One of the biggest mistake I have seen as a wedding planner, are when couples are planning their wedding without a budget. I know it is not the most exciting thing you want to do right after getting engaged.  However, starting out with a budget is the most important decision you can make during the wedding planning process.

The budget is where dreams and reality meet for the first time and force you to prioritize what’s truly important to both of you. There is no “right” amount for a wedding budget; it all depends on you, your family, your priorities and your tastes. What makes it sticky and complicated is that there are two of you, two families, two sets of priorities and two tastes. The most important thing is to remember through all of this is that your wedding day is only one day, but your lives together are

forever. Your lives will continue after the wedding and something that may seem important and heartbreaking now will seem trivial in retrospect.

So, when it comes to wedding planning, this is the one area that I feel deserves a lot of thought, attention and time. If you create a wedding budget, a lot of unnecessary stress can be avoided in the entire wedding planning process! First, let’s talk about the five things things that will impact your budget the most. 

Ann Ilagan Photography

1. Spending slightly over what you budgeted for…in every category!

If you find the perfect item/vendor for your wedding but it over your estimated amount, by all means it’s okay to get it or move forward! BUT, remember to adjust for that amount in another category or two.

2.  Not doing your research.

Make sure to compare styles of vendors, reviews, and prices. If you are equally interested with two very similar vendors, they both have great reviews, but one charges more money, then hire the less expensive one.  The point is… do not think that more expensive automatically = better.  Do your research.  Book your vendors based on their work, their personality and how you feel about them being part of your day.  Not solely on price.

3. Inviting too many people.

This adds up!  You budgeted a maximum of 100 guests for your dinner reception.  Then your families start adding additional invites.  Before you know it, you’ve added 50 more people…OK  50 more mouths to feed, no big deal, we ca

n arrange for that.  But that actually means you now have 50 more chairs, 50 more chargers, 5 more centerpieces, etc to add to your budget.

4. Having too many courses for your meal.  

Don’t get me wrong – I love food and so do your guests, but they can only eat so much.  A 4 course is perfect; you can even get away with 3. When in doubt, choose quality over quantity.

5. Making emotional decisions.

Weddings are emotional but you shouldn’t purchase based solely based on emotion.  You need to explore a little…do your research.  You need to ask the right questions and read the small print on all your contracts.  Then, see which options are best and within your budget, then make a decision but not until you have all the information.   

Where do I begin to put together my wedding budget?

1. Determine what kind of wedding you both desire.

This is when you and your fiance sit down and determine what kind of wedding style you would like to have.  Are you think an outdoor picnic casual affair or a full service formal event or somewhere in between?

2. Research vendors and get price quotes.  Here is a good list to get you started:

  • Wedding Planner
  • Caterer
  • Ceremony Venue
  • Reception Venue
  • Bakey
  • DJ/Entertainment
  • Photographer
  • Florist
  • Videographer
  • Transportation

3. Meet with your respective parents to speak honestly and openly how much they are willing to contribute to the “wedding fund.

Special note: money from family can have strings attached, so be careful to set the  expectations that this is YOUR wedding and but that you communicate your appreciation for their financial contributions.

Bride & Groom Exit

4. Next, start formulating your guest list.

Keep in mind that if your families are paying for all or part of the wedding that they may feel entitled to add to this guest list. Be upfront with them about this.

5. Finally, keep track of your budget by comparing projected amounts and actual amounts.  

By keeping track will allow you to make adjustment as needed.

Ways to stick to your wedding budget

1. Start out as a couple

An important first step is talking about your expectations for the wedding with your fiancé(e).  Do you envision a large, formal wedding, or a small, intimate one? Will it be local or destination? How many attendants will make up the wedding party? Talk about what your priorities are before you start budgeting—as all of these decisions will affect your bottom line.

2. Invite others into the wedding planning

It is better to not to make any assumptions about who’s paying for what.  Instead, set up a private time to meet with each set of parents to talk about your wedding, and ask how they envision being part of your big day.

3. Keep Track

Keeping track of what you are spending and taking notes as you move along with your planning will help you stay within your budget. Also, it will help you pinpoint which areas are causing you to overspending (which will allow you to make changes) and save money in other areas.

4. Hiring a wedding planner

Another thing you may want to consider hiring a wedding planner.  A wedding planner can help you organize and plan your budget. Yet, more importantly, give you recommendations for vendors in your price range (also saving you tons of time), provide guidance in saving money, and help keep you on track with your budget along the way.   

In whatever budget you decide on.  Make sure you and your fiance are clear with each other on what is important and stick to it.  This in turn will help you prepare for your upcoming financial journey together as husband and wife.

Happy Planning,



Marsha VanArk at Distinctly Yours Wedding & Events