3 Things That May Influence You to Go Over Your Wedding Budget

All the things that may push you to overspend on your wedding budget.

By Deanna deBara

Going Over Your Wedding Budget
Photo by Stevi Sayler Photography

The First Look ✨

Setting your wedding budget is one of the most important tasks to check off of your wedding planning checklist. But, setting a wedding budget and sticking to a wedding budget are two separate things. And, if you’re not careful, you could find yourself spending more than you anticipated on your wedding—and putting yourself in financial hot water in the process.

But, as the old saying goes, knowledge is power, and knowing some of the common areas where couples overspend on their weddings can help you stick to a budget that you’re comfortable with.

So, what exactly are those areas? Or, in other words, what are some things that you should watch out for that may influence you to go over your wedding budget?

What Are Couples Budgeting for Their Weddings in 2022?

Before we jump into things that may drive you to go over your wedding budget, let’s quickly take a look at what, exactly, the average wedding budget is in 2022.

For Zola’s First Look Report, we surveyed over 3,300 engaged people for their insights into all things 2022 weddings—including what they were budgeting for their big day (and how well they are sticking to their budget). And, as it turns out, what couples are budgeting for their “I do’s” is a pretty broad range—anywhere between $5,000 and $100,000+.

According to our survey data, 28 percent of couples in 2022 are budgeting between $10,000 and $20,000 for their weddings—making it this year’s most popular wedding budgets. But, plenty of couples are working with a tighter budget (16 percent of couples are planning on spending less than $10K). Yet, still more couples are willing to spend a little more (18 percent of couples are budgeting between $30K and $40K for their weddings, while 13 percent are budgeting between $40K and $50K) or a lot more (two percent of couples are planning to spend more than $100K) to bring their wedding dreams to life.

But, no matter their wedding budget, one thing that the majority of couples have in common in 2022 is that they’re spending more on their weddings than they anticipated. According to the First Look Report, a whopping 70 percent of couples are spending more than they originally budgeted.

So, why are so many couples overspending, and what factors do you need to be aware of if you want to avoid going over budget during the wedding planning process?

Underestimating Wedding Costs

One of the most common reasons why couples end up going over their wedding budgets is underestimating how much weddings cost from the get-go.

There are a variety of reasons why couples underestimate how much their weddings will cost—and, as a result, under-budget for that wedding—including:

  • Lack of knowledge. If you’ve never planned a wedding, you might not know how much typical wedding things—such as a wedding venue, wedding caterer, or wedding photographer—cost. This lack of knowledge can lead to budgeting less than you actually need to cover your wedding-related costs, which can lead to going over your wedding budget as your big day approaches.
  • Leaving things off your wedding budget. While many couples budget for the major wedding costs, they don’t have a complete picture of all the costs that may come up during the wedding planning process—whether that’s buying gifts for the wedding party, paying extra for wedding dress alterations, or vendor gratuities. And, even if your budget is accurate in how much each item costs, if it’s incomplete, you’re going to end up overspending.
  • 2022 issues. While it can be hard to pin down exactly how much a wedding is going to cost in the best of times, it’s especially hard in 2022, when things such as supply chain issues and staffing shortages are driving up costs.

How to Combat This (and Stay Within Your Wedding Budget)

Before you lock in your budget, make sure to get as much information as you can about wedding costs—for example, by contacting different vendors for their price lists (instead of estimating how much those vendors will cost). If you know couples who have recently gotten married, ask them for their insights. The more research you do about wedding costs, the more accurate your wedding budget will be—and the less likely you’ll go over your budget.

Splurging on Certain Wedding Elements

Another reason why you might go over your wedding budget is splurging on that must-have item for your wedding day.

Now, if you do decide to splurge, don’t feel guilty! Many couples splurge, especially when it comes to making their wedding as fun and memorable as possible. Seventy-three percent of couples surveyed said they were splurging on a photographer to capture their big day, while another 60 percent were spending more for an open bar. Fifty-five percent of couples said that they planned to splurge on a venue, while 47 percent were willing to spend more on the perfect wedding attire.

How to Combat This (and Stay Within Your Wedding Budget)

If there’s something that you want to splurge on, look for other areas of your wedding budget where you might be able to save. For example, if you want to splurge on the best wedding venue in town, you might consider keeping it simple with wedding flowers and decor (and letting the space speak for itself).

Financial Changes

Sometimes, the financial situation that you’re in when you make your wedding budget, and the financial situation that you’re in on your wedding day are very different—and those changes can cause you to go over your wedding budget.

For example, in 2022, the most common way that couples are paying for their weddings is by sharing costs with their parents and/or in-laws. But, if your parents or in-laws’ financial situation(s) changes (and they can no longer contribute as much as you’d counted on), those costs will then fall to you—and you’ll end up spending more than you originally budget for.

And, even for couples that are paying for their weddings on their own (which, according to our report, is 37 percent in 2022), financial changes can cause issues with your budget. For example, if you and your partner planned to spend a percentage of your income on your wedding—but then one of you loses your job or gets a pay cut—it could lead to you spending more than you planned.

How to Combat This (and Stay Within Your Wedding Budget)

Unfortunately, most financial changes are unexpected and impossible to forecast. If you find yourself in a situation where you have less money to spend on your wedding than you anticipated, you may want to rethink your budget. While your wedding is an important day, your marriage is what’s really important—and you don’t want to start your marriage with a heap of wedding-related debt if you can avoid it.

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