When you’re enjoying being newly engaged, the last thing you want to think about is your wedding budget. In fact, almost half of all Zola couples report that setting and sticking to a budget was the most stressful part of planning their wedding. While setting your wedding budget may not be the most exciting item on your planning to-do list, it is an important first step. Knowing how much you can spend helps you focus your planning and narrows your big-decision options, such as which venue to book or which wedding vendors to hire.
While we can’t promise you completely a stress-free experience, we can help you avoid financial headache as much as possible by tackling one of the most confusing questions for many couples: how to set your wedding budget.
To start, figure out who is paying for the wedding and what each person or couple is contributing. Many couples pay for the wedding themselves, while some couples’ families cover all or some of the expenses. See our guide on who should pay for the wedding for a full breakdown on who might contribute and the best ways to broach the subject of asking for wedding budget contributions.
Once you know who is chipping in and how much they’ll be adding to the budget, it’s time to finalize your totals. There are two sums you should consider:
Pro Tip: Never acquire more wedding debt than you can repay within a few months.
After you have finalized your totals, we recommend researching typical costs for weddings in your area to figure out how much you should expect to spend on the vendors that you need to help you pull off your day. The average cost of a wedding is over $30K, but typical costs vary widely depending on the location and the size of the guest list. Remember, beautiful weddings are planned on budgets of all sizes every year, so don’t get discouraged if prices are more than you initially expected. For some tips and tricks on how to cut costs, see our guide on how plan a wedding on a budget.
Your research should give you a sense of what to expect and will help you set your priorities for your wedding. Sit down with your partner to talk through your respective visions for the day and what vendors and details are most important to you both. For example, if a packed dance floor is one of your goals, consider setting aside a larger portion of your budget for a great live band or DJ. Keep your vision in mind as you plan and use it as a guide when deciding when to splurge and when to save.
To set your priorities, we recommend you and your partner do the following exercise: answer the the questions below individually at first, then take some time to sit down and discuss why you chose your answers.