Wedding Planning Success Lounge: Creating a Wedding Budget

Wedding budgets are such an important part in your client’s planning process: they allow you and your couple to create a plan that will translate their vision into a beautiful wedding but also will keep track of all the expenses. I always take some time to educate them on their finances: the wedding day will be 8-9 hours of fun but it’s only one day. There’s no point in spending a ridiculous amount of money for something that they can barely afford. That same amount could be spent on something different: their first home payment or their new family, or even their honeymoon – at least that will last a couple of weeks!

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Couples planning a wedding very often come to my consultations with pictures of gorgeously-styled shoots or images from multi-million dollar weddings which are not very common in the real world. I noticed that this is happening more and more often because of social media, blogs and Pinterest offering a lot of different ideas and inspiration (a few years ago these resources didn’t exist). I now spend some more time to explain that those images are just to be used as inspiration and they’re great as a starting point but we will need to work on realistic numbers that won’t break their bank and they will still deliver beautiful results. I invite them to focus on their personal touch, not on those unrealistic settings.

Do you know that 74% of wedding couples usually go over budget? Only 10% of wedding couples are able to stay on budget, and 16% end up being under budget for their wedding (data courtesy of WeddingWire). It’s our job as wedding planners to guide our couples in the right direction by offering money-saving solutions and keeping them on track.

Wedding budgets serve different purposes:

  1. Know how much your couple should spend for each category
  2. Identify the most appropriate venue and vendors based on needs, style and costs
  3. Set limits on certain expenses so you make sure that the couple will not go over budget

The starting point for my wedding budgets is a consultation meeting with the couple. During that meeting we discuss a lot of details, we look at tons of pictures and we think of everything that they would like to incorporate into their wedding in no particular order. I collect a lot of information that helps me put together a vision and their budget.

How do I collect all that information? With my Wedding Questionnaire (READ my previous post or BUY my template) where I list many questions that have nothing to do with the wedding itself but they give me a good idea of what they like. Then, we identify the two or three most important things that they will want at their wedding. These will be categories where we can “splurge”.

I use a fantastic event management software called PlanningPod that allows me to build budgets in no time. I created a budget template with categories, items for each categories and percentages for each category and I use it for every wedding. Once I have all the information I need from my couple (and their priorities) I enter the total amount in the budget template and PlanningPod will automatically calculate estimated expenses for each category. I’m also able to customize percentages for each category depending on their priorities. The Budget tool indicates estimated, negotiated and actual expenses in addition to what has been paid and what needs to be paid. You can set reminders for each payment due and have them sent to your wedding couple a few days before the deadline.
If you don’t have PlanningPod you can still build a budget template and manually adjust categories and percentages. Categories should include everything from ceremony + reception (which is usually the highest percentage, approximately 40- 50% of the total budget) to flowers, photography (my top priority since pictures will create memories and last forever), stationery, music and entertainment, rentals, and more. Each wedding is different so you might not need all of the categories you have in your template. What I always include in my couples’ budgets is my wedding design, planning or coordination fee – This needs to be part of the budget since it is an expense for their wedding. Some couples keep it separate because parents pay for that but if it’s part of their budget it should be included with the other categories.


Build a wedding budget template today, include all the categories that your wedding couple will want to incorporate into their celebration, and don’t forget to include your fees!


No time to create a wedding budget? Or, you don’t know which categories and subcategories to include? Get my Master Budget Template below and it will be all yours 🙂

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