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Wedding Budget Checklist: How to Budget for a Wedding

So, you’re ready to tie the knot and are wondering how to budget for a wedding? Or have come to the harsh realisation that weddings cost money and can be super expensive! YIKES! We get it! Planning a wedding, whether you are doing it by yourself or with a wedding planner can quickly become an overwhelming task as there are a lot of elements and fine details to take into account when planning a wedding – the flowers, guests, presents for the wedding party, rsvp cards, music, decor, makeup, hair, cake, the wedding dress, food, transportation, photographer, videographer, celebrant, centerpieces venue, wedding rings & honeymoon just to name a few, especially when it comes to expenses. A wedding budget checklist is a must & creating a realistic wedding budget for your wedding day is absolutely essential. This article will assist you in all the decisions you make in the wedding planning process and should be the first thing you organise before proceeding to the fun of planning a beautiful wedding.

To ensure that your special day doesn’t break the bank, we are here to help you by providing a Wedding Budget Checklist of how to budget for a wedding, including tips on setting an overall budget, tracking spending, and preparing for any surprises along the way. Read on to learn more about how to create your very own wedding budget checklist to keep you accountable and begin the exciting chapter of planning your special day! This checklist will help you stay organised and focused on your priorities while ensuring that you don’t overspend or put unnecessary financial stress on your future together.

Are you a complete beginner? Read our Wedding Planning Tools guide to help you pick some apps and books to make your job easier.

KWH real bride Abbie wears the Blake & Prea gown by Karen Willis Holmes, a modern structured wedding dress in satin mikado featuring a corseted bodice

Wedding Budget & costs by category

Okay first things first, let’s assess your current financial situation to determine exactly how much you can afford to spend on your dream wedding

To begin this process, you and your Fiancé should look at your savings account as well as any contributions offered by your loved ones and figure out how much you can save together during your engagement period. 

Once you have determined that special number, begin creating a spreadsheet or list with your partner that includes all the special elements you want at your wedding. To name a few, this can include the wedding venue, food/catering, alcohol, decor, wedding bands, wedding cake, entertainment, wedding favors,  transportation, wedding flowers, wedding invitations, photography & videography.  Next, research the average wedding industry cost of all these elements in your area (you can do this by emailing wedding vendors for quotes or checking their website for listed pricing), so you don’t have any surprises and know what to expect! Once you have a good sense of how much things cost, you can begin to allocate and prioritise funds for each element based on what’s most important to you. Be sure to include some wiggle room in your wedding budget for unexpected expenses. While it’s impossible to plan for everything, having some extra funds at the ready can help ensure that you don’t have to sacrifice any of your priorities due to unforeseen circumstances on your special day.

Financing wedding costs

When it comes to financing your wedding, there are several options available for you and your fiance. Option one is to save up for your wedding and pay for expenses in cash as they arise. This approach is simple and won’t involve borrowing money or accruing interest anywhere. Option two is to use a credit card to pay for wedding expenses, but this should be done with caution by choosing a credit card with low-interest rates and rewards that can be applied to wedding expenses. Alternatively, consider taking advantage of a personal loan to finance your wedding. This can be a good option if you need to cover a large portion of your wedding expenses upfront or if you want to combine your wedding expenses into one manageable monthly payment. However, if you choose to finance your wedding, be sure to read the fine print carefully and ensure that you can afford the repayments. 

Make a savings plan

Consider setting up a separate savings account specifically for your wedding expenses. This account will serve as a symbol of your commitment to each other and to your future together. You can track your wedding budget progress, celebrate milestones, and keep each other motivated along the way. To make saving easier and more consistent, you may want to consider setting up automatic payments from your checking account into your wedding savings account. This can be a great way to stay on track with your savings plan while reducing the temptation to spend the funds elsewhere. Wedding budgets are tricky things but having these key factors in place will help in the long run.

Ultimately, the key to budgeting for a wedding is to be realistic, plan ahead, and communicate with all parties involved in funding the wedding. Planning a wedding is an exciting and romantic adventure for many couples in love. However, the cost of a wedding can quickly add up if you aren’t prepared. It’s also important to remember that the goal of this checklist isn’t just to stick to a budget but to do so while creating a beautiful and romantic wedding that reflects your unique love story. Creating a wedding budget checklist may not seem like the most romantic aspect of planning, but it’s an essential step in ensuring that your dream wedding is everything you’ve dreamed of and more. By prioritising your love story and staying organised and focused, you can create a wedding ceremony and wedding reception that is both beautiful and financially responsible, setting the stage for a lifetime of love and romance ahead. Always better start your planning sooner than later, so get to it!

Stones of the Yarra Valley photographed by Bianca Virtue

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is having a wedding budget important? 

Having a wedding budget is important because it will keep you and your partner accountable for your spending, it will also guide the wedding planning decisions you and your fiance make, such as your venue, guest limit, etc. 

How do I determine my overall wedding budget?

To determine your overall wedding budget you and your fiance must look at your finances and what you can realistically afford, creating a budget breakdown of what your main priorities are for your wedding and figure out what you can pass up. 


What are the essential wedding expenses I should budget for?

Essential wedding expenses you should consider in your budget are: The Venue, catering, celebrant, photographer, videographer, wedding dress and suits, beauty, flowers, rings, transportation, food, music/ entertainment, alcohol, favors, and gifts, etc.


How can I prioritise my wedding expenses?

Your wedding expenses should be prioritised in order of what’s most important to you on your big day. Prioritise before you start spending any money, create a list of non-negotiables and consider what’s most important to you. How many people are there or the experience of the day? Is there any major element you want to include in your wedding to blow your guests away? Focus on what you want that special factor to be whether it’s a design, catering, or entertainment element. Remember quality over quantity.  Always consult your wedding planner for ways to cut costs too!


What percentage of my wedding budget should I allocate to each wedding category?

Wedding budget percentages should be roughly as follows:

  • Venue and Catering: 40 percent of your budget.
  • Photography and Videography: 15 percent of your budget.
  • Wedding Attire and Beauty: 5 percent of your budget.
  • Music/Entertainment: 10 percent of your budget.
  • Flowers: 10 percent of your budget.
  • Favors and Gifts: 2 percent of your budget.


How can I create a savings plan to reach my wedding budget goal?

  • Give this goal a name 
  • Work out how to save each month 
  • Set up a deadline
  • Set up automatic transfers 

Do I need a contingency fund in case of unexpected wedding expenses?

Having a contingency fund in case of unforeseen circumstances is always wise when planning a wedding just as much as having a baseline wedding budget. Things unfortunately don’t always go to plan so having this in place will be peace of mind for you and your partner on your big day.  

How can I keep track of my wedding spending to stay within my budget?

To keep track of costs to stay within your total wedding budget create an Excel spreadsheet to stay, alternatively download a tracking app to help track your spending.  


Need some more bridal and wedding planning inspiration? Catch up on the following articles:

Ultimate Guide to the Perfect Wedding Dress Shopping Experience

28 Best Wedding Planner Books for 2022

Ultimate List of Free Wedding Planning Checklists (By Timeline)



Featured images by: Bianca Virtue Weddings | Taylor Kezia Photography | Jesse Hisco Photography | Milk Honey Creative

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