Wedding Budget Guide

When I first started planning our wedding, I felt overwhelmed by the budget.

I knew I had to plan for 350 people, and I wanted to spend no more than $5,000. This in itself is no small feat.

Most people say to spend 50% on your reception, and split the other 50% on everything else. I found this to be true as well for myself. I also was willing to spend big bucks on the photographer and spend less on everything else. I think photographers are probably 25% of your total budget or more.

Here’s a little budget sheet I improvised from advice from others. Just fill in your own budget figure and do the math:

 (Photo by Vosamo Photography)
Reception: 50% of total budget
your budget x .50 = amount available to spend on reception
Don’t forget these costs, when planning: Rental of venue, chairs (and possibly covers), tables (for dining, food, cake, favors, guestbook, and gifts), linens, tents, lighting, catering (possibly you’ll need to pay extra for platters and extra servers unless you are doing buffet, which I highly suggest), bar, coffee/tea servers, cream and sugar containers, pitchers, ice bowl, trash cans, cake, cake stand, cake serving set, table centerpieces, reception flowers, DJ (Think about if you need the DJ also for the ceremony, that will cost extra. He might also need a table as well.), and depending on the venue and your guest list you might need to rent some port-a-potties.  

To make our costs lower:
1) Dave and I eliminated a groom’s cake. We figured groom’s cakes were just the wedding industry’s way of making us spend more money.

2) We settled on cupcakes instead of a huge wedding cake. We had a local restaurant make the cupcakes instead of a bakery, making them less than $1 each instead of $3.50 each.
3) We called around the local area and found folding chairs to borrow instead of rent. White rental chairs can cost a minimum of $2.00 each. Our rental site didn’t have enough chairs for our whole ceremony outdoors and indoors, so instead of hiring people to move chairs, we called local churches, schools, and organizations and found someone to lend us chairs.
4) We decorated the venue ourselves the day of the wedding and the night before.
5) We borrowed tablecloths from friends.
6) We used the cupcakes on cupcake stands as table decorations instead of spending $20-30 per centerpieces and cut out the price of flowers all together. Dave’s mom surprised us with a floral centerpiece for the head table. She made it more affordable by buying a plant at a nursery and cutting the flowers off the actual plant and stuck them in her vase. That way she made the cost less than $20, and no one had to worry about meeting a florist or the flowers getting wilted by being cut too early.

7) Dave is a DJ by trade among other things, so we used his equipment for the ceremony and reception. Heads up though, a great DJ is never going to cost under $500 for a wedding.
8 ) Had a local restaurant serve a pasta buffet. It was way more affordable and the pasta was filling to the guests. We have been told by many many people that our wedding had the best food of any wedding they went to- and it was just three different pastas as the main dish!

(Photo by Vosamo Photography)
Photographer: 20% of total budget
your budget x .20 = amount available to spend on photographer
I can’t stress this enough. This is the only part of the equation that I did not stick too. Do not skimp on your photographer. A good photographer will be $1,000. A great photographer will be about $3,000. You get what you pay for. Don’t skimp on the photographer. Let me say it again, don’t skimp on the photographer.

(Photo by Vosamo Photography)
Flowers: 10% of total budget
your budget x .10 = amount available to spend on flowers
Don’t forget these items, when planning: ceremony flowers (flowers at entrance, arch for behind you as you say your vows, aisle flowers, alter flowers), reception flowers (flowers for cake, centerpieces on tables, flowers for food tables and other tables), bridal bouquet (a minimum of $80), bridesmaids bouquets, tossing bouquet, flower girl basket/wreath, moms and grandmas corsages, groomsmen/ring bearer boutonnieres, dads and grandpas boutonnieres, other boutonnieres for ushers, readers, siblings not in the bridal party, etc.

To make our costs lower:
1) Dave and I went to an area silk flower wholesale shop and bought all the flowers and ribbon for $54. With those materials my mom made:

  • 5 bridesmaids bouquets
  • 1 throw away bouquet
  • 10+ boutonnieres
  • extra flowers for decorations

2) We made my bridal bouquet out of vintage brooches.
3) We marked special aisles at the ceremony with white ribbons instead of flowers.
4) Let’s be honest, silk flowers look just as great as real flowers these days. You can look at the pictures from my wedding and you can decide for yourself whether its worth it or not to get real flowers.

(Photo by Vosamo Photography)
Bride and Groom Attire: 10% of total budget
your budget x .10 = amount available to spend on your wedding day clothes
Don’t forget about these items when planning: wedding dress, reception dress, alterations (be prepared to spend over $100 on this), headpiece/veil, garter, bridal shoes, special panties, special bra, jewelry, hair and makeup, and whatever the groom is wearing ;)

To make our costs lower:
1) Dave and the other groomsmen ordered suits instead of renting tuxedos. The cost is the same, and the boys get to keep the suits. It’s a win win for them later on.
2) I ordered my dress direct from a Chinese manufacturer using for $112. They even size the dress to fit you. My dress was a great quality, and I received many compliments on it. I wasn’t aware ahead of time that they would size the dress for me, so I had my sister alter it when it got here.

(Photo by Vosamo Photography)
Stationary: 5% of total budget
your budget x .05 = amount available to spend on stationary
Don’t forget about these items when planning: Save-the-Dates, Invitations, Postage, Programs, Thank You Notes, and hopefully someone has talked you out of it but if you insist: escort cards/place cards/table numbers 

To make our costs lower:
1) Dave designed all our printables and we ordered them through him. You can too, or use or, but trust me, Dave can do better than any template.


(Photo by Vosamo Photography)
Other Expenses: 5% of total budget
your budget x .05 = amount available to spend on everything else
As overwhelming as it is, think about all the other things we haven’t gone over yet. These could include wedding rings, bridal party gifts, your marriage license, limo (is anyone even doing that anymore?) or other forms of transportation, favors, the preacher’s fee/gift, luncheons you might have, rehearsal dinner costs, etc.

I hope that’s helpful to you! Good luck planning your wedding. Hopefully you can be as stress free as Dave and I were!

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Filed under Wedding

2 Responses to Wedding Budget Guide

  1. Pingback: Planning a Wedding for 350 on a Budget | HeatherPJs Blog

  2. veronica

    could you please tell me the location of your wedding (what city the train depot is in) and the name of the company that catered your Italian food?


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