How To Create A Realistic Wedding Budget


Planning a wedding can become quite expensive. Usually, it will cost more than you planned to spend. One way to keep costs under control is to create a budget.

A wedding budget is budgeting for a big event, which is different from creating a personal budget. Since it’s an event, you don’t know how much things will cost until you shop for prices. With a personal budget, you only figure out what you want and how much you can afford to spend. Often what you want and what you can afford don’t match up.

If you approach budgeting for a wedding the way you would approach a personal budget, then you usually end up paying more than you intended.

Creating A Big Event Budget

Here is how to set up an event budget.

  1. Decide on the type of wedding you want

Brainstorm various wedding ideas. Ask other people for their ideas. Do some casual online surfing to see if you can find any more ideas. You’ll be amazed at how many ideas you’ll discover. In fact, you might feel overwhelmed.

Next, go shopping to get an idea about prices. What will a wedding dress cost? What will the groom’s attire cost? What will the event venues and wedding spot cost? What will catering cost? What will a live band cost? What will a professional photographer cost? The idea here is not to buy anything, but to get an idea of how much things cost and what factors go into pricing.

  1. Crunch numbers

Before deciding what you can and can’t afford, figure out is how much you can spend.

Here are 4 things to consider:

  1. How much can you and your partner contribute? How much are you willing to comfortably spend without dipping into the grocery money?
  2. Will parents or other relatives be contributing? If they are contributing money, you can add that to your financial assets column. On the other hand, they may be willing to pay for certain costs that have not yet been estimated. For instance, your mother may want to go on a shopping trip with you to find the perfect wedding dress.
  3. Sometimes others might be willing to pay for things if you ask. They aren’t offering to pay because they don’t know that you need the help. Ask if you feel comfortable about it. If they say “no,” you still have the same amount of money available.
  4. In calculating your costs, one variable factor will be the number of guests. You may have to create a guest list to estimate what your costs will be.
  1. Sift and sort options

Since you will have done a lot of research when you were brainstorming, you are now in a position to start making some choices. Now is the time to create a list of everything you want, and then whittle it down to a short list. Since you and your partner will want different things, make a list of what you both want and then figure out how to compromise.

  1. Do a reality check

When you made your list, you probably had many estimates based on your ideas about what things might cost. After you’ve made your list, check to get some real numbers. You might be surprised at how you underestimated many costs.

  1. Re-evaluate all your costs

Now that you have an idea of what things really cost, go over your budget again, changing your estimates into real figures. Essentially, you’ll end up with a very different budget. You might find that you either need to raise more money or cut certain costs to make the budget work. Also, consider time as money. You might decide to do many things on your own rather than buying certain services, but while you will save cash, you may end up spending more time than you planned and do a worse job.

  1. Stick to your budget

While you have done all the research and heavy number crunching to get as close to a realistic budget as possible, you may have missed something – your own desires. It’s easy to quickly go off track by buying things that are not on your list while you are shopping for something else. However, this impulse spending will compromise the rest of your budget and you may have to do without some essential things on your list.

  1. Use an excel spreadsheet

Since there are so many things to keep track of for your wedding a paper-based budgeting system will quickly become messy as you make adjustments. It’s better to use an Excel spreadsheet because this will quickly recalculate all your totals when you have to make changes to your original budget ideas. With Excel, you can also download free wedding budget worksheets to get the right categories all preset for you.

It’s Not About Saving Money

The idea of having a budget is not to save money. You don’t want a cheapskate wedding where guests only eat sandwiches, sit in a rundown hotel room and eat a wedding cake your mother made experimenting with an Internet recipe. Instead, the idea of a budget is to not overspend. As you shop for everything you need, you will be tempted by all sorts of options and can easily overspend without even realizing it at the time.

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Written By
Sydney White is a Texas-born stay at home mom who enjoys spending time with her family, bargain hunting and, of course, writing. She is currently the editor-in-chief of

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