Wedding Budget Checklist

Photo: Bryan Gardner

We've outlined the major expenses allotted to each wedding category to help you plan your wedding budget.

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Charlotte Jenks Lewis

Whether you plan to spend $20,000 or $200,000 on your wedding day, you'll need to come up with a budget. But creating a budget is hard if you don't know where to start. We've outlined the major expenses and average percentages allotted to each wedding category to help you get started. And, just in case your budget seems close to imploding before you've even spent a dime, we give you some awesome tips to help rein you in!

4 percent of the budget

✔Site fee

✔Officiant's fee

Cost-cutting tip: Ask a friend or family member who knows both you and the groom to get ordained and marry you. Two organizations recognized by most states: Universal Life Church ( and Esoteric Interfaith Church ( You could easily save $100 or more by having a loved one do the marrying.

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Annabella Charles Photography

4 percent of the budget


✔Invitations and reply cards


✔Thank-you notes


✔Guest book

✔Escort cards

✔Place cards

✔Table numbers



Cost-cutting tip: To get the look of engraving at half the cost, have your invitations printed by thermography. It offers the same raised font look as the classic printing process.

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Bride's and Groom's Attire

Peer Johnson

5 to 10 percent of the budget

✔Gown and alterations



✔Headpiece and/or veil


✔Groom's suit or tuxedo


Cost-cutting tip: To get privy to sample sales and trunk shows, where dresses are deeply discounted, sign up for email blasts from your favorite designers and bridal salons.

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Glen Allsop / Christian Oth Studio

3 percent of the budget

✔Bride's wedding ring

✔Groom's wedding ring

Cost-cutting tip: Consider other kinds of metals and gems. Gold is available at a lower price point than platinum, as are rubies, emeralds, and other precious gems as opposed to diamonds.

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Flowers and Other Décor

Belathée Photography

10 percent of the budget

✔Bride's bouquet

✔Bridesmaids' bouquets

✔Flower girl's basket



✔Ceremony arrangements

✔Reception arrangements

✔Ring pillow


Cost-cutting tip: Pick flowers that are available in season and locally. You'll avoid paying for costly shipping charges for flowers that are only available far away.

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Katie Stoops Photography

10 percent of the budget

✔Prints and albums


✔Extra prints and albums

Cost-cutting tip: Hire a photographer only through the cake-cutting and ask friends with smartphones (like, everybody) to take photos of what happens later, which will primarily be dancing.

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Mademoiselle Fiona

40 to 50 percent of the budget







✔Cake-cutting fee

✔Vendor meals

Cost-cutting tip: Trim the guest list by eliminating an entire category of people (second cousins, children, coworkers). You'll not only save money but feelings since you didn't pick and choose by person but by group.

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Vicki Grafton Photography

5 to 10 percent of the budget

✔Ceremony soloist and/or musicians

✔Cocktail hour musicians

✔Reception band or DJ

✔Rentals (mics, speakers, dance floor)

Cost-cutting tip: Call a local music conservatory or college and ask for recommendations for an experienced student orchestral group to play at your ceremony instead of hiring a professional string ensemble.

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Wedding Planner

Erin Phraner

10 to 15 percent of the budget

Cost-cutting tip: If you think you can handle making all the wedding arrangements yourself but need help on the big day, hire a day-of wedding coordinator who will run the show so you don't have to.

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Kate Headley

10 percent of the budget

✔Bridal party gifts

✔Getting-ready room snacks


✔Welcome bags and distribution fee


✔Valet parking

✔Marriage license

✔Hair and makeup

✔Manicure and pedicure

✔Tips for the flower and rental deliverymen, limo drivers, valets, coat check attendant, bartenders, hair stylists and makeup artist and, possibly, servers (check your contracts)

Cost-cutting tip: Instead of renting limos for the bridal party, ask friends with SUVs to help transport the bridesmaids and groomsmen.

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Abby Jiu Photography

5 percent to 15 percent of the budget


Cost-cutting tip: End the party on time!

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