Calculating Your Wedding Budget

So I woke up this morning thinking about what my first "real" blog post would be about. I thought and thought and thought about it and then I got it! If brides are going to be using me as their guide for planning their wedding, then why don't we start from the beginning! So, my topic today is going to be the very first thing you need to do at the beginning of planning your wedding, before everything else (minus the ring)....and that is your budget!
Yes, before you do anything else you must come up with a wedding budget. What is the maximum you are willing to spend for everything in the wedding?...not just the food and the venue and the DJ but I mean EVERYTHING! Yes, that includes  save-the-dates, bridesmaid/groomsmen gifts, favors, your dress, the tux rental, etc. Most people leave out all of the "little" items when creating a budget and don't realize that is adds up very quickly! All of those "little things" could be a couple thousands of dollars!! While there are
ways to save on those items, we still want to include them in your total wedding


This question may not be as easy as you think, so first we need to think of who will be paying. Are your parents going to help out? Will you and your fiancé be paying yourselves? Will aunts, uncles, and friends be pitching in? Talk to everyone who is going to be part of the planning process and together, come up with an amount that you will not be going over.
You may be thinking, "Well, I just want to check out some venues first to see how much money I am going to need first." Sorry but that is not going to work. Prices range from $35 per person to $350 dollars per person depending on the venue and let's be real, you aren't going to magically come up with enough money to feed 500 guests at $350 dollars least most of us aren't. And here is the thing, brides get the most overwhelmed when they continue to go on venue tours weekend after weekend just to find that the 25
venues they have seen are all out of their budget after all. That is just a waste of your time and the Catering Manager's time and realistically, is one of the top reasons brides get overwhelmed and want to call it quits! So just trust me on this one - come up with a budget and only tour venues that are within the range of your budget.

Now you ask, "How am I supposed to know if the venues are within budget?" I am going to provide you with that too! Generally, your venue budget including the venue rental, food, and beverage is going to be about 40-50% of your TOTAL wedding budget. And when you see pricing for a venue, they are not including tax and service charge (which is generally about 20%). For example, you see a venue with a price per person of $ that really means you are realistically going to end up in the $50 or more range when you add tax and service charge in there. So, without having to do this math each and every time, and amazing
company called Ever After ( has a budget calculator that will allow you to see your price per person budget before tax and service charge aka the published venue price.

Now that we know how much money you are able to spend at your venue, let's take a look at a more in-depth budgeting calculator. And I am very sorry, but you are going to have to do the math on this one! Below is a range of what each item is going to cost you, and these ranges are just general guidelines. From this, I would sit down with your fiancé and write out your budget for each item so you make sure there are no surprises when it comes time to pay these bills :)

Main Video: $600-$4,000
Titles (edited into video): $50-$300
Extra Hours: $35-$150 (per hour)
Photo Montage: $60-$300 
Extra Copies: $15-$50
Invitations: $0.75-$6 
Response Cards: $0.40-$3
Reception Cards: $0.40-$1 
Ceremony Cards: $0.40-$1 
Pew Cards: $0.25-$1 
Seating/Place Cards: $0.25-$1 
Rain Cards (alternate location for bad weather): $0.25-$1
Maps: $0.50-$1 
Ceremony Programs: $0.75-$3
Announcements: $0.75-$2
Thank You Notes: $0.40-$0.75
Stamps: $0.40-$1
Calligraphy: $0.50-$3
Napkins/Matchbooks: $0.50-$1.50

Reception Site Fee: $300-$5,000
Hors d'Oeuvres: $3-$20 (per person)
Main Meal/Caterer: $20-$100 (per person)
Liquor/Beverages: $8-$35 (per person)
Bartending/Bar Set-Up Fee: $75-$500
Corkage Fee: $5-$20 per bottle
Fee to Pour Coffee: $0.25-$1 (per person)
Service Providers’ Meals: $10-$30 (per person)
Gratuity: 15-25%
Party Favors: $1-$25 (per person)
Disposable Cameras: $4-$20 (per camera)
Rose Petals/Rice: $0.35-$2
Parking/Valet: $3-$10 per car
Ceremony Music: $100-$900
Reception Music: $500-$5,000

Wedding Cake: $2-$12 (per piece)
Groom’s Cake: $1-$2 (per piece)
Cake Delivery/Set-Up Fee: $40-$100
Cake Cutting Fee: $0.75-$2.50 (per person)
Cake Top (figurines, flowers, etc): $20-$150
Cake Knife: $15-$120
Toasting Glasses: $10-$100

Bridal Slip: $25-$75
Ceremony Accessories: $100-$500 (Aisle Runner, Kneeling Pillow, Arch, Chuppah)
Tent/Canopy: $300-$5,000
Dance Floor: $100-$600
Tables/Chairs: $3-$10 (per person)
Linen/Tableware $3-$25 (per person)
Heaters: $25-$75
Lanterns: $6-$60 (per lamp)

Bride’s Gift: $50-$500
Groom’s Gift: $50-$500
Bridesmaids Gifts: $25-$200 (per gift)
Ushers’ Gifts: $25-$200 (per gift)

Bridesmaids’ Luncheon: $12-$60 (per person)
Rehearsal Dinner: $10-$100 (per person)

Newspaper Announcements: $50-$100 (depending on size)
Marriage License: $20-$100
Prenuptial Agreement: $500-$3,000
Bridal Gown Preservation: $100-$250
Bridal Bouquet Preservation: $100-$500

Bride’s Bouquet: $75-$400
Tossing Bouquet: $20-$100
Maid of Honor’s Bouquet:$25-$100
Bridesmaids; Bouquets: $25-$100 (each)
Maid of Honor/Bridesmaids’ Hairpiece: $8-$100
Flower Girl’s Hairpiece: $8-$75
Bride’s Going Away Corsage: $10-$50
Family Members’ Corsages: $10-$35
Groom’s Boutonniere: $4-$25
Ushers/Other Family members’ Boutonnieres: $3-$15
Main Altar: $50-$3,000
Altar Candelabra: $50-$200
Aisle Pews: $5-$75
Reception Site Flowers: $300-$3,000
Head Table: $100-$600
Guest Tables: $10-$200
Buffet Table: $50-$500
Punch Table: $10-$100
Cake Table: $30-$300
Cake: $20-$100
Floral Delivery/Set-Up: $25-$200

Site Fee: $100-$1,000
Officiant’s fee: $100-$500
Officiant’s Gratuity: $50-$250
Guestbook: $30-$100
Ring Bearer Pillow: $15-$75
Flower Girl Basket: $20-$75

Bridal Gown: $500-$10,000
Alterations: $75-$500
Headpiece/Veil: $60-$500
Gloves: $15-$100
Jewelry: $60-$2,000
Garter: $15-$60
Shoes: $50-$500
Hairdresser: $50-$250 (per person)
Makeup Artist: $30-$150 (per person)
Manicure/Pedicure: $15-$75 (per person)
Groom’s Formal Wear: $60-$200

Bride and Groom Album: $900-$9,000
Parents’ Album: $100-$600
Extra Prints:  5x7: $5-$20, 8x10: $15-$30, 11x14: $30-$100
Proofs/Previews: $100-$600
Negatives/Digital Files: $100-$800
Engagement Photograph: $75-$300
Formal Bridal Portrait: $75-$300

Banquet Manager: 15-20% of reception bill
Captain or Maitre d’: 15-20%
Wait Staff: $20 each (maitre d’ will distribute for you)
Bartenders: $25-$40 each
Restroom/Coatroom Attendees: 50 cents-$1 per guest
Valets: 50 cents -$1 per car (or arrange gratuity with management)
Limo Driver: 15-20% of total bill (to distribute between them)
Delivery Driver(s) (flowers, cake, etc): $10 each
DJ/Band Members: $20-$25 each
Hairstylist/Makeup Artist: 15-20% of bill

I hope all of this helps and make sure this is your first step before you so anything else in regards to the wedding. If you need any help at all, just click the "Contact" tab and send me a quick message and I will get back to you quicker than you can say "I Do."