How to Set a Wedding Budget

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Planning your wedding budget is the first step to getting everything your heart desires. Plus, a detailed budget helps simplify every decision.

So what is a normal wedding budget? And what should your wedding budget be? Factors like guest count and type of venue make a budget as personal as your wedding itself, but three-quarters of our brides pull off their dream day for less than $15,000.

These three steps and our planning worksheet will help you design the wedding budget that’s right for you.

Step 1: Talk it over

It’s important to have your money conversations up front. Before you spend a cent, cover these Qs with your fiancé and family.

What do weddings cost in your area?

Prices vary from coast to coast and from cities to towns, so do some online research about your locale.

What can you afford?

If you and your fiancé are paying for the wedding, talk about how much you hope to save during your engagement. If your family is chipping in, inquire politely about what they can cover.

What’s important to you?

Jot down your top three priorities and ask your fiancé to do the same. Then, compare. Maybe one of you craves a spectacular cake, and one of you wants a live band, but neither of you cares about elaborate flowers. Your lists will help you decide what to spend money on and where to cut back.

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Step 2: Crunch the numbers

Once you have a total amount in mind, decide what proportion of those funds you’ll aim to spend on each category. Your percentages will vary based on your location, headcount, and priorities. Use our wedding budget planning worksheet to add everything up.

The main types of expenses to consider are:

Attire & Beauty: About 14%

Our stylists say the most important thing to remember about your wedding dress budget is that it’s really your whole look budget. Take into account the accessories you’ll need, like your veil, shapewear, shoes, and jewelry, plus alterations to perfectly tailor your gown to you. (And don’t forget day-of hair and makeup!) When you come in for an appointment, tell us what you’d like to spend on your bridal attire. We’ll help you find the dress of your dreams and put together your head-to-toe ensemble, all beautifully within budget. Plus, sign up for your David’s Bridal Credit Card to get special financing on all your purchases.

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Wedding Ceremony: About 4%

Good news: The actual wedding—your officiant and marriage licenses, for instance—probably costs less than you think.

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Wedding Reception: About 40%

Most of our brides spend more than $2,000 on wining and dining, and a third spend more than $4,000. Keep in mind that catering is usually billed per person, so you can dial back these fees by whittling down the number of people you invite.

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Transportation & Accommodations: About 4%

You may want to help guests travel from hotel to venue and back, or to book a special spot for your first night as a married couple.

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Flowers & Decorations: About 8%

Flowers tend to be the highest-ticket item in this category, but don’t panic: Most of our brides find beautiful blooms for less than $500. Add to the scenery with personalized glassware, colorful table settings, and all kinds of fun flourishes.

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Photography & Videography: About 12%

Most David’s brides spend between $500 and $2,000 on their photographer fees, videographer fees, photo albums, and finished videos.

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Entertainment: About 8%

Choosing a DJ instead of a live band can help you limit entertainment costs.

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Stationery, Printing & Mailing: About 4%

We have wedding invitations, save the dates, and more to fit any budget, including cards for less than 70 cents each. Plus, you can choose from more than 50 exclusive David’s Bridal colors to coordinate your whole day.

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Gifts & Favors: About 3%

Find special somethings to thank your guests and wedding party. It’s better to give than to receive, right?

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Coordinator, Insurance & Miscellaneous: About 3%

Even if you don’t hire a planner or buy wedding insurance, it’s good to have a “just in case” fund to cover surprise costs.

Step 3: Adjust as you go

In every category, research offers and compare vendors’ estimates so you know you’re getting the best deals. Then, consider hidden expenses and factor those into your wedding budget. For example, does your venue include furniture and linens, or will you need to rent them? Do you want a photo booth in addition to a roving photographer? Our budget planning worksheet can help you keep track of every expense. If you discover a package that includes multiple items—like a catering deal that comes with a cake, for instance—great! Just cross out the cake or enter $0 on that line.

If you decide to spend more than planned on something, lower another item’s budget to keep overall costs the same. On the flip side, if you save money on a purchase, you can choose to either move that surplus to another category, or consider it cash saved.

Your planned budget will help you make decisions throughout the entire wedding planning process. Ready to design yours?

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Find your style, stay in budget

Our stylists can help you put together a look that checks all the boxes

Find your style, stay in budget

Our stylists can help you put together a look that checks all the boxes