Planning a wedding is one of the most exciting things couples will do in their lives. But it can also be one of the most challenging. The big day can be a major source of stress, especially if you don’t have a clear wedding budget in place.
After all, there are limitless possibilities in terms of wedding choices. Many decisions you make will come down to what you want and how you want to prioritize the resources and bridal budget you have available.
Knowing how to budget a wedding is vital, especially if saving money is a top priority. But what do you need to get started? And what are the most necessary expenses?
To help you get things in order, we’ve compiled a breakdown of wedding costs and the different expenses you’ll likely incur during the process. This will allow you to put together a sample wedding budget you can then tailor to your own special day.
Power tip: The easiest way to stay on top of all your wedding-related to-dos is with Tasks in Evernote. As you read through this article, create tasks to capture the details at every step, so you can be sure you don’t miss anything important. You can choose to keep all your tasks in a single default note (e.g., “My wedding tasks”) or in individual notes corresponding to your planning journey (e.g., “Venue” or “Attire”).
The ultimate wedding budget breakdown
A typical wedding has a long list of expenses, from the ceremony to the reception and more. The only way to maintain control is with a thorough wedding expenses breakdown, looking at each category and identifying how much it might cost. Your budget wedding checklist should, at a minimum, include:
- Wedding Planner
- Food & drinks
- Wedding rings
- Flowers & decor
The venue, and expenses related to the venue, will likely make up a significant part of your overall wedding budget. After all, this is where you’ll hold the reception, and perhaps also the ceremony, which means that the experience you and your guests have will largely depend on what the venue can offer.
However, even though venue costs can sometimes be excessive, they don’t necessarily have to, and may not even be the biggest expense in your wedding cost breakdown. There are creative ways you can reduce the overall cost of the venue. This includes having the wedding on an off day or during the offseason, or hosting the reception at a family home.
But what are the specific costs you should consider?
The primary expense is the room or building rental fee for the reception. Remember that whatever the total cost might be, you will likely need to pay a venue deposit of up to 50% of the total cost—often well in advance of your wedding day.
You might also have to pay for extras such as tables, chairs, china, AV equipment, and anything else that might be required. Make sure you figure out exactly how much these additional expenses are, or if they’re incorporated into the rental fee. In some venues, you may also need to pay for parking, event security, and even liability insurance in case something goes wrong.
With that in mind, even though the venue can be one of the primary expenses, you should keep it at around 20-30% to leave enough budget for other parts of the wedding. That’s especially true if you plan to hold the ceremony somewhere else.
Power tip: As you’re researching venues online, use Web Clipper to save your favorites into Evernote. You can choose which notebook to save them to, and even add annotations, tags, and comments (like “garden” or “water view”), so they’re easy to find later.
There’s a reason why many couples opt for the services of a wedding planner. With so many considerations in a wedding and a million things that could go wrong, having someone experienced and knowledgeable walking you through the entire process can be invaluable.
At the same time, it’s an additional expense that you will need to factor in as part of your wedding budget checklist. In addition, the cost of a wedding planner can vary greatly depending on the services they offer, their track record, and how much hands-on work you want them to do.
Some couples want their wedding planner to take over the process, organizing the entire wedding and only consulting them on the types of choices they want to make. Others want to avoid making costly mistakes, opting for a more consulting-type role, where they have regular calls, and the wedding planner suggests what might work best.
As mentioned before, many factors can influence the cost of a wedding planner. Still, it can range anywhere from a few percent of your total budget to as much as 15%, depending on if you want a day-of wedding planning service or a full-service package. One thing to consider with a wedding planner is that even though they are an expense, their expertise and extensive connections with vendors and venues can help you save money on other aspects of the wedding.
Power tip: You’ll no doubt meet with a lot of potential vendors as you plan your wedding day. To help you keep track of everyone you meet, use your smartphone’s camera to scan their business cards into Evernote. The app identifies any pertinent information on the card—like name, email address, and phone number—and indexes it for easy searching.
Expert tip: “Last July, my daughter dropped a surprise on us by announcing her intention to marry in December. Being the first amongst her siblings to embark on this life-changing journey, naturally, we were unsure of what needed to be done. I immediately opened a notebook called ‘Wedding’ and created a list of things I knew needed to be done. I linked a note to my Google Drive to manage the guest list (everyone in the family had their own guests, so they each updated the guest list with the names of their guests). I also created the event script in Evernote and shared it with the event coordinator for the big day.”—Evernote Expert, WanFadzil WanSidik
The ceremony is the main reason for getting people together at a wedding. Therefore, it’s understandable that couples want to make the ceremony as special as possible. But that also means that if you’re not careful, the ceremony could eat up a significant part of your budget.
One of the most important decisions you will need to make is whether you want to hold the ceremony in a different location than the reception. That choice will ultimately determine how much the ceremony is going to cost.
You may have a vision for a romantic and beautiful spot to hold the ceremony, perhaps even a location with special meaning in your relationship. But if you decide to hold it somewhere else, you have to consider that it will significantly increase your costs. You’ll not only have to book two separate locations but will also need to handle transportation and solve various logistics and timing issues that might arise from having people move from one place to another. This can easily become a nightmare if not planned out effectively.
Because of that, the practical choice is to choose a venue that can also host a beautiful ceremony. That way, you don’t have to worry about transportation from one location to another and can get a much better deal. Your only additional expenses for the ceremony will be the officiant fee or church donation, the license, and decorations or accessories. Ideally, you shouldn’t have to spend more than 2-3% of your wedding budget on the ceremony.
You want your wedding guests to be comfortable throughout your wedding. That means you need to consider where they are going to spend the night after the wedding party comes to an end. You also need to consider your accommodations and where you want to spend the wedding night as newlyweds.
Regarding guests, there are no hard rules about how the accommodations should be organized.
In most cases, the guests are expected to pay for their accommodations, although the couple might want to pay for those of close family members.
You may want to arrange for accommodations so that everyone can stay close to each other. Many opt to book an entire hotel block so that everyone can stay nearby and spend more time together the next day or after the reception. Other couples may provide guests with hotel recommendations so they can make their own arrangements.
If you don’t plan on providing accommodations for your guests, you should not have to spend more than 1-2% of your budget on them. However, the amount you spend will depend on the type of bridal suite you want.
Timing is an integral part of a successful wedding, so you need to consider how your guests will get to the venue on time and without delays. Because of that, some couples opt for organizing wedding transportation for all the guests, which makes getting them to the same place at the same time much easier.
However, transportation doesn’t have to be a big part of your wedding budget percentages. There are creative solutions that can help keep the costs of transportation down and allow you to spend more elsewhere.
For instance, you could rent a limo or a classic car for yourself and organize a carpool caravan that will ensure all the guests get to the venue at roughly the same time. While the carpool is being organized and people are getting to the venue, you and your partner could drive to do the photoshoot and create some beautiful memories in a nice location.
Because the guests themselves can organize transportation, you can get by with only spending around 1-2% of your wedding budget on it. Although if you decide to hire a bus or shuttle, that percentage could become a bigger part of your wedding budget breakdown.
You’ll want to cherish your wedding memories for a lifetime; so getting a good videographer and photographer to capture the most important moments is essential. That’s why you don’t want to skimp on the quality of these services.
When looking for someone to do the photos and video, look over their portfolio to see if you like the style. Even if a photographer has a good reputation, it might not be the right match in terms of what you like and how you want your wedding photos to look.
It’s also important to get full rights to your photos and videos so you can print them freely, without worrying about licensing.
You can typically expect to spend anywhere from 5% to as much as 15% for photos and video in your wedding, but you can sometimes get a better deal if you look for a wedding package.
Food & drinks
Food and drinks are areas where you will likely spend a lot of time deciding what you want. You need to consider countless options, so you must ensure you take the time to explore different options and taste everything to decide what you like most.
This is also where you will likely spend a big chunk of your budget. Ensuring that all your guests are fed and watered can be quite costly, especially if you’re holding a bigger wedding with many people.
Then there are other expenses such as the wedding cake, tastings, the rehearsal dinner, service staff, bar, and countless others. When it’s all said and done, don’t be surprised if 20-30% of your budget goes toward food and drinks.
Power tip: Planning a menu for your wedding that has something for everyone can be difficult. Create checklists in Evernote to help you remember any special dietary needs or preferences, and cross them off when you find menu items that will work. You can even add checklists inside tables, to compare options across different venues.
No wedding would be complete without a wedding dress and a suit for the newlyweds. But that’s just a small part of the attire decisions you will need to make if you want a full wedding experience.
The decisions about attire will start as early as the engagement party and/or the bachelor/bachelorette parties. Add expenses for shoes and additional outfits such as those for the bridal shower, rehearsal dinner, and even post-wedding brunch.
The good news is that you don’t have to go all-out on the attire for different parts of the wedding. As long as you get the wedding dress and suit or tuxedo that you both like, all the other types of clothing can be improvised or borrowed.
Since there is a range of options, you can spend anywhere from 2-3% to 7-8% of your wedding budget on wedding attire.
Getting the wedding rings may seem like an afterthought, but they can make up a significant part of your wedding budget. However, the good news is that there’s a broad range of wedding rings you can choose from, so you can find options at almost any price point.
However, since you and your partner will be wearing the rings for the rest of your lives, you probably don’t want to cut corners and will want to get rings that you both love.
Typically, the cost will include the wedding bands, sizing, customizations and engravings, and the box in which the rings will be presented. You can also buy pre-made rings or get a jeweler to make them for you according to your preferences.
Many people spend around 5% of their wedding budget on the rings, but it could easily be as much as 10% if you want something more unique or extravagant.
Flowers & decor
Every couple wants their wedding to feel special. The best way to turn any venue into something truly yours is to utilize flowers and various decoration elements that help enhance the space, adding little touches that make it unique.
You can use flower arrangements, reception centerpieces, ceremony arrangements, and other decor elements to add more life to the venue. Then there’s the traditional toss bouquet, which can add a fun activity after the ceremony.
If you buy flowers that are in season and grown locally, you can usually get a pretty good deal. And if you’re strategic about where you utilize flower arrangements, you might end up not having to spend more than 4-5% of your wedding budget on the decor.
Power tip: Before you meet with a florist, save any inspiration you find to a note in Evernote. Then connect your Google Calendar with Evernote and link that note to the meeting. That way, you’ll be ready to share your ideas when the time comes.
Sending invitations well before your wedding is essential if you want to give people enough time to plan and RSVP. That means you must prepare the invitations to every significant event, including the engagement party, rehearsal dinner, wedding ceremony, and reception.
However, while most people still consider paper invitations to be more personal and provide a more authentic experience, e-invitations are growing in popularity as an eco-friendly and practical alternative. It reduces paper waste and allows you to save on paper, printing, and postage, which can significantly reduce the budget required.
Today, there’s a range of e-invite options online, allowing you to quickly and effectively send out as many invitations as you need. If you decide to go with paper invitations, that can cost around 1-2% of your entire wedding budget.
Finally, you will need to ensure that you and your wedding guests are having a good time. That means having entertainment, typically in the form of a band or a DJ, that will get the people onto the dance floor.
You will also probably want some music in the ceremony, which means you will either need to hire two separate musicians or bands or go with someone who can do the ceremony and the reception.
A DJ can be a bit cheaper than a live band, but a band brings that extra ambiance of performing live, which can be more suitable for some weddings. It’s essential that you look at your wedding budget and figure out which choice matches your wedding vision. No matter what you end up going with, you will likely need to spend around 5-8% on music for the ceremony and reception.
Power tip: Auditioning musicians or bands for the big day? Record their performances as audio clips in Evernote, and save them all in one notebook so you can compare later. You can even add your own notes while you’re recording, to capture any related thoughts.
Organize your wedding budget with ease
Expert tip: “Evernote is a great tool to use to plan a wedding! Simply create a notebook and name it ‘The Big Day!’ or whatever special name you’d like. Then start creating notes for all the different parts of your special day: The Dress, Venue, Music, Food, Photographer and Videographer, Flowers, Honeymoon, etc. Clip your favorite articles and pictures from the internet using Web Clipper and save them to the appropriate note. You can share relevant notes with your soon-to-be spouse, family, friends, vendors, and wedding party members as needed, even if they don’t use Evernote, by using the Share button. That will keep everyone in the loop.” —Evernote Expert, Sandee Rodriguez
Putting together a comprehensive wedding budget breakdown can be a big struggle, especially if you don’t plan with a lot of time ahead. With so many details and expenses to consider, keeping track of everything and ensuring you stay under the amount you have available to spend requires a convenient planning method.
The good news is that with Evernote’s budget planner template, you can organize every aspect of your wedding budget in one place. You can also take advantage of countless convenient tools for organizing, marking, and quickly finding details on your wedding budget breakdown. Get started with Evernote today!