Wedding Planning Checklist: Budget for Your Big Day

Venues, attire, food and drink—there are a few big wedding expenses that you’ll want to make the centerpiece of your saving. Here's our wedding planning checklist to help you plan for a perfect celebration of love.
Man on his wedding day

Whether you’ve been saving for your wedding since you were small or you’re on a limited budget, you can create a wedding that’s beautiful, meaningful, and unique to you. All it takes is a little tweaking and prioritizing.

Before even sending out announcements, it can be helpful to sit down with your partner and decide how much money you want to spend on your wedding, and where you want to spend that money. The cost per head—which includes the price of food, beverages, and an appropriately sized venue—can really add up.

When it comes to the biggest expenses associated with a wedding, it pays to save in advance, rather than utilizing lines of credit. We’ve listed the six big items to save for below, along with a savings Goal that factors in 100 guests and a moderate budget. What you actually decide to spend is entirely up to you, your partner, and your priorities.

Venue

Deciding where you have your wedding can be tricky. You want to try to choose a location that everyone you invite can comfortably travel to, and a location that suits the look and feel you want your event to have. When picking a venue, remember that non-weekend days are the most cost-effective but may be harder for family and friends to attend easily. Make sure you also include a security deposit in your savings, as venues require these to rent out their space.

Location rental
$2500

Wedding attire

With cameras flashing, your family in tow, and the person you love standing close, you’ll want to look and feel your best. If stylish wedding attire is important to you, you’ll want to include it in your budget.

While wedding salons and high-end brands are a popular choice for one-stop shopping, there are many cheaper options for your needs. You can buy beautiful, unique garments for a fraction of the price if you’re willing to expand your search.

It’s worth noting that many couples no longer choose to get married in an outfit they can only wear once, like a designer wedding dress. By choosing something fancy that you love, you can wear your outfit for years after you say “I do.”

Two modest wedding outfits
$800

Flowers

They’re deceptively spendy, and they don’t last long, yet many a couple has spent heaps on the ethereal beauty of wedding flowers.

If you’re looking for ways to cut costs on flowers, consider reducing the size of bouquets and boutonnières, or don’t have them at all. While you might also want to consider reducing the size and cost of the bride’s bouquet, this might be a cost you want to keep. You’ll want something substantial for the bouquet toss!

Flowers
$300

Photographer

Hiring a wedding photographer gives you the freedom to enjoy every moment knowing someone else is chronicling the event. However, rockstar wedding photographers can be spendy.

If you don’t want to make compromises on quality, consider hiring a pro for the first couple of hours of your wedding rather than the whole day. You can trust that your family will be shooting the afterparty on their phones.

Photographer
$1500

Food

Before you look at potential wedding menus, take some time to talk through your guest list with your partner; the more people you invite, the more food you’ll need to pay for.

Another thing to consider is the style of food you’d like to provide for people—are you interested in having a sit-down meal, or a more relaxed buffet setup? Either way, food cost per head is likely to be somewhere between $25 and $45. For 100 guests, you’ll be looking at an average of $3,500 for food.

Food
$3500

Drinks

The cost of beverages for your guests adds up, so if you’re looking to save a few bucks, start with what people are drinking. Shortening the menu of available beverages will not only save you money, it will also save patrons time waiting at the bar or their table for service. You can also provide pre-mixed drinks in bowls for people to help themselves to, which is a great cost-saver.

Drinks
$1000

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