wedding finance

Wedding Budget Breakdown

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Weddings. I love you. I hate you.  A fairy tale dream that drains my bank account faster than I can update my browser. Seriously though, I have a very hot and cold relationship with my wedding.  I loved, loved, loved the day and I wouldn’t change anything because all of the moments were perfect.  But at the end of the day it was the people that made the day- not the venue, decor, or food. The alcohol helped. Below is a wedding budget breakdown of the major components of my wedding and what actually worth the investment on the big day.

Find a venue that fully complements your theme to minimize additional decor costs.

wedding budget breakdown flowers

My search for the “perfect” wedding venue included hundreds of google search sessions and multiple site visits.  I was searching for a boho, garden style venue at a reasonable cost- or at least what I thought would be reasonable.  Every venue I found was over $5,000 and that was just for the base venue!  Ultimately, I chose my favorite venue which ended up being $5,600 for the weekend.  In retrospect, if I had known anyone with a spacious back yard, I could have probably achieved the same garden vibe for MUCH less.  In the end, the venue was a beautiful staple to my garden wedding, and because it was already so beautifully set in nature, I did not have to spend a lot of money on décor.  Your venue can set the tone of your wedding vibe and therefore is worth the splurge if you are going for a certain aesthetic that is not easily recreated.

Return on Investment: 8/10

Buy your flowers in bulk and prepare your own arrangements.

One of the biggest monetary regrets I have regarding my wedding is how much we paid for flowers.  While the theme was garden party, the flower arrangements were fairly simple.  Bouquets and centerpieces filled with common yet beautiful flowers and greenery- all very basic.  The only “fancy” flower piece I had was a 6’ gold hoop wrapped in greenery and sprinkled with roses.  The floral arrangements cost us over $3,000!  For what I was paying I certainly expected lavish settings with flower spilling out of every crevice.  In reality, I got basic yet beautiful designs that I could have purchased in bulk and assembled the day before with the help of a few friends and family. 

Return on investment: 3/10

 Have your wedding catered by a local restaurant.

The cardinal rule of wedding planning?  Never mention the word wedding or your quote will likely double.  For our wedding we went with a veteran wedding catering company for our wedding.  We ended up choosing the most basic Italian meal which still cost us $5,000+ for 75 guests.  The meal was great and we received a lot of compliments on it but if we had wanted to branch out at all it would have derailed the budget.  Friends of ours recently got married and ended up choosing a popular local restaurant.  The food was both amazing and budget-friendly since it was quoted as a catered event rather than instantly being labeled as “wedding.”  I know wedding meals can make or break a wedding- but you can find a budget friendly option by shopping local and keeping the word wedding out of the picture as long as possible.

Return on investment: 5/10

If you have an open bar, stock the alcohol yourself!

wedding budget breakdown alcohol

We opted to having an open bar at our wedding and were lucky enough to have the option to stock the bar ourselves.  We were able to buy beer, wine, and liquor in bulk at our local liquor store for less than $1,000.  The best part of this strategy was having an ARSENAL of left-over alcohol post wedding.  Stock the bar with your favorite beer and you will have an endless supply for months to come. 

Return on investment: 10/10

A picture is worth a thousand words, so make it count.

Having a good photographer was one of my highest priorities while planning our wedding and I was willing to pay (A LOT) to have what I considered was the best fit for me.  While I still stand by the notion that all you will have after your wedding day are the photos, you don’t have to break the bank to find your perfect photographer.  Do your research- there are affordable photographers out there.  Find your potential photographers social media page and go through ALL of their albums- not just the ones they display on their main page.  Don’t be focused on perfection.  We ended up booking our dream photographers for $4,000 and while I love our photos, they certainly aren’t perfection. Find photographers that fit your style and budget- they do exist and you will have great photos.

Return on investment: 6/10

You don’t need wedding favors.

Let me say that a little louder for the folks in the back.  You do not need wedding favors.  It is a very nice gesture to give your guests a token to remember night.  But if I could count the number of champagne flutes, koozie, or figurine I have received and never used I would have a pile of useless crap.  If you have the money in the budget and you want to give a thank you to your guests, consider giving something more meaningful- like a donation in their name, seeds for them to plant, or gadget they can use.

Return on investment: No investment required.

What makes the cut?

Ultimately your wedding day is YOUR day.  So if you want to splurge in every area and can afford it- by all means please do.  But if you want to minimize your wedding budget, consider some of the above tips in this wedding budget breakdown and remember that your guests are there to see you on your big day and will not remember all of the minute details.

Need to focus on saving money for your wedding? Check out 45 Easy Ways to Save Money