Wedding Budget Breakdown: The Ultimate Checklist

A savings jar labeled "wedding"

It’s actually happening: you’re planning your wedding! After the excitement starts to settle down from the engagement, you’re going to want to start planning your nuptials right away—but before you begin you’ll want to have a break down of every piece of your wedding budget.

We’ve created this ultimate budget checklist for you to make your wedding planning more organized—and to help you stay on budget.

Ceremony

Your ceremony costs should be pretty minimal, especially if you are getting married at the same venue as your reception. The basic costs (besides decorations and flowers) will be the fee for the officiant.

  • Officiant fee: 1%

Any extras? You’ll also want to figure your wedding license into your ceremony costs, which will vary depending on what state you get married in.

People getting food from a wedding reception buffet

Reception

Your reception costs will likely be the bulk of your wedding budget, which makes sense: you’ll be feeding a crowd, buying them drinks, and entertaining them for a few hours in celebration of your nuptials. The following are a break down of costs for the reception.

  • Food: 35%
  • Beverages: 15%
  • Venue: 8%

Any extras? If you plan on having alcohol at your reception and your venue doesn’t have an alcohol license, you will need to provide one. Also, be sure to inquire if your venue will be providing table linens or if that is something you will need to purchase on your own. Lastly, ask your caterer if they will be providing dinnerware for all your wedding guests. If not, that is also something you’ll need to purchase on your own or talk to the venue about.

Wedding Attire

You’re getting married—you’re going to need something special to wear! Here’s everything you’ll need to configure for the wedding attire portion of your budget.

  • Bridal gown: 4%
  • Groom’s tux: 1%

Any extras? The extras in the wedding attire portion of your budget will depend on how you want to accessorize. Be sure to set aside more money in your budget if you want any of the following:

  • bridal veil
  • bridal jewelry
  • professional hair/makeup/nail services
  • a reception dress
  • a going away outfit

Music

Music sets the tone for your ceremony and reception—whether you want a romantic, intimate vibe or you just want your wedding to be a huge party where everyone gets up to bust a move on the dance floor.

  • DJ or Band: 5%

Any extras? In addition to providing food for your musicians or your DJ, you also may need extra in your budget if you’d like to have separate ceremony musicians (such as a string quartet). You’ll also need to budget extra for any specific sheet music you may need for your ceremony or reception musicians.

A ring bearer holding wedding rings on a pillow

Rings

Rings symbolize your eternal love for each other and you’ll slip them onto each other’s fingers during the ceremony.

  • Two wedding rings: 3%

Any extras? If you want any inscriptions—or if you need any adjustments or re-sizing—you’ll also want to include those costs into your wedding budget.

Flowers and Decorations

Flowers and decorations take any plain old reception hall and turn it into your personalized dream wedding. Your flowers and decorations are really what set the mood for the ceremony and reception. Here’s a breakdown of flower and decoration costs:

  • Flowers: 6%

    Your flower budget will likely include a bridal bouquet, bridesmaid bouquets, groom’s boutonniere, groomsmen boutonniere, toss away bouquet, and flower petals for the flower girl.

  • Decorations: 4%

    Your decoration budget will likely include table decorations/flowers, lighting for the reception (candles, string lights), vases, table numbers, table runners, and any signs you may need for the reception.

Any extras? Flower crowns are very en vogue right now, but they’ll also cost you a bit extra. If you’re feeling like you need to don a flower crown on the big day, be sure to add that into your budget.

Photography and Video

One of the most important pieces of the wedding budget is the money you allocate toward capturing all of the little moments of your wedding day—from the first looks to the last dance.

  • Photographer: 7%
  • Videographer: 3%

Any extras? If it wasn’t included in the quote your photographer gave you, you’ll also need to think about costs for engagement or boudoir photos or any extra fees for a lighting assistant.

Wedding invitation stationary

Paper Goods

When you’re planning a wedding, you’re going to need to inform your guests as soon as possible so they can save the date and start booking their travel. Here are the paper goods that you’ll need to include in your wedding budget.

  • Invitations, RSVP cards, Save the Dates: 3%

Any extras? Another paper good you may want to have handy at your reception would be the menu for the meal. You’ll also want to factor in the costs of thank you cards or any calligraphy services for the invitations if necessary.

Miscellaneous

When planning a wedding, there are always going to be extra expenses, but you’ll definitely want to plan for these miscellaneous costs.

  • Bridal party gifts: 1%
  • Wedding favors: 1%
  • Wedding coordinator: 3%

Any extras? Interested in a grand exit after the reception? Booking a limo or a classic car for your ride back to your hotel should definitely be configured into your wedding budget.

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