At a Glance

Every fairy tale begins with a vision of a perfect wedding day, where every detail is meticulously crafted, and love fills the air like magic. Couples embark on this journey with dreams of an unforgettable celebration, often guided by the allure of bridal magazines and social media feeds adorned with lavish ceremonies and opulent receptions. But how much will your perfect day set you back? It’s probably higher than you expected (or hoped for). But there are still ways you can have a beautiful wedding without breaking the bank. Here’s how.

In this article, you’ll learn:

Average wedding spend vs. actual wedding spend

A recent survey about couples’ wedding regrets showed that an exceptionally large amount of those regrets were tied to a budget. Most U.S. couples end up saving around $22,000 for their wedding expenses, which sounds like a lot!

The unfortunate reality is that most things involving weddings come with sticker shock, making even the most minimalist of weddings cost significantly more than anticipated, averaging anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000!

How to create a realistic wedding budget?

1. Research cost-friendly venues

One of the biggest expenses you’ll have is the venue so it’s usually the place you’ll want to start researching first. Start by making a list of potential venues in your desired location. Consider options such as community centers, parks, or even a family member’s backyard. Once you have a list, reach out to each venue and inquire about their pricing and availability. Don’t be afraid to negotiate or ask for discounts. Additionally, consider booking your wedding during off-peak times or on weekdays, as this can often result in lower venue costs. Keep in mind that while cost is important, you should also prioritize the overall aesthetic and atmosphere of the venue. Visiting each potential location in person can help you get a better sense of whether it aligns with your vision for your big day.

2. Look for budget-friendly vendors

When it comes to creating a realistic wedding budget, it is essential to look for budget-friendly vendors. These vendors can help you save a significant amount of money without compromising on the quality of your wedding day. One way to find such vendors is by conducting thorough research online. Take the time to compare prices and read reviews from previous clients.

Also, don’t forget about attending local wedding expos or bridal shows, where you can meet vendors face-to-face and discuss your budget requirements. Don’t be afraid to negotiate with vendors and ask for discounts or package deals. Remember, every dollar saved on vendors can be allocated towards other important aspects of your wedding, such as venue or decor.

3. Check who is paying

It is essential to have a clear understanding of who will be contributing financially to the wedding expenses. Sit down with your partner, parents, or any other individuals involved and have an open and honest discussion about their expectations and limitations. This will help you determine how much money you will have at your disposal and what areas of the wedding you need to prioritize.

It is important to be realistic and flexible during this conversation, as everyone’s financial situation may vary. Once you have a clear idea of who will be paying for what, you can begin to allocate your budget accordingly. Remember, open communication is key to creating a wedding budget that works for everyone involved.

Related: Who Pays for What in a Wedding?

4. Have a cost-saving discussion with your partner

To ensure that you and your partner are on the same page, it is crucial to sit down and have an honest conversation about costs and wedding expectations. This conversation can help you identify your financial priorities and set realistic expectations for your big day. Start by discussing your overall budget and what you feel comfortable spending. Consider factors such as venue, catering, photography, and entertainment.

Be open and honest with each other about any financial constraints or limitations. It may be necessary to make compromises or prioritize certain aspects of the wedding over others. Keep in mind that creating a budget is not about cutting corners or sacrificing your dreams. Instead, it is about finding creative solutions and making informed decisions that will allow you to have the wedding of your dreams without breaking the bank.

5. Be aware of hidden or surprise costs

To avoid any financial surprises, do thorough research and ask your vendors about any additional fees or charges that may be applicable. For instance, some venues may have extra charges for setup or cleaning services, while photographers may charge additional fees for travel or overtime. It is also important to consider other factors such as taxes, gratuities, and even postage for wedding invitations. By being proactive and including these potential costs in your budget from the start, you can ensure that you have a more accurate and realistic estimation of your total wedding expenses.

Related: Hidden Wedding Costs

6. Make a plan for how you will pay ahead of time

One of the key steps for successfully creating a realistic wedding budget is to make a plan for how you will pay for your wedding expenses ahead of time. It is important to do this ahead of time so that you have a clear understanding of your financial situation and can determine how much you can realistically afford to spend on your big day.

Start by making a list of all the expenses you anticipate, such as venue, catering, attire, and decorations. Research the average costs for each item and allocate a specific amount of money to each category. You may also want to consider setting aside some extra funds for unexpected expenses that may arise. Once you have a comprehensive list and budget in place, make a plan for how you will save or finance the necessary funds. This may involve cutting back on unnecessary expenses, exploring financing options, or seeking financial assistance from family members.

7. Keep your personal finances and financial goals in mind

While your wedding day is one of the biggest events in your life, it is crucial to keep your other personal finances and financial goals in mind, too. This means taking into consideration your current income, savings, and any outstanding debts or financial obligations. By doing so, you can determine how much you can afford to allocate towards your wedding expenses without jeopardizing your overall financial well-being.

While saving money for your wedding is important, it’s also just as important to keep in mind the other financial goals you and your spouse have for the future, such as saving for a down payment on a house or starting a family. This will help you prioritize your spending and make informed decisions about where to allocate your wedding budget. Remember, creating a wedding budget is about finding a balance between your dreams and your financial reality. So, be sure to carefully evaluate your financial situation and make adjustments as necessary to ensure that your wedding plans align with your long-term financial goals.

How to avoid overspending on your wedding?

1. Finalize your budget first

If you want to keep a tight grasp on your wedding costs you need to start on the right foot by setting a realistic budget first. That way, you’ll understand what’s involved with planning a wedding (and paying for it!) and can present a realistic expectation to those contributing on what they should expect to give to the wedding fund.

2. Use a wedding-specific budget tool

A wedding budget calculator is a must-use tool for engaged couples who want to allocate funds to their wedding budget in a realistic way that keeps them out of debt.

3. Consider the most important thing

Your “most important thing” will be unique to your situation, but it should always be the top priority in your planning. Is it the food, the location, the flowers, or something else? With every couple, there is one part of the wedding that must be the priority and where the majority of your budget should be focused.

4. Negotiate properly with vendors

You should always be upfront with your vendors about your budget, especially in the beginning. You might worry that “showing your hand,” so to speak, will put you at a disadvantage, but you need to let people know what you can afford. This prevents you from wasting time with vendors who aren’t right for your wedding and will prevent a lot of frustration throughout the planning process.

5. Hire a wedding planner

Hiring a wedding planner might feel like an unnecessary cost, but these are the professionals you want in your corner. Not only will wedding planners take care of the million little headaches that can distract you, but they also have contacts with industry pros who can work within your budget and are already vetted.

6. Limit your guest count

While your wedding day is a time to celebrate with everyone you love, budgets can get out of control quickly with large parties. Limit your guest list to those who matter most and don’t feel guilty for needing to reign costs in. Those who love you will understand the reason why and your sister’s boss, who you met twice, will just have to get over not getting that invite.

7. Read contracts properly before signing

As they always say, the devil is in the details, and not knowing what you’re legally agreeing to can do immense damage to your finances. This is why you and your partner both must sit down and read over each contract thoroughly. In particular, you should look for what happens if you have to cancel, how deposits are taken, if there are fees for credit cards vs. cash, and how much the actual cost can vary from the estimate. Ask questions if you’re unsure about certain things, and never sign a contract you’re not fully on board with!


The amount that’s considered “reasonable” for your budget won’t wreck your finances. The current average cost of U.S. weddings is around $30,000, which is a good place to start with your budget and savings goals. However, don’t feel like you have to save $30k just to have a great day; talk with your partner and discuss goals for the event and how much is feasible for you to both contribute. You can also ask loved ones for help or consider using a wedding loan to help bridge any monetary gaps you’re facing.

The easiest way to keep your budget under $10,000 is by reducing unnecessary expenses. Opt for a courthouse wedding instead of a religious ceremony, buy your wedding outfits secondhand and have them tailored, and limit your guest list. You can also save money by booking locations during their off-peak times of the year and negotiating terms with potential vendors. Having a beautiful wedding is possible on any budget, as long as you plan!

Unfortunately, it may not be enough. The average U.S. wedding costs anywhere from $30,000 – $50,000 depending on how extravagant the event is and where it’s taking place (larger metropolitan areas like Los Angeles or NYC skew higher). This is why we always recommend using a good wedding cost calculator to help you set realistic expectations for how much you should expect to pay.