Setting a Wedding Budget – Personalized for You

How many posts, calculators, and spreadsheets did you find on Google to start your wedding budget? I’m guessing pages and pages of results. So, let me start by saying I’m not offering you a spreadsheet. Today, I’m giving you some guidelines to create your own, personalized, wedding budget. Setting a wedding budget that will reflect what is most important to you on your wedding day!

It’s great to have something tell you, you’ll spend 5% of your budget on wedding photography. But, what if, in your area that’s not possible? What if your parents add 50 people to your guest list? This post is to help you make a priority list, and find vendors that will ultimately fit your budget priorities.

Setting a Wedding Budget - Garden Wedding, Drumore Estate, Lancaster PA
Photo by Elizabeth Moore Photography


Setting a Wedding Budget – Who Are the Financial Contributors

The first thing you will need to consider is who will be financially responsible for the wedding. Traditionally, it was the parents of the bride. But, these days, most couples take on the responsibility themselves. That’s not to say they don’t have help, so that’s why this is the first piece of the equation. You won’t have a good picture of your budget, until you know what everyone who wants to, and can, will be contributing. In my experience, it’s best to be direct in asking, without expectation. By assuming a parent won’t help, you could be denying them something they have dreamt about doing since you were born. On the other hand, if you know it’s not a possibility, be sure to include them in a part of your wedding that will be important to them as well.

Make a Wedding Budget Priority List

It’s time to think about what are your top priorities for your wedding day. Everyone is different, so I can’t give you the answers here. You’ll probably even have some different priorities than your partner 😉 If your guests are top priority, you’ll want a great venue, food and music. If your photos are top priority, you’ll also want to take special attention to your florals, attire, hair and makeup. Usually your top priority is connected to a few other major decisions, so write them down and move on to the next step, research.

Research, Research, Research

This step might be the exciting part for you, or the part you’re dreading. Either way, it’s necessary! The type of research I’m talking about is pricing in your area. Every different city, state, or country will have extremely different price points for wedding venues and wedding vendors. You’ve already made your priority list, so you have the vendors you need to research.

My biggest piece of advice in this section is to avoid getting discouraged. Perhaps, you live in an area that’s not very friendly to your budget. No worries! Have you thought about a destination wedding? And if you’re thinking that you won’t be able to get your friends and family on a plane to come to your tropical wedding, well there’s a different kind of destination wedding.

Did you know that Lancaster County is a destination wedding location? True story! Because we are only 1-3 hours from Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington D.C. and New York City, we are seeing more and more couples choose to host their dream wedding here. An entire wedding here can cut that city budget in half, without sacrificing the quality wedding vendors you want. In my opinion, there’s always a way to have your dream wedding, without breaking your bank.

Draft a Wedding Guest List

I’ve written a whole post on how to get your wedding guest list started, so I won’t spend a lot of time on this point. I will make a note, however, to remind you that your guest count will dramatically change your wedding budget in almost every vendor area. You can read more about this here.

Be Flexible

It’s a good idea to decide, from the beginning, how flexible you are willing to be from the start. Most likely, you will incur extra costs along the way, so you need to give yourself some space for that. If you are also willing to be flexible with your wedding date, you may be surprised at the discount a venue will give for a Friday or Sunday wedding. Or, perhaps you actually love winter? It’s a pretty safe bet vendors will already offer winter pricing, because it’s not wedding season.


Calculate the Hidden Wedding Costs

Once you have done your vendor research, make sure you add in the extras. Read your contracts, know what you are agreeing to! Have you accounted for vendor meals? What about tipping? I also want to make mention of the DIY wedding option here. Countless times I have heard from brides, their projects ended up being more expensive and time consuming than hiring a professional. If you are wanting your personal touch on your wedding day, it’s almost always better to choose a smaller project than try to do it all. You, your friends, and your family will all be able to relax and enjoy the day more!

Communicate Your Specific Budget to Wedding Vendors

Being in the wedding industry for 10 years now, I can predict what your first email to me will look like. And let me tell you, everyone is on a budget. But that phrase, in and of itself, means nothing to me. Your budget may mean you have $1000 to spend on my wedding service, or it may mean you have $50,000 to spend on my service. I will admit, that wedding vendors are notoriously bad at communicating their prices on their websites. However, whatever vendor you contact will be able to give you a much better picture of what they have to offer, if they know where your price point it.

For example, if I am a wedding florist and you contact me to say you have a floral budget of $2000 and my prices start at $5000, it’s safe to say I’m not going to be the right fit for you. I can, however, send you a referral to a friend of mine in the area who will fit your budget. I can’t speak for every wedding vendor out there, but in Lancaster County, I am proud to say that wedding vendors are friends. We help each other out, refer one another, and value quality work. Help us out by telling us what your budget is, so we can make sure you get what you are looking for.

Setting a Wedding Budget - bride with bridesmaids in pink gowns at Drumore Estate, Lancaster PA
Photo by Ali & Paul Co.


You’ve done your homework, you know what you have to spend and you know what your priorities are, it’s time put your budget down on paper. This will help you plan for the big picture and make adjustments along the way. I can almost guarantee you that it will change between now and your wedding day. But I think you have all of the tools you need to avoid major adjustments, and allow you to enjoy the wedding planning process along the way.


Cheers to Love,