The Essential Wedding Budget List

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If you need to plan a wedding budget there is no better resource than Sharon Naylar. She has written 30 books on the subject. Ms. Naylar always suggests that couples create a budget before making the first purchase. But before you do that, you have to carefully consider the type of wedding you want to have and where you want to have it.

A Word About Location

One budget consideration that is often overlooked is location. Where you decide to get married can have a huge impact on the cost. National averages will give you a ballpark figure, but you’ll have to research local vendors to get an accurate idea of what the actual costs will be. Take The Knot’s annual wedding expense survey as an example. They have found that prices vary dramatically across the country. The U.S. average cost of a wedding in 2014 was $31,213, but in Manhattan the average was $76,328. Compare that to Utah where the cost is just $15,257 on average.

Once you’ve looked into the local prices it’s time to start creating a realistic budget that covers every possible cost. Let’s take a look at the items that typically end up in a wedding budget.


Without the ceremony there’s no marriage. Even though this is the most important part of the celebration it often isn’t nearly as expensive as the reception. There are fewer expenses involved, especially if you have an outdoor wedding.

Line Items:

  • Site
  • Officiate
  • Musicians
  • Decorations
  • Programs

Reception Venue

The Knot’s annual survey has found that expenses related to the reception venue make up about half the total cost. The expenses go well beyond the physical space needed for the celebration.

Line Items:

  • Wi-Fi
  • Seating – Tables/Chairs
  • Power Supply
  • Tents
  • Runners
  • Candles/Lighting


This is one area where it pays to spend a little more for quality and quantity. You want to make sure guests are well fed and that they have everything they need to enjoy the reception meal comfortably.

Line Items:

  • Wedding cake
  • Cake topper
  • Catering
  • Bar refreshments
  • Rehearsal dinner
  • Flatware
  • Utensils
  • Napkins/Linens


What kind of party do you plan to have? The entertainment options will set the tone for the reception, and an experienced MC can help everything stay on schedule.

Line Item:

  • Live band
  • DJ
  • Favors


Floral services are an integral part of the wedding day décor. You may be focused on the bouquet, but flowers can play a much bigger role.

Line Items:

  • Bride’s bouquet
  • Bridesmaid bouquets
  • Boutonnieres
  • Table centerpieces
  • Arrangements
  • Aisle décor
  • Archways
  • Flower girl petals
  • Ceremony displays
  • Corsages


Capturing the memories of your wedding day is an important part of sharing the experience with family and friends. This is one expense where you want to get the best quality possible for your money.

Line Items:

  • Wedding day photography
  • Wedding day videography
  • Engagement photos
  • Photo booth
  • Wedding album
  • Prints
  • CD/DVD copies


This is the expense section where most brides are going to invest heavily. If the pictures are going to live on well after the event you want to make sure you’re looking your best.

Line Items:

  • Wedding dress
  • Groom’s attire
  • Rings
  • Accessories
  • Shoes

Printed Materials

From announcements to thank you cards, throughout the planning process you’ll have to use the printer more than you have in years.

Line Items:

  • Invitations
  • Reply/RSVP cards
  • Save the date cards
  • Table place cards
  • Thank you cards
  • Menus


And all the little extras that will add up if you don’t account for them right from the start. How many of these end up in your budget will largely depend on the type of wedding you plan to have.

Line Item:

  • Transportation
  • Honeymoon suite
  • Wedding planner
  • Engagement party
  • Hair styling
  • Makeup
  • Guest book
  • Gifts for parents/bridal party
  • Tips

Want to save money on your wedding photography without compromising on quality? 1840 Events helps bring couples together with the perfect Austin wedding photographer at an affordable price. Schedule your free consultation to learn more about how we can help take the stress and expense out of wedding day photography.

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