The Wedding Budget

Creating your budget

Although your budget will determine certain factors of your wedding (such as the size, style, and place), the good news is the amount of money you spend has little to do with the meaning and joy of this very special day.

Before you get caught in the quagmire of advice given so freely (that can be so costly!) about what you must do, be honest with yourself—decide how much you can afford to spend. Don't be pressured into extravagant spending when your own preference is to be more reasonable. On the other hand, if you (or your family) have been saving to throw a no-holds barred wedding extravaganza, then by all means, go for it!

Budget Guidelines

Using information gleaned from dozens of books and articles, we suggest you consider the following guidelines:

  • Reception (site, food and beverages) 40 to 50%
  • Clothing (bridal gown, groom's attire) 8 to 15%
  • Photography/Videography 13 to 16%
  • Flowers (ceremony and reception) 7 to 10%
  • Invitations/Stationery 2 to 5%
  • Music (Wedding and Reception) 6 to 11%
  • Transportation 2 to 3%
  • Wedding Cake 2%
  • Gifts 2%
  • Wedding Rings 4%
  • Miscellaneous (tips, etc.) 3%

Of course these costs can vary depending on your plans and the region of the country in which you live. Many couples choose to cut costs in one category to spend more in another. Wear your mother's wedding dress and transform your wedding site into a tropical haven filled with exotic flowers. Or take a friend up on her offer to arrange the flowers for your wedding and buy the exquisite dress you've always longed for or offer a special entree at your reception.

And speaking of the reception, remember the time of day and type of food service greatly affects your costs. A morning wedding followed by brunch will be less expensive than an evening wedding followed by a served dinner. And for even greater savings consider having a cocktails and hors d'oeuvres reception in the afternoon.

Average Costs

Our research suggests that the average cost today of a formal wedding with approximately 150 to 200 guests is approximately $28,000.00.

Do you have to spend this much? Of course not. We know a couple who had their dream wedding in Los Angeles for $3,500 dollars—complete with a vintage bridal gown and an elegant served lunch at a four-star restaurant with 50 guests.

Who Pays for What?

Not too long ago, there were clearly understood rules: the bride and her family paid for the wedding and reception, and the groom and his family were responsible for paying for the rehearsal dinner and the honeymoon.

Now, there is much more flexibility, and both families often share the expenses, each giving what they can afford. Today with many couples marrying later, it's not uncommon for the bride and groom to pay for the wedding and invite their parents as guests.

Getting Estimates

Begin by calling or meeting with local florists, caterers, and any other vendors to get an idea of what the costs will be in each budget category. Don't feel that you have to follow every suggestion offered. Ask questions, be flexible and you'll have your dream wedding and stay within you budget!