Getting The Wedding Budget Right

I can't emphasise this enough, getting the wedding budget as accurate as possible is probably the most important thing you'll do to help minimise big headaches in the coming months.

At this stage you'll have your rough preliminary budget worked out. If not read over my article on cheap wedding plans now and then come back here.

We would all like the perfect fairy tale wedding, but think back to the last few weddings you attended and ask yourself what stood out?

I'm guessing it's not the monogrammed napkins or the fancy chair covers! It's more likely to be a funny speech or someone making a fool of themselves on the dance floor. So remember it's not the material things that make a wedding memorable, it's the people.

edding budget

With that in mind. it's time to decide what matters most to you.

  • Do you want the fairy tale venue or is it more important to have more of your friends and family there?
  • Do you feel it's worth spending more on the photography and video as these will form permanent reminders for the rest of your lives together.

Now's the time you will fine tune your rough wedding budget and decide on the things that you can't live without and those that you can. You'll also decide on where you would like to spend a little more nad where you can get away with shaving off a few pounds.

It's worth considering opening a joint wedding account and setting up monthly standing orders to pay set amounts into this account. That way you know exactly how much you have available at any one time and make sure you're on track to achieve your target.

Credit cards:

You may wish to consider getting a credit card but if you do, set up a direct debit to pay it off every month. Many people will tell you to avoid credit cards like the plague. But if you manage it right it can be a good idea. Go for cards with cash back. That way you will earn money back on everything you buy, which is just like getting more discount.

DO NOT BE TEMPTED TO SPREAD REPAYMENTS OVER A FEW MONTHS AS IT WILL COST MORE AND NEGATE THE WHOLE PURPOSE OF USING A CASH BACK CARD.

Credit cards are also useful for big purchases (over £100) as it will offer additional protection. Just because you're planning a wedding on a budget doesn't mean you can't be sensible about protecting your purchases.


All successful weddings, including budget weddings, rely on a good wedding budget. So below I have prepared a sample wedding budget for you to use. This is a very rough guide and I have allocated percentages for each element which you can play about with.

% of total budgeteg £5000 budget£7,500£10,000
Ceremony2%£100£150£200
Clothing12%£600£900£1,200
Reception45%£2,250£3,375£4,500
Wedding Rings3%£150£225£300
Flowers8%£400£600£800
Photography12%£600£900£1,200
Music9%£450£675£900
Transport2%£100£150£200
Contingency7%£350£525£700
Total100%£5,000£7,500£10,000
  • CEREMONY: 2% (location fee, marriage licence, music, officiant).
  • CLOTHING: 12% (wedding dress, veil, accessories, suits, bridesmaids outfits, hair, makeup, shirts, ties etc).
  • RECEPTION: 45% (room hire, food, drink, decoration, cake, favours, chair covers etc.).
  • WEDDING RINGS: 3% (his & hers).
  • FLOWERS: 8% (for both the service and reception, bouquets, button holes and centre pieces).
  • PHOTOGRAPHY: 12% (fees, album, disposable cameras).
  • MUSIC: 9% (ceremony, Reception and equipment rental).
  • TRANSPORT: 2% (cars for bridal party, guest bus).
  • CONTINGENCY: 7% (for any hidden or unforseen costs).

As I've already said, these are very approximate figures as everyone’s wedding budget and requirements will be different. You'll be able to spend less on some elements and more on others to suit your priorities.

Go through each element and write a list of everything you want to include in that section. Then go through the costs of each element and make sure it is affordable. If it isn't you will need to sacrafice it or something else to free up the money to cover it.

This will be a slow process but stick at it, you will need to go over it several times to make sure you have covered everything. Each time you will probably find something you can do without and that will free up more money for the other things you simply can't live without.

Hidden costs:

When preparing each element of the wedding budget you need to consider what the "hidden" costs for each may be. For example, in your stationery section you need to account for the cost of postage and whether you are going to provide stamps on the RSVP cards for return postage.

This may not seem like a lot but trust me, these little hidden extras all add up. It only takes three or four of these to push your budget over by hundreds of pounds.

The same applies to outside suppliers such as photographers and caterers. They may offer you an extra that "only" costs an extra £50 and you will be tempted to just go for it. But be warned these will mount up much quicker than you could ever imagine.

When you get prices for any aspect of your wedding always check the total prices (i.e. including VAT) and ensure there are no hidden costs. The last thing you want is to find that you didn't allow for some hidden extra like corkage costs etc. and have your carefully crafted wedding budget go up in smoke

Who' the cheapest?

Don't feel you always have to go with the cheapest quote. After all they may be the cheapest for a reason. Maybe they're not very good or have very little experience (another reason to check references).

When you're buying items for your wedding, many companies will require a deposit (often non refundable) to be paid up front. So always ask for and keep your receipts somewhere safe (consider making a wedding file) so you can refer back to them. That way you'll always know how much is still to be paid on each item.

Wedding insurance:

For extra piece of mind don’t forget to take out wedding insurance. This is a “must have” especially in today’s economic climate.

How would you feel if your caterer or venue went bankrupt a week before your wedding day or there was a fire in the venue? You should take out wedding insurance as soon as you start spending.

Just make sure you read the small print and buy the policy that best meets your needs.


If you can stick to these tips you should be able to produce an accurate yet simple wedding budget that's easy to follow. Your wedding budget should now contain a list of all the main elements of your wedding and within each of these will be a list of the detailed items and how much you have in your budget for each of them.

Reduce the hassle of preparing a budget spreadsheet by getting a FREE copy of my budget planner:

It includes tools to help you plan your budget, seating, track invitations, meal choices, presents and much more. It will significantly reduce your work load and all the tools are really easy to use.

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