How to Calculate your Wedding Budget

Kellee Khalil
Before you jump into building your budget there are a few decisions you and your partner should make. We highly recommend that you finalize these decisions before you jump into building the budget. It'll save you a lot of time and frustration!

It All Starts with Guest Count

Your biggest wedding expenses are typically catering, transportation, rentals, and most importantly, the venue. These expenses are variable costs that will depend on the number of people you’ll be inviting. There's a big difference between a 50 person wedding and 250 person wedding when it comes to budgeting!
So before you can even begin to work out how much it'll cost to throw the wedding you want, you need to know how many people you'll be hosting. That means you need to pause the budgeting for a bit so you can build a list!
We suggest creating a list using this template to outline your tier A, B, and C guests. Also decide whether you're going to invite plus ones and children as that definitely impacts the total guest count and overall budget.
We’ve made it SUPER easy for you to collect and organize your guest list contact information with our Guest List Manager tool which is available in your wedding dashboard.

Prioritizing Your Funds

Ok, so now that you know who is contributing and roughly how much money you're working with it's time to start figuring out how you want to allocate your wedding funds. We’ve developed a super easy, five-point strategy to help you with this! The first step is downloading our wedding budget spreadsheet which has a template you can use as a rough budgeting framework. This budget spreadsheet is completely customizable and even has a sample budget built in for a quick reference.You can use this spreadsheet as your working file to start putting pen to paper and understand how all the different elements of your wedding add up!
Pro Tip: In this early stage it’s helpful to use the column to identify who specifically has committed to paying for that part of the wedding dashboard.

Prioritize Your Purchases
Our biggest tip when building your wedding budget is prioritizing. Instead of setting numbers in stone from the start, do your research and prioritize your purchases in a spreadsheet. Here’s what we mean: Identify your main purchasing categories: venue, food and drink, dessert, decor, entertainment, transportation, stationery, attire, etc.Within those categories, write down the things you plan on having at your wedding (don’t worry about thinking of absolutely everything, just get down as much as you can). Include things that you need, want, and might want. Use Loverly’s 12-month checklist and 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 a three-tier wedding cake is non-negotiable, but you also want alternative dessert options for your guests like cupcakes, cake pops...maybe even a candy bar, then the hierarchy of these four line items would be wedding cake → cupcakes → cake pops → candy bar. Then give each category a number 1-5, 5 being your top priority and 1 being something you care the least about. Remember, not everything can be a 5. Really try your best to rank your preferred categories accurately!
The benefit of prioritizing your wedding budget is that you don’t have to skip the purchases most important to you. Sure, you might need to compromise on some less important items, but overall the compromise will be worth it! So, to recap: structure your budget by needs, wants, might-wants, and last minute splurges. To make this easier, we’ve put a link to download the Loverly Wedding Budget Spreadsheet below. It includes a sample budget and a blank template that outlines your main purchasing categories and line items with room for you to add on yourself. Also, if you’re interested, take a look at some wedding splurges that we think are worth every penny!  

Consider Your Budget Range
Now, considering your financial situation and what you know others are willing to contribute, it’s time to look for some budget reference numbers. In 2018, the average wedding cost in the United States was $24,723. It’s important to note that COVID-19 has impacted wedding prices due to things like labor shortages and supply chain disruptions, but still, $24,723 will be fine as a reference point.Using this number as a basis, start thinking about the minimum amount of money you think you’ll need to pull off your dream wedding and the most you’d be willing to spend. When considering your range, remember that the margin between your lowest and highest amounts can be as large or as small as you need. 

Consider The Impact - Time to View
Another way to prioritize expenses is by thinking about how much time certain items or elements of the wedding will actually be seen, used, or experienced. For example, a beautiful welcome sign could be a wonderful decor element but if it's only viewed during the entrance to the wedding ceremony or reception... that's about 15 minutes of focus. On the other hand, your tablescape will be a focal point during the entire dinner portion of the event…probably around 2-3 hours!
Gather Your Quotes AKA “DO YOUR RESEARCH”
After you’ve decided on your range (e.g., $28,000-$32,000), the next step is reaching out to potential vendors and researching materials for anything you might be DIY-ing so that you can add all of those cost estimates to your budget spreadsheet. You should be reaching out to anyone that might be providing paid services toward your wedding planning. 
Plan your wedding like a pro.
Join our newsletter: