Where to Start with your Wedding Budget
Written by Jeanne D'Aloia, Co-owner, and Certified Wedding & Event Planner
After the initial excitement from your engagement calms down, the questions start coming from loved ones: "When are you getting married? Have you started planning? Are you looking at venues?" No pressure, right?
So, you do a quick Google search to find out how much you should budget for your wedding and you see that in Minnesota, in 2021, the average wedding costs $24,528 (wedding.report website). However, the latest First Look Report from Zola.com estimates that "the average wedding expenses for couples getting married in 2023 total around $29,000." They also noted that cost depends on the size of your guest list, with a wedding of 100-150 guests costing an average of $31,000.
Remember, this is the cost of an average wedding. It could be a good starting point for you, but could go up or down depending on your financial comfort zone, personal taste, and wedding vision. If you've been dreaming of having a beautiful floral installation as a ceremony backdrop, custom-made stationery, or an upscale venue, you will likely spend more than the average cost.
We know talking about the wedding budget can be overwhelming and stressful. Keep reading for some tips to help make the conversation more focused and productive.
When we work with couples who are at the beginning of their wedding planning, we often start with 2 conversations:
From there, we can use our Budget Calculator (available to all of our clients) to break down where money should be allocated, so our couples can have a visual of how much money they should be spending in each area. To the right is a general idea of budget breakdown, however, it doesn't add up to 100% because, depending on priorities, you could spend more or less in certain areas. Our budget calculator considers this and allows our couples to prioritize where they want to spend their money and also see how those priorities impact other areas of spending. For example, if a couple wants to prioritize their floral budget, they can see how that might take away from their stationery or entertainment budget. This can help couples understand if they have a realistic budget or not for what they want for their wedding, as well as narrow down the list of vendors that fit their budget.
For example, we had a couple who wanted to get married at a gorgeous, upscale venue with 200 guests. They wanted delicious food and beautiful, timeless florals as well. They were flexible with their dates, knowing that a Friday, Sunday, or date in the off-season (November-March) may be cheaper than a Saturday during peak season. Their initial budget was $25,000, meaning their venue and food/beverage costs should be kept around $15,000. Unfortunately, the venue and beverage minimums alone for a Friday in the off-season were over their budget. So, they had a couple of options:
Find a way to increase their budget
Look at other venues that were more aligned with their budget.
Ultimately, this couple chose to do both because they realized, after talking with us and doing research on their own, that they wouldn't be able to have the wedding they were envisioning on their initial budget. Their budget is now sitting around $40,000-$50,000 and we were able to find them several venues that were more aligned with their budget, but still checked ALL the boxes they were looking for in a venue in terms of food options, guest count, and style. They also didn't have to sacrifice other things that were important to them, like food or flowers!
Here are a few more things to think about when you're planning your budget:
Decide what you're willing to compromise on and what you're not, including:
Make sure you get quotes from the venue AND caterer before you sign contracts with either! If venues only work with certain caterers, you want to make sure the catering options fit into your budget before you're locked into using them.
If you're getting help paying for the wedding, make sure you get a firm dollar amount from those helping up front.
Don't forget about gratuities for various vendors as part of your budget!
Remember, deciding on a realistic budget at the start of your wedding planning will help tremendously throughout the planning process. Some benefits may include:
fewer arguments with your significant other over money (we hope)
being more conscientious of your wedding budget when reaching out to/booking various vendors
being more likely to stay within your overall budget
We are a great resource for couples who are still deciding their budget! We can present you with different wedding scenarios to help you visualize how your wedding might look at certain price points, help you find ways to save money, save you time and heartache by helping you find quality vendors in your price range, and make sure you have access to our budget calculator, as well as some other resources only our clients have access to! Don't hesitate to reach out to us by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org or clicking the button below to fill out our contact form!