I can’t believe I haven’t talked about our budget yet! That should have been one of the first posts, but I totally forgot about it!

I am a firm believer in the idea that you should get a very solid idea of what your budget is before you start any wedding planning. I would consider myself to be excellent with money. (I have no debt. I pay off my credit card every month. I put money in my savings account when I can.) But no matter how good you are with money, a wedding is probably going to involve more money than you’ve ever spent in your whole life (unless you’ve already bought a house).

Every couple is different when it comes to wedding costs. These days, a lot of couples are paying for their own wedding. Fortunately for us, my parents are financially comfortable and offered to give us $10,000 for the wedding (Yipee!). Because my fiance and I are both students, this is an incredible gift for us. But of course, you’ve probably seen that the average cost of a wedding nowadays is more than $30,000!!! Yowsa!

I think we’ve all seen this graphic, but in case you haven’t, take a look:

(Sources: www.theknotinc.com, smartmoney.com, money.cnn.com)

I think this is a great graphic for a few reasons. For one, it lists (almost) all the stuff you might need to pay for. (For some reason, the officiant isn’t listed, which I completely forgot to budget for when I made my first budget. Most of the ones I looked up charge around $300-$400.) Another great thing is that you can get an idea of where you can really save money. It’s still true that every dollar counts, but when I look at this graphic, I can see that eliminating favors only saves you a couple hundred dollars. But finding a great deal on a venue could save you thousands!

I started our budget by setting an ideal price point for our priorities and deciding where we could save. This is a great idea, because you’re probably going to spend exactly the amount you allocate towards the things you care about most (meaning, “If you want a fantastic videographer, then if you allocate $3,000 toward this item, you probably won’t settle for a videographer that costs $2,000.) Said a different way, try to save money on the things you care less about. I planned for our big money saver to be the venue and the catering. (As long as people get fed, I don’t care if they’re eating McDonald’s hamburgers.)

(Full disclosure: I started the process by looking for a venue, and we almost blew our entire budget on that one thing. Then we started anew, recognizing that we needed to leave room in the budget for other important things. This first method was totally not the right way to go about planning. Don’t do what I did.)

We knew we wanted a band. I also wanted a good photographer. Ideally, we wanted to spend about $2,500 on each of these items. But the infographic is right: bands are expensive. Our favorite band was $5,000. Definitely out of budget! We ended up hiring a band for $3,000. Because the music is such an important part of the atmosphere, we felt like the extra money was worth it. We also decided that if we were hiring a band, we would eliminate hired musicians for the ceremony. (When you’re on a budget, you can’t have it all.)

We also couldn’t find a photographer we loved that was in our budget. (Actually, we did find one, but she was booked already!!! Aargh!) The photographer budget was then upped to $3,000. This is worthy of an entire post, so you’ll have to wait and hear the full story on this one.

So what does the budget look like so far?

Photographer: $3,000

Band: $3,000

Remaining money: dwindling”¦ $4,000

At this point, panic began to set in. I glanced back at the infographic and saw that reception venue + ceremony venue + catering = $24,000!!!! (WHOA! That’s a lot of money.) We were hoping to cut that cost by at least 85%. With an invite list of 150, we weren’t entirely sure if we could make that happen”¦

Depending on how you’re paying for the wedding, you’ll probably reconsider your budget at least once. $10,000 is right on the cusp of a “budget wedding.” I wouldn’t call myself a budget bride because, well, $10,000 is a whole lot of money. BUT, it doesn’t go that far in the world of wedding planning. And so, I reconsidered our $10,000 budget. My parents gave us that money, but we do have some of our own”¦and it was time to think about whether we wanted to spend it.

Ultimately, we decided that we had enough money in savings to put some of it toward the wedding. But, we didn’t just willy-nilly decide that we’d pay for some stuff. We decided that we would plan the essentials of the wedding in under $10,000 and if we wanted some extra bonuses, we could spend my money on that.

Obviously, the essentials included our ceremony and reception venue. This ended up taking up the entirety of our $4,000, but we managed to find one that includes all this:

  • outdoor ceremony venue (with chairs and set-up)
  • reception venues with tables, chairs, and linens
  • catering (and all the plates and utensils and stuff that goes with it)
  • bartender for our open bar (but we provide the alcohol)
  • clean-up

Yay!! Now of course there are a few other things that we have to do (invitations, some decorations), but we’re just going to do those as cheaply as possible.

How did you come up with a budget? Are you sticking to it or do you have a little flexibility?


Mrs. Blue Whale

College Park, MD
Wedding Date:
May 2013
DIY Tissue Paper Garland
Budget Busters (And How We're Avoiding Them!)
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  1. mstoadstool Member
    mstoadstool 2485 posts, Buzzing bee @ 10:37 pm

    We were a little silly and started budgeting from some quotes we got, expenses started adding up and now we’ve almost doubled our budget, yiikes.

  2. Member
    blonde17jess 1290 posts, Bumble bee @ 12:50 pm

    Oh my goodness, good for you for being able to get your venues and catering for 150 to $4,000… ours will be at least 3x that and we’re trying to go the relatively inexpensive route. I’m interested to see how you work the details into the budget!

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