A Realistic Wedding Budget, Plus 3 Tips to Create the Best Budget

There has been a lot of wedding talk around here lately and I hope for those of you who are engaged or perhaps thinking of it, these articles have been helpful. For other readers who do not require wedding advise, well maybe it’ll start you thinking about personal budgets!  When we were first engaged, I tried to do some research online about affordable weddings or how to create a fabulous wedding on a budget, but I never really found what I was looking for.  All the articles talking about budget weddings, offered advise such as, eloping saves money or use your aunts backyard to throw your dream wedding or invite 25 of your closest family and friends.  None of this connected with me, we didn’t want to elope, we don’t have a convenient backyard and a 25 person wedding would have been impossible.

This is my attempt at how to throw a budget wedding and a breakdown of our wedding expenses.  First off I would like to say that having a budget wedding, under $10,000 is not easy, unless you choose one of the options above.  I have let go of the $10,000 wedding because it was not helping me in any way, can you read all about why in this article.  We are still going to throw a wedding we can afford, one we will not go into debt over or are extending ourselves financially.  I will say my parents have also been very generous and had some money saved for our special day, which has definitely made a difference.

Ok let’s break this wedding budget down by category.

Venue: $4500 – You might think this is high, but we compared four different venues and in the end the one we chose made the most sense for space, numbers and cost. Cost compare your favorite venues to make the right financial decision for your wedding. Find my excel spreadsheet in this article.

Day of Coordinator/Set up and take down: $1300 – Was lucky enough to have a referral and received $200 off.  Also this is more expensive then some DOC’s, but she takes over 6 weeks in advance (hello no emails or vendor contact), she has an assistant, will create the timeline for all vendors and us, and performs all the set up and take down.  Some DOC’s are only there the day of to support, she is an all inclusive package and TOTALLY worth it.

Food/Drinks: $10, 000 – Yes that is a big number!  This includes all catering, the cake, and drinks.  Catering and beverages were the most important category for us.  We love great good and want everyone to have a wonderful time. Plus this was significantly less than using a restaurant or a venue with an on-site caterer/bar. Again, cost compare your venues!  It might say a minimum $8,000 spend, but when you look at their $9 drinks prices, $60 bottles of wine and $75 plates, you will be significantly over the minimum spend.

Rentals: $1650 – Since our venue is a blank slate we have to bring in the tables, chairs, bar etc.  Although this is an extra expense for this venue, on the cost comparison we still saved money. Plus this way I can pick and choose what we want on site and the style that suits our theme.

Décor: $800 – I don’t really count this category as I am buying the décor myself and plan on selling it for what I bought it for.  The option to purchase all décor myself is time consuming, but I love it.  Finding décor pieces or other items from brides is so much fun!  I wouldn’t trade that time for anything!  If you are a bride who despises Craigslist and Facebook groups best to find a rental house you like.

Florals/Greenery: $400 – I am choosing to do my own flowers for the wedding and will buy them wholesale.  We will have a lot of family here before the wedding and I figured I could make this happen.  Obviously going with a florist is more expensive but time saving, I have decided to go the DIY route.  Wish me luck!

Photography: $2800 – Having the great photographer was key for us.  I highly recommend looking at Wedding Wire.  I searched through most of our local area, saving photographers in our price range and with the style we were looking for.  We ended up with someone who is so talented, plus we have a second shooter for our wedding day and received a promo discount she was offering for 20% off through Wedding Wire.

Stationary/Website: $200 – This ended up being a little more than I budgeted for, but am so happy with the results of my DIY invites!  The blog post is coming soon! The wedding website was free through Minted.com but I paid a little extra to get the personalized domain name. I think this category can be budget or totally crazy if you want it to.  I went online to request quotes from a couple different print houses because I honestly had no idea how much the invites would cost!  They were anywhere from $120 to $800!  DO YOUR RESEARCH.

Music: $1500 – This is not confirmed at the moment, but WAY over the budget I originally planned!  I had no idea how expensive DJ’s were, apparently I thought it was the same as my high school dance days, I didn’t consider inflation, lol!  Any advise on this category and how to do it on a budget would be greatly appreciated. And no, I do not want someone running an iPod all night, too stressful!

Photobooth: $30 – With blogging I already own lights, a tablet and a tripod.  All we have to do is download the DIY photobooth app!  I will say this is the most stress-free category as I am lucky enough to own what we needed to make it happen.

Hair/Make Up: $150 – I do not have anyone confirmed but all the quotes were around this price.  I honestly do not know how hair and make up. I understand that I probably need it because I have no idea what I am doing, but they charge the same amount for the trial as they do for the big day?  Another category that is WAY over budget.

TOTAL: $22,530

You may notice we do not have favours or gifts listed on our budget.  We have opted to not have favours or a wedding party, allowing a bit of savings in the budget.  I have also not included the dress or suit, I do realize this will be part of our overall wedding budget but we didn’t want to feel held back in terms of setting an amount on what we are going to wear.  We are spending a lot to throw an amazing party, to try and fit within a $300 dress budget might not be realistic.

There you have it, our honest wedding budget.  I have lumped items together in this list, but in reality we have every item accounted for separately.  When we first started with cost comparing four different venues, seeing the numbers right in front of us helped it all make sense.  When we narrowed it down to our dream venue, we knew the items we would keep and what didn’t serve our day.  What works for us might not for others, or what is important for us, may be less for another couple.

At the end of the day I think three things are important when it comes to planning your wedding budget.

1.  Create an affordable budget for you.  Another couple might have a budget four times the size of ours or one that’s a quarter the size, but that is what works for them and this is what works for us.

2. Don’t go into debt.  We all want to throw the party of our dreams, I totally get that, but waking up the next day under a pile of debt, for one night, might not feel so good.

3. Stick to your budget.  Once you have agreed a budget that works, stick to it!  I think it is so easy to start buying items not on the list or going after more expensive rentals, but if it’s not part of your original budget, best to leave it.

All you brides to be out there I hope this helped you with your budget, or at least starting to plan one.  I would say setting the budget and how much you want to spend is probably the hardest part.  You have to do research, connect with vendors, and get accurate numbers for your city.  Once you’ve done that all you need to do is find the vendor that is right for you, the bulk of the work is completed.  Trust me, when you have your budget, the rest will be a breeze!


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