by: Lauren

It’s Thursday Tips time friends! Since Valentine’s Day has come and gone, the time of year that I so affectionately call “Engagement Season” is now over. Which means that for those of you who got engaged during the past few months, it’s time to get to planning!

First things first, if you haven’t already read the 5 Things To Do First, go read it now! For those of you who have read the 5 Things post, you’ll know that your budget is a HUGE part of getting started with your wedding planning. In fact, it’s the very first thing on your list of the 5 things to do first! The truth is, you really can’t do ANYTHING without knowing your budget. Let me repeat that. YOU CANNOT DO ANY WEDDING PLANNING WITHOUT KNOWING YOUR BUDGET.

Thursday Tips: Budget Before You Book! via TheELD.comPhoto via ELV planner, Burkle Events

So now that we have that out on the table, I’m sure you’re wanting a little more insight into the budget. I’ve done a few posts in the past on budget, but it’s been a while, so I thought I would do a little refresher. :)

Getting Started

It always helps to start off with your budget by talking to those who will be contributing. I know it sucks to talk about money (specifically spending it), but you have to do it. If parents are contributing to the budget, ask them what they would like to or be able to contribute. Nowadays, some of you might have multiple sets of parents- ask them all, because you don’t want them to feel left out of things! And then if it’s just you and your fiance paying for things, sit down and review your finances to see what you will be able to spend. The budget talks are no fun, but remember to keep the tone light and happy, and remind everyone that the goal is to celebrate you and your fiance’s love and the start of a a new, bigger family. :)

NOTE: When you have a planner, he or she will totally be helping you out with your budget. In fact, I would say this is the exception to my above statement that you can’t do anything without a set budget. You can definitely book a planner to help you SET your budget for each portion of your wedding. I of course highly, 100% recommend that you do this. Now, I didn’t include a planner in the section below, but know that a planner’s cost can range anywhere from 5 to 10% of your wedding’s budget. Some have different ways that they charge too- it really just depends on your location and who you choose. :)

Thursday Tips: Budget Before You Book! via TheELD.comPhoto by ELV photographer Roohi Photography

Setting the Numbers

This is the big part that a lot of people get stuck at. How do you know what to budget for things? You have no idea what a wedding costs- you just know what the “averages” are, but is that going to be right for your wedding? The best way to set your budget for individual things is to adopt a percentage model. There are various tools out there on planning sites – you can put in your total budget, and then the calculator/app/whatever-it’s-called gives you the recommended percentage of your budget and the amount that percentage includes. However, just about every one of the percentage tools is different.

So with all of that said, here are my realistic recommendations for what percentages should be for your budget.I’ve also gone a level deeper into what each “category” entails, so you’re aware of what you’ll need to include within your budgeted percentage.

Reception: 50%

Venue, Food, Drinks, Cake

Photography & Videography: 18%

Florals & Decor: 15%Ā 

All floral elements, rentals (some rentals may be included in Reception), and decor items

Stationery: 8%

Invitations, Day-Of Stationery (menus, table numbers, escort cards, etc)

Entertainment: 5%

Ceremony: 2%

Officiant fee, ceremony rental

Miscellaneous: 2%

Favors, any extras

Of course feel free to change percentages depending on what is more important to you- if you’re more concerned about decor than food, take a few points out of the Reception area and allot them to the Florals & Decor. Make your wedding budget fit YOU. (Also see this post for a little bit of a different breakdown of percentages- clearly I’ve since updated, but this is great if you need another example!)

Thursday Tips: Budget Before You Book! via TheELD.comPhoto by ELV photographer Justin James Photography

Don’t Spend It All In One Place!

Haha, yep, remember when your grandmother would give you $5 when you were a kid and say that? Well the same applies with your wedding budget. Don’t spend all of your budget on one thing. Usually this happens with the first thing booked- because things are being booked before considering everything else that has to be budgeted for! So if you set your budget before doing anything else, you’ll be good. Just don’t go outside of it! Too often have I heard of a bride and groom who blew their budget on a gorgeous venue, but then couldn’t pay to have a great photographer capture it. Or to have equally gorgeous decor to match the venue. It’s a balancing act, and that’s why you have a budget.


Hopefully all of this will help some of you when you’re budgeting! Remember, your wedding is unique to you, so feel free to change your budgeted percentages around to fit what you want- just make sure they all add up to 100%! :) And if you do this successfully, then you won’t have to worry about spending all of your budget in one place. Let’s try to avoid that, okay?

If you have any specific budget questions, please feel free to ask in the comments, email me, or submit your question to the Q&A page here on ELD!

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Founder & Editor at Every Last Detail
Lauren Grove is the editor and owner of Every Last Detail. A clueless bride-turned-wedding planner, Lauren uses her experiences and knowledge to educate and inspire brides all over the world.

4 responses to Thursday Tips: Budget Before You Book!

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  1. Amanda {The Uncrafter}

    Lauren, you always have the best advice! So, so helpful for brides. :)

  2. megan

    where are you including attire, transportation, and gifts?

  3. Amanda - Amanda Douglas Events (a Vendor)

    Oh man, so true! It’s always my preference if couples come to me before they book anything. I’ve had so many brides tell me their budget and then tell me where they’ve booked and they’ve picked one of the most expensive venues in town without a budget to match. It’s always hard to do the rest with what’s left on the budget :(

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