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Wedding Budget Part One: Budgeting Smarts

The wedding budget talk. An often not-so-fun yet necessary aspect of planning your big day. To help you out and give you a few pointers we’ve learned, we’re kicking off a three-part series with tips and advice regarding this pesky topic! This series is aimed at getting you on the right path toward planning the wedding of your dreams without breaking the bank. Part one is all about understanding a bit about the wedding industry: we believe having background knowledge about wedding costs will help you know when to splurge and when to save when choosing your vendors. So let’s dive right in!

Your First Piece of “Homework”

Let’s start at the very beginning: number of guests! Step one involves you and your fiancé creating your guest list. This will be your first piece of homework that will determine your budget and venue possibilities. You’ll need to cast a wide net thinking of everyone you would ever want to come and slowly whittle it down. Don’t forget to talk to your parents about their expectations for the number of invitations they will get. Note: sometimes this can be woven in nicely when bringing up the budget talk with both families. It will be hard to know how much money you need for your wedding until you know how large or small of a wedding you would like.

The Average Costs of Weddings

The average cost of a wedding in 2017 according to The Knot is $33,329. However, the average cost of a Southern California wedding ranges from $39,329 – $44,142. Regardless of what your budget ends up being, there are a few things you should know about how your budget “should” break down based on the average wedding percentages (adapted from  TheKnot.com). As you go through each, know that these are just general ranges but you may choose to spend more or less in one category over another. We’ll go into adjusting the categories based on your “Top Three” in Part Two.

As you think about your wedding, determine if any items will not be included in your main wedding budget (honeymoon etc.) and if any items are being gifted to you.

Wedding Budget Categories

  • Reception: 48-50%
    The reception budget category is comprised of your venue site fees, catering and dessert costs, bar costs and any miscellaneous fees that may be included in your BEO (Banquet Event Order) from the venue or caterer. If your venue does not have an in-house catering company or they are not making your desserts, you’ll want to add a category to your budget and break out desserts/catering.
  • Ceremony: 2-3%
    The ceremony category will only be used if you are getting married at a church or separate venue from your reception, otherwise you can allocate this percentage elsewhere. This is the recommended amount of your total budget to spend on that space. If the venue is all-inclusive, you can move this percentage up to your Reception budget category.
  • Attire: 8-10%
    This includes wedding gown, shoes, accessories, tuxedo or suit, ties or bow ties, cufflinks and any bridal party gifts.
  • Flowers: 8-10%
    Table centerpieces, ceremony aisle decor, ceremony arch decor, bouquets, boutonnieres, cocktail table centerpieces and any other miscellaneous flowers or installations you dream up!
  • Entertainment/Music: 8-10%
    Are you going to have a live band or a DJ? Would you rather have a iPod shuffling through a playlist, a string quartet or mariachi ensemble? These are questions to ask before you allocate entertainment budgets since DJ’s and live bands will run much higher than someone plugging in an iPod. Note: For those who do not want/need more involved entertainment, you’ll need to budget for speakers and microphone rentals and designate an emcee and a person who will play your specific songs for certain moments (think first dance, cake cutting song, etc.)
  • Photography/Videography: 10-12%
    Now this one is pretty straightforward but if you’re planning on only hiring a photographer or hiring both you may remove or add some percentage points.
  • Planner: 8-10%
    Hiring a wedding planner obviously relieves a lot of stress throughout the planning process and on the big day. A wedding planner will recommend places to save on your budget and vendors that fit each budget category. The planner organizes the entire set-up and tear down, ensuring your wedding day timeline runs smoothly.
  • Stationery: 2-3%
    Save the Dates, to the Invitation Suite, Rehearsal Dinner invites and Thank You notes. Also remember to budget for postage and fit it into this category! This section can also include calligraphy or printing for escort cards, menu cards and table numbers.
  • Hair & Makeup: 1-2%
    This will vary depending on if you plan to cover the costs for your bridesmaids or not.
  • Wedding Rings: 2-3%
  • Parking/Transportation: 2-3%
    Do you plan on transporting your guests from a nearby hotel to the venue? If you answered yes, you’ll need to budget for that here. Do you want to have a limo or getaway car? Then that will also fall into this transportation category. Some venues require you to contract out a valet company or pay for a parking lot in which case you will need to allocate some of your budget here.
  • Gifts: 2-3%
    Are you planning to give a gift to ask your bridal party to be part of your wedding? That needs to go here! Are you giving gifts to everyone (bridal party and family) on your rehearsal dinner? Place that here!
  • Rentals / Miscellaneous: 8%
    This is the part we find the most fun! If you plan to use rentals for your tabletop you would put those items in this category or a separate design budget category. This may include chargers, linens, glassware, flatware, napkins, or anything else of that nature.
  • Just-in-case: 5%
    Let’s be real, you’re going to go over in some budget category so you might as well plan for it.
  • Gratuities: This ranges for each vendor and we have a special tipping guide for all of our brides. Especially because almost all of these categories are service-based, tipping will be greatly appreciated!

Chelsea + Tatiana