Wedding Budget Breakdown: How to Best Allocate Your Funds

This is the actual wedding budget breakdown.  We’re going to show you how to allocate your funds and not go broke hosting a wedding!

But first, you did sit down and make a budget right?

If not, you need to go back and read How to Make Your Perfect Wedding Budget first and then come back here for the nitty gritty details.

We promise that it’s easier to do this in order.

Pinky promise.

Start with the Total Budget

Once you’ve figured out what your total wedding budget is going to be, you’ve got to figure out how to divide the money between all the spots it needs to go.

This wedding budget breakdown shows you all the category’s and percentages to make your starting budget, and it will probably surprise you with a few items you haven’t thought of.

And of course there will be a few items that don’t apply to you so you can just remove those!

Don’t forget that this wedding budget breakdown is based on an average and your budget is going to be different.  There are lots of factors that will change the percentages such as your location, the time of year or how many guests you’re planning to have.

You’ll want to tailor the spreadsheet to work for you and we’ve made that easy to do.

We’ve included a link to our planning spreadsheet at the bottom to help you figure out how much money goes in each spot.  All you have to do is download the spreadsheet and customize it for your own ceremony, and then you can update it as you go along.

Just be sure that it doesn’t all add up to more than 100%!

Then Use the Wedding Budget Breakdown

Venue 20%

This is where you’re hosting and this will be one of your more significant expenses.  It may or may not include the following but here’s a brief list of what you can expect to include in this budget item:

  • Venue Rental Fee
  • Deposit for Venue
  • Ceremony Site (if separate from the venue)
  • Ceremony Fee (if ceremony is being held at reception venue)
  • Additional Rentals (such as tables & chairs)
  • Photo Booth Rental
  • Dance Floor Rental (if not already installed/included)
  • Parking Fees
  • Liability Insurance
  • Tax and Service Fees
  • Security (most venues require it)
  • Church Donation

Food 20%

Another big part of the budget goes to food and drink.  We’ve separated the drinks out into their own category so here’s what you can expect to be included in food:

  • Tasting Appointment (if not complimentary with your catering package)
  • Rehearsal Dinner
  • Plated, Buffet, or Family-Style Meal
  • Food Stations
  • Serving Staff
  • Catering Equipment (plates, silverware, glassware, serving platters, etc.)
  • Catering Rentals (tables, chairs, linens, etc.)
  • Vendor Meals (it’s nice to feed your photographer and musicians)
  • Tax and Gratuity (sometimes called the service charge)
  • Setup and/or Cleanup Fees

Drinks 8%

If you are planning a specialty cocktail or an open bar expect this number to be higher.

  • Cocktail Hour Drinks
  • Reception Drinks
  • Champagne Toast
  • Open Bar / Hosted Beer & Wine / Specialty Cocktails
  • Bartender Service
  • Mixers
  • Coffee / Tea
  • Non-alcoholic Beverages
  • Glassware (if not included in your catering package)
  • Bar Signage
  • Cork Fees (if you opt to BYO)
  • Bartender Gratuity

Cake 2%

Wedding cakes can be pretty pricey.  A great way to save money here is to have a cake and then have additional servings made in a sheet cake.  This will also speed up cutting and serving time.

  • Cake Display / Cake Cutting
  • Sheet Cake for extra servings
  • Cake Topper
  • Cake Stand
  • Delivery Fee
  • Grooms Cake
  • Additional Desserts (if you’re doing a dessert table/station)
  • One-Year Anniversary Kit

Photographer/Videographer 12%

Your photographer is the one who will be preserving all your memories of this special day and documenting the events and the people.  Here’s what you might expect to find in this budget item:

  • Engagement Session
  • Rehearsal Dinner Coverage
  • Wedding Day Coverage
  • Reception Coverage
  • Albums and/or Prints
  • Edited Photos
  • Raw Footage
  • Highlight Reel
  • Feature Film

Attire/Hair/Makeup 9%

This category may include covering all of the events and beauty items leading up to the big day, or just the big day itself.  There are quite a few parties and items that you might need to include:

  • Engagement Party Outfit (plus shoes and accessories)
  • Engagement Photos Outfit (plus shoes and accessories)
  • Bridal Shower Outfit (plus shoes and accessories)
  • Bachelor / Bachelorette Outfit (plus shoes and accessories)
  • Rehearsal Dinner Outfit (plus shoes and accessories)
  • Wedding Dress
  • Wedding Dress Alterations
  • Specialty Undergarments
  • Veil, Wedding Shoes, and Bridal Jewelry / Accessories
  • Groom’s Tux + Shoes
  • Reception Outfit (if you’re changing out of your dress) or After Party Outfit
  • Post-Wedding Brunch Outfit (plus shoes and accessories)
  • Pre-Wedding Haircuts and/or Color
  • Waxing
  • Facials
  • Mani-Pedi
  • Professional Shave
  • Spray Tan
  • Lash Extensions
  • Hair Trial Appointment
  • Day-of Wedding Hairstyle
  • Makeup Trial Appointment
  • Day-of Wedding Makeup
  • Wedding Dress Cleaning and Preservation

Flowers and Decor 8%

It’s not just your bouquet, fresh flowers and garlands can be used anywhere in the ceremony but here are some ideas of what you may want to include in your budget:

  • Bouquets (bride and bridesmaids and a toss bouquet)
  • Boutonnières (groom, groomsmen, fathers and/or grandfathers)
  • Corsages for Mothers / Grandmothers
  • Flowers and Accessories for the Flower Girl / Ring Bearer
  • Ceremony Arch
  • Ceremony Arrangements
  • Reception Centerpieces (for guest tables, guest book table, food stations, cake table)
  • Wedding Cake Flowers
  • Wedding Signs
  • Other Décor Rentals (tents, lanterns, candles)
  • Delivery Fees

Music 7%

Whether you’ve opted for a live band or a deejay, the music sets the tone for your reception.  You’ll also be counting on them to make announcements and keep your reception timeline moving smoothly.  Here are a few things to look at for your budget:

  • Ceremony Musicians
  • Cocktail Hour Music
  • Reception DJ or Live Band
  • Microphone (for wedding ceremony and reception toasts)
  • Sound-system and extra speakers
  • Dance Floor Lighting

Wedding Planner 3%

This item will depend on the level of service and whether it’s included with your venue rental.  We’d like to point out that a good wedding planner will probably pay for themselves in the money and headaches that you save, but at the minimum you need someone in charge or the day of organization.  Here’s what you can expect to find in this budget item:

  • Day-Of or Full-Service Wedding Coordination
  • Venue and/or Vendor Referrals and Liaison
  • Develop Budget
  • Create Timeline and Calendar
  • Create Checklists
  • Coordinate Rehearsal
  • Day Of Setup, Management and Organization

Stationery 3%

This includes all the pretty papers and invitations that you’ll be using.  Here’s what you might find in this budget item:

  • Engagement Party Invites
  • Save The Dates
  • Wedding Invitations (including inserts like RSVP cards or maps)
  • Rehearsal Dinner Invitations
  • Post Wedding Brunch Invitations
  • Envelopes
  • Postage (for invitations, RSVP envelopes, and thank you cards)
  • Return Address Labels
  • Wedding Ceremony Programs
  • Wedding Reception Paper Goods (printed napkins or matchbooks)
  • Place Cards
  • Menu Cards
  • Favor Labels
  • Thank You Cards

Officiant 2%

The officiant helps you plan the actual ceremony and exchanging of your vows.  They’re the ones that make your marriage legal in the eyes of the law but they’ll also help you write your ceremony and personalize it to fit your style.  Here are a few of the things you might expect to find in this budget item:

  • Counsel the Couple
  • Marriage Classes
  • Plan the Ceremony
  • Write the Ceremony
  • Conduct the Ceremony
  • Officiant Fee
  • Marriage License

Transportation 2%

If you’ve got a large party or lots of out of town guests you may need to think about transportation for them.  At the very least you need to consider how the bride and groom will get from one place to the next and who will be driving them home after the send off.  Here are the items to consider:

  • Bridal Party Transportation to the Ceremony Venue
  • Bridal Party Transportation to the Reception Venue (if different from Ceremony Site)
  • Gratuity for the Driver(s)
  • Shuttle Service to transport guests to/from their hotels
  • Valet Parking Service

Rings 2%

If you’ve already got your ring set then you might not need the items on this list but they might include:

  • Wedding Bands
  • Ring Resizing Fee
  • Insurance for Your Wedding Rings
  • Customization or Engraving

Favors and Gifts 2%

It’s customary to send your guests off with a little something to remember the evening and you also may want to budget for thank you gifts for all the special people that participate in your wedding.  This category can include:

  • Wedding Favors
  • Wedding Party Gifts
  • Gifts for your Flower Girl(s) or Ring Bearer(s)
  • Spouse Gift
  • Parents Gifts
  • Welcome Baskets for out-of-town guests

Well there you have it.  This wedding budget breakdown should give you a pretty decent idea of which budget item goes where and a basic overview of how to segment your budget.  As always, your budget is going to be different, and that’s okay.  This is just to give you a place to start.

And now that we’ve plugged in all the numbers we’re ready for cake!

[budget spreadsheet]

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