Wedding Budgets: The Modern Breakdown

Wedding Budgets: The Modern Breakdown

Today’s wedding couple may choose not to follow traditional wedding budgets as closely when it comes to planning and paying for their wedding. The following stats reflect changes in who’s responsible for the bill today:

  • 20 percent of parents pay for the wedding
  • 30 percent of bridal couples pay for the wedding themselves
  • 15 percent of wedding couples share the costs with both sets of parents
  • Wedding attendants typically pay for their ensembles

The Modern Wedding Budget Breakdown

The breakdown of wedding expenses varies by geographic region and is also influenced by wedding trends and fluctuations in the economy. These are the biggest wedding expenses:


Budget Breakdown

Budgeting for Your Wedding

Setting your wedding budget will require a combination of discussion, planning, action, and a spreadsheet.

  • Start Saving NOW: Financial advisors and wedding consultants recommend that you start saving right away. Create a separate savings account to be used exclusively for wedding expenses and commit to adding regularly to this account.
  • Building Your Budget: The farther out your wedding date, the more money you may be able to save toward your expenses. One recommendation is taking the sum of your budget and dividing it by the number of months you have in which to save up. This gives you a target amount per month to set aside for your wedding. Make sure that your savings plan is realistic and that you aren’t setting yourself up for frustration by creating an unattainable financial goal.  

Selecting a wedding date outside the traditional wedding season, time, or day of the week can save you money. 

Wedding Season

  • Your Guest List: The number of guests you “must” and “want to” invite will significantly influence how you budget for your wedding, including the size of the venue, flowers, and decorations, wedding favors, service provider time, rentals, food, and beverages, etc.
  • Prioritize: Discuss what is important for your wedding day–a small and intimate wedding or major nuptial event. In your early planning, you should identify and prioritize wedding elements such as live music vs. DJ, food and beverage, location, etc.
  • Family Talk: If financing your wedding will be a joint effort between you, your fiancé, and both your parents, meet with all involved parties early in the planning stage and discuss what each of you is able to contribute to the wedding budget. Add up the contributions and out of that total amount, subtract at least 10 percent to be set aside for your cost cushion. The family discussion should also include the guest list.
  • Cut Costs Where You Can: Keep the debt load as low as possible. Consider making small sacrifices in your daily routine to save the extra dollar, these can include, but are not limited to, making coffee at home instead of getting one on the go or dining in instead of out.
  • Beware of Extras and Hidden Costs: Know the costs upfront as much as possible. Extras include “add-on” services like venue setup and takedown, rental delivery, plating, using non-exclusive companies, cake cutting, corkage fees, and overtime for venue and service providers.
  • Spend Mindfully: Please spend mindfully for each vendor deposit and purchase. Starting your marriage with a large wedding-related debt is very poor planning for an event that is but a moment of your lifetime partnership.
  • Honor Your Budget: But don’t be super glued to it. If you overextend in one area, scale back elsewhere.

Note: Ask each vendor what his/her fees cover and what additional fees also may apply. Get it in writing! “Extras” include the small items like stamps for RSVPs, gratuities for service providers, and applicable sales taxes. 

  • Keep Track of Spending: Faithfully track every expenditure and who paid and how (check, credit card, etc.). Save all receipts! Wedding expense tracking systems are available online (free), as part of downloadable wedding planner systems (free) and as mobile device apps. Each line item of the spreadsheet should include space for the budgeted amount, vendor estimate, and actual amount spent. The more information you can assemble about each item and service, the more effectively you can budget. Once all potential expenses are plugged into your spreadsheet, you can decide which items and services should remain and which you should reduce or eliminate altogether.

One thing must never be part of your budgeting plan: a pitch for financial help from your guests–ever!

Careful and creative budgeting can help you fulfill your wedding plans whether yours is planned to be the ‘it’ wedding of the year or an intimate, closest-and-dearest celebration.


Related Read: Who Pays For What? Bride vs. Groom


  1. Bride vs. Groom: Who Pays For What? | White Lotus - […] Our expert tip is to plan, plan, and plan! For an introduction to budgeting for your wedding click here.…

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