Breaking Down Your Wedding Budget

by Jenny Bryde 15. May 2013 01:09

I try as hard as possible to stay away from the checkbook in our house.  I will gladly take on just about any household responsibility, but making sure that our pennies are counted is NOT my forte.  I rely on my money-smart husband to help me out there.  Thank goodness one of us is good with money!  If you are engaged and share my money sense, you may have your head spinning when thinking about balancing your wedding budget.  Thank goodness, there are many tools out there to help you.  I find that most websites are pretty close when they talk about what percentage of your total wedding budget you should allocate to what kinds of purchases, rentals, etc.  Below, I have created a chart showing how your budget might be broken down depending on your total budget.  Remember this is a guide...a starting point.  You will also need to decide what kinds of wedding items are most important to you.  You might borrow from one category to beef up another.  


Generally speaking, here are the items that are included in each category:

Reception - reserving your venue, rental items, food and service, beverages, cake

Attire - gown, alterations, headpiece, veil, accessories, hair and make up, grooms tux/suit, groom's accessories

Flowers/Decor - floral arrangements for ceremony, flower girl's basket, ring pillow, bride's bouquet, bridesmaids' bouquets, corsages, boutonnieres, reception decorations, lighting

Music - ceremony musicians, cocktail hour music, reception band/dj/entertainment, sound system, dance floor rental

Photos and Video - photography, videography, prints, albums

Favors and Gifts - welcome baskets for out of towners, bridal party gifts

Ceremony - site fee, officiant's fee

Stationery - save the date cards, invitations and RSVPs, programs, seating/place cards, menu cards, signage, thank you notes, postage

Wedding Rings - bride's ring, groom's ring

Transportation - limousine or car rentals, valet parking


  $5,000 $10,000 $15,000 $20,000 $25,000 $50,000 $100,000
Reception 50% 2,500.00 5,000.00 7,500.00 10,000.00 12,500.00 25,000.00 50,000.00
Attire 10% 500.00 1,000.00 1,500.00 2,000.00 2,500.00 5,000.00 10,000.00
Flowers/Décor 10% 500.00 1,000.00 1,500.00 2,000.00 2,500.00 5,000.00 10,000.00
Music 10% 500.00 1,000.00 1,500.00 2,000.00 2,500.00 5,000.00 10,000.00
Photos and Video 10% 150.00 300.00 450.00 600.00 750.00 1,500.00 3,000.00
Favors and Gifts 3% 150.00 300.00 450.00 600.00 750.00 1,500.00 3,000.00
Ceremony 2% 100.00 200.00 300.00 400.00 500.00 1,000.00 2,000.00
Wedding Rings 2% 100.00 200.00 300.00 400.00 500.00 1,000.00 2,000.00
Transportation 1% 50.00 100.00 150.00 200.00 250.00 500.00 1,000.00


We hope this guide helps you to get started!  Remember, when it comes to your budget, know what is important to you, make the plan, and then stick to it!  It is very each for a wedding budget to spin out of control.  Lots of brides and grooms become creative in certain areas to save money for other splurge areas on their budget.  Good luck!  


budget | Jenny Bryde

Personalizing the Wedding Budget

by Jenny Bryde 27. February 2013 00:43

Today's post is all about dollars and cents.  We spin ideas of our wedding, and we can indeed have it all...within reason.  One of the most important conversations that you will have with your fiance and possible with family members as well is the budget that you are going to allocate to your wedding.  Whether you are getting funded from mom and dad, paying for it all yourselves, or somewhere in the middle, it is so important that everyone is on the same page.  Once you have a set dollar amount, you will need some organization and guidance to make sure that you stay on course.  Believe me, it is easy to get that budget to creep up.  In my wedding planning adventures, we ended up adding 25% to our original wedding budget!  Ouch!  In hindsight, I wish I had been more careful on deciding what were my priorities.  Everything cannot be a priority item unless you have some grand budget that all us bridey-brides dream of.  Most of us have to be a little more guarded with our money.  

Real Simple Magazine has a wonderful budget worksheet available that I'm using for today's example budget.  You can also find a really cool interactive budget tool at Martha Stewart's Wedding Website.  I'm sure there are many others out there, but these two are my favorites.  

Let's step into the land of make believe today and say that we have $20,000 to spend on a wedding.  Here's how this imaginary wedding would break down if I applied our total budget to the Real Simple worksheet...

Reception - 50% - $10,000

Attire - 10% - $2000

Flowers and Decorations - 10% - $2000

Music - 10% - 2000

Photography - 10% - 2000

Favors and Gifts - 3% - $600

Ceremony - 2% - $400

Stationery - 2% - $400

Wedding Rings - 2% - $400

Transportation - 1% - $200


From this point, I can make adjustments.  

In many cases, I can save money.  For example, we are not using any transportation services for our wedding because our hotel provided a free shuttle, and our ceremony and reception are at the same venue.  So I can take that line off.  My uncle is going to be our officiant, so we made a $100 donation to his church but didn't have any other ceremony fees.  For music we are hiring a band for $1250 who will also provide the sound system for our ceremony music.  Our attire together only cost $1200.  We only spent about $300 on favors and gifts for our wedding party and guests.  

Then we need to look at areas where we want to splurge.  We picked a primo photograher whose total costs for services were $3000.  We spent $1000 on our wedding bands.  We also upgraded our menu choice, so we threw any extra money in that direction.  

So you can see our adjusted budget below.  The items in bold were our splurge items, and the items underlined were our save items. 



Reception - 50% - $10,850

Attire - 10% - $1200

Flowers and Decorations - 10% - $2000

Music - 10% - 1250

Photography - 10% - 3000

Favors and Gifts - 3% - $300

Ceremony - 2% - $100

Stationery - 2% - $400

Wedding Rings - 2% - $1000

Something else that you'll want to consider - there are TONS of unexpected items that you'll need - especially in the decor area of the wedding.  It is easy to get spendy.  While I also spent an additional $2000 on random things for our wedding, I was able to sell over $2000 worth of wedding stuff to engaged couples after our wedding, so that balanced out for our budget.

So my advice?  Have a plan.  Agree on any changes to the plan.  Keep goals realistic.  Look for deals on things that aren't as important to you.  Decide what is a high priority, and figure out how to rearrange your budget to make it happen.  Forgive yourself for the small extra happens.  

I hope this helps you start the conversation on your wedding budget!  




Budgeting | Jenny Bryde

New Wedding Show for Couples - The Brides on a Budget Affordable Bridal Fair

by Jenny Bryde 5. August 2012 00:55

Recently I came across my folder of receipts and notes that I had kept while we planned our wedding in 2010.  As I glanced through each line item, I became increasingly admonished at what I spent on our wedding day.  Yikes!  What seemed like a reasonable amount then would make me leery today.  Let's face it, times are tough right now, and planning a wedding is tricky when you want to make the day special and lovely while at the same time being kind to your pocketbook.  Our vendors are well aware that today's brides and grooms are being smart and careful about their wedding purchases by looking for a good deal with a good quality service, and many of them want to work with couples to find that just right package or service level that comfortably fits into your budget.

Recently some great people at the German American Heritage Center approached us and asked us to help them think of how we could pull of a bridal fair for budget-minded couples.  We sat and brainstormed some really amazing vendors that we knew worked well with couples to find a great deal, and they want all of you to see what they can offer!  On Sunday, September 16th from 11am to 3pm, the German American Heritage Center will host the Brides on a Budget Affordable Bridal Fair where some of our amazing vendors are going to be available to show you what they can offer.  We have a little bit of everything that you would need to plan your wedding, and I know the vendors are planning on offering some amazing deals to brides and grooms who come to the event. 

While you are at the fair, you should totally check out the location!  The German American Heritage Center offers a picturesque location for a smaller wedding.  The 4th floor Banquet Hall where the show will be located just might be the perfect location for you!  We will be taking a closer look at the banquet hall soon!

Questions you may have -

Where is the German American Heritage Center located? - It is in lovely downtown Davenport directly across from the entrance to the Centennial Bridge at 712 W. 2nd Street.  There is a ton of parking in a safe lot right behind the building. 

What does it cost? - Drumroll, please... The admission is FREE!  Wahoo! 

Which vendors will be there? - More info to come on this as we finalize the list of amazing vendors with amazing deals! 

Who can I contact with more questions?  Click here to see the German American Heritage info page about the show, or you can call or email Kelly Lao - / 563-322-8844 ex. 111


Tags: , ,

Bridal Show

Guest List Woes

by Jenny Bryde 24. June 2009 04:30

There are not many decisions that can leave an engaged couple with more stress than the guest list which definitely takes on it's own personality.  It can remind someone that they are important to you.  It can also hurt feelings of those it does not encompass.  It can be liberal and welcoming to all, or it can be exclusive and selective.  It really can become a nasty task when we get down to the nitty-gritty of the guest list.    

Each couple's "must haves" list will be different.  Some couples are close to only their immediate family.  Some couples have an enormous extended family that must be invited.  Some weigh their friends more importantly than their third cousins twice removed.  Sometimes parents have huge lists of must-have invitees that dwarf the list coming from the bride and groom.  

Each couple's budget will be different.  Sometimes a couple is lucky enough to be able to afford as many heads as they wish while other couples cannot.  Some would rather spend more money per person with a smaller group rather than finding the more cost-effective menu options for more people.  

Each couple's venue will be different.  Regardless of VIP lists and budgeting, sometimes a venue can only hold so many faces.  How does a couple decide between college friends and co-workers?  And even if the must-have lists fit the budgeting and space requirements, a couple must decide what size of a wedding they wish to have.  There is a huge difference between a wedding reception that is planned for three hundred people versus thirty, and each couple will desire a wedding that suits their personalities and comforts.  

With so many issues to weigh, we ask ourselves: how do we get started???

First, let's take a look at the total budget.  Usually, food and drink costs take up about half of your total wedding budget.  If an imaginary couple's budget is $20,000, for example, they will probably spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $10,000 on food and drink.  

If you know your venue and caterer costs per head already, divide that into the food and drink budget.  If the imaginary venue for the imaginary couple was going to charge $50 per head for food, drink, taxes, and gratuities, then the guest list can accommodate 200 people.  The price per head will be depend on your venue costs and meal options.  

Find out your venue's capacity.  Even if the imaginary couple can afford to invite 200 people, their venue may bust at the seams with more than 160 guests present.  Some couples can make their guest lists work with a smaller venue while others may wish to search for a location that can accommodate a larger guest list. 

Next, divide the head count amongst the bride's parents, groom's parents, bride, and groom.  This will vary from couple to couple due to financial contributions and size of families.  Each couple will need to sit down and have a discussion about how this will unfold. If the imaginary couple is going to divide equally amongst everyone, then the bride's parents, groom's parents, bride, and groom will each get to invite 40 people. 

If the imaginary bride now has 40 guests that she can invite, she must prioritize amongst her family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and the mailman.  Clearly her best friend since first grade will have a higher priority than the mail man, so the bride needs to split her list of people into groups that must be at the wedding (the A's), people she' really wants to invite (the B's), and those that she'd like to invite if there is room after the A's and B's are invited (the C's).  Ranking your loved ones is not the most pleasant task, but keep in mind that it helps you to stay organized, and no one will ever know which letter you gave them!  

Other thing to keep in mind:  

Etiquette says that if someone is married or in a long-term relationship, you should invite their significant other.  This does not necessarily include Cousin Becky who has a new boyfriend every week.  Keep those "plus ones" in mind when you are adding up your guests.  On the same note, you must decide as a couple if you are going to invite the children of your guests.  This can be a touchy subject as the addition of children to a guest list can make the total count skyrocket, and the elimination of children from the guest list might leave some guests having to find a babysitter or possibly be insulted.  Whatever you as a couple decide, be sure that you are consistent with all of your guests.  

People can be rude.  (It happens.)  People will directly ask you if they are invited to the wedding, or sometimes they even assume that they are and will ask you if they can bring someone before you've even finalized your guest list.  Have back up comments for these situations such as, "We aren't sure yet how many people we can invite." or "We both have large families, so we aren't able to invite many friends." or (my favorite) "We are eloping."  

Ten to twenty percent of your invited guests will not come to your wedding for various reasons.  Usually you are safe in inviting about 10% more than what you hope to have as a total guest count on the day of your wedding. 

I hope this (wordy) article helps to alleviate some of those guest list woes.  Is there anything else in the guest list department that you are wondering about?  Do you have some additional guest list advice for engaged couples?  Feel free to leave a comment!  


Tags: , , , ,

Ettiquette | Jenny Bryde

Powered by BlogEngine.NET
Theme by Tony Patrizi
Come see us at our home!

About the Blog

Hi!  Welcome to the blog!  My name is Jenny, and I am a Quad Cities bride to be.  Our goal for this blog is to share information on all things wedding including local vendors, new trends, and amazing inspiration.  Let us know if there is something you'd like to see on here!  

Tag cloud