Wedding Planning Tips

Using a Wedding Budget

The typical formal wedding costs the average couple (or their parents) more than $25,000 in 2014.  This includes everything from the wedding dress to the cost of the reception and the ceremony.  If this is approximately the amount of your wedding budget, how do you decide how much to spend on the various items so that you stay within your limit? 

You should begin by using a wedding budget calculator.  They are available online at wedding websites, such at  On the website, you enter the amount of you plan to spend, the number of guests you expect to have, the number of female attendants, and the number of male attendants.  If you already know how much an item will cost, you can enter that in the “Actual” column on the wedding calculator.  The calculator will come up with a budget.

There are limitations to these calculators, however.  For example, they do not include the cost of the rehearsal dinner, bridesmaid luncheon, clothes for the parents of the bride and groom, the honeymoon, travel expenses, lodging for relatives, and many other expenses that you may incur.  If you are paying for any of these items, too, you may need to cut back the amount that you enter into the wedding budget calculator, so you don’t start out your marriage by spending more than you can afford.

Later in this article is an example of how much you should plan to spend on different items if your budget for the wedding and ceremony is around $30,000, with 3 attendants each for the bride and groom, and 150 guests.  It is based on the estimates given by the budget calculator on, so you can try it out yourself and make any necessary changes.  

Bride on BeachCredit:

Reception Venue, including rentals:  $2,000

This includes both the rental for a reception hall or hotel ballroom, as well as anything you have to rent.  As an alternative, the money could also be spent to rent a tent for the backyard, along with tables, chairs, china, silverware, and portable toilets.

Food and People to Serve the Food:  $7,500

This amount is based on 150 people multiplied by $50 per person.  If you are using a caterer, confirm that the amount you are spending includes any taxes and gratuities.  This is an area than can easily run over the estimate if you are not careful.

Beverages and Bartenders:  $2000

This includes the cost of alcohol, mixers, non-alcoholic beverages and bartenders to mix the drinks.  Again, be certain that your contract includes any taxes and gratuities.   Having an open bar can get expensive, so make sure you stay within the budget for this item.  If you are only serving wine and beer, you may not need bartenders.  If you are not serving alcohol at all, this may be an area where you can save some money.

Wedding Cake, including any cutting fee:  $625

The Wedding Gown, including alterations:  $1500

Headpiece and Veil:  $250

Jewelry and other bridal accessories:  $125

Bride’s Hair Styling and Makeup:  $125

Bride’s Beauty Treatments:  $125

Groom’s Tux Rental:  $150

Groom’s Shoes and other accessories: $75

Wedding Rings:  $500

This is the total allowed for both the bride and groom, combined.  However, this is not a problem, since sites like Amazon have many wonderful choices in wedding jewelry that is well within this price range.  Check their prices and selection here:

Quick link to attractive wedding band sets for under $200 from Amazon.

Ceremony Location and Special Accessories:  $400

Donation to Minister:  $250

Bridesmaid and Bridal Bouquets, Boutonniers, other ceremony floral decorations: $1000

Reception Decorations and Centerpieces:  $1000

Ceremony Musicians:  $250

Reception Music:  $1750

This includes the cost of your reception band or DJ.  If you wish to have a separate group of musicians perform during the cocktail hour, they will need to be paid out of this budget item, too.

Photographer, and photographs including extra prints:  $1750

Videographer:  $1250

Invitations and Reply Cards, including calligraphy and postage:  $625

This is based on an estimate of 150 invitations at $4.17 each.  Personally, I think this may be a little low.

Other Wedding Stationery:  $125

This category includes any announcements you send after the wedding, as well as save-the-date cards, menu cards, place cards, thank-you cards and anything else that you may have printed, such as the wedding program.  If you save money in any of the other categories, stationery is an area where you may want to add a little more money.

Many of the supplies you will need for your wedding can be purchased at affordable prices from Amazon.  You may want to check out your options, just to see what is available:

Quick link to affordable wedding supplies from Amazon.

Hotel Room for the wedding night:  $125

Guest shuttle or parking:  $250

Limo or Car Rentals for the bride and other members of the wedding party:  $375

Gifts for the attendants:  $250

Wedding Favors for the Guests:  $375

This is based on an estimate of spending $2.50 for 150 wedding favors.  You will have to shop frugally, but you can find many items to commemorate your wedding at online wedding shops, such as or  Although you may find some items at local stores, I have found the lowest prices at the online vendors.

Parent Gifts:  $125

One of the best places to find gift items that are thoughtful and will commemorate your big day is at Things Remembered.  They offer a wide selection of champagne flutes, silver plated photo albums, jewelry, picture frames and similar items that can be engraved with a special message or your wedding date.  Things Remembered operates kiosks in shopping malls around the United States, and they also have an online store at

The total cost of this wedding, including the wedding dress, wedding venue, reception venue, food, and alcohol comes to $25,000.  Of course, your budget will differ from this.  Perhaps you are going to be wearing your mother’s wedding dress, or a friend has offered to take the official wedding photographs.  In either case, this will give you extra money to spend on other items you may want or need.  In my opinion, some of the amounts listed seem barely adequate to cover the cost.  Many reception venues may exceed $2000, and the cost of invitations and other stationery could easily exceed the budgeted amount, too.  Also, it is important to note that this budget does not include the honeymoon, clothing for the mother of the bride, tuxedo rental or bridesmaid dresses for other family members, and similar expenses that can quickly run up the cost of the wedding.  Look for ways that you can save money wherever you can.  You may cut back slightly on your guest list, for example.  Or, you may decide not to have a videographer, but to stick with still photos. 

Another way to stay within your budget is to make some of your own decorations, centerpieces and other items for your ceremony.  If you are crafty, you might be able to come up with your own ideas.  Or, you could use a website like to get ideas and instructions for completing a variety of projects.  Get together with your family and friends for fun creative days, and you will be able to inexpensively add your own personal touches to your wedding day.  For example, you might want to create your own personalized lighted welcome banner to greet guests at your ceremony and/or reception.

Whatever amount you decide to spend on your wedding, start with a realistic budget, and stick with it.  You'll be more relaxed and happier.  Good luck in planning your wedding day!

For more wedding ideas, you may also be interested in reading some of the articles listed below:

Budget for a $3,000 Wedding with 50 Guests

Budget for a $100,000 Wedding with 350 Guests

Budget for a $50,000 Wedding with 250 Guest 

How to Create Thoughtful Wedding Gift Bags

Easy and Cheap Las Vegas Weddings

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