If you are starting out on your wedding planning journey, you might be experiencing some sticker shock. Yes… weddings are expensive! Today, we are talking about how to create your wedding budget and our recommended percentages to aim for per category.

First, use Google Sheets to create your budget.

This document can be shared with your fiance, parents, future in-laws, and whoever else needs to be aware of anything budget-related. It makes it really easy to see what is going on and everyone can contribute. Lots of transparency when it comes to money is critical.

Next, you need to discuss a realistic guest count.

In 2017, the average wedding in the United States cost $35,000. If you divide that by 150 guests, that is $233/guest. Our clients spend between $250-$350 per guest and average about 150 guests at their wedding. Of course, we have couples that go above or below that average, but that’s why they call it an average. Thinking about the cost of your wedding per guest is HUGELY important and will really help you to make smart choices that fit your needs.

Now we are going to talk percentages.

Get a pen and paper ready! Remember, these numbers are based on our market and experience as planners. It is also critical that your spending is relative to all the other categories. Don’t blow your whole budget in one place only to be left with pennies for everything else.

Wedding planners are going to be between 10-15% of your budget. We will save you money by keeping your from making expensive mistakes. And we’re awesome. Promise. 🙂

Your venue should not be more than 10% of your budget. We prefer when it is more like 8%.

The ideal percentage for catering & bar is around 27% but could go as high as 35% depending on the caterer, what type of event you are having, and what type of food you are choosing to serve. Be careful getting higher than 40% of your budget in this category. Think about it this way: if your budget is $30,000 for 200 people and you spend 50% on your catering and bar, you are then only left with $15,000 for rentals, floral, photography, video, dress, gifting, entertainment, stationery design, etc. That isn’t very much to get the rest of the job done. Be careful of overspending in one place.

Floral will be about 12-18% of your overall budget. Keep in mind – when you add more guests, you add more of everything else. More people means more tables, which means another arrangement, linen, chairs, as well as food & beverage.

In our market, photography/videography will be about 8-10% of your budget each. Around $3500-$5000 is average for a good photographer and videography is going to run around $2500-$3500.

Keep entertainment around 8-10% for ceremony & reception.

Rentals and decor will be about 3%. Some of these items might come with your venue or will be included in your floral proposal.

Stationery, postage, and calligraphy will be anywhere from 3-8% of the budget. Be sure to weigh a completed invitation suite before you purchase your postage to make sure you budget properly.

Some things to keep in mind are what is and is not included in your overall wedding budget.

Be sure to communicate that to your planner so she knows what she has to work with, and what vendors are truly going to be the best fit for you. Sometimes we see gowns given as gifts, or the bride pays for the hair and makeup, while her parents might be paying for the majority of the event. Grooms may pick up part of the floral invoice, bar, transportation, and band. It is important to know who is contributing what.

I hope these tips were helpful today as you begin creating your wedding budget!

If you want more wedding budgeting tips, we have a freebie that includes five budgeting expenses you probably won’t think of. Make sure to sign up here and we’ll send it right to your inbox. We know you will love it and make sure you have all your expenses accounted for!


(Click this image to save it to Pinterest!)