How to Budget for a Dream Wedding

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How to budget for a dream wedding. You wanna tie the knot without tying your financial future in knots? Believe it or knot (ha), it’s doable! The average wedding costs right around $30,000. Yeah, let that bad boy sink in. Thirty Gs to say “I do” in front of your friends, family, and jealous exes (or at least your friends and family). If that’s a bill you (or your parents) can swing, awesome. If not, no worries. Let's talk about how to budget for a wedding.

Regardless of the size of the wad of cash you’re sitting on, it’s important to check in with your budget early and often if you want to avoid being a big ball of stress.

Define Your Budget

Yes, this should be obvious. However, based on the fact that more than half of Americans don’t know how much they spent last month, we’re gonna mention it. Seriously, more than half. 

So, it’s not entirely about how much you have to spend, it’s about how you spend it. Sounds like another adage we’ve heard before but just can’t place. Anyway, draw that line in the proverbial monetary sand and do not cross it. We repeat — do not cross it. If you know you’re going to want to cross it, maybe bring that initial number down a bit so you aren’t behind the eight ball when you do.

Define What Stands Out

Don’t care so much about who caters but have a dream venue on the list? Well, you’ve figured out where to allocate the lion’s share of your resources. If you can put together a hierarchy of all the wedding tasks that need to be done, you can more effectively allocate money to them and stay under budget.

Beyond just what you think is most important, earmark your most significant expenses. If you want a budget-friendly men’s wedding band, then your rings may not make that list. If, on the other hand, you really want to go for custom wedding rings, maybe set aside a few extra dollars before you start going wild on your spending.

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Check-in with Your Budget

You should just be doing this in your daily life, so it’s a good lesson to ingrain. You don’t need to be neurotic about it, but you do want to check in with where you’re at somewhat often. Maybe each weekend or so, just take an overview to ensure you’re on track. If you check often, you can right the ship if need be before your wedding ship starts to look like Jaws (insert Martin Brody saying, “You’re gonna need a bigger budget”). A budgeting app can be your best friend here.

couple reviewing finances


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Helpful Points of Reference

Now that you’ve got the basics down, here’s a rough estimate of what a typical wedding budget looks like.

Venue and Catering – 50%

These two will take a Jaws-sized bite (really going back to this well) out of your wedding budget. It’s normal, it’s how it goes, just prepare yourself for it. If you have a friend with a cool barn or maybe one who owns a catering service, you can save yourself literally thousands. If you don’t, start befriending caterers.

Photography – 10%

This is a worthwhile investment. You want high-quality documentation so you better be ready to pay for it. While we’re at it, please allocate a plate for your photographer when it’s time to eat. Seriously, it’s just polite. If you’ve got a friend with a DSLR who you trust, you can save yourself some cash.

Décor – 10% 

Flowers and other goodies take up more space in your budget than you might think. If you opt to go homemade on your décor, you can free up some decent budget space. You may not have your own flowers, but other décor and goodies can be put together by you and some friends who you should thank immensely for doing so. 

Entertainment – 10%

It’s not for everyone, but there’s something fun about a band at a wedding. If you want to save some cash, call a friend with a great Spotify playlist.

Clothes – 5%

Y’all gotta look the part. Throw some cash at a dope suit or a stylish wedding dress. Utilize another three to five percent or so if the bride is having her hair and makeup done professionally.

Cake – 3%

It’s one expensive ass cake, we know. Prepare for it because those things are works of art. Expect cutting fees and any fees associated with assembly and disassembly if you order a tiered cake. Sorry about that. 

Stationery – 3%

Unfortunately, it’s still uncouth to shoot your friends a text that says you’re getting married. The little envelopes and notes are nice, though.

Miscellaneous – 9%

Things like transportation, gifts for your guests, and any other extras need to be accounted for. Throw some money into an all-purpose fund because there will be a cost or two that sneaks up on you.

 wedding budget list pen


Much of this is more in the category of principles than rigid rules. Whatever your budget is, the most important thing is to stick to it, check in with it often and come out of your wedding without crippling debt.

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