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How Do I Plan a Wedding on a Budget?

How Do I Plan a Wedding on a Budget?

So you're planning the biggest day of your life. This is an important occasion and naturally you want it to be special. But, how do you plan a wedding that isn't going to start you out financially ruined?

You may feel like everything is happening all at once and it can be overwhelming. First, stop and take a deep breath. Think about your special someone and realize everything will be fine. Remember to rely on each other because this is an important day for both of you! Try not to allow yourself to get caught up in what professional planner Karen Bussen calls “detail derailment” [1].

You must have budget on the brain if you are reading this. Budgeting is a normal part of the wedding planning process. Ultimately, the budgeting decisions come down to the two of you and possibly any outside parties that are helping pay for the wedding. It will benefit you to have a realistic amount of what you want. "According to the Association for Wedding Professionals, the average wedding costs $21,000 to $24,000 last year, while the Association of Bridal Consultants has the total close to $35,000." But before your heart despairs, blogger Sara Cotner of had a wedding budget of $2,000. Sara’s budget may be a bit extreme for some, but the point is that you can have a great wedding on a budget. One of the great myths is that you need to spend a lot of money or the wedding will be a failure, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Why the extremes? Because of different expectations. Some seek the extravagant while others are content to make a few sacrifices. Be open and honest with each other about the situation. “Start your marriage off on the right foot by sharing an open and honest dialogue about finances” says Jason Alderman of the Huffington Post [2].

Another myth is that budgets are bad. Not true. Using Vertex42's Wedding Budget spreadsheet is a helpful way to categorize your budget to make sure you stay on target with your financial goals. You can see that each category has its list of items to track. This will help you in your overall financial goals. If you utilize the Estimator tab, you will be able to work the percentages of your budget to your favor.

Speaking of, recommends certain percentages when planning. These figures  need not be concrete, but certainly good to keep in mind [3]:

  • Reception: 48%-50%
  • Ceremony: 2%-3%
  • Attire: 8%-10%
  • Flowers: 8%-10%
  • Entertainment/Music: 8%-10%
  • Photography/Videography: 10%-12%
  • Stationery: 2%-3%
  • Wedding Rings: 2%-3%
  • Parking/Transportation: 2%-3%
  • Gifts: 2%-3%
  • Miscellaneous: 8%
  • To avoid stress, allot about 5% of your budget for a "just-in-case" fund.
  • If you're paying for your honeymoon yourselves, remember to budget for that as well.

Looking at the different categories on your wedding budget can help give ideas of areas you could cut back on.  A nice advantage is that most of the costs are flexible according to how you approach them, other than the marriage license (which is usually a set fee). Look at the different items and decide what can appropriately be cut down, what you might be able to do yourself and what might be changed or discarded.

Some sure ways to keep within your budget are to cut down the guest list, set your wedding day during the off peak season--generally October to April, choose a day of the week other than Saturday, use flowers in season or silk flowers, replace a band with a DJ, iPod or stereo, make some of the food or favors yourself and avoid using a wedding planner. Planning the Most Memorable Wedding on Any Budget , a book published by, reminds not to overlook items you can rent such as bridal slips, tent canopy, dance floor (make sure the price for set up and take down is included), tables and chairs.

This is an experience you can remember for the rest of your life with a smile. You are a team! You will find that by using a budget, it will help you stay focused, look at the overall important picture, keep yourself organized, keep yourself sane, and start off on the right track without additional financial stress.

The best part is that it really doesn’t matter if you have to save on costs because that day will still be the most important day for you


  • [1] Bussen, Karen. Simple Stunning Weddings. New York: Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 2007.
  • [2] Alderman, Jason. "Before 'I Do,' Take These Financial Vows".
  • [3] Wedding Budget 101
  • Lluch, Elizabeth ( Planning the Most Memorable Wedding on Any Budget. San Diego: WS Publishing, 2006.
  • Comments

    6 comments… add one
    • This is a pretty good article, its totally true you have to keep working as a team otherwise it will fall apart, “The best part is that it really doesn’t matter if you have to save on costs because that day will still be the most important day for you” could not of said it better myself, i help some budgets [edit] and also being photographer and most people i have done weddings for have said the bit worth the most money are the albums when its over…

    • I’ve received a number of emails and comments on my Facebook page regarding the photography/videography budget in my wedding budget template. You may notice that the overall budget in the template is set by default to $5,000 which of course represents a VERY tight budget. So, spending $400 would probably mean finding a family member to take the photos and video.

      Keep in mind that the purpose of the template is to let you easily create your OWN budget. Assisting in choosing the right budget falls under the role of a wedding planner, and that is outside the scope of what Vertex42 provides. With that said …

      In his comments on the Facebook page, Dale Matthews (a professional photographer), suggested $7,500 as a middle-of-the-road number for the cost of a professional photographer, including an album. He added …

      When it is all over the pictures are all that remain. They become a [family’s] first heirloom and that album will mean more to the grandkids than the couple.

      All the best with your planning.

      – Vertex42

    • WonderfuL! Just amazing work. I will come back every day to read more.

    • gooooooddddddd realy amezing work

    • your advice have made by wedding come through with ease. thanks

    • Hope this will help me – thanks for the advise


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