The DC Ladies Recap: Setting the Wedding Budget

Crafting the wedding budget can definitely be overwhelming, and a wedding planner can help with most of the research and expected costs based on your ideal wedding.  Keep in mind that while there are many expenses and considerations for a wedding, there are no rules for your wedding.  You don’t have to plan a traditional wedding with all of the bells and whistles, make your wedding your own and you’ll be happy to spend what is necessary!

See my full post on The DC Ladies

Photography by PJ Rey, Knotty Photography | Real Wedding – Bright Occasions
Photography by PJ Rey, Knotty Photography | Real Wedding – Bright Occasions

Here are some tips on how to set your wedding budget:

Discuss finances with your partner and/or parents to discuss who is paying for the wedding and what each party can contribute.  While in the past the bride’s parents paid for the wedding and the groom’s parents for the rehearsal dinner, these rules have gone out the window for many reasons including couples getting married later in life and paying for their own wedding. Regardless of who’s paying, it’s important to know what is available initially and whether or not you need to save to add additional money to make your dream wedding a reality.

Research local venue and catering costs. The biggest wedding expense is typically the venue and catering (food and alcohol), this is where your guest list will play a major role as well.  The more people you invite, the higher the costs are. You may find that your budget is more than enough for a Saturday night affair during the height of wedding season, or you may need to make adjustments, such as cutting your guest list.  Couples who want to get married during the Spring, Summer, Fall may find that if they have a daytime wedding (brunch or lunch) they can reduce catering costs significantly without lowering the guest list. Other couples may choose to get married outside of wedding season (late November to early March). Finally, many venues have lower costs on Fridays and Sundays (not to mention other vendors).

Photography by Nick Griner, Freed Photography | Real Wedding – Bright Occasions
Photography by Nick Griner, Freed Photography | Real Wedding – Bright Occasions

Research other major wedding elements: photography, videography, music, attire, flowers, paper and more. Depending on what is important for your ideal wedding and the budget, some couples may be able afford every major wedding element without needing to look for cost saving alternatives.  But for many couples, they will need to choose where to save and where they may be able to splurge. This may mean simple alternatives; a great DJ over a great band, a talented photographer with fewer years of experience, and wearing a non-designer wedding dress are a few ways to save.

Give yourself time to research and set the budget. Start with contacting your ideal venues, caterers and other vendors.  If you have friends who have been married in the last year, ask if they would be willing to show you their wedding budget, but plan to add around 10% to each area (could be more or less) for annual price increases that some vendors may have.

Photography by Kristen Gardner | Real Wedding – Bright Occasions

Based on what you have available, discuss what type of wedding you want to have.  This doesn’t have to be super detailed initially, but it’s important to discuss what is important for the wedding and the major elements for the day.  For example, is it more important to have all of your friends and family present or would you favor something intimate if you could have your dream wedding décor and an amazing meal?  Also if your parents are helping to pay for the wedding, will they want a say in who they can invite and where/when you have the wedding?

Create your budget. Using a spreadsheet enter all of the aspects of the wedding you plan to include.  I like to have a column for estimated allocations and next to that a column for actual expenses.  The first column will be what you are hoping to spend with each category, and as you are moving forward and hiring vendors you can fill in the second column.  Make sure to add in taxes, gratuity and/or miscellaneous fees to cover all costs.  Then moving forward you should look at the estimated allocation as the max price and try to go under where you can.

Questions?  Email me anytime – –