It’s probably safe to say that most engaged couples have never remotely thought about planning a huge event, let alone setting a wedding budget. What does that mean? That if you are lost about where to begin or how much to budget for, you are not alone! Many engaged couples start out in the same boat. Usually, the first thought after engagement is to think about the wedding you’d like to have. The very next thought is about the money you will need to spend. And finally, your hope that your vision is within your budget. But how can you possibly know what a wedding costs until you really dig your heels into planning it.

image via Huffington Post

It’s very possible that you may talk to other engaged or newly married couples that will tell you that they started out with a set budget in mind but that their budget very quickly tripled. Don’t be fooled into thinking that these couples simply got caught up in some outrageously materialistic expectation that the wedding industry “imposed” on them. In reality, it’s more likely that they thought chair rentals were probably going to cost $1 each when, in reality, they really cost $5 each. Or they found out their mom completely disapproved of a cocktail reception and insisted on a seated meal with plated service. And they may have also realized that the DJ that condescendingly called them “honey” during the initial consultation might only charged $2,500, it was worth spending another $500 for someone who carried themselves more professionally and treated them more respectfully. Suddnely… VOILA! Combined these small differences quickly started adding up and the revelation of what it costs to really throw a well executed wedding becomes very real.

The internet is filled with articles providing tips and tricks on how to save money, how to have a wedding on a budget, and even how to divide up your budget. But you need to know where to set your wedding budget to get started. How do you do that in a way that’s not going to give you sticker shock later?

In this post, we will provide you with a breakdown of how to set your budget, as well as 11 sample wedding budgets, that range from $10,000 to $100,000, in a variety of styles and sizes. It really is possible to have an incredible wedding that suits you, no matter what budget you’re working with.

CONSIDER THE KIND OF WEDDING YOU’D LIKE TO HAVE

It’s very possible that you may have already figured this out. But if you haven’t, there is no better time than now to start dreaming. What does your dream wedding look like? Is it an intimate dinner on a rooftop downtown? Perhaps it’s a huge party with all your friends and family. There are so many types of weddings and so much incredible inspiration, that it can get overwhelming… FAST! Although you don’t need to spend much time on details in the beginning, you should have a general idea for your wedding. Consider the look, the style, the people, and the emotions. These are all the elements that will make your wedding unique to you as a couple. Think back to weddings you’ve been to or seen. What words would you use to describe them? What makes sense? What creates the most cohesive look and theme? For example, you may want your wedding to be low key and relaxed like your best friend’s wedding, but perhaps you want a bit more formality without feeling stuffy.

TIME TO CRUNCH NUMBERS

This is the more serious side of wedding planning. IT’s time to figure out how much you have to invest in your wedding. Truthfully, most people don’t set out with a clear and strict wedding budget total. Those that do, often don’t stick to it, for various reasons. And ALL of that is okay while you figure out what kind of wedding you want. However, once you have a basic understanding of the kind of wedding you want, a serious budget discussion needs to take place. Sit down with your partner and work out how much money you are ready, willing, and comfortable investing in your wedding. Do you have any other’s that plan to contribute financially to your wedding? This is also the key time to discuss the what and how with them. Sometimes this is a dollar amount that you can build right into your budget, and other times it’s a particular portion of the wedding that they’re going to pay (up to a certain amount) on your behalf. Either way it is important for you to know before you dive into budgeting and planning.

Now let’s keep it real, tight here. Talking to our families about money isn’t always easy or comfortable, but this is one of those time that requires this necessary discussion. Generally we think it’s helpful to start with the mindset that your families may or may not be able or willing to contribute. However, we also believe that it’s better to ask than to miss out.

Another number that needs to be crunched at this point is your guest count. This is the time when you and your partner should open up an Excel file and start inputting the names of people that you want to invite to your wedding. No matter where you are, or what kind of wedding you’re planning, the number of guests you plan to invite will impact nearly every other aspect of your wedding budget.

GET THINGS INTO PRIORITY

Select your top three priorities for your wedding day. What this looks like will be completely up to you. It could be: great music, an open bar, an amazing photographer, a gorgeous cake with sugar flowers, a food truck late at night, a live string quartet, tons of lush flowers, or any other detail you each feel strongly about. Having this short list of priorities helps you when you are deciding what takes priority when investing time, money or energy in your wedding.

BE REALISTIC

At this point, you should have an idea of the number of guests you plan to invite, a sense of how much money you’ll invest, and a vision of what your wedding might look and feel like. Armed with this information, you can start to work out whether your vision is possible. One of the strongest realities when planning weddings, is learning that sometimes the things we wish would work, just won’t. This is the “keeping it 100” phase. Maybe you have visions of a huge seated dinner for your 375 closest friends and family, but you only have $5,000 to invest in your wedding. Another important thing you absolutely need to know is that while most websites don’t list budgets on the real weddings they publish, you can get a sense for how weddings come together by hiring Tears of Joy Events for budget planning. We can help answer questions like, “What does $5,000 mean when you want to feed 375 people?”

WORK IT AND RE-WORK IT

If your original plans and your numbers don’t match after doing a bit of research, take some time to re-evaluate. Can you spend more money to make your ideal wedding happen? Can you change your venue or overall look and feel of your wedding to make it fit your budget? Can you remove some elements to save? Can you reduce your guests list to only those you are truly closest to? While there are always ways to save money, if your budget and your vision are in direct contradiction, you have to find ways to level out the plan.

ACCOUNTABILITY

Tears of Joy Events is thrilled to help you build an appropriate budget for your wedding. Why is it important to get professional help managing your wedding budget? Mainly because although there are lots of online budgets you can refer to, there is absolutely no way to create a wedding budget worksheet that fits every single couple’s individual wedding. There are so many variables involved. Below we have provided you with some industry standard percentages so that you can have a place to start, but you should by no means feel locked into those numbers. More than likely, they will need to be adjusted to fit your priorities and your specific event. Getting married in Mom’s backyard? Guess what…Your venue now costs zero percent! Is your cousin’s bakery designing your cake as a wedding gift? Cut that down to zero! Keep in mind that this is your budget and your wedding, so make adjustments that fit.

image via The Plunge

SAMPLE WEDDING BUDGET BREAKDOWNS

The most important thing to keep in mind when you’re working on your budget is that no two weddings are alike. Your budget, and how money is allocated, is fluid and will undoubtedly change and need adjusting throughout the planning process. Below we will provide an idea of what weddings could look like, depending on the budget. Included are ideas on where can you get creative with the money you’ve got. While these are meant to serve as sample wedding budgets, the information provided comes from years of helping real couples plan weddings with similar budgets in similar circumstances. These budgets are not meant to limit you, but instead to help you start brainstorming ideas. Mix and match. Let them inspire you.

A $2,000 WEDDING BUDGET BREAKDOWN

Pasadena City Hall Wedding | image via Green Wedding Shoes

The City Hall Elopement / Small Wedding

Venue/Officiant: $35 at Los Angeles City Hall, officiant included
Attire: $300 dress; $100 suit
Flowers: $150 for one small bouquet and one boutonnière
Photographer: $800 for a quick one-hour session of ceremony plus portraits
Delicious restaurant lunch and drinks for eight: $600

GRAND TOTAL: $1,985

 

image via Rad + In Love

The Backyard Cocktail Party

Venue: $0
Invites: $30 Paperless Post
Officiant (family/friend): $75 to be ordained in Los Angeles County
Flowers and decor: $500 for bouquet, boutonniere and bud vases
Rentals: $300 for a few supplemental chairs, tables, and linens
Dessert for 50: $300, plus donated by family and friends
Photographer: $800 for a couple of hours
Champagne, lemonade and iced tea for 50: $200
Casual backyard party attire: $200
Music: $0 for iPod and borrowed speakers

GRAND TOTAL: $2,105

Elopement in Los Angeles | image via Green Wedding Shoes

Other options for the $2,000 budget:

  • Elope to Northern California and marry yourselves along the coast at Big Sur or the Redwoods Forest. Plus, it can be an awesome honeymoon!
  • The backyard cocktail party could become a potluck with the participation of your awesome family and friends. In which case, maybe throw some more money at the booze budget!

A $5,000 WEDDING BUDGET BREAKDOWN

image via Food Truckr

The Backyard Food Truck Wedding

Venue: $0
Attire: $200 for dress; $75 for shoes
Invites: $30 Paperless Post
Decor: $1,000 for string lights, table and chair rentals
Flowers and decor: $500 for bouquet, boutonniere and bud vases
Catering: $1,800 for delicious food truck eats for 50 people (including compostable dishware!)
Beer and Wine: $300
Dessert: $300 for pies from a local bakery
Music: $0 for your iPod and borrowed speakers
Photography: $800 for a couple of hours

GRAND TOTAL: $5,005

A $10,000 Wedding Budget Breakdown

DTLA Arts District Wedding | image via The Thrillest

The Downtown Outdoor Venue with a Full Meal

Venue and Catering: $4,960 including chairs and tables for 75 guests
DJ: $1,200
Attire: $350 dress; $150 suit
Flowers: $1,000
Photographer: $1,200 for about 3-4 hours
Tears of Joy Day-of Wedding Coordination: $900 for 75 guests
Dessert: $250 for cupcakes

GRAND TOTAL: $10,010

DTLA Indoor Wedding | image via Wedding Spot

The Mid-Day Celebration for 75 people

Venue and Catering: $3,750
Rentals: included in your venue
Attire: $500 dress and shoes; $150 suit
Invitations: $375
Beer and Wine: $650
Cake: $300
Photographer: $1,200 for about 3-4 hours
Tears of Joy Day-of Wedding Coordination: $900 for 75 guests
Acoustic Guitar Musician: $800
Flowers: $1,500

GRAND TOTAL: $10,125

 

Art Gallery Wedding in Los Angeles | image via Jovanni Photography

Wedding Celebration at an Art Gallery

Venue: $3,500
Rentals: $450 for linens
Attire: $500 dress and shoes; $250 suit
BYO Alcohol: $900
Catering: $5,500 for a full buffet
DJ: $1,200
Photographer: $1,500
Decor: $500 for candles spread around the space
Tears of Joy Day-of Wedding Coordination: $1,200 for 100 guests

GRAND TOTAL: $15,500

A $20,000 WEDDING BUDGET BREAKDOWN

Oceanside Wedding | image via Made By Meg Catering

Oceanside Bash

Venue: $3,000
Full-Service Catering: $8,250, including food, alcohol, tables, chairs, and service staff for 75 guests
Photography: $2,000
Tears of Joy Full Service Wedding Coordination: $2,500 for 75 guests
Invitations: $800
Attire: $700 dress; $150 suit
Basic Flowers and Decor: $2,0500
DJ: $1,200

GRAND TOTAL: $19,950

A $35,000 WEDDING BUDGET BREAKDOWN

 

Los Angeles Church Wedding | image via Wedding Wire

Church Ceremony with Big Hotel Party

Los Angeles Church/Ceremony Rental: $2,750
Tears of Joy Day-Of Wedding Coordination: $2,250 for 150 guests
Reception Venue and Full-Service Catering: $17,000, includes food, alcohol, rentals, and staff
Flowers: $5,500
Photography and Videography: $5,000
Attire: $1,000 dress; $250 suit
DJ: $2,000

GRAND TOTAL: $35,750

Mammoth Mountain Wedding | image via Wedding Spot

The Mountain Retreat Wedding

Ceremony & Reception Venue: $14,075 includes food, alcohol, rentals, and staff for 50 guests
Attire: $600 dress; $140 groom’s attire
Music: $500 live strings during ceremony; $2,000 DJ
Tears of Joy Full-Service Wedding Coordination: $2,500 for 50 guests
Decor: $3,000 for flowers and extra rental items
Photographer/Videographer: $4,500
Sunday Morning Brunch: $2,000

GRAND TOTAL: $29,315

One thing to keep in mind is that while having your wedding budget worked out is important, and helpful, and down right necessary in the wedding planning process, what’s really important is that you and your partner end up somewhere with all of your favorite people, committing yourselves to each other, and starting a marriage.

DID YOU FIND A COOL AND CREATIVE WAY TO RESOLVE YOUR WEDDING BUDGET BREAKDOWN? WHO IS UP FOR SHARING THEIR REAL WEDDING BUDGET? SPILL THE TEA!