How To Set Your Wedding Budget… and Stick To It

Spend some time-- get it, spend--understanding the dos and don’t over building and sticking to your wedding budget. We break it all down for you so each dollar counts.

What Is A Wedding Budget?
First things first… to stick to a wedding budget you need to actually understand what it is. In its simplest form, a budget is a number that you don’t want your total costs to exceed. Giving it a little more detail, a wedding budget outlines all of the costs, spends, splurges, and limits regarding money for your wedding. It can get very overwhelming and can become a point of frustration for a lot of planners and nearlyweds. Thankfully, Loverly has three simple steps that will help you manage your wedding budget all the way from your engagement to the end of your honeymoon.

Before you whip out the calculator to play with numbers, we recommend that you use your words.

Having conversations with those who will be involved in this wedding planning process is a key first step to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Honest and open communication is one of the best ways to manage any issues that may come farther into planning. Here is our list of people you should have conversations with before getting too far into detailing your budget:


The conversation with your spouse-to-beis number one. Make sure that you’re on the same page with your wedding wants, needs, styles, and expectations. If you’ve already been living together, then you might have no trouble communicating openly about possible shared expenses. But, if you haven’t or need a couple tips then go ahead and read our article onfive pre-wedding money talks you should have with your partner.


Tradition has it that the parents of one of the nearlyweds pays for the wedding. Well, times have since changed and that’s not always the case when it comes to modern weddings. Oftentimes, costs are split among multiple individuals, families, or groups. If you plan on having parents or guardians contribute to your wedding costs, having conversations with them about expectations, amounts, and definitely boundaries could be helpful. If you’re looking for a little more direction on how to start the conversation, here are some notes fortalking to your parents about your wedding budget.

Married Friends and Family

We suggest talking to some of your married friends and family to get some budget references and realistic takes when it comes to paying for your wedding. Getting some insight from people who have been in your shoes can certainly set your mind at ease and provide helpful tips for starting out.


Don’t worry, we’re not throwing you into a pool of numbers for you to randomly choose. We’ve developed a super easy, five-point strategy for outlining all of your costs and getting that final budget number.

The first step is to make a spreadsheet of some sort for all of your budget outlines and tracking. It can have as many elements and section as you’d like, but we suggest it at least includes categories, line items, quotes, totals, a section for miscellaneous purchases, and an area for notes. You can even add a column or row to identify who specifically is responsible for that purchase, if you have multiple parties contributing.

Prioritize Your Purchases

Our main tip when building your wedding budget is prioritizing. Instead of setting hardcore numbers from the start, do your research and prioritze your purchases and line items first in a spreadsheet. Here’s what we mean by that:

Identify your main purchasing categories: venue, food & drink, dessert, decor, entertainment, travel & hotel, stationery, attire, etc

Within those categories, write down everything that you plan to buy (don’t worry if it’s not everything, just get down as much as you can). Include things that you need, want, and might want. Use our Loverly 12-month checklist and our category checklists as a reference.

After you’ve brainstormed everything you generally plan to buy, organize it by priority. Take your Dessert category, for example... if you and your partner know that a three-tier wedding cake is non-negotiable, but you also wanted alternative dessert options for your guests like cupcakes, cake pops, and maybe even a candy bar. Then the hierarchy of these four line items would be wedding cake → cupcakes → cake pops → candy bar.

The benefit of prioritizing within your wedding budget is so you don’t have to skimp or miss out on the purchases most important to you. So your structure your needs, wants, might-wants, and last minute splurges. Take a look at some wedding splurges that, in our opinion, make the price point worth it! And to make it easier on you, we have our Loverly Budget Tool available for you; it includes a sample budget and a blank template that outlines your main purchasing categories and line items, leaving room for you to add on yourself.

Consider Your Budget Range

Now, considering your financial situation and what you know others might contribute to your wedding costs, grab a couple overhead budget numbers and break those out. In 2018, the average wedding cost in the United States was $24,723. So you can use that as a point of reference when choosing your overhead budget numbers. We recommend thinking about more than one (i.e. $28,000, $30,000, and $32,000) to get a feel for your general budget range. This helps you decide the minimum you feel you’ll need to spend and the maximum that you are willing to spend overall. When considering your range, remember that the margin between your lowest and highest amounts can be as large or as small as you need.

Gather Your Quotes

And after you’ve decided on your range (i.e. $28,000-$32,000), the next step is to reach out to all of your potential vendors and research materials for anything you might be DIY-ing so that all of those cost estimates can go in your budget spreadsheets. Based on your checklist, you should be reaching out to anyone that might be providing paid services toward your wedding planning. Below we’ve included the average costs in 2018 for common wedding purchases in the United States, per The Wedding Report:

Dress/Gown: $1217

Suit: $210

Live Band: $1693

Wedding Bands (for two partners): $1229

Photographer: $1597

Officiant: $213

Cake/Dessert: $416

Catering: $4632

Venue: $3618

Decor: $1374

Keep in mind that these numbers might be different for you depending on your budget range and your priorities. Maybe you’re getting a DJ instead of live musicians. And maybe you plan on DIY-ing the majority of your reception decor. Take note of where prices may differ for you and record your quotes accordingly.

Revisit Your Priorities

Once you’ve gotten all of your price estimates together, go back into your spreadsheet just to make sure that everything is aligned with these new numbers. Revisiting your budgeting priorities is an important step in wedding budgeting. You don’t want to be caught by surprise and realize that you can no longer get the gold cufflinks you’ve been eyeing since the beginning of your engagement. So, take the time to revisit all of your priorities and adjust some numbers and line item orders if need be.

Consider Your Budget Range

At the end of all of that (very important) prep work, you should have enough information to get your final budget number. This can be the number you base all of your purchases on and it should fall somewhere in the middle of your budget range. So, if you’re range was $28,000-$32,000 and that is the range that still works for you after gathering your quotes and price points, then your final number might be $29,850. And now you’re ready to spend!

To make it easier on you, we have our Loverly Budget Tool available

To make it easier on you, we have our Loverly Budget Tool available; it includes a sample budget and a blank template that outlines everything you need to complete the next five steps for building a realistic wedding budget.


The main way to stay within your budget is to monitor what you’re spending. Sounds easy, but this is where we find many nearlyweds gets off…track :)

Every purchase you make toward your wedding should be added to your spreadsheet. And this includes the small purchases too; don’t forget that they add up!

For any miscellaneous purchases that don’t fall into any of your specific categories, use a “miscellaneous” or “additional purchases” category in your spreadsheet to make sure that they are being recorded as well. We also recommend sitting some time aside a 1-2 times a month to thoroughly revisit your numbers and priorities with your partner and anyone else involved in your wedding budget to make sure you are all on the same page.

How Do I Save Money?

Our three tips helped to give you some guidance, but we also know everyone’s looking for ways to bring down the cost of their wedding. So, where exactly can you cut corners? Here are our Loverly recommendations for purchases to be wary of and areas of your planning where you can cut costs easily.

Sneaky Wedding Costs


Gratuity & Service Fees

Your Rain Plan

Marriage License

Delivery/Shipping Costs




Vendor Meals

Cake Cutting Fees

Going Outside Contracted Time

Attire fittings and alterations

Cleaning fees

Read more about thesesmart ways to cut wedding costs hereandwedding budget hacks here!

Post-Wedding Costs

When the ceremony and reception are all done, you’re still gonna have a couple things to pay for. Here is the list ofpost-wedding costs you should start planning for now.

Printing photos

Thank you note postage

Court order to change your name

Attire, cake, or flower preservation

And, last but not least, if all of these other costs didn’t break the bank.. Use any leftover money to purchase the gifts you and you partner wanted, but didn’t get! :)

So basically...

All in all, your wedding budget doesn’t have to be a concrete box that limits and restricts your wedding wants and needs. The real key to setting a wedding budget and sticking to it is thorough preparation in the early planning stages in a way that both specifies boundaries and allows room for flexibility. We’d love to hear any other wedding budget related questions you have, send them to us on Instagram! In the meantime, #stayloverly and happy planning...