How to Divide Your Wedding Budget

A groom getting out of a vintage car as his bride watches.

Whether your wedding budget is $100k, $10k, or $1k, dividing your funds appropriately helps ensure you get the most out of it. Breaking your budget up can be one of the most challenging aspects of wedding planning, but it’s also one of the most important parts. Determining the best venue, decor, meal options, photographer, and more can only happen if there’s room in your budget—and if you’ve reserved the money for it.

Here are five tips on how to divide your wedding budget to make sure your wedding day is everything you and your fiancé have been dreaming of.

1. Determine Your Priorities and Planning Style

Regardless of the size of your budget, determining what your priorities are for your wedding is the first step to properly allocating funds. Since you and your partner may have different preferences, it can help to divide responsibilities. While some couples want to agree on everything and anything that goes into the wedding day, and thereby agree on priorities together, other couples find it beneficial to divide the total wedding budget in terms of “for you” and “for them” amounts—so each person has the freedom to invest in what’s most important to them. This way, you can divide responsibilities and budget to best suit your priorities and planning styles. Talk with your fiancé to get an idea of what’s important to them in a wedding celebration, and how you can develop a strategy for yourselves.

2. Nail Down Your Guest List

Vintage wicker chairs on a lawn at a wedding ceremony.

The size of your guest list is a good determiner for most of your wedding day costs. Addressing your guests’ needs during the wedding day usually takes up around 40 percent of your total budget (this includes venue, food, and beverages). The smaller your wedding day budget, the smaller your guest list may need to be or you risk going over it. Be realistic with your budget and then get the guest list finalized as soon as possible.

3. Make a Spreadsheet

This is one of the easiest ways to see all the things your wedding budget needs to cover. List your budget and then everything and anything you want to include for your wedding that costs money: venue, catering, photographer, wedding attire, music, flowers, decoration, cake, stationery, favors, etc.

Put everything you’ll need to pay for on a sheet and then start researching your options and how much things will cost, plugging in estimates as you go. You may find that you have plenty of room in your budget to get more expensive things. Alternatively, you may find you need to limit your guest list, choose some lower-cost options, or completely forgo certain potential expenditures.

4. Understand Typical Budget Expenses

A bride holding a bouquet.

Every couple has unique priorities and may want to spend more or less on one aspect of a wedding. That being said, here are some estimates of typical percentage costs for weddings:

  • 40 percent of budget: Venue and catering
  • 15 percent of budget: Photographer/videographer
  • 10 percent of budget: Flowers
  • 10 percent of budget: Decorations
  • 10 percent of budget: Music/Entertainment/DJ
  • 8 percent of budget: Wedding Attire/Hair and Makeup
  • 3 percent of budget: Stationery
  • 2 percent of budget: Cake
  • 2 percent of budget: Favors

You can adjust these numbers based on your preference and needs, but expect similar percentages to impact your wedding budget.

5. Scrutinize Anything Putting You Over Budget

Always ask yourself what your non-negotiables are. Do you have to have your dream venue, dream dress, or massive flower arches? Or would a smaller venue, less expensive dress, and smaller decor be just as amazing? Double-check anything that’s going to put you over-budget and consider if it’s a necessity or not. If something isn’t a deal-breaker, then consider choosing something you’ll love as much, but that won’t put you over budget.

You Can Do It!

A bride and groom at their wedding ceremony with all their guests clapping.

You may think a larger budget will be easier to work with, but plenty of outstanding weddings can be planned on small budgets. Don’t let the dollar amount you’re working with convince you that you can’t have a beautiful day. The trick to planning an amazing wedding is making the most of your budget, which may take some creativity and flexibility, but it’s entirely doable!

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