How to Plan a Wedding Budget

You are officially in the process of planning your wedding, congratulations! You have a vision for the event and are getting into the finer details… but which part, exactly, is up next?

A lot of tasks are about to sneak up, but as long as you dive into your budget first, you’ll have a wedding budget checklist to keep all the rest in order.


1. Start Your Research


Do some research to find out what the wedding you want will cost in your area. It’s okay if you aren’t exactly sure where/what you want yet because you’re just collecting an idea of what everything might cost. For example, you can search for wedding venues in Eastern Iowa (or just “wedding venues near me” if you use location services) to see what your options are and what they might cost. 

Some venues may even offer all inclusive wedding packages that include the majority of what you’ll need to buy or rent, and you can use those numbers as a quick estimate for all of those details.



2. Start Talking About Money


Once you have an idea of how much weddings cost in your area, it’s time to talk with everyone who will be helping you raise the funds. It can be intimidating to have The Financial Conversation with your families, so start with yourselves. Sit down with your partner and lay out your joint budget, looking for areas you may be able to trim as you do. 

Once you have a number for what you’ll have leftover after living expenses every month, use that number to devise a savings plan. Keep in mind that the process of planning a wedding can get stressful, so try not to set the expectation that the two of you will remain social hermits until your wedding day. Date nights are a great way to de-stress, whether you stay in or go out. With that number calculated, next you’ll talk to your other potential contributors.

Plan a separate sit-down with each side and keep in mind that they don’t have an obligation to help, so anything they contribute is a generous gift.

Another thing to keep in mind is that your contributors will probably want to have some say in the planning. Work with them to set firm amounts, dates to receive those amounts and expectations for involvement to avoid awkward or tense situations as you plan.


3. Get to Work


Combine the contributions from all sources, and remember to factor in an actual number if someone agreed to pay for a specific expense rather than a dollar amount. You can estimate by doing a quick Google search like “wedding venues in Cedar Rapids Iowa”, looking at a few websites for their pricing and using the average price for the type of vendor you’re looking for.

Be sure to also start your wedding savings plan right away, and consider making it automatically deposit into a separate account so there’s no temptation along the way.



4. Break Down The Costs


Your budget amount is set, but the work is far from done. Next, start breaking down your expenses into categories, and keep track of smaller items within those categories.  


Every couple is going to have some variation in expenses, but here are the categories and subcategories we recommend starting with:

  • Ceremony
    • Marriage License Fee
    • Officiant Fee
    • Venue Fee
    • Transportation To/From
  • Reception
    • Venue Fee
    • Day-of Coordinator
    • Tables & Chairs
    • Table Linens
    • Guest Book
    • Sound & Lighting
    • Bartender
    • Centerpieces (if non-floral)
    • Dessert Table Decor
    • Guest Book Table Decor
    • Guest Book
    • Transportation
  • Food & Beverage
    • Appetizers
    • Main Meal
    • Wedding Reception Snacks (you’ll want some, we promise)
    • Champagne Toast
    • Liquor and Drinks
    • Table Settings (if not provided by caterer)
    • Wedding Dessert
  • Photography & Videography
    • Photographer
    • Videographer
    • Wedding Album
    • Wedding Photo Prints (for family)
  • Gifts & Tips
    • Vendor Tips
    • Gifts for Each Other
    • Wedding Favors
    • Wedding Party Gifts
    • Parent Gifts
  • Floral
    • Bridal Bouquet
    • Bridesmaid Bouquets
    • Toss Bouquet
    • Groom Boutonniere
    • Groomsmen Boutonnieres
    • Flower Girl & Ring Bearer Flowers
    • Family Corsages & Boutonnieres
    • Hair Flowers
    • Centerpiece Flowers
    • Head Table Flowers
    • Ceremony Flowers
  • Attire
    • Your Clothing
    • Your Shoes
    • Your Partner’s Clothing
    • Your Partner’s Shoes
    • Alterations
    • Wedding Bands
    • Other Jewelry
    • Hair Styling
    • Professional Makeup
  • Stationary
    • Save the Dates
    • Ceremony & Reception Invitations
    • Postage
    • Ceremony Programs
    • Thank You Notes
    • Seating Chart
    • Table Numbers
    • Name Cards
    • Reception Menu
  • DJ or Band
  • Kids Activities (for reception)


You’ll likely be cutting out at least a few of these expenses, some of which will be easy to eliminate and others reluctantly left out. The list will definitely change as you continue to plan your wedding, so keep it close and an eraser handy! For now, relax and take a breath because you have a solid start.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.