The Traditional Wedding Budget

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You have this huge pile of wedding money (we’re thinking optimistically here) and so much stuff that you need to pay for.  How much of that pile should get shoveled at each expense?

OK, so you probably don’t have piles of money like Scrooge McDuck, but that’s why you need this article.  If you had that much money, it wouldn’t matter what percentage you spent on each wedding item.  Unlike Mr. McDuck, you (probably) only have a finite amount of money to spend on your wedding and you’re working within a budget.

There are traditional recommendations on how much you should spend on each budget item.  This way you don’t spend all of your money on a gorgeous venue and then realize you don’t have enough money to put anything inside of it.

Let’s take a look at a traditional budget breakdown before moving to how you can adapt it to your needs.  We’ll also include a dollar amount from a sample $25,000 wedding budget to put it into understandable terms.  (FYI – The Knot says that the average wedding currently costs $32,600.)

Reception – 50% – $12,500: The reception has several items that fall under it.  This includes the venue, catering, cake, rentals, and bar.  We’ll lump wedding planners into this group too even though they’re part of the full day.

Attire – 10% – $2,500: You already know that you need a dress and a tux but don’t forget about the inevitable alterations.  Hair and makeup also fall under this category.

Florals – 10% – $2,500: Bouquets, corsages, boutonnieres, centerpieces, and more.  The flowers can add up.

Entertainment – 10% – $2,500: This is a ballpark number and it’s a big park.  Live bands cost this much (or more) but DJ’s don’t.  Decide who you want to lead your party.  You could also include miscellaneous entertainment like a photo booth or custom cornhole boards under this header.

Photography and Videography – 10% – $2,500: Who will record your memories so that you remember everything in vivid detail years later?

Favors and Gifts – 3% – $750: You need to thank your bridesmaids and groomsmen for the difficult task of standing next to you.  Also, send your guests away with some chocolates or something.

Ceremony – 2% – $500: You’d think the wedding itself would cost more but that’s not the case.  Everything in the ceremony falls into a different category.  This small percentage includes the officiant and a site fee if you’re not getting married in the same location as the  reception site.

Stationary – 2% – $500: How could anybody know where to go or what to do if it wasn’t in pretty writing?  Stationary primarily means invitations but also includes save the dates, programs, place cards, and anything else that gets printed.

Rings – 2% – $500: You two need rings if you want to put a ring on it.  This is just the wedding rings and doesn’t include the engagement ring.

Transportation – 1% – $250: Limo, trolley, and party bus are all options to get around.  You might also need to provide specific transportation for the elderly and handicapped if walking is required.

Make sure to note that this budget breakdown doesn’t include any spare discretionary overrun funds.  Budgeting that in can be helpful in the case of surprises, something that’s inevitable for weddings.  Also, you hopefully noticed that your honeymoon isn’t listed because, technically, that’s its own separate thing.

Take these suggestions and adapt them as you see fit.  You’ll probably want to take money from something that is unimportant to you and move it somewhere that’s more critical.  Maybe you want to take money from florals and get the best party band that you can find.  On the other hand, maybe you want to take entertainment money and spend it on floor to ceiling flowers.  It’s up to you.

Now go create your budget!


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