The Wedding Budget: Is it Really Possible? Yes!

Staying within your wedding budget is one of the most difficult parts of planning a wedding. Here are some tips and tricks that may help.

The budget...can you make it work, or is trying to set a wedding budget just a mean joke? As you set out to start planning your big day, you may be overwhelmed by how much everything CAN cost (but really doesn't have to).  As you start to book vendors, get the venue, find your dress, it can feel like your budget is getting further and further away from you....and there is still so much more to book and buy.  

While it's tempting to just blow the budget, please don't give into your every whim putting yourself (or someone you really love) into debt over this one day. The weight of those emotional choices will still be there long after the wedding is over. So....what are you supposed to do??? It helps to get a big picture of all of the areas/items you will need to consider when figuring out what to do with the money you have to work with.

1. Figure out how much money you actually have to spend. This will involve taking a close look at your accounts and savings and a few awkward conversations with family. Awkward, but a necessity.  You are anxious to start planning, so the sooner you can get some numbers nailed down, the better....for everyone!

2. Start looking at the expenses. First, I would strongly encourage you to go through this list of items with your fiance. Make sure you are both on the same page and comfortable with the expenses. While you may think a spa day the week of your wedding is an absolute necessity, at $300, your fiance may not feel the same way. This is a great opportunity to set the tone for how you will work together as partners on the same team. Your wedding is not a one man show. Please take your fiance's wishes into consideration and respect their opinion. You are in this together!

Ok, now for the overwhelming part - looking at everything you could possibly spend money on...and figure out how much you are willing to spend on every category. Here are a lot (every wedding is different, absolutely not all) of expenses to consider:

Ceremony: As you set out to plan and spend just remember - your ceremony is THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THE DAY. You are getting married, remember?? That's the reason for the DJ, cake, dinner, etc. And it happens to be one of the simplest, most inexpensive parts of the day. So, if you start to feel overwhelmed by all of the details that go into the reception, remember that the ceremony is absolutely going to happen. At the end of all of this, you will be married. Yahoo!

  • Ceremony Venue (if in a different location than reception)
  • Guestbook
  • Meaningful ceremonies - i.e. communion, unity sand, unity candle, etc.

Reception: This is where we can all get a little carried away. If you have a budget, be realistic with yourself and be willing to do some extra leg work and get creative to make your vision come to life. NOTE: There are other categories related to the reception, these are just a few items specific to the reception. Please continue reading below

  • Reception Venue
  • Caterer
  • Bartender
  • Alcohol (if you are serving some, it's often a lot cheaper to buy yourself)
  • Cake /Dessert
  • Decorations - this can mean so many things...depends on what you have in mind. Does NOT include florals
  • Security Guard - if you are serving alcohol, some venues require a security service


  • Chairs - for ceremony and reception, can you use the same chairs in both locations?
  • Tables - Round, Rectangle or Farmhouse style
  • Linens - tablecloths, table runners, napkins
  • Dishes - Dinner plate, dessert plate, wine glass, water goblet, flatware (unless you go with's still an expense, just not a rental)
  • Lighting - uplighting, gobos, market lighting or lanterns. If your venue doesn't need it, even better!
  • Lounge furniture - if your budget allows for it. Always a nice touch
  • Heaters - if you are having an outdoor evening wedding
  • Tents/canopies - Could be a preference or an absolute necessity. Depends on the time of year, and climate in your area. Tents and canopies can be so beautiful too!
  • Draping - more common under a big tent. You may want some fabric draped under the big top. Can be rented, not included in the cost of renting the tent itself
  • Dance floor - in sone venues, you may be able to get away with not renting one. It's your call
  • Serving Platters/Drink Dispensers - Depending on how you will be serving guests and what your caterer will provide, you may need to rent or purchase some serving platters, drink dispensers, etc.
  • Bathrooms - if you are using a friend or family member's property, their sewer/septic system likely can't handle the will need to rent some port-a-potties.

Attire: It's more than just the dress. If you aren't careful, the extras can add up QUICK

  • Your Dress
  • Alterations
  • Jewelry
  • Shoes - for both
  • Garter
  • Veil
  • Suit/Tux for your groom - you can either rent or buy
  • Tie and socks for the groom
  • Hair Stylist
  • Make up artist


  • Bouquets
  • Boutonnieres
  • Corsages
  • Ceremony flowers - aisle, flower petals for flower girl, floral arrangements at the front and guest book table and/or gift table
  • Centerpieces
  • Floral arrangements anywhere else you want them around the reception – you can move some of these from the ceremony site to the reception site.


  • Sound equipment - do your ceremony and reception sites have a sound system set up? If not, will your DJ provide it?  Don't assume it will be there
  • DJ
  • Musicians - either live at the ceremony or  the reception...or both!


  • Photographer
  • Videographer


  • Will you be renting a limo or town car?


  • Save the date printing
  • Save the date mailing/postage
  • Invitation printing
  • Invitation mailing/postage
  • Postage for RSVP's - if not doing online or via email
  • Program at the Ceremony
  • Menu Card at the Reception - if you want one. Not a necessity

Gifts for the Bridal Party and Family


  • Hotel stay the night of your wedding
  • Flight
  • Hotel for Honeymoon
  • Car Rental
  • Food
  • Activities


Remember that you will want to tip some of your vendors - caterer, hair stylist, makeup, limo driver... anyone that you would normally tip in everyday life, you may want to tip at your wedding. other vendors do not require a tip, but if you are very happy with their service, by all means feel free!!

Phew, I think we covered most all of the bases. Again - this is not every possible expense. But at the same time - all of these expenses are NOT necessary. If you have a limited budget, you don't need to utilize a limo service, absolutely not a necessity. Take a look at the list with your fiancé and figure out which factors are a must to make your day all your own.