Wedding Wednesdays Q&A: What Is A Realistic Wedding Budget?

Wedding Wednesdays Q&A by Jamie Chang Destination Wedding Planner of Mango Muse Events

Q: What is a realistic wedding budget?  How much should I be spending on each item?

Having to figure out a wedding budget is one of the hardest parts of planning a wedding.  And the answer to this question is not that simple because it really depends on the couple, what you want and how many guests you are looking at.  However, I can help guide you in the right direction so that you can figure out what a realistic wedding budget is for you.

The first thing you’ll want to do before we even get into numbers is to have a serious talk with your fiancé and your parents to see what everyone is comfortable with.  Every family is different, so figuring out who is paying depends on your family situation and dynamic.  In traditional western weddings, the bride’s family pays for most of the wedding, but weddings nowadays don’t strictly adhere to this tradition.  Sometimes both sets of parents chip in, sometimes only one does and sometimes the couple pays for everything.

It’s really up to you and your family to figure out how you want to divvy it up (if at all) and what you are willing to spend.  It’s never a good idea to enter a marriage in debt, so make sure that the amount is something you are comfortable with no matter what your situation is.  If having a set amount is difficult for you, put together a comfortable range that you can work within.

The next thing you’ll want to do is think about that total wedding budget and figure out what this amount is actually paying for.  Is it just the wedding day itself?  Does it include activities outside of the wedding, like the rehearsal dinner?  Does it include attire and your wedding dress?  Does it include the wedding rings?  Does it include travel (if it’s a destination wedding) or your honeymoon?  If it does include all these items, then you’ll have to account for them in your allocation.

The last portion is figuring out your wedding budget allocation.  Below are some average percentages that the major items will take up in your wedding budget.  Keep in mind that these are just average numbers to give you a starting point, however depending on what is important to you (for more help on this part, read this past blog post on figuring out your wedding budget), you’ll want to allocate more or less to each item so that you spend your money on the things that matter more to you.

Venue/Food/Drink/Rentals:  50%

Wedding Planner: 10%

Photography: 8%

Videography: 8%

Flowers and Decor: 8%

Music: 6%

Hair/Makeup: 2%

Invitations and Stationery Items: 2%

Cake: 2%

Transportation: 2%

Gifts and Favors: 2%

Once you plug in the individual amounts based on your total wedding budget, you’ll begin to see how much per item you can spend in order to stay within budget.  This will also give you a better idea of how much you can work with regarding per person costs such as food and drinks.

If you plug in the total amounts and realize that this won’t allow you to, for example, hire the photographer or wedding planner you wanted or the cost of food/drinks per person is ridiculously low, then you’ll need to rethink your budget, adjust your wants and/or find areas to compromise (e.g. lower the guest count, get rid of favors, have the best man drive, etc…).

A realistic wedding budget for you will depend on all these factors (including pricing in your wedding area), but if you walk through each step, you should get a pretty good idea of how much you can spend per item.  Then all you have to do is stay within the budget, but that my friends is a question for another day.

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