Crystal Horton Photography | 5 Tricks for Budgeting my Wedding

5 Tricks for Budgeting my Wedding

June 12, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

How to have a Smooth Wedding Day Series

5 Tricks for Budgeting My Wedding

WooHoo! You’re engaged. You honestly don’t think you could be any more excited then what you already are. You are on one of life’s biggest roller coasters and boy is it a ride!

To do a wedding in a way that some people say “is correct”, you need to make sure that you have a good handle on your wedding finances. Being blind to the cost of a wedding is one of the biggest reasons our countries divorce rate is so high. Yes I said the “D” word, but it’s a fact of the matter. I want to make sure you avoid any unneeded stress that comes with planning a wedding.

All over the internet, news, books, and even formal studies and surveys, you will read that “finances are one of the leading cause of divorce.”

Don’t start your marriage off on the wrong foot.

I have here 5 tips for budgeting your wedding. These will help you not only get some really good habits going but also give your new chapter in life a boost in the right direction. These tips summed up are:

  • Actual wedding Costs
  • To get a wedding loan or not
  • Tracking & Organizing
  • Time versus Money
  • Need versus Want


Actual Wedding Costs

Who reading this remembers the movies in school called ‘School House Rock’? What would they always say? “Knowledge is power.”

So, if knowledge really is the best power to have, then here you go! The knowledge of what different aspects of a wedding can costs you will help you know where you want to splurge and where you may want to reconsider purchasing.

Please note, that these are not exact numbers. Different cities, seasons, guests count, and ultimate your decisions will result in different pricing points.

The biggest factor to these costs is how long you are engaged before you say, “I Do”. The longer your engagement the easier it will be to pay for your dream wedding


Estimated Wedding Item Costs for 2017

  • Wedding Bands/Rings $200-$3,000
  • Venue/Reception $3,000-$15,000
    • Table Settings
    • Facility Only
    • Table/Chair Linens
    • Teardown/Cleanup
  • Food/Catering $20-$70/head
    • Wine, Beer, Liquor (Estimate 3 drinks per guest)
    • Centerpieces
    • Thank You treat/gifts (Estimate $3-$10/guest)
  • Ceremony $800-$2,000
    • Facility, Temple, Church, Synagogue, Ect
    • Decorations for Chuppah, Mandap, Alter, Chairs, Isle
  • Stationary $200-$800
    • Postage
    • Programs
    • Save the Date
    • Invitations
    • Thank you cards
  • Hair & Makeup $200-$700
  • Florist $400-$3,000
    • Boutonnieres
    • Bouquets
    • Corsages
  • Rehearsal/Thank You Dinner $600-$3,000
    • Meal ($15-$35/head)
    • Maids/Groomsmen Gifts
  • Attire $600-$5,000
    • Tux/Suit Groom
    • Bridal Gown
    • Alterations
    • Veil/Hair Piece/Garters
    • Corset/Spanks/Bra
    • Crinoline (Underskirt)
    • Shoes
  • Cake $300-$2,000
    • Slice per guest ($2-$10/guest)
    • Cake Topper
    • Cutter & Server
  • Photographer $1,000-$10,000
    • Engagement Shoot
    • All day wedding photographer
    • All day photographer’s assistant
    • Prints or digital images
    • Wedding album
    • Wall art
    • Mother’s albums
  • DJ $500-$2,000
  • Up-lighting $300-$800
  • Videographer $600-$2,000
  • Ordained $100-$300
  • Wedding Planner $600-$5,000
  • Transportation $700-$3,000
  • Monetary tips for all professional $50-$100/professional

After seeing this list you may choose to opt out of some things, or even more popular among brides, forget to budget some things. Surprisingly brides seem to forget about Rehearsal Dinner, Tipping their professionals, and one of the wedding stationaries.


To Get a Loan or Not

Yup! Surprisingly enough many couples are focused on shorter engagements which means less time to save and pay for your wedding. Their solution is to apply for a small loan and pay for it over time and budget the new single bill into their monthly finances. If you are considering this option here are some pros and cons to think about before you bring this up to your s.o.



  • Another form of debt on your credit
  • Ultimately starting your marriage in debt
  • Possibility of high interest rate depending on the office
  • Wedding may cost more than the loan amount
  • Possible frustrations when still paying for your wedding a year later
  • Can affect the chances of getting a home loan.



  • Get everything you desire for your wedding
  • Potentially raise your credit score
  • One single bill, rather than having seven bills for each vendor you hire
  • A year or more to pay off your wedding
  • Pay all your professionals upfront
  • No late fees or missed payments with multiple vendors
  • Zero risk of a vendor skipping your wedding for lack of payment
  • Less Stress when tracking and organizing and budgeting
  • Simply write a check, get a receipt, and done


Tracking and Organizing

This personally, is one of the best tips that is out there for handling your wedding budget. Simply tracking and organizing your budget. Being aware of what you have and what you need to do is a simple way of being accountable for your wedding and ultimately a responsible adult.

Some of the most attractive ways to track and organize your wedding are as follows:

  • Paper, Small Pocket Planner
    • If you’re good with digital, use it
    • If you need to physically write dates/plans/information do it.
      • (science proves over and over writing is the best form of remembering!)
  • Wedding Email
    • Sign up for a free google or yahoo email.
    • This avoids WEDDING SPAM in your regular email.
    • Keeps your wedding organization and communications with vendors all in one location
  • Wedding Binder
    • Contracts are your number one best friend with wedding professionals.
    • No contract and no receipts, no proof of purchase or accountability.
  • Accordion File
    • Totally old school, but if you don’t like a binder, this is your next best thing.
  • Highlighter
    • Make it easy for you or your s.o. to scan your contracts and documents.
  • Free Checking Account
    • Keep your wedding budget completely separate.
    • You are less likely to spend the money in this account if you know you need to pay for your photographer or your dress.
    • This is also key if you get a loan for your wedding. Don’t accidentally spend your wedding money on a shopping trip to the mall.
  • Attend Bridal Expos
    • Not just to find wedding pros, but to get pricing, and ideas for your own wedding.
  • Blogs/Magazines/Bridal Classes
    • Study up and make sure you learn tips and tricks that other brides discovered
    • Learning from other’s mistakes is a great way to decide what to do or not to do.
  • Wedding boxes
    • A box for decorations
    • A box for gifts and stationary


 Time versus Money

This can also be read as DIY or Buy. I know I have some avid creative minds skimming and reading this, but let me be clear. DIY can be just as expensive as buying it out right.

Remember you make a mistake it costs you money. And if you save money, but you have to create it from scratch, you now are spending (or wasting) your own precious time on something that is already done and ready to go.

Take a moment and look up “pinterest fails”. It’s funny, but on a serious note, it’s so bad!

Another big blog I follow is “ Cake Wrecks” which has a plethora of wedding cakes that were promised as stunning spectacles but became a floppy, melted, mess.

Here are some of your Pros and Cons on DIY or Buy:



  • DIY saves money if you can do it right the first time
  • Less financial stress
  • Great ladies and wine night ideas (warning Wine might make things sloppy)
  • Great bachelorette party idea.
  • Everyone can feel they participated some how.
  • You feel special because it is your own unique design
  • Nothing beast hard labor and elbow grease
  • Already in front of the TV, Multitask and create your wedding stuff



  • Mess ups and errors can cost you more out of pocket
  • Over do it. (Some people go overboard and a wedding becomes gaudy)
  • Wasting precious valuable time forcing something that won’t work
  • Feel more drained and frustrated about your own wedding
  • Quality tends to suffer when doing something DIY
  • Lack of experience when creating or designing something
  • Extra money for crafting supplies (ex: glue, tape, pens, scissors, ect.)
  • Left over supplies you didn’t and will never use
  • Gamble on someone’s kindness to help and get sloppy results.
  • Throw away all your hard work in the end


Buying New Cons

  • You are automatically paying the “retail” cost of items
  • Buyer’s remorse if you find it cheaper, or something you like more
  • Stress of staying in or under your wedding budget
  • Stress of keeping boxes/containers for resale after the wedding


Buying New Pros

  • Quality will be noticed in your photographs after the wedding
  • Once you buy it, your done looking, check it off the list
  • Any damaged or imperfect items can be returned/exchanged
  • No one has ever used the item you are using for your wedding
  • You can resell the item as a new or gently used item to make some money back
  • No stress of not having a decoration or detail, you just buy it
  • Saves yourself time and you can do other things for your wedding
  • No worries about the results being wrong, you buy what you see
  • No damaged fingernails, blisters, burns, or cuts on your hands
  • Can find great seasonal sales and discounts


 Need versus Want

This is one of most difficult things you will do for your wedding but it is one of the most important ways to stay within your budget.

Purchasing something you want or purchase something that you need.


Types of things a wedding typically Needs:

  • Food
  • Drinks
  • Entertainment (DJ/Band)
  • Attire
  • Location


Types of things as a wedding Want:

  • Popcorn Machine
  • Candy Table
  • Alcohol
  • Elaborate Decorations
  • Bird/Butterfly Release


Every couple is different and even each person in the relationship is different. While you think something is a need, someone else might see it as a want. Blurring that line is what will cause you to lose sight of your budget and ciaos will ensue quickly.

Tip: Every time you see a detail or item for your wedding ask yourself, “Will my wedding still have meaning and be beautiful without this?”



I thoroughly love giving tips and advice to brides and grooms who are wanting to work smarter and not harder. My own wedding was a massive eye opener and I wish I could go back and redo so many aspects of it, but I will always be happy with the decisions I made because I made them and my wedding was still beautiful in it's own way.

And ultimately, I am the one who is looking back every anniversary at my wedding album and seeing my professional photographer's photographs of the details and the emotions they captured from that day!


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