How to plan your wedding budget without going into debt?

Sep 29, 2022 By Susan Kelly

This article will provide you with everything you need to know about your wedding budget. We'll start by outlining the average cost of planning a wedding. Next, we’ll discuss the best tips on how to build your wedding budget. We’ll discuss a typical wedding budget breakdown, including wedding budget percentages of how much you'll probably need to set aside for all the various wedding-related expenses. Lastly, we’ll share a sample wedding budget so that you can see how the numbers shake out so that so you can plan your own.

How much does a typical wedding cost?

According to The Knot Real Wedding survey, the average cost of a wedding during the pandemic in 2020 was $19,000. Due to gathering restrictions, couples were forced to have much smaller events (micro weddings or minimonies). According to the Brides survey in 2021, the national average wedding spending was $28,964.

Now, the cost of a wedding has returned to its pre-pandemic level, returning to large size and scope. This is good news for couples planning their wedding events in 2022 or 2023.

The cost of your wedding will depend on various factors like where you live, the number of guests you invite, style, the number of vendors hired, the wedding traditions you choose to uphold, and most importantly, the wedding venue.

This emphasizes the importance of planning a wedding budget.

Without planning a budget, you can be at a greater risk of overspending or building debt to pay your wedding expenses.

The bigger the event, the more it will cost. Arranging the wedding in densely populated and expensive destinations like Chicago, New York, and San Francisco costs more than it does in less populated destinations like West Virginia and Idaho.

How to set your wedding budget?

To build a wedding budget, you must add up your wedding savings, and then create and maintain a detailed spreadsheet of your wedding expenses. Keeping a close eye on your spending will assist you in staying on track during the planning process and prioritizing where you want to spend your money. You must make necessary cost cuts so that you don’t exceed your budget limit.

If you’re ready to set your wedding budget planning, here are the tips you can stick to.

  1. Set your spending limit

The first step in building your wedding budget is to calculate how much money you have to spend. The money will likely come from three sources:

  • Your contribution
  • Your fiancé’s contribution
  • Contribution from your parents and your loved ones.

Monthly income: After paying your monthly recurring expenses (rent or mortgage payments, utility bills, car insurance payments, etc.) set aside up to 10% of your monthly earnings to put towards your wedding.

Savings: Ideally, you and your partner may have separate savings put aside for future purchases like an apartment or car. You can potentially contribute as much as you have left over after deducting the already-spoken-for savings amount from your entire balance toward the wedding.

For example, you set $20,000 for your wedding spending that is 10 months away and you have $4,000 saved in your wedding fund. You’d need to save $1,600 every month to achieve your wedding budget. But what if you and your partner have a monthly net income of $3,200?

Saving half of your net income is not feasible. Let's say you both decide to save at most $400 per month and saving $400 per month for 10 months and combining with the $4,000 you already have, would give you $8,000 for your wedding spending. In such a case, you have few choices you can consider.

  • Reduce the scale of your wedding ceremony to stay within your $8,000 savings limit
  • Find ways to increase your income
  • Ask friends and family for financial contributions to your wedding
  1. Figure out who pays for what

While planning your wedding budget, it is important to talk about who is going to contribute to what with your fiancé and parents. According to the WeddingWire Newlywed survey of 2020, parents contributed 52% to the wedding budget while couples getting married contributed 47% to the wedding budget. The loved ones contributed the remaining 1%.


Couples often used their savings to pay, and also used checks, cash, and credit cards. While figuring out who pays for what, consider what both families can afford to contribute as well as what you and your partner can afford to contribute. It is important to find a compromise that works for you, your fiancé, your parents or loved ones, and anyone else who will pay for your wedding cost.

  1. Know your priorities

As a couple, discuss what you want out for your wedding day.

It is important to take time with your partner to think about the aspects of the wedding that are most necessary and prioritize spending on them. The actual costs included in your wedding budget vary depending upon the type of ceremony you want.

While planning a full-scale wedding there is a list of items for which you may usually expect to incur costs.

  • Wedding venue tends to be the first thing couples talk about
  • Rental fees for tables and chairs
  • Catering
  • Wedding favor for guests
  • Marriage license
  • Flowers and decor
  • Videographer or Photographer
  • Bride and groom attire
  • Hairstyle and make-up
  • Music and entertainment
  • Wedding invitations
  • Transportation
  • Dinner

Depending upon the scope and scale of your wedding ceremony, you can include all these items or just some of them.

If you are planning a destination wedding you must include the added costs of transportation, passport fees, currency exchange rates, etc.

It can be helpful to start with a comprehensive list of everything you anticipate spending money on when creating a wedding budget. After that, you can focus on reducing the list to only contain items that you can afford.

  1. Wedding budget breakdown

Knowing what you can spend on the wedding and which expenses you are planning to include, you’re ready for the next step. This involves breaking your budget into percentages to cover each spending item such as catering, attire, flowers, music, etc.

Keep in mind that your wedding costs and your wedding budget percentage will vary depending upon the venue and size of your guest list.

Sample of a wedding budget

Here’s an example of a wedding budget breakdown of $20,000. We have compiled a complete wedding budget checklist that outlines the top expenses to include in your spending list. You can use this sample as your wedding budget breakdown and adjust numbers according to your budget.

Wedding expenses

% of total wedding budget


Venue and catering



Furniture rental






Flowers and Décor






Bride and groom attire



Hair styling and makeup















Bottom Line

Planning a wedding may be stressful, but don’t allow financial concerns to overshadow your big day. Using an online wedding budget calculator, you can estimate your wedding expenses. It is important to think about who would contribute to what with your fiance and parents while creating a wedding budget. Consider building a wedding budget process as an important way to build skills in discussing important financial decisions with your future life partner.

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