The Ultimate Wedding Budget Plan: Stay Sane and Enjoy Your Special Day

By  Tommy Peske
Updated on 12/22/23
The Ultimate Wedding Budget Plan: Stay Sane and Enjoy Your Special Day

The Ultimate Wedding Budget Plan: Stay Sane and Enjoy Your Special Day

By  Tommy Peske
Updated on 12/22/23

Part of the Wedding

The Ultimate Wedding Budget Plan: Stay Sane and Enjoy Your Special Day

By  Tommy Peske
Updated on 12/22/23

Now that all of the excitement of the proposal and the engagement party has mellowed, it’s time to start planning your big day. Whether you’re imagining a simple ceremony in your backyard or have your hopes set on a destination wedding, your budget is the most important consideration. 

Sure, it’s not the most exciting or romantic topic, but planning how much you want to spend on your wedding (and on what) is essential in avoiding headaches, hurt feelings, and overspending. 

This article covers everything you need to know about crafting a wedding budget plan that works for you. You’ll learn why you should have one, what to include, and how much to allocate. There are also plenty of wedding planning tips on a budget, so make sure you read until the end!

What Is a Wedding Budget Plan?

man in a piggy bank

A wedding budget plan  is an in-depth breakdown of how much you plan to spend on each aspect of the wedding, for example, the wedding ceremony, the entertainment, and the venue rental.  

Most couples opt to dedicate a certain percentage (or percentage range) of the total budget to each category. For instance, it’s common to spend about 40% of the budget on the venue and catering and about 10% on the decor. 

As with all things money-related, each couple’s wedding costs are unique. The amount you put towards your wedding is based on how much you’re willing and able to spend, where you live, the size of your guest list, and a host of other factors. 

Why Should You Have a Wedding Budget Plan?

Even if you have plenty of money to spare, it’s still a smart idea to set your overall wedding budget before you start the wedding planning process. 

It may sound simple, but if you get swept up in the excitement of planning, you could find yourself scoping out venues and listening to live bands that cost more than you really want to spend. 

On the other side of the coin, if you want to plan a wedding on a budget, then you absolutely need to have a clear idea of what you’re able to afford so as not to spend beyond your means.

How to Plan your Wedding Budget

Wedding budget breakdown

If you’re wondering how to plan a wedding budget, start by creating a wedding planning budget checklist. 

This list contains all of the expense categories you expect to encounter throughout your wedding. Next, assign a percentage of your total budget to each category. 

As mentioned previously, everyone’s situation is different, but here is a sample wedding budget breakdown:

  • Wedding Ceremony (3-5%) – Includes the cost of the venue, the marriage license, and the cost of the officiant. 
  • Venue/ Catering (40-45%) – Covers the reception hall, food, rentals (chairs, tables, china, linens), and bartending services. 
  • Photography/videography (10-12%) – Everything related to capturing your special day. 
  • Flowers and decorations (10%) – Includes bouquets, boutonnieres or corsages for the wedding party, centerpieces, lighting, signs, photo frames, and much more. 
  • Wedding attire (10%)- This covers the suit(s), the wedding dress, alterations, accessories (shoes, pocket square, veil), and hair and/or makeup styling. 
  • Entertainment (10%)– The wedding band, DJs, cocktail hour musicians, and any other performers. 

You’ll notice that this wedding budget breakdown doesn’t add up to one hundred percent. We’ve left out smaller wedding expenses like transportation (3%), wedding favors and gifts (2%), and stationary (3%) from the main list, but definitely factor them into your wedding budget plans. 

Consider Hiring a Wedding Planner

wedding planner

Hiring a wedding planner might seem extravagant (especially if you hope to plan a wedding on a budget), but there are some definite advantages to contacting one of these professionals. 

Not only can wedding planners bring your wedding dreams to life and save you time, but their insider connections can help you save money

Because they communicate with wedding vendors on a regular basis, they’re usually able to score deals on everything from photographers to DJs. On top of that, they’re familiar with vendor contracts and can help you avoid paying unnecessary fees.

But most of all, they know how to work on a budget and will ensure you get the most out of every cent you put into your special day. 

Get Creative with Your Invitations

Sneidng invitations

Believe it or not, traditional save-the-dates and wedding invitations could set you back $450 to $600. This price covers: 


    • Paper – Special types of cotton fiber or linen can easily set you back $20 per 100 sheets. 
    • Design elements – Photos, glitter, and coloring printing quickly add up when you’re sending out invitations in bulk. 
    • Extras – Adding a bow, a belly band, or an inner envelope could add an extra $0.20 to each invitation (not to mention the extra cost for postage). 
  • Postage – Standard-sized 1oz envelopes currently cost $0.63 to mail. That’s already steep, but you’ll pay more if your invitations are heavy or oddly shaped. 


If you’re looking to save on costs, we recommend creating your own wedding invitations. Don’t worry–you don’t have to be a graphic designer to create something beautiful. Free and low-cost services like Canva and Vistaprint offer hundreds of templates and customization options. 


You can also save a lot by emailing your wedding invitations, rather than sending them through the mail. While traditionalists may balk at the idea, sending virtual invitations is cost-effective and eco-friendly. 

Consider Additional Costs

The thing about planning a wedding budget is that there is always something more to think about. 

For instance, you should create a budget category for engagement-related expenses. This includes the engagement ring and engagement photos

You’ll also want to consider whether to factor the cost of your wedding bands into the attire category of your budget. Some couples do, but others don’t because they see the ring as something they’ll keep forever and not just a wedding-related expense. 

Finally, make sure to include the cost of your rehearsal dinner and any additional activities, like a morning after brunch, into your venue and catering budget. 

FAQs - How to Plan a Wedding Budget

What is a good budget for a wedding?

The average cost of a wedding was around $30,433 in 2022, but don’t base your budget on statistics. Be realistic about how much you can afford, make compromises, and DIY whenever possible. 

Ultimately, the best wedding budget is one that allows you to have a memorable day without breaking the bank. 

Who pays for the wedding?

Traditionally, the bride’s family was responsible for covering the cost of the wedding. However, times are quickly changing. Today, many couples pay for their own wedding with some assistance from their parents. 

How do I track my wedding budget?

The simplest way to keep tabs on your wedding budget is to create a spreadsheet of all of your expenses. Programs like Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets are excellent tools. 

You can also open a wedding-only bank account or designate one credit card as your wedding card to make organizing your budget easier. 

What are the biggest expenses for a wedding?

Without a doubt, the venue is the most expensive part of any wedding. This includes the cost of ceremony and reception locations. Second is catering. Food costs, including cocktail snacks, a full dinner, alcohol, and the cake, can easily add up to $1000 or more. 

What should not be included in a wedding budget?

We recommend excluding the cost of items that you can enjoy after your wedding day from your budget. This could include things like a suit, shoes, and wedding jewelry. You’ll also want to budget separately for your honeymoon. 

Save Even More On Your Special Day

With all of these tips in mind, it’s time to start planning your wedding budget. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember that there’s no right or wrong way to create a spending plan. Always keep in mind what’s important to you and you’ll avoid getting swept up in the hype. 

For even more tips on how to start planning a wedding on a budget, be sure to check out our 10 money saving tips!

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