Tips to Build Your Wedding Budget
Planning a wedding starts with setting a budget. For many couples, it’s also their first experience of making complicated financial decisions together. And these days, it’s couples—not parents—who generally do the heavy lifting when it comes to paying for weddings and the events around them.
Having a plan for spending can keep you from wasting money unnecessarily or racking up excessive debt to get married. Knowing what to include in a wedding budget and how to save the money you’ll need can help you start newlywed life on the right financial footing.
Establishing a wedding budget can help you avoid wasting money or starting married life in debt.
Things such as where you live, the size of the wedding ceremony and reception, and your personal preferences can affect the total cost of a wedding.
When planning a wedding budget, it’s important to consider which expenses to include based on what you can realistically afford to spend.
It’s also important to discuss who pays for what with your future spouse when working out your wedding budget.
Average Cost of a Wedding
How much does a typical wedding cost? In 2020, average wedding spending came to $28,964, according to data collected by Brides. This emphasizes why planning a wedding budget is so important.
Without a budget, you may be at greater risk of overspending or creating debt to pay for wedding expenses. Keep in mind that $28,964 is an average. What you actually spend on a wedding may be influenced by:
Where you live
Whether you choose a local wedding or a destination wedding
How many people you invite
Which wedding traditions you choose to uphold (or new ones you introduce)
The bigger the ceremony, the more it may cost. In 2020, Brides reports a growing trend of micro-weddings, typically with no more than 50 guests.1 And 42% of couples in a study by The Knot chose to hold an even tinier “minimony,” with up to 10 people, in place of a full-scale wedding. The typical minimony clocked in at only $1,400.2
Factors such as inflation and supply chain disruptions can increase the average cost of a wedding, which is something to consider when planning your budget.
How to Build Your Wedding Budget
The 2021 Brides and Investopedia wedding survey found that the average wedding budget was about $20,000, but everyone’s wedding budget will be different. If you’re ready to start planning your wedding budget, these tips can help take some of the stress out of the process.3
Know what to include
The actual costs included in your wedding budget can vary based on the type of ceremony. These are some items for which you may generally expect to incur costs when planning a typical full-scale wedding:
- Rental fees for tables and chairs
- Officiant’s fees
- Marriage license
- Wedding cake
- Wedding favors for guests
- Bridal party/groomsman gifts
- Bachelor/bachelorette party
- Flowers and decor
- Music and entertainment
- Wedding invitations/stationery
- Bride and groom attire
- Wedding bands
- Rehearsal dinner
Whether your wedding budget includes all of these things or just some of them can depend on the scope and scale of the ceremony you’re planning. For example, if you decide to get married on your grandparents’ 100-year-old farm, you may not have to budget for a venue booking fee. If you’re outsourcing items such as photography and hairstyling to friends, they may offer their services for free in lieu of a traditional wedding gift.
When building a wedding budget, it can help to start with an exhaustive list of everything you think might cost you money. From there, you can work on narrowing down the list to only include what you can realistically afford.
If you’re considering a destination wedding, be sure to factor into your budget the added costs of travel arrangements, passport fees, and currency exchange rates.