At a Glance

Planning your wedding is one of the most exciting events a person can go through, but it can be quite stressful at times. In particular, the cost associated with weddings has risen drastically over the years, which has required many people to rethink how to budget for a wedding. Fortunately, there are several simple tips anybody can follow to ensure the cost of their special day doesn’t send them spiraling into debt.

In this article, you’ll learn:

Steps to build a wedding budget

While wedding budget planning won’t be easy, it is undoubtedly crucial to ensuring your marriage starts on the right foot financially speaking. Utilize each of the following eight tips when planning your marriage:

1. Set a maximum limit

The first tip to any budget, not just for a wedding, is to set a maximum spend amount for the event. This value shouldn’t be a “dream maximum limit” either. It should be a realistic limit based on the financial standpoint of those who are contributing to the costs associated with the wedding. Start your budget by looking at past expenses and current savings to determine what price can be afforded.

2. Break down the expenses

It’s impossible to learn how to set a wedding budget if you have no idea what the expenses are going to look like. Sit down with your partner and discuss what you both would like to be at the wedding. Consider factors such as flowers, music, venue, and more to start breaking down specific costs you may be facing.

Learn more: Wedding Budget Breakdown

3. Determine who pays for what

Gone are the traditional days when one side of the marriage paid for the entire costs associated with the wedding. Now, mainly due to the higher associated cost, both sides of the partnership chip in for wedding costs. Sit down with your significant other along with families, friends, or whoever else may be chipping in. Look at the expenses you broke down above and start assigning financial responsibilities to different parties.

Related: Who Pays for What in a Wedding?

4. Estimate your guest count

While it’s completely understandable that the guest count for your wedding likely won’t be finalized until much closer to your big day, you will need to have a rough idea of how many people are attending to make a wedding budget. Start with the people who are guarantees, such as certain family and friends, and then slowly work your way to the “maybes”. It’s always better to be under budget, rather than over budget when learning how to make a wedding budget.

5. Choose your non-negotiables

Given that a wedding is such a special day, it’s entirely understandable for one or both partners to have some non-negotiables. Whether it’s a certain DJ, theme, venue, or something else, outline what those “need to have” items are. If these non-negotiables are quite expensive, be prepared to look to cut costs elsewhere.

6. Do your research

There is ample research on the cost of modern weddings online, along with how to plan those weddings more efficiently. Well in advance of your big day, take the time to perform adequate research on the location you plan to have your wedding, as this will give you a better indicator of the likely cost.

7. Include an “extras” fund

Given that the majority of planning a wedding budget will occur long before the big day arrives, it’s extremely likely that you will miss a few items that you did not consider. Therefore, having an “extras” fund in which you put away some more money, even if it’s only a couple hundred dollars, can help cover some of those unexpected costs.

8. Focus on saving

Finally, the most important tip of all when learning how to build a wedding budget has been saved for last: start saving like there’s no tomorrow. No matter how you shake it, a wedding will be expensive for all parties involved. Therefore, start setting money aside as soon as possible so that you don’t need to dip into your regular savings. To avoid mixing funds, it may be worth having a dedicated savings account that is to be used for milestone life expenses such as a wedding. In the time leading up to the wedding, start prioritizing growing this account over your standard savings to ensure you have enough money.

Mistakes to avoid when building a wedding budget

With the most beneficial tips for how to build an effective wedding budget outlined above, it’s also worth looking at some common mistakes that people make when planning their budgets. Avoid each of the following ten mistakes to help ensure your budget planning process goes smoothly:

1. Overcharging on credit

One of the biggest mistakes people often make when planning their wedding is to make payments right then and there, then worry about the financial obligation later. This is most often done by maxing out credit cards, which is a major mistake. The last thing any newlywed couple needs is to be paying off tens of thousands of dollars in debt immediately after their happy day, so consider alternatives such as spaced-out purchases or using a dedicated savings account.

2. Not tracking all expenditures

One of the quickest ways to go over budget is to not track expenses at the moment they are made. Every time a wedding-related expense is made, make a note of it and adjust your budget so that you can see both how much remains in that expense category and your overall spending limit as well.

3. Not having a just-in-case fund

No budget will be 100% perfect, especially considering how far in advance a person needs to start building it for a wedding. Many couples neglect to throw a couple hundred or thousand dollars aside for the expenses they inevitably thought about, which results in them having to use credit or another form of debt to meet the financial obligation. Set up an “extras fund” to have enough money for these unexpected costs.

4. Not cutting costs when possible

While there are undoubtedly some items all couples will want at their wedding, it’s important to realize that nobody can have everything. Take the time to set down and think about what you want at your wedding so that you can identify potential areas to cut costs. Couples who ignore this tip and say yes to everything often find themselves dealing with quite a bit of debt down the road.

5. Not allocating funds correctly

Similar to the above point, building a budget is all well and good, but if you allocate the wrong amount of your total spending limit to certain categories then your budget will not be effective. For example, if you have a max spend limit of $100,000, assume that at least 50% of it will go towards the venue, rather than assuming a meager 10%.

6. Forgetting to budget for hidden costs and extras

Certain expense categories in a wedding budget will come with sub-costs that are easy to forget about. When doing the initial planning for your wedding budget, don’t make the same common mistakes that other couples do when they forget to account for these smaller costs.

Related: Hidden Wedding Costs

7. Not taking advantage of rewards programs

For those who are doing spaced-out purchases using credit cards, a common mistake is to put the expense on the wrong card. Rewards programs through certain credit card issuers offer cash-back incentives that can be redeemed for travel or a variety of other purchases. Don’t make the mistake of putting major expenses on cards that earn you nothing in return.

8. Not discussing priorities from the start

In the excitement of planning a wedding, one of the biggest mistakes made by couples is not discussing the various priorities they may have related to the event. Whether it’s “need to have” items, who will be paying for which expenses, or simply general planning, take the time to discuss priorities with your partner.

9. Forgetting to invest in insurance

Creating the best budget in the world will do a couple no good if their event gets canceled last minute and they didn’t purchase any type of protection insurance, though many couples fail to do this. Because you will likely be dropping tens of thousands of dollars, if not more, on your special day, don’t neglect to drop just slightly more on insurance for your event.

10. Not being realistic

Finally, a common mistake made by couples who are planning their wedding is simply being unrealistic about the event. Consider your financial circumstances balance against what you both wish to see at the wedding to ensure you are being as realistic as possible regarding what you can afford.


In the modern day, it’s normal to plan a budget of around $30,000 for an average wedding. This cost should include an estimate of roughly $100 per person who will be in attendance at the wedding. The venue and catering should make up the majority of the budget, with other smaller expenses being broken up evenly.

Nearly 50% of couples exceed the budget they set for themselves for their wedding, which is why ensuring a realistic budget has been built is so important. Avoid going into debt for your special day by using strategic budget planning tips.

Related: How to Plan a Wedding on a Budget?