax seals, programs, menus, thank you cards, escort cards, table numbers, place cards, seating chart. You may also want to factor in postage in this category.

2% Officiant

Yes, they usually cost money.

2% Transportation

Every wedding has different transportation needs. A limo or party bus might be ideal for driving the bridal party to the venue and for photo locations. You might want to hire a shuttle service for guests to safely get to and from the venue (especially if you’ll have some partiers there.) Maybe you love the idea of having a getaway car for just the two of you after the ceremony or reception ends.

2% Wedding Bands

You’ll be sporting these rings for the next 50 years, so make them good! And don’t forget the insurance!


Money Tips

  • Have a portion of your paycheck get deposited directly into a savings account reserved for wedding expenses. You can also deposit any contributions from family or friends. The separate account helps you save- out of sight, out of mind.
  • Analyze your guest list. Like REALLY analyze it. The cost of a wedding is largely determined on how many guests you have. Why? Because you have to take into account the size of the venue, the number of invitations and postage, the number of meals, the amount of alcohol, the number of tables, chairs, table numbers, and the list goes on. Don’t feel like you have to invite every single person you’ve ever known. Write down your first draft list and edit from there. Even reducing your guest list by 10 people can save you a lot of money!
  • Don’t forget the extra little things that will add up! Things like stamps for the RSVP cards, ribbon for your bouquet, the marriage license (like, why the heck does this cost money???), tips for your vendors, special lipstick or perfume that you want to wear for the day, bridal party gifts, new outfits for your bridal shower or bachelorette party. 
  • Create a spreadsheet or doc with estimated costs, proposed costs, and actual costs. When you do your research on vendors, you’ll be able to get an idea of how much you might be spending. After contacting the vendors you’re interested in booking, make note of the proposed cost. Once you’ve made the final payment, record it in the actual cost section. Seeing it all laid out will help you pick out areas you might have saved on, which can allow you to be a little extra in another area. There will always be little things that come up here and there, so make sure you have some wiggle room financially. 
  • Some venues have off-season rates or Friday/ Sunday rates that can save you a significant chunk of change. Be sure to check with the venue you’re wanting to book!

Hidden Costs

Make sure you thoroughly read vendor contracts, as boring as it might seem. Some have hidden fees or extra costs that you might not be aware of.

What to look for:

Overtime Most vendors have an overtime fee listed in their contract. And spoiler alert: it’s typically a higher rate than if you just booked extra time up front.

Service Fees This is a very general term (typically a percentage) that some venues will use for an array of different things. It could include things like hiring servers, having a coat check, valet, etc. Be sure to ask for clarification.

Trials Some vendors offer a free trial for their service. However, you might be paying extra for any changes you want to make or for scheduling additional trials.

Want even more detailed info on a wedding day budget? Check out this post from Dave Ramsey.

All content and images in this post are copyright of Alayna Parker Photography and can not be used or reproduced without exclusive permission.

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