It’s time to talk wedding budget! Perhaps the least glamorous but most important part of your wedding is figuring out who’s paying for what. Not to mention how (and when). But hey, don’t be discouraged by big money questions… If you’re doing the research, giving yourself plenty of time, and communicating honestly with your partner, you’re exactly where you need to be. We’ll help you make your celebration affordable, personalized, and as beautiful as your love story. Keep scrolling for our expert rundown and make sure to check out our affordable wedding dresses!
Determining Your Wedding Budget
First step: determining your wedding budget. Sounds easy, right? (Bear with us!) This crucial first step in the planning process serves as a guiding framework for various decisions throughout the journey. It’s essential to have an open and honest conversation right off the bat. Approach those contributing financially to your big day. This builds trust early and sets expectations that align with your actual budgetary reality.
Even if you and your partner are the ones funding the wedding, it’s important to discuss budget plans early. This helps to avoid conflicts later on (especially as wedding planning gets busier and more high-stakes).
PC: Ria Mishaal | Courtney Pecorino
Insights to consider early on:
- What kind of budget range should you expect? As of 2023, the average cost of a wedding falls within the $20,000-$40,000 range, with guest lists ranging from 100-150 attendees. Keep these figures in mind as you plan and consider the scope of your celebration.
- Examine your combined monthly income, current expenses, and potential monthly savings to gauge your financial capacity. These discussions with your partner will help establish a comfortable contribution to the wedding budget. Money can be a sensitive topic, so approach the conversation with compromise in mind. Focus on a spending range rather than a fixed number.
While your wedding is undoubtedly significant, it shouldn’t jeopardize your financial goals. Prioritize compromise and practicality to ensure your celebration aligns with your financial capacity. To boost your savings, consider cutting back on non-essential expenses like takeout, gifts, and streaming subscriptions during the engagement period. Then you can redirect those funds toward your wedding budget. By approaching the budgeting process thoughtfully, you’ll set the stage for a memorable and financially responsible celebration.
PC: Dewitt for Love Photography
How Much You’ll Spend & On What
Next in your planning timeline, create a “budget breakdown” that details where you’ll allocate your money. The average couple’s wedding budget can range according to location, vision, and style, but we love this breakdown from The Knot for general reference:
- Venue – 30%
- Catering – 23%
- Music band – 13%
- Wedding rings – 7%
- Photography – 7%
- Alcohol – 7%
- Flowers – 7%
- Videography – 6%
- Couple’s attire – 6%
- Wedding planner – 5%
- Lighting and decor – 5%
- DJ – 4%
- Guest entertainment – 3%
- Transportation – 3%
- Stationery – 2%
- Other – 5%
Depending on what is most important to you and your fiance, these numbers can be adjusted to suit your unique wedding needs!
PC: Christine Chang Photo | Amanda Sutton Photo
Tips for Keeping Your Wedding Budget-Friendly
While trust and communication set a great foundation for successful wedding budgeting, there are also specific tactics to consider when determining the size, scope, and details of your spend. These are our all-time hits curated from experts and real brides:
Plan a More Intimate Celebration
The easiest way to reduce expenses right off the bat is to limit your guest list. By inviting just your families and closest friends (and limiting plus-ones), you can throw an intimate, cost-effective celebration. Trimming your guest list by just 20-30 people can save you thousands on food and drinks while simultaneously increasing your spend per guest. (Very luxurious!)
PC: Dewitt for Love Photography
DIY Certain Things for a Budget-friendly wedding
Getting crafty will certainly save you some moolah, but it’s important to know which projects are more of a hassle than they’re worth. Decide how much time and energy you want to dedicate to going DIY. If you’re comfortable with investing in time and effort for items like floral arrangements and personalized wedding gifts, these thoughtful homemade touches will help whittle away at your wedding expenses!
PC: Brittany Barclay | Aaron and Jillian Photo
Consider a Smaller Menu
You’ve probably guessed it; food and drink tend to eat up (pun intended) one of the largest portions of your budget breakdown. At the same time, this category is also one of the most flexible for your budget and planning style. It’s probably no surprise that sit-down dinners are the most expensive option… so look into alternatives like buffets, family-style stations, or serving more substantial hors d’oeuvres in place of a full catered meal. (If you choose a sit-down dinner, don’t go all out on meat, chicken, fish, and vegetarian options. Limit the menu to one or two dishes such as a chicken option and a pasta/salad should — easy to accommodate most diets!)
PC: Amanda Sutton Photography
Limit Your Bar
Not having an open bar can also really help cut back on wedding expenses. Depending on your venue’s regulations, you may also be able to free up expenses by bringing in your own bartender, purchasing your own alcohol (Costco trip!), and DIYing your mixers.
PC: Amanda Sutton | Lucy Cuneo Photography
Prioritize and Stick to a List
Sit down with your sweetheart and decide what is most and least important to you, then budget accordingly. Help each other make a “must have” list for your top items, then cross-reference and agree on your top five items to prioritize for your budget and what to save on or skip entirely.
Expect the Unexpected When Budgeting
Set aside a small fund for miscellaneous and unplanned costs. They will pop up, and it’s better to be safe than sorry!
Other Creative Ways to Save Money
PC: Angie Capri Photography | Aaron and Jillian
- Buy local, in-season flowers (and have your bridesmaids make the bouquets!).
- Skip the wedding favors!
- Thrift some of your must-have items like table centers, vases, napkin holders, chairs, etc.
- Get a basic sheet cake for your guests and a small one for just you and your fiancé!
- Consider getting married mid-week rather than a weekend.
- Ditch the escort cards and allow guests to pick their seats
PC: Amanda Sutton | Alexa Nahas Photo
How to Track Your Spending
Next, keep track of your spending and review it as you go! Keeping a clear record between you and your sweetheart’s activities ensures you stick to your wedding budget and make smart, strategic purchases. You don’t have to be super rigid, but it’s a good practice to keep you from overspending.
You might also consider establishing a separate, “wedding-only” savings account between the two of you. This makes it less tempting to add extra luxury purchases like makeup, spa days, and hair care — items that are easy to justify under the excuse of “wedding necessities,” even if they aren’t part of your agreed-on budget. Protect your daily accounts from any wedding splurges, and be sure to communicate regularly with your soon-to-be spouse.
An open, trusting dialogue is the key to establish your finances early on and compromise if/when disagreements come up. Your wedding day should be representative of your union, so it’s important all parties feel that they have a voice!
PC: Lindsey Maree Photography | The Delauras Photo
Things To Remember When Setting a Wedding Budget
Here are a few big-picture items to keep in mind when budgeting and spending:
- A wedding budget isn’t just about your celebration day… It’s also an opportunity to consider other upcoming investments like a house purchase, honeymoon, or major living expense. By limiting your wedding budget, you can set yourself for success with other purchases that are important to you and your partner down the road.
- Be true to your values and identity while planning your wedding. In other words, just because something is “traditional” doesn’t mean it’s right for you and your partner. Your wedding day is all about you as a couple… If something doesn’t speak to your vision and you’re making sacrifices to afford it just for the sake of tradition, consider nixing it. You’re perfectly unique, and it’s a beautiful thing for your wedding to be unique as well.
- We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Prepare for surprises. Hidden fees and last-minute expenses will inevitably pop up. You want to make sure you’re prepared!
PC: A Muse Photo
Budget-Friendly Wedding Dresses
And finally, a rundown of budget-friendly wedding dresses! We’re so pleased to invite you to shop our Rebecca Ingram collections — classic bridal gowns priced beautifully for your budget. If you’re interested in becoming a Rebecca Bride, head to an Authorized Retailer near you to try on these romantic styles IRL:
- Colby by Rebecca Ingram, a dreamy minimalist style with off-the-shoulder sleeves and lovely illusion and lace details in the back.
- Ruby by Rebecca Ingram, a classic lace A-line featuring beautiful accessories: off-the-shoulder lace balloon sleeves and a long matching veil (sold separately).
- Rosabelle by Rebecca Ingram, a chic and simple Grecian-inspired silhouette with a flattering bodice and side slit in the skirt.
- Vaughn by Rebecca Ingram, a sexy and romantic silhouette with breezy boho details in the bodice and a soft, airy chiffon skirt.
- Wendi by Rebecca Ingram, an ultra-romantic fit-and-flare with exquisite lace details.
- Joanne by Rebecca Ingram, a soft bohemian gown with unique texture and a vintage-inspired silhouette.
Psst! A few last-minute wedding dress budget tips for you:
- Factor alterations into your budget as it is not a part of the price of your gown!
- Shopping less than 6 months out from your wedding day could include rush fees to ensure you receive your dream wedding dress.
We’re here to connect you with all the insights you need to bring your wedding vision to life! Happy budgeting and best wishes for your fabulous celebration.
For more affordable wedding dresses, take a look at our Rebecca Ingram gowns!