Wedding budget: Glowy tented wedding reception at dusk

All Your Wedding Budget Questions Answered

Experts’ Honest Advice on Wedding Costs
BY C&C EDITORS / 01 01 20
Photo by Leila Brewster Photography

Building a wedding budget can be one of the most intimidating—and stress-inducing—parts of wedding planning. You want to spend 24 hours a day being happy and excited and celebrating, but when you start seeing numbers with way more zeros than you'd ever dreamed, it can really put a damper on that post-engagement glow. Which is why arming yourself with information before starting to collect quotes—or setting your heart on any one of wedding venue, florist or caterer—is key to managing expectations. We tapped some of the top pros in the industry to share their top wedding budgert wisdom.

Where should couples begin with prioritizing their budget?

"Couples should think about guest count and the kind of experience they want for their wedding and guests. Prioritize certain non-negotiables—if you prefer a larger party versus a small and intimate experience, and if you want a wedding weekend of activities." —Leslie Mastin Events

What should couples expect when budgeting for a backyard wedding?

"There are quite a few unexpected costs couples should be aware of before finalizing on a backyard wedding. Keep in mind, you have to bring in all power, water, restroom trailers, etc. All of this is completely doable, but I advise couples to prioritize their budget accordingly beforehand." Fox Events

Wedding budget: Meet wedding vendor Leslie Mastin Events
Ira Lippke Studios
Wedding budget: Meet wedding vendor Fox Events
Perry Vaile
How can couples ensure their budget covers their day-of details?

"Every couple is going to have a different set of priorities, so understanding what yours are before you start spending is key. For some couples, it’s a focus on entertainment and for others, it’s a focus on the cake. Make decisions about what’s most important to you and your spouse-to-be first, so your budget doesn’t run out." LOLA Event Productions

Should couples prioritize their rehearsal dinner in their budget?

"As photographers, a rehearsal dinner gives us greater insight into the relationships between you and your guests. As well as the benefit of a more complete wedding story, including snapshots of your families and friends leading up to your ceremony and reception. The more time your family spends in front of the camera the more comfortable they will feel on the actual wedding day and great photos will result from this!"Melani Lust Photography

Wedding budget: Meet wedding vendor LOLA Event Productions
Kyle John
Wedding budget: Meet wedding vendor Melani Lust Photography
Melani Lust
What part of the day is underestimated most when it comes to budget?

"Catering costs are often the most underestimated. This crucial part of the wedding day not only includes the hard costs of food and drinks, but also staff, service fees and taxes, and depending on your caterer—all of the equipment needed (dishes, plates, flatware, chairs, tables, etc.)"SQN Events  

How much should couples save for last-minute changes?

"Save at least 5% of your budget in contingency. This can be used for wish list items or last-minute emergencies." Tessa Lyn Events

Wedding budget: Meet wedding vendor SQN Events
Wedding budget: Meet wedding vendor Tessa Lyn Events
Michelle Beller
What are some budgeting tips for creating a back-up plan?

"Be mindful of the cost of backup plans and other weather-related charges. If you are planning an outdoor wedding, it’s best to prepare for a tent in case of rain, plus AC or heat lamps for drastic weather changes."Christina Baxter Weddings  

How can an experienced vendor team help you navigate your budget?

"Hiring a planner and experienced vendor team from the very beginning can help you navigate how to use your budget wisely for the greatest result. Often, the venue dictates many budgetary items (whether or not you need rentals like tables and chairs, what caterers you may be able to work with, etc.) that it will determine a lot of your decisions and investments. Working with a seasoned team of experts will make the process more manageable."Rebecca Marie Photography

Wedding budget: Meet wedding vendor Christina Baxter Wedding & Events
Clay Austin
Wedding budget: Meet wedding vendor Rebecca Marie Photography
Rebecca Marie Photography
What eats up a huge part of a wedding budget that you least expect?

"One of the biggest costs that couples often don’t plan for is their  investment in decor. When you are looking to transform a space, elements such as carpeting, ceiling installations, lighting, florals and rentals can start to add up if you are creating a custom environment."Andrea Eppolito Events

What is one common mistake made with wedding budgets?

"Many couples have unrealistic expectations based on what they see on social media. Trust the vendor team you've chosen and they will do their best to take your inspiration and create something that works within your budget."Hana Floral Design

Wedding budget: Meet wedding vendor Andrea Eppolito Events
Brian Leahy
Wedding budget: Meet wedding vendor Hana Floral Design
Leila Brewster
What is one thing all couples should prioritize in their budget?

"Factoring your venue into your budget early on in the planning process is a great way to set the tone for the rest of your experience. Prioritizing your venue can help guarantee that the major moments of your celebration (your ceremony, reception and after-party) are all taken care of and secured."Four Seasons Hotel Chicago

Wedding budget: Explore wedding venue Four Seasons Hotel Chicago
Kent Drake