Allocating your Budget
As you work toward your magic number, what percentage should you be spending on the all-important dress, the reception, the honeymoon, etc? Here is our rough guide to get you started…
Breaking down your wedding budget is one of the trickiest (yet most important) wedding planning tasks. Since this figure influences all other decisions—venue, guest list, meal options, and if you can spring for that pricey DJ—it’s essential to create an accurate budget for the big day.
A budget begins with a guest list that informs most of your costs. Be prepared to spend the most (around 40 percent) on taking care of guests’ basic needs—that’s venue, food, and beverage.
The remaining amount includes fixed costs including your photographer, videographer, and entertainment.
Then, there’s the more logistical and arbitrary stuff—transportation, labor, lighting, stationery, and anything else deemed essential.
Use this guide as a rough outline for spending breakdowns, then adjust according to your priorities.
Unsurprisingly, the biggest chunk of your wedding budget will go to the biggest investment, which is often the venue. Our study found that couples typically spend about 37% of their overall budget on the setting of their nuptials.
Catering is another big-ticket item, taking up about 29% of the average wedding budget. (This is the cost-per-head for food items at your reception.) Depending on packages offered by your venue, this element may include alcohol and a cake. Some couples, though, opt to budget for those separately.
Live entertainment will make your wedding day that much more memorable. Couples who choose to have a live band typically allocate 13% of their wedding budget breakdown to their performers.
Wedding Rings: 9%
Pro top: Don’t forget to include rings in your wedding budget checklist. Excluding the engagement ring, we found that couples usually spend about 9% of their budget on wedding bands.
Photography is one of the best investments for your wedding. Great photos will last a lifetime and become prized keepsakes from the big day, making this a splurge-worthy purchase. To-be-weds usually spend about 9% of their wedding budget on their photographer.
If your wedding venue package doesn’t cover alcohol and you’re planning on incorporating it into your nuptials, we recommend slotting about 8% of your budget toward this expense.
Flowers can completely transform the look of your wedding. Plus, many couples opt to carry bouquets or wear boutonnieres too. We found that, on average, 8% of the wedding budget is dedicated to florals.
Much like pictures, a video will also preserve the memory of your wedding day. We’re big proponents of investing in a wedding videographer, because nothing will bring back your favourite wedding memories quite like a short film. If your wedding budget planning allows, we recommend setting aside about 7% for a videographer.
Couples Attire (Dress & Suit): 7%
Your outfits are key components of your overall wedding budget. Our data shows that couples typically slot 7% of their budget on their attire. This percentage should include the cost of the wedding dress and/or suit, along with shoes and any accessories, such as jewelry or cufflinks.
Wedding Planner: 6%
A wedding planner can make all the difference when it comes to your special day. After all, you can rest easy knowing that your celebration will go off without a hitch when you have a great professional taking care of all the details. Save 6% of your total budget to cover the cost of a wedding planner.
Event Rentals: 6%
Event rentals, which includes everything from tables and chairs to dishes, silverware and drinking classes, are an often-overlooked expense—but not a small one. Your event rentals may be included in your venue rental fee or catering package, or you may have to hire a separate rentals company. Either way, you can expect to spend about 6% of your total budget on your event rentals.
Lighting & Decor: 6%
In addition to flowers, lighting and decor are impactful ways to personalize the look of your wedding. This includes everything from candles to statement lighting installations, as well as signage, table displays, non-floral centerpieces, and other decorative elements. Use about 6% of your budget on these accents.
For those that want a DJ handling entertainment, we suggest using about 5% of your budget to cover their fees.
Guest Entertainment: 4%
Guest entertainment is an extra element of the wedding budget breakdown to consider if you have leftover funds available. This includes unique experiences, like live painters, dancers, additional musical performers, poets, tarot card readers, caricature artists, interactive food or drink servers, and more—the sky is truly the limit. Set aside 4% of your budget for this fun addition.
Many couples like to hire transportation to ensure their guests get to the right venue at the right time. This may involve hiring a bus or shuttle to run to and from the hotels. Others like to hire a limo for the wedding party or an elaborate getaway car after the reception. Save at least 3% of your wedding budget for transportation.
Ceremony Musicians: 3%
Live musicians, such as a string ensemble, harpist, guitarist or steel drum band, can set the tone for your wedding ceremony (and can often perform during cocktail hour as well!). If you’re hiring a soloist or ensemble for your ceremony, expect to spend about 3% of your budget to have them perform.
Wedding invitations and paper goods are very important details of your nuptials. Just think, your save-the-date cards and formal invitations are the first glimpses of your wedding that your guests will receive. This stationery budget will also cover your ceremony programs, menus, thank-you cards and more. Reserve 2% of your budget for your stationery suite.
It’s true that some venues include wedding cake or other sweet treats within their packages, but it’s common for couples to outsource the dessert portion of their wedding. Whether you’re planning to have a traditional cake or a spread of alternative sweets, use about 2% of your wedding budget here.
Hair & Makeup: 1%
Earmark at least 1% of your budget for your hair and makeup. And while you certainly don’t have to cover the cost of HMU for your bridesmaids or additional wedding party members, it’s something to keep in mind when building out this portion of your wedding budget breakdown.
Wedding Favors & Gifts: 1%
One of the final pieces of your wedding budget breakdown includes the cost of party favors and gifts for those who made your day extra special. Some couples like to provide their guests with a parting gift to remember their wedding by. It’s a small gesture that will go a long way. Set aside about 1% of your budget for these items.
If you’re hiring an officiant to legally marry you during the wedding ceremony, allocate 1% of your budget to cover these costs.
You might notice that the percentages don’t add up to 100%—and that’s on purpose! Your final wedding cost breakdown ultimately depends on a number of factors, like how much money you and your partner have to spend, the location and time of year you’re getting married, and your top priorities. This will inform which expenses you ultimately include in your budget… which will be different for every couple.
This wedding budget breakdown is simply to be used as a starting point to give you a general understanding of how to allocate your funds.