Here’s a Wedding Budget Breakdown to Help You with Planning

by Tamila McDonald
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wedding budget breakdown

A wedding budget breakdown is one of the most challenging things to figure out when you are planning your event. You have to make a lot of difficult decisions, ensuring you allocate the money reasonably and based on your priorities. Additionally, there are a surprising number of expenses that have to be addressed, and overlooking a single one can derail your budget. If you want to make sure your wedding budget is on target, here’s what you need to know before you starting planning your nuptials.

An Average Wedding Budget Breakdown

There isn’t a hard and fast rule regarding wedding budget breakdowns. The kind of ceremony and reception you have in mind impact your spending requirements and are a unique reflection of your priorities. As a result, you may deviate from the norm when it comes to wedding spending.

However, understanding what the average wedding budget breakdown looks like is beneficial. It gives you an overview that can simplify planning. Here’s a look at common percentages for major wedding expense categories.

Venue – 20 Percent

One of the biggest expenses most couples have to handle is the venue. Securing a ceremony site and reception area can be costly, even for modest-sized events.

Additionally, you may have to shoulder other costs associated with the venue. For example, if the location doesn’t provide tables and seating, you may have to rent those items. Similarly, there may be charges for installing a dance floor and reserving parking.

Catering – 20 Percent

Food and beverages are another major expense category. This is especially true if you intend to have a full, sit-down meal over a buffet or an hors d’oeuvres-only reception, or plan on having an open bar.

Ceremony – 2 Percent

Whether you have your ceremony at your reception venue or another location, there are additional costs to handle. You’ll need to pay your officiant, in many cases. If you get married in a church, you might have to offer a donation.

Plus, you’ll need to spend a little to get your marriage license. While it’s often a small cost, it’s one you simply can’t overlook.

Cake – 2 Percent

Typically, a wedding cake isn’t part of the catering package. Instead, you’ll need to purchase it separately from a bakery. If you have a groom’s cake, then that’ll be a second one you need to handle.

Attire and Beauty – 8 Percent

Wedding dresses are notorious for being expensive. However, even if you find a budget-friendly dress, there are other attire costs that you have to be ready to handle.

For example, tux rentals, shoes, jewelry, and accessories are part of the equation. If your dress isn’t dancefloor-friendly, you may want a reception outfit, too.

On the beauty end, haircuts, makeup, manicures, spray tans, wedding-day hairstyling, and more may need to be part of your budget. Additionally, most of those services require tipping, which you have to factor in, as well.

Wedding Rings – 2 Percent

Along with buying the bands, wedding rings can come with additional costs. You may have to pay to have the rings resized, or need to spend a little extra to get custom engraving to commemorate the occasion. In some cases, you may want to purchase wedding ring insurance, though this isn’t always necessary.

Flowers and Décor – 8 Percent

Your floral expenses can get quite high. Along with bouquets and boutonnieres, you may need corsages, wedding cake flowers, table centerpieces, and additional blooms for ceremony arches.

Additionally, whether you purchase or rent your décor, it can boost the total quite a bit. Even balloons and streamers can add up if you are decorating a larger space, let alone if you want higher-end options like candelabras and fountains.

Gifts and Favors – 2 Percent

Giving gifts to important people in your life is a common practice during your wedding. Along with your wedding party, you may need to have something for your and your spouse’s parents. Offering welcome baskets to out of town guests can be a nice touch. Plus, you may want take-home favors at the reception, which increases your total.

Invitations and Paper Goods – 2 Percent

Wedding invitations, envelopes, RSVP cards, postage… they all add up. Plus, if you want coordinating place cards, menu cards, programs, and other paper goods, you’ll usually need to add them to your invitation package.

Music – 8 Percent

In many cases, you’ll need more than just a band or DJ for your reception. Most wedding ceremonies at least have some music while the wedding party and bride enter, and that may result in an additional cost.

Photography and Videography – 8 Percent

Photography and videography-related services can be costly. Ideally, you want to work with a provider who can provide an all-inclusive option, ensuring you have photos from the ceremony and reception, as well as formal photography sessions. Access to raw footage and full rights to all digital wedding photos is also highly desirable, as well as any final prints and videos you may want.

Transportation – 2 Percent

Unless everyone plans on driving themselves to the venue, you’ll have some transportation costs. This could include limos for the bride, groom, and wedding party, as well as shuttle services to bring guests from hotels to the site, for example.

Miscellaneous – 6 Percent

When you get married, it’s practically a guarantee that an unexpected expense will arise. Whether it’s a hidden fee, a surprise upcharge for a desired item, forgetting to factor in sales tax, or a service provider that you need to tip, having some money set aside to handle those costs is a must.

Customizing Your Wedding Budget Breakdown

The wedding budget breakdown above is just an example. Every couple’s needs are different, so you may need to adjust the allocations accordingly.

For instance, if you are getting married in a family member’s backyard, your venue costs may be $0. If you don’t plan on serving alcohol, you may be able to knock 5 percent off of your catering budget.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you want an in-demand venue, you might have to increase that allocation and reduce the budget in another area. Similarly, if you have your eye on a designer dream dress, you may prefer to spend more on attire and less in one of the other categories.

Use the wedding budget breakdown as a starting point. Then, discuss your priorities with your partner and see if any changes need to be made. You can spend more on areas that matter to you, and less on ones that don’t. That way, you can have your ideal wedding day, no matter what that looks like.

Do you have any other wedding budget breakdown tips that can help couples plan? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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