Creating a Realistic Wedding Budget

Before picking the dress, before hiring the photographer, and even before choosing the venue, it’s important to sit down with your partner and consider one of the toughest parts of wedding planning… the dreaded budget!

As a wedding planner, I often see couples who have begun planning their budget and quickly become overwhelmed. Budget planning doesn’t have to be that difficult, so long as you stay realistic

1. Be realistic about your finances. 

  • Create a separate account to be used for wedding purchases only, so that you can easily track what you’re spending… and USE IT! Don't start dipping into your personal accounts “just for one small thing” or you'll be over budget before you know it!

  • How are paying for the wedding? Are your parents contributing, or are you on your own? Don’t rely heavily on the gifts you may receive at your wedding. This is never a guarantee and can lead to a lot of disappointment and feelings of resentment.

  • Use a budget spreadsheet to ensure you aren’t missing any important details. Don’t forget to include the taxes and gratuities, as this can tack on an additional 30%(+) to the price!

  • Only spend what you can actually afford. Do you really want to start your lives together in a pile of debt? Consider your other goals - a house? Children? Travel? Your wedding day should be special, but make sure you aren’t compromising the rest of your life’s plans as a result.

2. Be realistic about the cost of the things you want.

  • Pick your priorities.Figure out where you want to splurge and where you can save to compensate for it.

  • Would you be willing to get married on a Friday or a Sunday? How about during the winter? Timing could be a factor in the price of your venue, and even your other vendors as well.

  • Figure out an average cost of what you want. There's no point in creating a budget if you know you won't stick to it! Do your research and make sure the numbers you are using are accurate.

  • Keep in mind that your ceremony and reception (venue, food, drinks, decor, etc.) typically add up to approximately 50% of your budget. The other half includes everything else: clothing, transportation, stationary, etc.

  • Include EVERYTHING. Are you taking a honeymoon? Buying rings? Stamps cost almost $1 each now - something to consider for invitations and thank you cards. Everything adds up.

3. Be realistic about the amount of time you have.

Don't let this happen to you. Leave room in the budget for a professional!

Don't let this happen to you. Leave room in the budget for a professional!

  • Planning to DIY big parts of your wedding? Don't underestimate the amount of time it takes, otherwise you will be stuck a) Rushing to get things done at the last minute or b) Paying someone twice as much as it would have originally cost to rush to get it done at the last minute.

  • Pinterest is a double-edged sword. It can be a great source of inspiration and ideas, but remember that you have no idea what the items in the photo cost, how long they took to create, or how many attempts they took to get right! Your wedding day is NOT the time for a "Pinterest Fail"!

  • How long do you want to be engaged? Are you planning to get married in the next 6 months, or in 2 years and 6 months? The amount of time you have to search for the best price and for DIY options can really affect your budget.


A good budget will make everything easier in the long run. Being realistic makes it easier to follow the plan and should help ease the stress of the overall planning process. What do you think will be the hardest part of staying on budget? Tell us in the comments below!

Next time: Choosing your Wedding Date