6 Tips for Creating a Realistic Wedding Budget

Planning your dream wedding can be one of the most exciting and memorable experiences of your life. However, it can also be overwhelming, especially when it comes to setting a budget. This is usually the first step in the wedding planning process and one of the hardest. To create a realistic wedding budget you need to start with determining your priorities, working out your personal finances, doing your research, tracking your expenses carefully and preparing for unexpected costs. 

Tip 1: Determine Your Priorities

Before you start to make your realistic wedding budget, sit down with your partner and determine your top three priorities. There is no right or wrong answer, every wedding is unique and should reflect you as a couple! 

What aspects of the wedding are most important to you both? Is it the venue, the food, the photography, or something else entirely? Understanding your priorities will guide your budget decisions.

For instance, if you both agree that having an incredible photographer is non-negotiable, allocate a larger portion of your budget to photography. Or, if you’re both big foodies and can’t imagine your day without a gourmet meal, allocate more money to catering. Knowing your priorities will help you make informed decisions and prevent overspending on less important aspects.

Tip 2: Get Clear On Your Finances 

Now that you’ve identified your priorities, it’s time to set an overall realistic wedding budget. Be honest with yourselves about how much you can comfortably afford or want to spend! Your budget should not only reflect your current financial situation but also your future financial goals. Remember, this is just the starting point, and you’ll need to break it down into specific categories later.

When you reach this step some things to consider are: 

  • You and your partner’s savings: remember to consider your future financial goals here. You may want to keep some aside for an emergency fund or a future house deposit. Subtract the amount you would like to keep in the bank and then note down the amount left. 
  • The amount of money you can set aside each month from your income: at this point, it may help to make yourself a personal budget too. Go through all your current living expenses, work out where you could cut back and then see what’s left over. Then calculate this number by the amount of months left till your wedding. 
  • Contributions from loved ones:  you may be in a fortunate position where loved ones are contributing to your wedding fund. It can be helpful to ask what they would like to contribute so you can plan accordingly. 

Tip 3: Do Your Research

Now comes the fun part—research! Take your time to explore various vendors and venues. Look for options that align with your budget and priorities. Don’t be afraid to ask for quotes, or seek recommendations from friends and family who have recently tied the knot. This step is key as you may have written down a budget for a vendor, but if there are simply no vendors that fall into this price range you will be stuck at square one. 

When researching vendors, pay attention to reviews and testimonials to ensure they have a good reputation, especially when looking at vendors who are a top priority to you! It can be helpful to meet vendors in person to see if you vibe with them and like their way of working. 

Tip 4: Track Your Expenses

Once you have a realistic idea on how much vendors charge and what your overall budget is it’s time to break it down into categories. Use a detailed spreadsheet to track all your expenses in one place. You can get my free budget calculator here. Your budget for each category should be based on the research you have done (so that you know this is realistic). Once you book your vendor, put the total amount in the actual column. Something to be careful about is some vendors will include GST in their price and others won’t. It’s important to clarify this, especially with larger costs.


Tip 5: Stay Flexible and Prepare For Unexpected Costs

A common mistake I often hear about is couples underestimating expenses, this really impacts your ability to make a realistic wedding budget. It can be hard to think about all the little things you will end up paying for, so try to leave a buffer in your budget for unexpected expenses that may pop up. 

Some unexpected expenses may be:

  • Transport: How are your guests getting to and from the venue? Do you need to cover anything? 
  • Clean up fees: Ask your venue if the clean up is an extra expense
  • Printing and albums: if you would like print products from your photographer, check to see if this is included in your package or what the cost will be to add it on 

If you find yourself spending more than your budget in one category, that’s okay, they may be your dream vendor! Just consider cutting back in another area to balance things out. This is where the budget tracker I mentioned above comes in handy as you can clearly see where you’re going over and can adjust things accordingly. 

Tip 6: Find ways to save:

After doing all of this, you may find that your budget just simply won’t cut it for what you want. So let’s look at some ways you can save money! 

  • Do some DIY: If you’re looking for ways to save money and add a personal touch to your wedding, consider DIY projects. From creating your wedding invitations to crafting center pieces and decorations, there are numerous opportunities to get creative and reduce costs. Just be sure to factor in the time and effort required for each DIY project, as it can add up quickly.
  • Get married on an off peak date: Look at having your wedding on a weekday or in winter. For some venues, this can save you thousands of dollars! 
  • Be ruthless with your guest list: Catering is usually one of the largest expenses at a wedding so having a smaller guest list can save you a lot of money. Read my tips for creating your guest list here.
  • Ditch the printed invites and do them digitally: Designing, printing and posting invites is a lovely idea but the costs add up fast. Consider doing this digitally to save some $$
  • Be flexible with your florals: You may have a specific vision in mind but it’s important to trust your florist to create a beautiful look that still fits within your budget. Some flowers will simply cost a lot more than others and a talented florist will be able to recommend alternatives. 

In conclusion, creating your wedding budget doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. By determining your priorities, getting clear on your finances, doing your research, tracking your expenses and being flexible you can plan your dream wedding without tearing your hair out. Remember that your wedding day is about celebrating your love, and with careful budgeting, you can have a beautiful and memorable day that fits within your financial means. Happy wedding planning!