Without a written budget in place wedding costs spiral out of control before you know it. Every time you turn around there’s another payment or deposit due for some aspect of the wedding, and all of the little expenses begin to add up. In most areas the average cost of a wedding tops $20,00, so it’s essential that you know what you want, you plan ahead and stick with a sensible budget. As you establish your budget try to coordinate your spending along these guidelines.


  • Reception (50%): Unless you plan on having guests bring their own food and drinks, the reception is where most of your money will go. Not only do you have to rent the space, but usually you have to pay rental fees for the tables and chairs, not to mention the refreshments. Because of the number of choices you need to make, this is a place where you can scrimp and save money, allowing you to spend a little more in other areas or keep the cost of the wedding low.
  • Ceremony (2%): The officiant, the site and the license are all relatively cheap in comparison to your other expenses. Consider asking a close friend or relative to become ordained online to save yourself even more money, and allow them to become a part of your special day.
  • Flowers (10%): Fresh flowers cost a fortune, and you need decorations not only for the ceremony, but for the reception hall. Don’t be afraid to use plastic; no one will be able to tell from their seats or in your pictures.
  • Dress (10%): While your dress seems like the most important part of the wedding planning, it must be a very small part of the budget. An expensive dress will make you look amazing, but if you have to sacrifice every other aspect of the wedding to afford the dress, you’ll look back on your decision with regret. Be sure to include a portion of your dress budget for your accessories, and dress preservation, so your dress will look like new decades after the ceremony.
  • Music (10%): This includes all of the music for the ceremony and the reception. Bands are more expensive than DJs in most cases; however, bands generally bring their own equipment, which means you don’t have to rent it. Check with your reception venue for information about their sound system before you hire a musician.
  • Photography/Videography (10%): Don’t try to save pennies when finding someone to preserve your special day through pictures or videos. These, along with your memories, will be what you show friends and family for years, and the pictures deserve to look their best.
  • Gifts (3%): Small tokens for the bridesmaids and groomsmen are commonplace, but don’t need to break the bank. Keep them personal, but affordable.
  • Stationary (2%): Announcements, invitations and response cards can be cheap, if you shop around and don’t go overboard with specialty paper.
  • Rings (2%): Surprisingly, wedding rings are one of the cheapest parts of the wedding. Simple gold bands can cost less than $100 for each of you.
  • Transportation (2%): If you want a limo or car service, don’t spend more than 2% of your budget on the ride. Most of the time the trip to the reception or hotel is so short it’s not worth the expense.


The wedding dress is an integral part of the wedding planning process, but you must be reasonable about the cost. By adhering to a budget, and following these basic guidelines, you’ll spend your money in the places that matter the most.

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