Discover the best wedding budget breakdown with templates and cost examples - 2022 version for the US

Intro and Contents

The wedding budget is one of the most important aspects of planning your big day. But with so many things to account for, it can be challenging to know where to start. That's why we've put together this handy guide on the best ways to break down your wedding budget.

Table of Contents

  1. Costs depend on where you reside 
  2. Why are food and alcohol the highest cost?
  3. Overview of common wedding costs
  4. Template for a Wedding Budget Breakdown
  5. A detailed rundown of all the costs in the Template
  6. 18 FAQs about Wedding Budget Breakdown

Related pages

  1. 50 Person wedding cost
  2. 100 Person wedding cost 
  3. 150 Person wedding cost
  4. A Wedding Budget Calculator

A word on the forehand: costs vary considerably depending on where you reside.

On this page, we show you average prices for the US. Suppose you get married in a pricey location like Los Angeles or New York, though. In that case, your expenditures will be approximately 50% higher.

Costs in cheaper locations to reside, such as Arkansas, Missouri, or Ohio, may be up to 30% lower compared to the average prices shown on this page. Here you'll find tables with the average costs for a wedding with 50, 100, and 150 guests for all the US states.

  1. Cost per US State for a wedding with 50 guests 
  2. Cost per US State for a wedding with 100 guests 
  3. Cost per US State for a wedding with 150 guests

The big picture: food and alcohol are the most significant part of wedding reception costs (40% - 60%)

Food and drink expenses will usually make up the majority of your wedding day budget when it comes to wedding costs.

Why are food and alcohol such a large part of your budget?

The straightforward answer is that these expenses grow with the number of visitors. As most weddings have a large guest count, food and alcohol costs will quickly increase.

Assume that you have a $30,000 wedding budget and want to invite 100 people.

Consider a wedding reception with a champagne toasting, a wedding dinner, and then a dance party where guests may consume alcoholic beverages and some snack food.

Suppose these costs per person:

  1. Champagne toast: $20 (including Hors d'oeuvre).
  2. Wedding dinner including wine and other beverages: $80.
  3. Dance party where beer, spirits, wine, and soft drinks are served: $50 (= 5 hours x $10 per hour per person).

Total per person: $150

The wedding cost for food and alcohol would be 100 guests * $150 = $15,000.

That is 50% of the total budget of $30,000.

Expect to spend $120 and $180 per guest, or 40%-60% of your budget, on alcohol and food.

As you can see in the example above, food and alcohol expenses may quickly consume a significant portion of your wedding budget. Knowing this can help you create a realistic wedding budget breakdown.

Next in line in the major wedding expenses are the venue rental, entertainment, and the photographer.

Regarding wedding costs, venue rental, entertainment, and photography are the next most significant expenditures.

1 - Renting a venue for the wedding reception

Ballrooms in grand hotels, banquet halls, restaurants, golf resorts, country clubs, party centers, barns, ranches, wineries, and vineyards are among the most popular places for a wedding reception. The wedding ceremony might be held in the same location as the reception or at a different venue.

The average cost of renting a wedding venue for a wedding reception in the US varies anywhere from $2.500 to $7.500, depending on location, size, service, and popularity.

You should be aware that venue rent fees may or may not include personal expenses such as waiters and bartenders. Make sure you ask the venue about it.

Suppose your wedding budget is $30,000. You may spend between $2,500 and $7,500, or between 8% to 25% of your budget, on venue rental.

Some venues do not charge a separate fee for using the facility. Instead, the venue rent and costs for personnel such as waiters are included in the food and beverage expenses. This is generally the case when you have your wedding reception at a restaurant with a seated plated dinner.

2 - Hiring a DJ and/or a band for entertainment

While some couples choose to forego live music, most still want to hire a DJ or a band for the wedding reception. The cost of hiring a DJ can vary from $500 to $1,500 while hiring a live (cover) band can range from $750 to $3,500.

Suppose your wedding budget is $30,000. You may spend between $1,000 and $3,000, or 5% to 10% of your budget, on entertainment.

If you are looking for ways to save on entertainment, consider looking for local live bands and DJs. You might also want to ask family or friends who have musical talents if they would be willing to perform at your wedding reception.

3 - Hiring a Photographer and/or videographer

Hiring a professional photographer or videographer to capture the day's memories is important to many couples. The photographs will tell the wedding day's story in pictures.

Hiring a photographer can range from $1,500 to $3,000, while hiring a videographer can range from $1,000 to $2,500.

Suppose your wedding budget is $30,000. You may spend between $1,500 and 3,500, or 6% to 12% of your total budget, on photography and/or videography.

If you want to save on these services, consider hiring a student photographer or videographer. You might also ask a friend or family member interested in photography or videography if they would be willing to capture your wedding day memories.

Other common wedding costs

There are other typical wedding costs that you should account for in your budget. Here is an overview.

4 - Flowers for the wedding day

Flowers are an essential part of the wedding day. They are used for the bride's bouquet, the groom's boutonniere, and the corsages. In addition, flowers are usually used to decorate the ceremony and reception spaces, the wedding car, and the processions.

The cost of flowers can vary greatly depending on the number and size, the type of flowers, the time of year, and the florist. The average cost of flowers for a wedding is between $500 and $1,500.

Suppose your wedding budget is $30,000. You may spend between $500 and $1,500, or 1% to 5% of your total budget, on flowers.

If you have a large wedding and need to buy numerous flowers, consider buying them wholesale. You may locate wholesalers by doing a Google search or contacting a bigger florist.

5 - Wedding cake

The wedding cake is often the centerpiece of the reception. The cost of a wedding cake can vary greatly depending on the size, complexity, and ingredients. The average price of a wedding cake is between $400 and $800.

Suppose your wedding budget is $30,000. You may spend between $400 and $800, or 1% to 3% of your total budget, on the wedding cake.

If you are looking for ways to save on the cost of the wedding cake, consider having a friend or family member make it for you. You might also consider ordering a smaller cake for display and serving sheet cakes to guests.

6 - Wedding invitations and other stationery

The cost of wedding invitations and other stationery can vary greatly depending on the quality and quantity. The average cost of wedding invitations and other stationery is between $5 and $10 per family or individuals you invite. These costs include postage for sending back the RSVP cards.

Suppose that your wedding budget is $30,000. The invitations cost may range from $400 to $800, or 1% to 2% of your total budget.

If you are looking for ways to save on the cost of invitations, consider using e-mail, WhatsApp, and/or messenger to digitally send your invitations and receive RSVPs.

7 - Transportation

The cost of transportation can vary depending on the type of transportation, the number of people, and the distance. The average cost of transportation is between $100 and $1,000.

Suppose your wedding budget is $30,000. You may spend between $100 and $1,000 on transportation, or 1% to 3% of your total budget.

If you're searching for a way to save money on transportation, consider enlisting the help of friends who own luxurious or unusual vehicles. Usually, your friends will be delighted to assist with your wedding.

8 - The fees for the officiant and the marriage license

An officiant is an individual with the legal authority and, when performing a wedding ceremony in a church, also the religious power to conduct a wedding ceremony. Most officiants must be licensed by their state before legally marrying couples. The fees for an officiant are usually between $250 and $750.

The cost of an officiant who puts a lot of effort into creating something very personal will be greater than the cost of one who performs a standard ceremony.

A marriage license is a document that authorizes a couple to get married. In most cases, you must obtain a marriage license from the county where you will be married before your wedding ceremony. The costs are usually between $50 and $150.

Suppose that your wedding budget is $30,000. The officiant and the marriage license fees may range from $300 to $900, or 1% to 3% of your total budget.

The fees for getting married differ by state and city. You may research the actual costs of your wedding by doing a Google search or contacting your city hall.

9 - Hiring a wedding planner

Wedding planners are professionals who assist with the planning and execution of weddings. They can provide valuable services and help to save you time and money. The average cost of a wedding planner usually starts at $1,000 up to $5,000 for bigger weddings.

Suppose your wedding budget is $30,000. You may spend between $1,500 and $3,000 on a wedding planner, or 5% to 10% of your total budget.

If you are planning a small or simple wedding, you probably do not need the services of a wedding planner. You can save money by planning the wedding yourself or enlisting the help of friends and family members.

Hiring a wedding planner may save you money in the long run if you have a big wedding. This person will likely negotiate a lower cost for a wedding venue, meals, alcohol, music, and other services.

A template for a well-organized wedding budget breakdown

We've made a free template for you with a typical wedding budget breakdown. This template will help you organize your expenses and allocate your budget in a much more efficient way.

A summary of this template is given here first. Next, we'll go through this template step by step, with a rundown of all the costs you may expect.

A well-organized breakdown of wedding budgets

When it comes to breaking down your wedding budget, one of the most important things to consider is what your priorities are. What are the most important aspects of your wedding? For many couples, the answer is the ceremony and reception. Followed by entertainment/music, the wedding cake, photography, flowers, and other miscellaneous items.

Here is the breakdown where we've included the most essential sub-items for each category:

1 - The Wedding Ceremony (4% - 8%)

  1. Officiant fee: $250 - $750
  2. Marriage license: $50 - $150
  3. Church donation: $300 - $1,000 - optional
  4. Venue for the wedding ceremony: $250 - $1,000 - optional
  5. Live music at the wedding ceremony: $200 - $500 - optional
  6. Decorations: $50 - $1,000 - optional

2 - The Wedding Reception (40% - 60%)

  1. Renting a venue: $2,500 - $7,500
  2. Champagne toast and appetizers: $10.00 - $25.00 per person - optional
  3. Wedding catering: $40.00 - $100.00 per person
  4. Alcohol and snacks for the dance party: $30.00 - $60.00 per person - optional
  5. Catering rentals : $5.00 - $10.00 per person - optional
  6. Waiters and bartenders: $400 - $1,250 ($40 - $80 per hour per worker) - optional
  7. Decorations: $50 - $1,000 - optional

3 - Music / Entertainment at the wedding (2% - 8%)

  1. DJ: $500 - $1,500 - optional
  2. Live acoustic musicians: $200 - $800 - optional
  3. A live cover band (semi-pro): $750 - $1,500 - optional
  4. Sound and lights equipment rental: $250 - $1,000 - optional

4 - The Wedding Cake (1% - 3%)

  1. Wedding cake: $4 - $6 per person - optional

5 - Wedding photography (6% - 12%)

  1. Wedding photographer: $1,500 - $3,000 - optional
  2. Wedding videographer: $1,000 - $2,500 - optional

6 - Flowers for the wedding (2% - 6%)

  1. Wedding bouquet for the bride: $50 - $350
  2. Boutonniere for the groom: $25 - $50
  3. Wedding bouquets for the bridesmaids: $25 - $50 per bridesmaid - optional
  4. Wedding corsages for the family members and closest friends: $15 - $30 per person - optional
  5. Decorating the wedding locations with flowers: $250 - $1,000 - optional
  6. Wedding car decoration: $50 - $250 - optional

7 - Miscellaneous (10% - 15%)

  1. Transportation: $50 - $1,500 ($50 - $350 per hour per vehicle) - optional
  2. Wedding planner: $1,500 - $3,000 - optional
  3. Wedding favors: $2.50 - $10.00 per favor / family - optional
  4. Wedding invitation cards and stationay: $5 - $10 per card / family - optional
  5. Gifts for people who helped out: $50 - $250 per gift - optional
  6. Guest book: $25 - $75 - optional
  7. Wedding insurance: $100 - $350 - optional
  8. Unexpected costs / cost overruns: 5% of total budget

Not included in this template

The purpose of this budget template is to provide a comprehensive list of expenses for the wedding day itself. You will most likely have more costs when you are getting married, such as:

  • Wedding attire for the bride and groom
  • The wedding ring or band
  • Hairdresser, make-up, manicure
  • Wedding rehearsal dinner
  • Pre-wedding parties such as an engagement party, a bridal shower, and bachelor and bachelorette parties.

A more detailed rundown of all the wedding day costs in the Template

This list is not exhaustive, but it covers the most essential items you will need to consider when financially planning your wedding.

1 - The wedding ceremony

4% - 8% of all costs

A wedding ceremony is the traditional part of a wedding in which two people are legally married by an officiant. Here's a rundown of the most typical wedding ceremony expenses.

Examples

GuestsBudgetWedding Ceremony
50$18,000$1,000
100$25,000$1,500
150$33,000$2,000

1.1 - Officiant fee

$250 - $750

An officiant is an individual with the legal authority and, when performing a wedding ceremony in a church, also the religious power to conduct a wedding ceremony. Most officiants must be licensed by their state before legally marrying couples.

1.2 - Marriage license

$50 - $150

A marriage license is a document that authorizes a couple to get married. In most cases, you must obtain a marriage license from the county where you will be married before your wedding ceremony.

1.3 - Church donation

$300 - $1,000 - optional

If you're planning to marry in a church, be sure to ask whether the couple is required to give a mandatory donation. Such a donation is given to the institution for using the space and services.

If it is not necessary to make a monetary donation, you may still contribute voluntarily to the church. The amount you choose to contribute is entirely up to you. Just don't forget to also include this amount in your wedding budget.

1.4 - Venue for the wedding ceremony

$250 - $1,000 - optional

You may have your wedding ceremony at the same location as your wedding reception. Alternatively, you might select a unique site just for the wedding ceremony. 

1.5 - Live music at the wedding ceremony

$200 - $500 - optional

Live music during a wedding ceremony often will enhance the ambiance significantly. Some great options are string quartets, harpists, guitarists, choirs, and other musical groups.

Fees for bands vary considerably, depending on the number of musicians, the type of music they play, and to a significant degree, their fame.

1.6 - Decorations for the wedding ceremony

$50 - $1,000 - optional

Decorations for a wedding ceremony can be as simple or elaborate as you like. You can choose from flowers, candles, drapes, balloons, and other decorating ideas.

2 - The wedding reception

40% - 80% of all costs

Examples

GuestsBudgetWedding Reception
50$18,000$10,000
100$25,000$15,000
150$33,000$20,000

A wedding reception is held after the wedding ceremony to celebrate the newly married couple. Invited guests attend this ceremony to personally congratulate the newly married couple and give presents.

The wedding reception usually begins with a champagne toast for the bride and groom, followed by serving appetizers. After that, there may be a seated plated dinner or a wedding buffet. This dining typically evolves into a dance party. Alcoholic beverages are served, and/or guests may get their drinks from a bar.

Here's a list of the most common wedding reception costs.

2.1 - Renting a venue for the wedding reception

$2,500 - $7,500

A hotel, restaurant, golf resort, country club, party center, or wine yard are among the most popular places for a wedding reception. The wedding ceremony might be held in the same location as the reception or at a different venue.

Some venues do not charge a fee for using the facility. Instead, the rent is included in the food and beverage expenses. This is generally the case when you have your wedding reception at a restaurant with a seated plated dinner.

Venue prices may be higher if there is a high demand in your region. Typical examples of such areas are Los Angeles and New York.

2.2 - Champagne toast and appetizers

$10.00 - $20.00 per person - optional

Toasting with the bride and groom is a popular custom at weddings. This is also when appetizers are usually served, such as bite-sized shrimp cocktails, cheese platter, sushi rolls, quesadillas, and chicken wings.

2.3 - Wedding catering

$40.00 - $80.00 per person

The term "wedding catering" refers to the service of providing a buffet or seated plated dinner at a wedding event. Alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages are available with the meal. Wine is usually served at dinner tables at seated plated meals.

The catering costs are primarily determined by the selected food, drinks, and service options. Buffet meals are usually less expensive than plated dinners. The cost of a plated dinner depends on the number of dishes served and the wines offered.

A buffet will be available at the lower end of the pricing spectrum. In contrast, a plated dinner with table service will cost more.

2.4 - Party snacks and drinks

$30.00 - $60.00 per person - optional

The wedding reception typically evolves into a dance party where guests are served party snacks and drinks. These can include potato chips, pretzels, peanuts, candy bars, soft drinks, beer, wine, and mixed drinks.

If you want to save some costs, you may opt for a paid bar instead of an open bar. When guests are offered an open bar, they may consume whatever beverages they choose whenever they want.

When the wedding guests are served a paid bar, they are limited to pre-chosen and purchased alcoholic beverages. Visitors have to pay for the drinks themselves when they go over your limits.

For example, the number of drinks and the time slot during which drinks are free can both be limited.

2.5 - Catering rentals

$5.00 - $10.00 per person - optional

You may need to rent catering equipment such as tables, tablecloths, chairs, dishes, plates, cups, and cutlery if you're serving a food buffet. You can either have the catering company provide the equipment or rent it from a rental company. You may also have to pay some transportation fees for the delivery and pick up of the rentals.

Wedding venues that serve a seated plated dinner generally supply all these materials without additional charges.

2.6 - Waiters and bartenders

$40 - $80 per hour per worker - optional

Waiters and bartenders may or may not be included if you hire someone to cater your wedding reception, depending on the terms of your contract.

2.7 - Decorations for the Wedding Ceremony

$100 - $1,000 - optional

Balloons, ribbons, candles, and lights are only a few of the items you might utilize to decorate your wedding reception. However, the essential centerpieces are usually flowers. You can choose to have your florist decorate the spaces or ask your family and friends to do so.

3 - Music / Entertainment at the wedding

2% - 8% of all costs

Examples

GuestsBudgetMusic / Entertainment
50$18,000$900
100$25,000$1.250
150$33,000$1,650

Hiring a DJ, professional musicians, and/or a live band for your wedding is a great way to add ambiance and keep the party going.

3.1 - DJ

$500 - $1,500 - optional

You may hire a DJ to only play music at your dance party. In addition, you can also request that the DJ provide suitable music for hours leading up to that event, such as ambiance music during the champagne toast and buffet or plated dinner.

3.2 - Live acoustic musicians

$200 - $800 - optional

Acoustic artists are more personal and ideal at the start of your wedding reception when guests arrive, and the married couple makes their entrance. Typically, two or three individuals make up a small ensemble. They generally perform light jazz, classical music, or popular covers.

3.3 - A live cover band (semi-pro)

$750 - $1,500 - optional

Live cover bands are pretty popular at wedding parties. They simply play well-known songs from the past. Most people dance to the music. A two-hour live performance with a pause in the middle is typical. The DJ has a perfect opportunity to step in during the break and keep your party going.

3.4 - Sound and lights equipment rental

$250 - $1,000 - optional

If you're planning live performances and/or dancing, you may need to rent sound and light equipment for the stage and/or dance floor.

Such gear is sometimes included in the rental fees for the venue. It is also not uncommon for the DJ or music band to bring their own sound and lighting equipment.

If you only require some presentation material (mic, speakers, beamer), expect a lower price range. You may need extensive sound and light equipment for a big dance party. For which the price will be at the higher end.

4 - A Wedding Cake

2% of all costs

Examples

GuestsBudgetWedding Cake
50$18,000$350
100$25,000$500
150$33,000$650

$4 - $6 per person - optional

The wedding cake ceremony is a moment during the wedding when the bride and groom cut the wedding cake together. The married couple usually cuts the wedding cake after the wedding ceremony, when all guests have arrived for the wedding reception. Or later in the day, at the start of the dessert portion of the reception dinner or buffet.

5 - Wedding photography

6% - 12% of all costs

Examples

Guests

Budget

Wedding Photography

50$18,000$1,500
100$25,000$2,250
150$33,000$3,000

Most couples hire a wedding photographer to capture their special day. The photographs tell the wedding day's story in pictures. Couples may also consider hiring a videographer to capture the most memorable moments in motion and sound.

The wedding photographer

$1,500 - $3,000 - optional

If you have many family and friends taking pictures, you'll undoubtedly have some fantastic ones. This saves you the money it would cost to hire a wedding photographer.

However, suppose you want a complete and cohesive set of photographs that capture your wedding day's atmosphere, emotions, timeline, and meaningful moments. In that case, it is best to hire a professional photographer.

The wedding videographer

$1,000 - $2,500 - optional

A wedding videographer records the wedding day's events as they unfold, creating a valuable video documentary of your wedding day to enjoy for years to come.

Nowadays, you may also obtain a few short wedding videos from the videographer besides a full-length video. These are delivered to you quickly on your wedding day or the day after to immediately share them on social media.

6 - Flowers for the wedding

2% - 6% of all costs

Examples

Guests

Budget

Wedding Flowers

50$18,000$500
100$25,000$1,000
150$33,000$1,500

Flowers are an essential part of the wedding day. They are used for the bride's bouquet, the groom's boutonniere, and the corsages. In addition, flowers are usually used to decorate the ceremony and reception spaces, the wedding car, and the procession.

6.1 - Wedding bouquet for the bride

$50 - $250

The bride's wedding bouquet is a lovely arrangement of flowers that she will hold during her wedding ceremony and reception. The bouquet might include any flower. However, roses, lilies, and orchids are popular choices.

6.2 - Boutonniere for the groom

$25 - $50

The boutonniere is usually a single flower or a small arrangement of flowers that the groom wears on the left lapel of his jacket. It complements the bride's bouquet and dress and the groom's outfit. 

The boutonniere is generally supplied by a florist together with the bridal bouquet.

6.3. Wedding bouquets for the bridesmaids

$25 - $50 per bridesmaid - optional

The bridesmaids usually carry smaller versions of the bride's wedding bouquet. These are often made of the same flowers as the bride's bouquet but have a more straightforward design and fewer flowers.

6.4. Wedding corsages for the family members and closest friends

$15 - $30 per person - optional

Corsages are small bouquets that relatives and closest friends of the bride and groom wear on their clothing on the wedding day.

Corsages are usually made from the same flowers as the bride's and groom's bouquets. They may include a ribbon to tie around the wrist or safety pins to attach to the lapel of the clothing.

6.5. - Decorating the wedding locations with flowers

$250 - $1,000 - optional

Flowers can be used to decorate both the wedding ceremony and reception areas. At the wedding ceremony, lovely floral arrangements might be used to decorate the marriage altar and aisle. Flowers can be used to decorate the wedding cake table, bride's table, podium, and any other areas where the married couple will enter, stand and sit down. 

6.6 - Wedding car decoration

$50 - $250 - optional

Flowers, ribbons, and bows may all be used to decorate the wedding cars. Sometimes, flowers used in the bride's bouquet or to decorate wedding locations are also used to decorate the cars.

The bride and groom are seated in the first car. This car will be the most decorated. The cars with the family members and closest friends are the next in line and are usually also decorated. The wedding guests may be given (white) ribbons to tie to their vehicle's mirrors or aerials.

7 - Miscellaneous for a wedding

10% - 15% of all costs

Examples

Guests

Budget

Miscellaneous

50$18,000$2,000
100$25,000$3,000
150$33,000$4,000

This section lists other expenses that may apply to a wedding, such as transportation, hiring a wedding planner, favors, invitation cards, transportation, gifts, a guest book, and insurance.

7.1 - Transportation

$50 - $350 per hour per vehicle - optional

You'll most likely need transportation on your wedding day to get you and your party from and to the various wedding events.

Here are some examples:

  • Wedding limousine
  • Wedding bus
  • Classic car or sports car
  • Taxi or Uber

7.2 - Wedding planner

$1,500 - $3,000 - optional

A wedding planner is a person who works in the wedding industry and whose job is to help you with your wedding planning. Hiring a wedding planner may save you money in the long run if you have a big wedding. This person will likely negotiate a lower cost for a wedding site, meals, music, and other services.

Prices may be higher if there is a high demand for wedding planners in your region. Typical examples of such areas are Los Angeles and New York.

7.3 - Wedding favors

$2.50 - $10.00 per favor / family - optional

Wedding favors are small gifts that people receive at a wedding. For example, a small bag of candy. These gifts are typically handed out at the end of the wedding reception and usually have the bride and groom's names on them. The wedding guest may keep them as souvenirs.

7.4 - Wedding invitation cards

$5 - $10 per card / family - optional

Traditionally, wedding invitations are sent to formally invite guests to the wedding ceremony and/or the wedding reception. The invitation usually includes event details, such as the date, time, location, and dress code. If you include an RSVP card, it is customary to pay for the postage for sending back this card.

7.5 - Gifts for people who helped out

$50 - $250 per gift - optional

Many couples choose to give gifts to the people who helped make their wedding day special. This could include the parents, relatives, friends, your wedding planner, and others who went above and beyond to help you.

7.6 - Guest book

$25 - $75 - optional

A wedding guest book is a great way to capture the memories of your wedding day. Guests can sign the book and leave a short message for the bride and groom. 

7.7 - Wedding insurance

$100 - $350 - optional

Protecting yourself by purchasing insurance for your wedding day can be a good idea. This insurance isn't particularly pricey, but it can cover significant expenditures or claims.

Some of the things that are typically covered by wedding insurance include:

  • Cancellation or postpone the wedding due to a medical emergency. For example, injury or illness to the bride or groom or death in the family.
  • Weather-related emergencies prevent the wedding from taking place.
  • Supplier-related troubles prevent the wedding from happening, such as a last-minute bankruptcy of an essential supplier.
  • Jewelry, gifts, and other items that are lost or stolen.
  • Property damage at the wedding venue.
  • If you are held liable for severe injuries to your guest that occurred at your wedding.

7.8 - Unexpected costs / cost overruns

5% of the total budget 

Wedding costs can sometimes be more than you expect. Unexpected wedding costs may include overtime fees for the staff and photographer and last-minute travel expenses. Or if you decide to change the menu that was already agreed on before, making it a bit more expensive per person.

It is usually a good idea to build in some flexibility for unexpected costs. 

Recap

A well-structured wedding budget breakdown is essential for successful and stress-free wedding planning.

Using the free template we've provided can minimize the risk of going over budget. Keep in mind to allocate some money for unexpected costs and cost overruns, just in case.

We hope you find this helpful information.

18 FAQ about Wedding Budget Breakdown

1 - When should I start working on my wedding budget?

You should start working on your wedding budget as soon as you have decided that you want to get married. This will give you a better understanding of how much money you need to save and what kind of expenses you can expect.

If possible, try to create a wedding budget before you start shopping for wedding vendors. This will help you to avoid being tempted to spend more than you can afford.

2 - What is a typical breakdown of a wedding budget?

The breakdown of a wedding budget depends on many factors, such as the size and location of the wedding. On average, however, it may typically contain these categories:

  1. The Wedding Ceremony (4% - 8%)
  2. The Wedding Reception (40% - 60%)
  3. Music / Entertainment at the wedding (2% - 8%)
  4. The Wedding Cake (1% - 3%)
  5. Wedding photography (6% - 12%)
  6. Flowers for the wedding (2% - 6%)
  7. Miscellaneous (10% - 15%)

3 - Is it acceptable to ask for money as a gift at a wedding party?

Yes, it is perfectly fine to include a line in your wedding invitation that requests money as a gift instead of material items. However, some people may feel more comfortable giving you a present. In this case, it is best to provide them with the option to choose.

A clever approach to asking for cash rather than gifts is to include a note in your invitations. For example: "If you wish to give a monetary gift, we would be grateful." In Europe, an envelop icon on an invitation generally means that the couple would appreciate monetary gifts.

4 - How much money do guests contribute as a wedding gift?

It is not possible to give a single answer to this question since people's financial situations vary greatly. A good rule of thumb is that the amount spent by guests on a couple's wedding gift matches the costs of the food and alcohol they consume.

Also, a family member or close friend would likely spend more on a gift than someone less close.

Generally, it is considered appropriate to spend at least $50 on a wedding gift, more commonly between $100 and $250 per couple.

5 - Should I include in my budget how much money I expect to receive as wedding presents?

No, you should not include this in your wedding budget. The amount of money you receive as gifts is usually unpredictable and can vary greatly.

However, you may feel somewhat comfortable knowing that you will receive back some of that money from your guest. Especially if you think your wedding is costing you a significant amount of money and are unsure if it is all worth it.

Examples

GuestsBudgetExpected back as gifts
50$18,000$2,500 - $6,250
100$25,000$5,000 - $12,500
150$33,000$7,500 - $18,750

Some couples choose to open a separate bank account for their wedding gifts to keep track of how much they have received. This can be helpful if you are planning to use the money towards

6 - How much should I allocate for unexpected costs?

A good rule of thumb is to set aside 5% of your total budget for unexpected costs and cost overruns.

7 - What are often occurring unexpected wedding costs?

No matter how well you plan, unexpected wedding costs will always occur. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • Unexpected venue costs: Sometimes, the location you choose for your wedding turns out to be more expensive than you expected. This can happen if the venue is in a popular tourist area, if you need a larger venue than expected, or if more staff is required than planned.
  • Unexpected catering costs: If you're having a buffet rather than a sit-down meal, you may need to order more food than you originally planned. This is because people tend to eat more when they can serve themselves.
  • Overtime fees: If your wedding goes longer than expected, you may have to pay overtime fees for the staff, DJ, or other vendors.
  • Weather-related costs: If you have an outdoor wedding, there's always the possibility that bad weather could force you to move the ceremony or reception indoors. This could result in additional costs.
  • Transportation costs: you may run into unexpected costs. For example, for guests who get lost or stranded. Or, for example, if the wedding party needs to be transported to a different location than originally planned.
  • Printing mistakes on invitations or other stationery: If you make a mistake on your invitations or other wedding stationery, you may have to reprint them. This can be expensive, especially if you're using high-quality paper.
  • Lost wedding rings or other valuables: If you or your spouse lose your wedding rings, you may have to pay to replace them.
  • Legal fees: If you marry in a country other than your own, there may be unexpected legal fees. For example, you may need to get a marriage license in the country where you're getting married.
  • Increased tip for vendors: If you're happy with the service you received from your vendors, you may want to give them a larger tip than you originally planned.
  • Extra costs for guests: For example, if you have guests who stay longer than expected. Or if you need to provide transportation or other services for them.

While it's impossible to predict every single cost you'll incur during your wedding, you can be better prepared to deal with them. By setting aside a small percentage of your budget for unexpected expenses, you can help ensure that your wedding stays on track financially.

8 - What is the average cost of a wedding in the United States?

Most weddings in the United States are between $25.000 and $35.000. However, costs can range from $10,000 to $100,000+, depending on the size and location of the wedding.

Costs can differ significantly based on where you live. Suppose you marry in a more expensive location, such as Los Angeles or New York. In that case, your expenditures will be about 50% greater than the national average. Costs in less expensive places to live, such as Arkansas, Missouri, or Ohio, may be up to 30% lower than the national average.

Here you'll find tables with the average costs for a wedding with 50, 100, and 150 guests for all the US states.

  1. Cost per US State for a wedding with 50 guests 
  2. Cost per US State for a wedding with 100 guests 
  3. Cost per US State for a wedding with 150 guests

9 - Do I need a wedding budget breakdown?

While you may have an overall idea of how much you want to spend on your wedding, it's important to break down your budget into specific categories. This will help you keep track of your spending and ensure you're not overspending in any area.

10 - What is important to remember when creating a wedding budget breakdown?

The most important thing to remember when creating a wedding budget breakdown is to be realistic. Wedding costs can add up quickly, so you need to have a clear idea of what you can afford before spending.

Start by estimating the total cost of the wedding, then begin scaling back and cutting costs in areas that are less important to you. This will help ensure that you stay within your budget.

11 - Do I need to include gratuity in my wedding budget breakdown?

While gratuity is not required, it is often appreciated by vendors. If you're planning to give a gratuity, be sure to factor it into your budget, so you don't end up overspending.

This will also help ensure you don't unintentionally under-tip your vendors on the wedding day.

12 - Can I have a wedding without going over budget?

Yes, you can have a wedding without going over budget. It will require careful planning and financial discipline. An excellent idea is to reserve at least 5% of your budget for unforeseen costs.

Also, start by creating a realistic budget and then stick to it. This means being mindful of your spending, avoiding unnecessary costs, and being willing to compromise on certain aspects of the wedding.

13 - How do I cut costs on my wedding budget?

There are many ways to cut costs on your wedding budget. Some common ways to save money include:

  • cutting back on the number of guests you invite
  • opting for a less expensive venue
  • opting for a less elaborate menu
  • serving less expensive alcoholic beverages
  • avoiding peak wedding season dates
  • opting for a shorter wedding reception
  • avoiding live music or other costly entertainment
  • choosing less expensive flowers
  • avoiding transportation costs by having the ceremony and reception in the same location

and many more.

14 - Should I hire a wedding planner?

If you are planning a small or simple wedding, you probably do not need the services of a wedding planner. You can save money by planning the wedding yourself or enlisting the help of friends and family members.

Hiring a wedding planner may save you money in the long run if you have a big wedding. This person will likely negotiate a lower cost for a wedding venue, meals, alcohol, music, and other services.

In addition, a wedding planner can help you stay organized and within budget.

15 - How much should I tip my wedding vendors?

While there is no set rule for how much to tip your wedding vendors, in the US, you are generally expected to tip them for their services.

The amount you tip will depend on the quality of service you received and how much you can afford to give.

A good rule of thumb is to budget 10-20% of the service's total cost into your wedding budget for tips.

For example, when paying a photographer $1,500 for their services, you should budget $150-$300 for a tip.

However, you should only pay a tip if you believe you have received good service. Also, set aside some budget to be able to pay a higher tip if you feel you have received exceptional service at the end.

16 - Do I need to purchase wedding insurance?

Wedding insurance is not required, but it can give you peace of mind if something goes wrong.

This type of insurance typically covers lost deposits, cancellations, inclement weather, vendor no-shows, and other unforeseen circumstances.

Some of the things that are typically covered by wedding insurance include:

  • Cancellation or postpone the wedding due to a medical emergency. For example, injury or illness to the bride or groom or death in the family.
  • Weather-related emergencies prevent the wedding from taking place.
  • Supplier-related troubles prevent the wedding from happening, such as a last-minute bankruptcy of an essential supplier.
  • Jewelry, gifts, and other items that are lost or stolen.
  • Property damage at the wedding venue.
  • If you are held liable for severe injuries to your guest that occurred at your wedding.

While wedding insurance is not required, purchasing it may be a good idea if you worry about losing money if something goes wrong with the wedding. It might help to reduce some of the stress while preparing for your wedding day.

17 - What are some common mistakes with a wedding budget?

Some common mistakes people make when making a wedding budget breakdown include:

  • Not being realistic about how much things cost
  • Not including all of the necessary costs in the budget
  • Not sticking to the budget
  • Overspending in one area and not having enough money left for other areas
  • Not leaving enough room in the budget for unforeseen costs

18 - What are some tips for sticking to my wedding budget?

Some tips for sticking to your wedding budget include:

  • Keep track of all of your expenses in a spreadsheet or budget app
  • Set a spending limit for each vendor and stick to it
  • Be willing to compromise on certain aspects of the wedding
  • Shop around for the best deals on wedding vendors
  • Avoid impulse purchases
  • Have a realistic budget and stick to it.

Take a look at our great Wedding Calculators

WEDDING BUDGET CALCULATOR

Do you need help on how much money to plan for you wedding? This Budget Calculator will estimate the costs. You can also download a customized spreadsheet for your wedding budget for free.

WEDDING CAKE CALCULATOR

Simply enter the number of persons and this Wedding Cake Calculator will show you the matching wedding cake servings chart and the average cost for the wedding cakes found.