Your Wedding Budget Breakdown

When you dreamed of your wedding day, you probably imagined the dress, the cake, and the romantic moment of your first dance. It’s unlikely that the budget crossed your mind. Now, as an adult, the dream in your heart lives on, but you’re faced with making it line up with the cold hard numbers.

Planning a wedding is no small undertaking, and weddings aren’t cheap. The average wedding cost more than $30,000, in 2020. That’s a major expenditure for a family, especially in today’s tight economy.

What you decide to spend on your wedding is a very personal decision. You know what you, your partner, and/or your family can handle. You may have to do a reality check on your dream wedding and downscale a bit, but that doesn’t mean you have to abandon the elements or themes that mean the most to you.

You should make a list of the things you want for your wedding and divide them into categories of “Could Do Without;” “Would Like to Have;” and “Must Have.” Be honest, and also be creative. There may be ways you can achieve the desired look or theme on the budget you have available.

When budgeting for your wedding, you should have an idea of how much you’ll need to spend per guest. This will help when making the important decisions regarding the size of your wedding.

A general rule of thumb is that you’ll spend around $100 per guest you invite.

Who’s Paying for the wedding?

Traditionally, families have followed certain guidelines for who’s responsible for various portions of the wedding costs. It’s usually broken down into sets of items and services that each individual or family is expected to pay for. The bride’s family is usually responsible for the bulk of the wedding costs, including the entirety of the reception, the wedding dress, photographers, transportation, as well as their own attire.

The groom’s family typically is expected to pay for the rehearsal dinner, their wedding clothes and transportation, and a wedding gift for the couple.

The groom is expected to pay for certain things as well, like corsages and boutonnieres, the honeymoon, the wedding officiant and the gift for the bride. The bride usually pays for her attendant’s gifts, her beauty treatments, and a gift and ring for the groom.

You may not be interested in doing things the old-fashioned way, and that’s fine. You can make decisions based on what works for you. For example, you could split the full cost of the wedding three ways between you and your partner, his family, and yours. You can also pay for the wedding yourselves. In any case, keeping a realistic budget in mind is important.

Crunching the Numbers

A good way to work out your budget is to follow a formula. For example, the average American couple spends their wedding budget in the following way:

45-55% wedding reception (venue, food, rentals, cakes, music, etc.)

10% wedding attire (gown, accessories, groom’s attire)

10% misc and unexpected costs (insurance, overages, etc.)

8-12% photos/video

5-10% flowers and décor

5-8% taxes and tips

4-6% music

2-5% wedding bands

2-4% printing (invitations, programs, thank you cards)

2-4% gifts (attendants, favors)

2% ceremony (location, officiant, marriage license)

2% transportation

When budgeting, you will have to decide on the overall amount you’re willing to spend for your wedding. You can then determine how much, in dollars, you want to spend on each category of items or services.

Sticking To Your Budget

When dealing with vendors, be confident about what you want and need, and stick to your budget. You might be tempted to add certain upgrades or extras, but be sure to keep your goals in perspective.

It is possible to save money when planning a wedding. For example, there are wedding venues that offer inclusive packages, or discounts for larger wedding parties.

Look for discounts and specials. As the old song says “you’d better shop around.” It pays to start planning your event early so that you have time to do some serious comparison shopping and find the prices that work for you.