Budgeting Help! {Wedding Tip Tuesday!}

I am so happy to be coming at you from the beautiful Savannah, GA. I arrived on Sunday and have been working and playing in this lovely town since then. One of my AMAZING bride’s this year {Miss Katie Raines} and I decided to do a quick road trip for her bridal portraits! So we gathered her sweet mother and her bff and have had a blast so far!  Seriously, I have the best job in the world. All of our time together has been fun, not only just to hang out and get to know Katie better. But, also to get all of the exciting details about the wedding in person! After all of this wedding talk it got me to thinking about how we make our budgeting decisions.

I know when I got married, I didn’t even know what our budget was most of the time, so I wasn’t making purposeful decisions. So, I seriously recommend nailing down a budget. Not only so you can make sure not to go over budget, but, also so you can really invest in the things that are important to you!

The problem I ran into when I was planning my wedding was that most budgeting guides didn’t have categories for the things I wanted, they didn’t talk about prioritizing, and they included all kinds of things that I didn’t need/want but made me feel like I should have them. Not only that, but, they told me how much money  to spend on things. The problem with that is their priorities may be different than my priorities. My wedding was MY wedding, not anyone elses. Why would I listen to what they told me to be important when I knew what was important to myself.

So, Here is my easy peesy step by step guide to figuring out your budget:

1. Know your priorities!

*Seriously, list out what is important to you in order! My guide would have looked something like this:

-Photography {shocking right?}
-Reception Decor
-Wedding Favors
– Ceremony Decor
-Kyle’s Suit
-Hair and Make-up

Your priority list won’t and shouldn’t look exactly like mine.

2. Figure out your budget!

If multiple people are paying for things ask either specific amounts that they can contribute or if they would rather just choose things to cover.  This will allow you to know exactly what you’re working with from the beginning. {This will help them to not spend more money than they intended as well!}

So, let’s say it looks like this:

Bride’s Parents: $5000
Bride’s Grandparents: $1000
Groom’s Parents: $2000 and Rehearsal Dinner
Bride and Groom: $3000
Total: $11,000

These are just random numbers I made up, they may not be the most realistic!

3. Research your priorities!

If the number one thing for you is photography, your cake, the food, the venue, whatever, pick your dream vendor {within reason} and figure out how to fit them in first! I don’t recommend skimping on the thing that is the most important to you!


Let’s say my dream photographer with everything that I wanted was $4000 then I write that out and subtract it from the $11,000. I now have $7,000 to work with!

4. Make your concessions now!

Now, $7,000 isn’t much for the rest of the wedding. But, it’s possible. You just have to figure out what areas you can sacrifice in. For the list I used as an example the three lowest things on my list are hair and make-up, DJ, and the Cake. I’m going to do my best to make those things as close to free as possible!

For the concessions here I would maybe do my own hair and make-up or ask a friend. More than likely I would spend money on all new make-up for myself so that would be around $40.

For the DJ I could plug my ipod into the venue’s sound system and ask a party starting friend to run it for me.

For the cake I could either ask someone I know that is always baking if they could make cupcakes for me if I bought the supplies. {or if you’re lucky enough to have an amazingly patient and talented mother like myself, she will take care of that for you! What a sweetie!} Supplies are probably around $100 depending on the size of the wedding.

Ok, so we’ve spent $140 on the bottom three things.

Leaving us with $6860

4.  Requirements.

Mainly, things you can’t NOT spend money on. i.e. the dress and the suit!

If the dress isn’t your number one priority than you will want to set a goal price for both the dress and the suit/tux. I recommend a flexible range. For the amount that I have left, I would choose 500-700 for both the dress and the suit. {We’re working with a small budget here.}

Since you don’t want to limit your options and not be able to purchase a dress that you may fall in love with, keep those prices flexible and buy the dress first. {It’s a lot easier to find a suit for the guy than it is for the girl to find a dress. No offense fellas.}

So, let’s say I fall in love with a dress that’s $500. We find a suit for Kyle that’s $200.

That leaves us with $6,160

5. Requirements Con…

The next requirement will be reception food in my case. I would need to think about a couple of things. 1. Would I rather serve a full meal or have a large wedding. With a budget of this size I would more than likely have to choose. Either that or I would have to find people who will make my food for me that aren’t professionals. Let’s say that I decide I’d rather have a large wedding and not serve a full meal. Maybe I decide to have a coffee and dessert reception.

With 300 guests all averaging $2 for coffee and $3 for dessert a head. Then, I’m looking at spending $1500 on reception food.

Leaving us with: $4,660

6. Run down the list from bottom up! {so run UP the list maybe?}

I say from bottom up, because, you are going to try and save as much as possible on the bottom level options!

Ceremony Decor: For our actual wedding we used hay bails for people to sit on, a sweet friend gave us the fabric to cover them as a gift, and we didn’t do flowers. So, the only expense was the chuppah we stood under, fabric for the chuppah, and fabric for the aisle runner. That was probably close to $200. So, if we use our ceremony as an example in this scenario we are left with:

Stationary: Stationary can be done in a myriad of ways, but, at this point, you probably aren’t going to have to skimp on it too much. I would probably do an e-mail save-the-date and then splurge on the actual paper. Let’s say we spend $1500 on stationary. {including the programs}

We’re left with: $2960

7. Splurge on the number 2!

Now that you have a reasonable idea of what it’s going to cost to do your wedding at the best possible price for what you want, you can do your number two option. Since my number two option is Reception Decor I  know that I have a couple thousand to work with. I would buy everything I need for that. Let’s say I have chairs and everything where we are getting married. So, I spend most of my money on centerpieces and table clothes. We spend $2000

We’re left with $960.

8. The last!

We now know that we have $960 to spend on wedding favors. Even though this was a high priority on the list, it wasn’t a necessity. So, we could pass on it if necessary. Luckily, we won’t have to!

I know this was super complicated, rather than the easy peesy I promised. But, I hope it was helpful to at least one person!

with love and happy budgeting,



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