Updated: Jul 7
Your Guide for Planning the Best Use of Your Money on Your Wedding Day.
There are many different ways to plan your budget, so this guide will give you all of the basics and advice on making your money worth every penny.
Everyone wants their wedding to go off without a hitch - knowing what's important to you and where your money is going to be sure each detail is cared for is vitally important for the best outcome on your big day. After witnessing nearly 200 weddings and hearing the joys and complaints from Brides, Grooms and their families and friends, these pieces of advice are bound to help you plan for the best and avoid the mistakes that could otherwise give you headaches on your wedding day.
Where does the money usually flow to and where should it go? Let's break it down!
A Breakdown of The Basics
Ceremony - Venue space, officiant, chair rentals, non-flower décor, guest gifts (ie fan), recessional send off (bubbles, petals, etc) Reception Venue Food - Cocktail hour, reception dinner, food truck Flowers & Décor - Archway flowers, linens, guest book, bouquets, aisle décor, head table décor, centerpieces, cake table décor, lighting.
Entertainment - DJ, Live Musicians, Entertainers like dancers or dance instructors, tarot card readers, poker table rentals, etc. Cake/Desserts Photography Videography Alcohol Attire - Bridal gown, grooms suit, groomsmen ties, boutonnieres, corsages, hair and makeup, cufflinks Rehearsal Dinner - Venue, invitations, food and décor Stationary & Gifts - Schedule/Programs, Save the Date, Wedding Invitations, Guest Favors, Bridal Party Gifts Miscellaneous - Wedding website, room rental, transportation, unexpected expenses, reception send-off (ie sparklers, horse & carriage ride, etc)
Part 1: What's the Most Important To You?
Part 2: Budget Suggestions Part 3: All-Inclusive Venue or Separate Vendors?
Part 4: The Budget Breakdown Part 5: Examples
Part 1: What's The Most Important To You? Everyone values things differently - now is the time to figure out what's the most important to you and your love, be it the food, photography, or maybe the venue of your dreams.
Write down or print out the list above and begin by putting a star next to the 4 items you feel are the MOST important to you. Then, underline the 4 next most important items. Soon we will break down the numbers and rearrange the budget to be sure that what your heart wants on your big day is taken care of first.
Part 2: Budget Suggestions
After hearing wedding wishes and woes for 11+ years, I'm going to share the most important ones I've heard and experienced so far!
Always. Get. A. Good. Photographer/Videographer Okay, yeah, I'm a bit biased... but it's true! Having those moments captured for eternity is super important - be sure to do your research before choosing a photographer. Skimping here can mean a world of woes when you end up with missing moments and blurry images of the most important day of your life. Let your guests party hearty Want to have a high-energy, exciting kind of wedding? Offering champagne during your ceremony and a beer barrel (or beer burro! Yes... a donkey that carries beer and often wears a sombrero) at cocktail hour makes for a fun-loving crowd. To keep from your party getting too sloshed, offer an open bar for the first 2 hours of the Reception, then move to a cash bar to close out the night.
Don't Forget the DJ
Underestimating the importance of a great DJ or band can end your day with lots of awkward moments. A great DJ or band knows how the flow of the day goes and is sure to keep the energy high, the timeline followed, and your guests interacting with each other for a super fun day/night.
Planning is Gold There are different levels of wedding planners/coordinators, any of which could make a huge difference in making your wedding day and the months before MUCH easier. Having any level of planner is a must.
A Wedding Consultant is likely to cost you $40-150/hr - Their purpose is suggesting locations, decorations, photographers, caterers and other vendors for your day. This is great for people who are planning their own wedding but would like basic assistance in decision-making.
A Day of Wedding Planner will be sure everyone follows the schedule, your guests are taken care of, and any issues with vendors that come up are dealt with on the spot for somewhere between $500-2000
A Full Service Wedding Planner will cost decent money (up to $8,000 for full service for a large wedding) but their important jobs will include helping you make major decisions, creating and helping with following the timeline, arranging transport, assist with set up and take down, coordinate rehearsals discuss wedding logistics, negotiate vendor contracts, contact vendors, schedule appointments and ensure that day-of activities run smoothly. Safe Places to Save Money Saying "I do" doesn't need much extra fluff (décor). Most of your and your guests wedding memory-making is going to happen during the reception, so finding an amazing but affordable ceremony spot is a sure way to save a couple thousand dollars. Skip the Save The Dates - cutting back on stationary and saving some trees in the meantime is another safe route to putting back a few dollars that can go towards more important items on your list.
Part 3: All-Inclusive Venue or Separate Vendors?
If you've already got an all-inclusive venue booked or you're interested in going that route - read on to hear what All-Inclusive venues usually offer, Pro's & Con's and a breakdown specific to you! The idea of having the stress off of your shoulders by having most aspects of your day covered by an all-inclusive venue is certainly temping! Many venues offer packages that are presented to give you "more bang for your buck". And it certainly is a weight off knowing your catering, décor and photographer are being provided by the same place - less phone calls and names to remember, right? Let's go through some pro's and con's of these types of venues. PROS: It's more cost effective More convenient Saves Time CONS: Your options are limited and you may not love all of them Give up control of your day Less Personal/Unique Be aware that choosing your vendors yourself is more work, more contracts to read and sign, and you may spend more money in the end.
Part 4: The Basic Budget Breakdown - If you're not using an all-inclusive wedding venue
Alcohol - 6% Cakes/Desserts - 3% Ceremony - 7% Entertainment - 7% Food - 17% Flowers & Décor - 14% Photo/Video - 15% Planner - 13% Reception Venue - 18%
Okay, so you've selected the 8 most important items from the list at the top of the article... now it's time to make some adjustments to fit your needs better!
If you already know you're going to be using a friend's backyard for your venue or got a sick deal on catering or you're making your own decorations with a cost you've already set, move the freed up percentages from that and add it to your top 4 most important categories. Take percentage points away from the 5 categories you did not star or underline and move it to the 4 starred categories you felt were the most important.
Next, move percentage points from the remaining 3 categories and move it to the 4 categories you underlined as 2nd most important
Part 5: Examples