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Creating and Sticking to your Wedding Budget: The How To

Wedding budgets are tricky. They get made and usually get followed at the beginning but as the wedding planning goes on, things can quickly spiral out of control and that budget you worked so hard to create suddenly looks unrecognizable. This usually happens because couples don’t really know how to plan a true wedding budget. It’s their first time planning a wedding and navigating the wedding industry waters can be challenging and overwhelming.

We’re going to show you how to create a realistic wedding budget and how to stick to it!

The best way to tackle a wedding budget is to ensure you have a plan and know what the top priority items to budget are first.

GETTING STARTED: MAKE THE LIST

The first thing you are going to want to do is create a list of your primary and secondary priorities. The primary list consists of the items you will want to start to source first. The secondary list includes items you will source after. For example:

Primary

Venue

Food/beverage

Ceremony

Florals

Photography/videography

Design/décor

Stationary

Secondary

Stationary

Entertainment

Transportation

Cake/dessert

Guest favors

ESTABLISHING YOUR NUMBERS

Do you know how much you are willing to spend or are you clueless when it comes to setting a realistic budget? If you’re like most couples starting their wedding planning, then you probably have no idea how to do this. And that’s totally okay! We got your back and we’re here to help!


We created a Wedding Budget Template that can help you get started (you can download yours here! be sure to scroll down to find it)


The first thing you will have to do is get an estimate or quote for your food, beverage and venue cost. This is going to comprise roughly half of your wedding budget. Every venue is different and they charge differently so you will want to ensure you are getting an actual quote based on your guest count and not a minimum spend amount. Here’s the difference, a per guest cost is going to reflect your true cost where a minimum spend is the amount a venue makes you spend (the starting point) to host an event.

If you need some help getting your venue search started, read about the “5 Major Questions You Should Ask The Venue Before Booking Your Wedding” on our blog.

You also want to ensure that when you are requesting a quote, you are quoted on all costs including gratuities, admin fees and taxes. Ask the venue coordinator to create an itemized quote based on your guest count and to send it to you along with the contract, so you can fully review before you sign. Don’t forget to include things like specialty cocktails, higher end bar rails and late-night stations if those are extras you want.

Our budget template has 4 columns:

- the first column lists the item (ie: venue, ceremony, etc).

- the second column lists the percentages each item is worth.

- the third column is for you to input your ideal budget or what you want to spend (or know you want to spend).

- the fourth column is for the actual costs you are quoted on.

Using the Wedding Budget Template, we have created for you (you can download yours here! be sure to scroll down to find it) start by adding in your venue/food/beverage cost (blue highlighted cell). This is going to be the largest of your costs and will comprise anywhere from 30-50% of your budget. Once you add in this cost the spreadsheet will do the rest! You will notice that the spreadsheet fills in the rest of your estimated budget based on the percentages they're worth.

CUSTOMIZING YOUR SPREADSHEET

Take a look at the EXPENSE column and feel free to rename any of the rows after items you are budgeting for (if they aren’t listed). Next, in the BUDGET AVERAGE % column, go through each row and adjust the percentages as you see fit. Don’t worry, this shouldn’t change the formulas in the spreadsheet. After you’ve made your modifications, input your venue/food/beverage cost (in the blue highlighted cell) and the spreadsheet does the rest! The last column is for your actual budget, which included the actual costs you are quoted on and will pay. This is a great way to see how your estimated budget differs from the actual budget.

Now here’s the tricky part…how to stick to your wedding budget. It’s not as hard as you may think it is! The number one thing you need to do is ensure that the quotes and estimates you are receiving fall in line with your ESTIMATED BUDGET before signing off on them.

Once you have your quotes, you can start signing off starting with your top priorities. Remember that if there are certain areas in your budget where you need to overspend, only do it against your top priority (venue/food/beverage). For example, don’t hire the florist before your venue is signed off on.

Budgets help us stay on track and achieve our ultimate goal, which is to have as little stress as possible on our wedding day. Let’s face it, it’s hard to have a good time on your big day if all you’re thinking about is how much you’ve overspent.

As an experienced planner, I can assure you that you can achieve the most beautiful wedding even on a budget. If you need proof, just take a look at the wedding we did for under $1,000!


Every successful wedding starts with a planned budget and now you have yours. Congratulations!

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