Money·3 min read

How to Make a Wedding Budget

Wedding Budget
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June 16, 2020

The Story

Planning a wedding was never simple. Add a pandemic to the mix, and things are...complicated. But they (hopefully) won’t be that way forever. Then you can get back to mainly worrying about paying for a wedding. Which, btw, Zola says cost more than $30,000 on average.

That’s just a liiittle more money than I have sitting around.

Which is why you need a budget. Plus a lot of open conversations, starting with who’ll be footing the bill. The Knot says most couples get help with wedding costs, but don’t assume. Talk to your parents and future in-laws to see if – and how much – they’ll contribute.

Sounds like a fun convo.

It won’t be worse than the birds and the bees. Next, figure out whether you’ll throw in some of your own money. You can use cash you’ve already set aside and/or save some every month between now and the big day. But hands off your emergency or retirement funds. Those are for later. Add whatever you come up with to any fam contributions, and you’ve got your budget.

What’s next?

The fun part: fantasizing about the wedding stuff you’re most excited about. Maybe that’s the menu, flowers, your dress, the venue, etc. Having a few priorities in mind can help you decide where you want to spend a little more vs. when budget-friendly options are fine.

Okay, so how do I actually break it all down?

Start with the biggest stuff – that’s usually your venue, food, and drinks – and estimate what everything on your list will cost. Use averages from your city or contact vendors you’d like to work with and ask for quotes. Don’t forget taxes, tips, and service charges. Oh, and add 5-15% extra for random, unexpected expenses.

Once you’ve done that...pour a glass of champagne. You deserve it. Then compare your estimated total to your budget.

Oh heyyy, sticker shock.

Yeah, that’s a real thing. Here are some ideas on how to make the numbers work.

  • Stay put. Having the ceremony and reception at the same place can help you save on things like transportation, staff you pay by the hour, and chair rental fees.

  • Go off-peak. Booking a Friday or Sunday wedding has traditionally been a good way to shave off some costs. In the wake of COVID, other weekdays have been getting more love. If you’re willing to be flexible, do a little research on the best day – and time of year – to get discounts.

  • Pick in-season flowers. Think: peonies in the spring, hyacinth in the winter. More supply = lower costs.

  • Cut back on the booze. Sticking to beer and wine could cut your alcohol bill by almost half.


Your budget may be the most important part of your wedding. Ya know, other than the whole ‘finding your fiance’ part. Celebrate your engagement – and the start of a happy marriage – with a little financial planning. So you can focus on the “richer” part of life.

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