8 Steps To Creating A Wedding Budget + Free Checklist

December 6, 2019

I know what you’re thinking…. “Wedding budget? UGH”. And I get it! That’s a completely acceptable response when you hear that it’s time to put your wedding budget together. It is literally the worst Ok. I’m maybe being a bit overdramatic. But still…it’s not as fun as shopping for your vendor. Don’t worry! Today we will break down exactly what a wedding budget is, how to start one, and how to stick to it.

Budget in a nutshell is simply – “This is how much money I have to spend, so this is all that I’m going to spend!” I mean, who didn’t snicker a little while reading that?! Budgeting for your wedding can be overwhelming, but my goal today is to help simplify this process for you and make it slightly more enjoyable.

Step 1: Figure Out Who’s Contributing

Determining how much you have to spend on your wedding comes down to simply having an open and honest conversation with each other, and with your family members on who will be contributing and how much they are gifting towards your total wedding budget. Sitting down with each family separately while treating them to dinner is a wonderful way of opening the conversation.

Step 2: Figure Out Where The Money Is Coming From

Talking about money is never easy but it’s a necessary evil when planning your wedding! Along with figuring out how much your families might be gifting you, be sure to ask how they’d like to gift it – a lump sum all at once, paying for certain vendors as you book, or in some other arrangement? Sometimes finances can change and the amount they originally offered could no longer stand or the money isn’t available yet when you need to book a vendor. Always be prepared with when and how they would like to contribute and have a back-up plan in case something falls through.

If you and your partner are paying for your wedding by yourself, make sure you are both in agreeance on how much you’re willing to spend, who will contribute what, and how you plan to save for it. Trust me, wedding planning is stressful enough! You don’t want to add being pissed at your groom because he bought a 65-inch TV on Black Friday when that extra money was supposed to go towards your wedding flowers.

Step 3: Stay Real And Prioritize

First things first—think about the wedding you WANT to have. What items are non-negotiable for you and your fiancé? If flowers are your jam and you can’t imagine getting married without that amazing flower wall backdrop, make sure to dedicate additional money to your floral line item to ensure you’ll get the look you’ve always dreamed of. Are those gorgeous photos and that stunning video your number one priority? Make sure to pull out those funds first from your budget. What’s most important to you is the first thing you should dedicate those dollars to.

SEE MORE: Kansas City Wedding Vendor Guide: Fiore Florals

Step 4: Do Your Research

Next, you’ll want to do a bit of digging into your local wedding market and find average price points. It’s so easy to say, “I only want to spend $1,000 on photography” but how achievable is that, honestly? This is where a wedding coordinator comes in handy! They generally know your local market best and can provide an average price point for each vendor. I’m always happy to offer suggestions! Setting a realistic amount for each vendor from the start will save you so much stress as you begin searching for the perfect partners to bring your dream day to life.

Kansas City Average Wedding Costs 2020

For a 150-person wedding in Kansas City, the average minimum starting point for common wedding costs are:

  • Day-Of Coordinator: $1,500
  • Stationery: $400
  • Venue: $6,000
  • Photography: $3,000
  • Cinema: $2,000
  • Catering: $23/per person
  • Cake: $600
  • Bar: $18/per person
  • DJ: $1,000
  • Florals: $2,000
  • Bride’s Hair & Makeup: $125
  • Attire: $2,500

SEE MORE: How To Start The Wedding Planning Process

Step 5: Crunch The Numbers

Now that you have an idea of how much you want to spend, what your priorities are, and what the average is in your neck of the woods, it’s time to dedicate specific amounts to each category. Pop open that Excel doc or log in to your Client Lounge portal, pour that glass of wine and let’s get to work! I start with a percentage system and fine-tune from there.

My typical wedding budget break-down looks something like this:

  • Planner/Coordinator – 10%
  • Stationary -2%
  • Venues – 11%
  • Photography/Cinematography – 10%
  • Catering – 22%
  • Cake – 2%
  • Bar – 2%
  • Entertainment – 10%
  • Florals – 10%
  • Extras (Beauty, Attire, Trasnportation, etc)/Misc – 20%

*This is based on an average $25,000 budget

This wedding breakdown is just a guide and is in no way required for a perfect, stress-free wedding! I have generally found this to be the best way to determine your wedding budget.

Step 6: Prepare For Surprises

Build a spreadsheet that lists your dedicated dollar amounts for each line item and what you spend on it. If you go over budget on one line item, subtract it from another. Understand that items like insurance, fees, and gratuities may be added on to final costs so be upfront in asking what additional fees should be anticipated and work that into your total.

Tracking and updating your budget weekly, and after each consultation, will make the process less overwhelming and more manageable. Don’t let those receipts or little items pile up! Deduct those as soon as you spend it!

75 Unexpected Costs Brides Forget To Budget For

Enter your email to get the FREE wedding budget checklist!

Step 7: Stick To your Budget

And finally, how to actually stick to your wedding budget. You know, like how I stuck to that diet I started in January. Ok…maybe not quite like that. 😜 The biggest tip I can give you would be to track your spending. Download an app like Evernote, Trello or even a Note on your phone that you can scan and upload receipts and contracts to. If you wanna get real fancy, you can even become a member of our Client Lounge and get access to our wedding planning app, which has a personalized budget tracker!

Step 8: Manage Your Expectations

One last little freebie tip – Manage your expectations. It’s perfectly fine to have inspiration boards and a vision for your dream wedding. Having those is what really crafts your event and brings your wedding to life! But make sure to be prepared and recognize the time, cost and labor that goes into those Pinterest-inspiration weddings. That flower wall? Don’t be surprised if that quote comes back for a few thousand plus. Filet mignon dinner at $75 a head? Yup! A lot of the things you’re seeing on Pinterest are from professionally styled shoots or weddings with huuuuuge budgets.

Regardless of how big or small your wedding budget is just try to be realistic, and focus on what really matters – celebrating your love and marrying your best friend! 🥰

Remember to enjoy the planning process and not stress (too much) about your budget.

It’s ok to spend money to have exactly what you want, and it’s ok to plan your event for the budget allotted. Your wedding will be beautiful and a reflection of you, no matter what your budget is. So just have fun and enjoy the planning process!

Brand Photography: Beth Grimm Photography


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