How to Make a Wedding Budget

May 5, 2020

Elopement Resources

How to Create a Budget For Your Wedding

Creating a budget for your wedding is one of the HARDEST parts of wedding planning. You have to come up with your actual financial budget, figure out what to prioritize, find vendors that fit within your budget, and then actually save that money to pay for it all. In this blog post, I’ll walk you through how to do all of it so that your wedding budgeting will be a breeze!

1. How to calculate your wedding budget

The first step to creating your wedding budget is actually calculating the amount of money you’re prepared to spend! Here’s how you can do that:

  1. Calculate your ideal budget. You need to figure out how much money you’d ideally spend on your wedding – how much do you already have in savings? Are your families contributing? How much would you feel super comfortable & happy spending on this day?
  2. Calculate your stretch budget. After figuring out your ideal budget, calculate a stretch budget. This is a number that you’d still be willing to spend & work overtime for, if it meant you could get the vendors/services/items you want, but you’d be a little less comfortable with.
  3. Figure out how much you already have saved to this date. Maybe you’ve already been building a savings account and you’ve got some money set aside to put towards your wedding. Calculate how much money you already have to spend on vendors, services, & items.
  4. Count how many months you have left until your costs need to be paid off, or until you want to have your full cost saved up. What date do you want to have everything saved by? When do all your vendors need to be paid off by? Count how many months are left from today until that date/time frame.
  5. Calculate how much you’ll need to save per month. Now that you know how many more months you have until you want to have the full cost saved up, calculate how much that means you need to save per month.

how to create a wedding budget

**I’ve created a FREE wedding budget spreadsheet for you that will automatically calculate your numbers for you + help you keep track of everything. Download it below!**

2. What to prioritize in your wedding budget

Before calculating your vendor costs, you’ll need to figure out what you want to prioritize within your wedding budget. When I asked my married friends for their best wedding budgeting advice, here’s what they said:

  • “It’s good to go into the wedding with your top three priority items (photographer, dress, venue, video, florals, food, etc.). Once you know your top three, future decisions are easier. And for the things that are not at the top, do lots of research on how to DIY or rent or find a frugal way to do it. For my wedding, we prioritized our photographer, venue, and my dress. Those were our big ticket items and we were very picky. The other items (food, decor, drinks, florals, DJ), we went in knowing we needed to find a way to do it without a lot of money, and we did.” -Kyra Lyn
  • Find the 1-3 things that are most important to you (flowers, venue, hair/make up, dress, photographer, etc.) and then spend your money on those things, & be okay doing less/DYI or cheaper for the others!” -Anna Joy Zobrist
  • “The best wedding advice I ever received was to have my husband and I each pick 3 things that were important for us to have at our wedding and only worry about spending our $ on those 6 things. Everything else came secondary. And if family wanted to help pitch in for either of those things, then even better. This helped us center our budget and not get lost in the details or pressured into spending on things that didn’t really matter to us.

Take it from them: pick your top 3 priority items & let everything else come secondary! Which items do you want to remember most from your big day? What will make you the happiest & feel most like YOU at your wedding? Do you feel comfortable splurging on something, even if it means giving up something else?

how to create a wedding budget

3. How to find wedding vendors within your budget

Next, you’ll need to find wedding vendors that fit your budget. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

List out all of the vendors, services, & items you’ll need to pay for.

This will help keep your brain organized and list out everything you’ll be putting your money toward.

Figure out your ideal budget for each vendor.

Go back to what you prioritized as your top 3 things and figure those out first. Then, divide up the rest of your ideal budget among the items that aren’t your priorities.

Reach out to vendors.

Now is the time to reach out to vendors, if you haven’t already! Find people whose work/services you LOVE and who you’d be so happy to work with on your wedding. Find out the cost of their services, and see if they fit into your budget. If they’re a little over your ideal budget, see if you could fit them into your stretch budget – especially if they’re one of your top 3 priority items.

Track when all of your payments are due.

Keep a record of all of your payment due dates for every vendor, service, or item you’ll need to pay for. This will help you make sure you never forget a payment and know how much you’ll need to pay soon. You can set reminders on your phone or on your calendar after recording every payment date, if you want!

**You can do all of this in my Free Wedding Budget Spreadsheet. I’ve gotcha covered!**

how to create a wedding budget

4. Ways to save money on your wedding

Here are some of the top tips I received from my married friends about ways to save money on your wedding:

  • “Some vendors might offer discounts for paying 100% up front in cash!” -Ashley Romanowski
  • “My wedding was cheap. Like cheap cheap—because it was the only option as a 17 year old, using my parent’s money. So I did most things myself, with the help of my mom. I used Photoshop and created our Save The Dates, Invitations, and RSVPs. My mom and I got everyone’s addresses, hand wrote every single envelope, and sent them out. I created the wedding playlist and the wedding video. As for venues, we used my husband’s church at a discount because his mom worked there. We hired family friends as the photographer, videographer, hair stylist, cake/baker, and caterer. And we used all previously used decorations from someone else’s wedding. It wasn’t fancy, and it wasn’t perfect. But for anyone really balling on a budget, it IS possible.” -Savannah Totten
  • We had pizza and beer for dinner, and my MOH (with disk jockey experience) ran a Spotify playlist my husband and I made together during our engagement. We also tried to get as much bang for our buck. Like with our venue, we spent more on it because we rented chairs from them and hired them to clean up and knew that they included a lot of what we needed for our day. Definitely lots of comparison shopping! And also Etsy/Amazon were lifesavers. And I’m all for it if people do it, but honestly party/wedding favors are not worth it. I’ve been to a lot where people don’t take them and it’s an old/weird tradition, lol.” -Kyra Lyn
  • “We didn’t have a registry, we only asked people to donate to our honeymoon fund because that’s what we really wanted and people were happy to do so. That took more pressure off of us.”

how to create a wedding budget

5. How to save up the money to pay for your wedding

Finally, here are some ways you can go about saving up the money for your wedding & staying on track with a saving schedule!

If you are a cash spender/saver:

If you’ve watched my Instagram story about budgeting (click here to go watch it!), you’ll know that I’m an all-cash spender & use the cash envelope method for my spending. I have envelopes that are specifically for sinking funds, which I create for occasions like birthdays or holidays that I know I’ll need to save a certain amount for.
If you do something similar, simply designate a sinking fund envelope dedicated to saving for your wedding. After you’ve calculated the amount you’ll need to save each month from now on, dedicate that amount of every paycheck (if you get paid monthly; if you get paid bi-monthly, dedicate half of that amount every paycheck) to go into this sinking fund envelope.

If you use bank accounts for your savings:

Create a separate savings account for your wedding fund. Do the same thing as above: dedicate a specific amount of each paycheck that will go into that account, and set it up automatically through your bank if you’re able to. If you’re not able to, set a reminder every time you get a paycheck to move the money to your wedding account.
Extra tip: Name your wedding savings account something fun, if your bank allows you to change the nickname! Something that will motivate you & keep you excited every time you move money into it – such as “The Big Day!”

Now, some advice from past brides on saving up for your wedding:

  • “We also throw all extra money at our savings account (Ally has a great rate!) ?Also, never go into a debt for a one day event! You can still have an amazing day without putting yourself into a bunch of lifelong debt!” -Ashley Romanowski
  • Every time you come across a $5 bill, stash it away for savings. It’s like a game to get as many $5 bills as you can, and you end up racking up a good amount!”
  • Getting a joint savings and setting an amount you are both contributing monthly is super helpful and helps set a stepping stone having a joint account before you totally join finances (if that is the way you are doing it).” -Jessi Culp

how to create a wedding budget

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to shoot me an email at, or slide into my DM’s on Instagram @imdaniellejohnson!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *