When it comes to preparing for your big day, one of the most important parts of the wedding planning process is setting your wedding budget. But how much, exactly, should you budget for your wedding?
For Zola’s First Look Report, we asked over 3,000 engaged people for their insights into wedding planning, including how much they’re planning to spend on their big day. And as it turns out, it’s a pretty broad range.
While nearly half of couples (42 percent) plan to spend somewhere between $10,000 and $40,000 on their “I dos”—with 28 percent of couples planning to spend between $10,000 and $20,000, making it the most common wedding budget for 2022—plenty of couples are planning on spending less (16 percent of respondents said they’re planning to less than $10,000) or far, far more (2 percent of couples plan to spend $100,000 more on their wedding).
So, whether you’re trying to plan a wedding on a tight budget or you’ve got plenty to spend on your big day, you’re not alone. But interestingly, no matter what kind of budget they’re working with, the vast majority of couples are spending more than they planned to. According to our survey, a whopping 70 percent of couples are spending more on their weddings than they originally budgeted.
And one of the reasons so many couples are going over budget? They’re leaving key elements off their budgets from the start.
So what, exactly, are those elements? Let’s take a look at everything you might be forgetting to add to your wedding budget:
Many couples hire a variety of vendors and service providers to bring their wedding dreams to life. But while most couples are in the loop about the major wedding vendors (like wedding caterers, wedding photographers, and wedding planners), there may be additional, lesser-known vendors you need to pull off your event—and if you forget to budget for those vendors, it could throw off your spending.
For example, some wedding venues offer bar services. But others ask couples to provide their own alcohol—and bartenders to serve that alcohol. Some wedding venues have parking lots where guests can park. But others require off-site parking—which means you may need to hire a valet or shuttle service. Some couples have a family member or friend officiate their wedding, which is (hopefully!) free—but if you don’t have anyone in mind, you’ll need to hire an officiant.
The point is, when you’re planning your wedding, it’s important to do your research on exactly which vendors you’ll need on your big day—and make sure not to leave any of those vendors off your wedding budget.
The wedding venue is generally one of the first things couples budget for. But every venue is different. If you get married at an all-inclusive wedding venue, they typically provide everything you need to host your wedding. Some provide the basics (like tables and chairs). And many wedding venues provide you a space to get married—and not much else.
Depending on what type of wedding venue you choose, you’ll have to rent many (or all!) of the items you need to throw an event. But many couples only budget for the actual venue—and forget to add rentals, which can make for an expensive surprise down the line.
If you’re getting married at a venue where you’ll need to bring in your own event items (or, if you haven’t chosen a wedding venue yet, there’s a chance you’ll need to bring in your own items), make sure to set aside plenty of budget for rentals.
Chances are, you and your soon-to-be-spouse have an idea of how many people you want to invite to your big day. But an idea of a guest list and an actual guest list are two different things, and if you base your budget on an estimate of how many wedding guests you think will show up at your wedding, your numbers are sure to be off—and you run the risk of going over budget.
That’s why, before you finalize your wedding budget, you’ll want to finalize your guest list—and know exactly how many wedding invitations you’re sending out. Having a concrete number of people you’re inviting to your wedding will help you set aside enough money to cover your wedding guests, instead of scrambling to find extra cash if (and when) your guest list turns out to be larger than anticipated.
Also, while it’s unlikely that every person you invite will show up to your wedding (particularly if you’re hosting a larger event), you do want to budget as though a majority of them will show up; 85 percent is a good rule of thumb (so, for example, if you’re inviting 100 people to your wedding, you’d want to budget for 85). And if fewer people end up showing up? Great—that just means you have more budget to play with.
There are a lot of extra and unexpected costs that go along with weddings. But unfortunately, many couples don’t anticipate those costs—and, as such, don’t add them to their wedding budget.
If you don’t want to be caught by surprise, you’ll want to budget in plenty of money to cover all the extra costs that will inevitably arise (and quickly add up!) before, during, and after your wedding, including:
Setting aside enough budget to cover any extra or unexpected costs will help ensure you have the cash you need to cover your wedding expenses without getting stressed—so don’t forget to add some emergency padding to your budget from the get-go.
Tons of couples forget to add things to their wedding budget—and end up spending more than they planned to as a result. But now that you know everything you may be forgetting to add to your wedding budget, you can create a full, accurate budget from the start—and keep your spending in check.