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7 Things to Know Before Setting Your Wedding Budget

Your Wedding Budget Should Not be Cause for Divorce


After the proposal, the wedding budget is likely the first step in planning your big day. 


Be realistic.  Before lining up all aspects of your impending nuptials, as a couple, start with setting a realistic wedding budget.  It’s recommended that you start by looking at your finances (savings, family funds, regular income, lottery winnings) and take a stab at what you think you can afford.  Couples who can jointly set and stick within a prescribed budget are on a good path for long term happiness. And happiness is what we really want after our weddings, isn’t it?

If you come up with a realistic budget of say, $5000, stick with it. This may limit your options but it will keep you on track so that you don't overspend which causes, uhm, fights

The average wedding cost is $28,000.  Varying by region and influenced by cost of living and regional preferences, your wedding will likely cost as much as a nice car.  There is nothing wrong with that, mind you, but be prepared to watch the fees add up as you plan all aspects of your wedding.

Engagement and weddings rings, ceremony, reception hall, catering, mixologist, band, flowers, photographer, the newly obligatory photo booth, pony rides, monogram party favors, custom label champagne bottles, doves, sparklers… Just don't launch those last two at the same time

The venue and catering will cost the most.  The average wedding in 2019 had a guest count of 131.  With average cost per guest ranging from a low of $127 in Alabama to a high of $278 in Hawaii (you’re paying for those views and fabulous luau!) consider limiting your guest list to fit your budget.  Or, limit your extravagance to fit your guest list.


A barbecue picnic lunch in the park is cheaper than cocktail hour with passed hors d'oeuvres and roving musicians which is cheaper than a sit down dinner with a band


Vintage heirloom wedding dresses are back in style.  There is no better way to commemorate your maternal lineage than to wear grandma’s wedding dress on your special day.  It will also save you bigly as the average cost of wedding dresses continues to rise each year with brides forking over $1500 on average.  Cue the groom eyeroll.  No, he doesn’t understand but he’ll accept it once you commend him for being technologically savvy as he forks over a grand for the latest Android device EVERY YEAR. 

Bride in Vintage Wedding Gown

For the sentimental bride who also wants to save money so she can shell out for the cool scotch bar instead, when it comes to the dress, what's old is new

Photography is an expense that is worth it.  Ranging from $1500 – $4000 for professional pictures, the photographer can eat up a good chunk of your wedding budget.  You would think that with the advent of digital photography and no more dark rooms needed, the costs would go down over time but the opposite is true.  This is because professional wedding photographers really are that much better at taking pictures and they know it. 

The pictures your wedding photographer takes will be much better than what aunt Susie can snap on her iPhone and they will be the most lasting memory of your big day. Along with your spouse

You will most likely add to your debt.  74% of couples will borrow to help fund their wedding.  From a survey of couples engaged in 2018, 33% limited their borrowing to under $10,000 while 11% borrowed $50,000 or more.  Not the best way to kickstart your many upcoming years of wedded bliss!  


The number two reason for divorce in the US? Money. What is more expensive than your wedding day? Your divorce


You are likely still paying down student debt.  With the average outstanding student loan debt in the amount of $37,000 hovering on many people’s minds, there is a chance you fit that description.  If so, be sure to factor that monthly expense in before you select the full orchestra for your reception.  Perhaps the 4-piece ensemble will do. If you’re really stressing now, check out our post on refinancing student debt.

So relax, smile for the camera.  Taste everything on the menu.  Eat the cake – don’t smash it in each other’s faces (food waste.)  Save some beverages for your guests.  Enjoy your wedding because next up is…. baby screams.


Additional Resources To Keep You Out of Wedding Debt