How to budget for a wedding

With planning and budgeting, you can get married debt-free.

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Wedding reception outdoors

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Costing an average of $33,000 or more, weddings are among the biggest expenses for new couples. Creating a budget can help you start your life together without saying “I do” to loans, credit cards and other debt.

How to budget for a wedding

Every couple has expenses, but starting your marriage with debt from your wedding is less than ideal. Knowing how to save for your nuptials is a solid start, while learning how to budget can help you take advantage of every dollar.

1. Get the big picture on your finances

Take a good look at your financial situation. To start off, take note of savings or other assets you want to put toward your wedding, and then add up your sources of income to find out how much you’ll be working with each month.

2. Estimate costs and break down expenses

Know how much money is available so you can start putting together a budget. Consider your guest list, venue, food, entertainment and other wedding items. Keep track of the cost of each expense so that you can keep a running tally of your grand total.

3. Budget to zero

Zero-based budgeting is a popular system that requires you to put every dollar of your income toward designated and specific purposes, including your savings account. All of your monthly income less your routine expenses should leave nothing left over.

Get started by adding up your monthly expenses. Then subtract the total from your monthly income. From there, allocate your leftover money toward individual expenses or into a general wedding fund.

4. Review your budget frequently

Stay on top of your finances with monthly reviews. If your income shifts or your expenses change, you may need to adjust your spending to ensure it all adds up.

How much should I budget for a wedding?

The national average cost of a wedding can run you $33,931 according to The Knot’s 2018 Real Weddings Study. That doesn’t account for where you plan to marry or the guests you intend to invite.

You can pull off a lovely wedding on a smaller budget or go all-out for your big day, but it comes down to setting aside a monthly amount to meet your specific wedding goals.

Spending Average cost Time until wedding Monthly savings needed
Budget $12,000 24 months $500
Average $34,000 24 months $1,500
Extravagant $48,000 24 months $2,000

Wedding expenses

Guest lists vary, but here’s an idea of what you could spend to host 100 wedding guests.

Venue $15,400
Food $7,000
Alcohol $3,000
Photography $2,700
Flowers and decorations $2,400
Wedding planner $2,000
Ceremony venue and officiant $2,700
Clothing, makeup, hairstylist and accessories $2,140
DJ or entertainment $1,300
Favors and invitations $630
Cake and cutting $530
Total $39,800

Other wedding-related expenses

Costs beyond those for your big day can affect your budget, including:

Engagement rings $5,680
Gifts and favors $750 to 2,500
Transportation Up to 1,000
Bachelor and bachelorette parties $1,000 to 10,000
Alterations $150 to 750
Invitations, cards and postage $250 to $1,000
Rehearsal dinners $1,200
Wedding coordinator $500 to 1,000
Hotels and other accommodations $250 to $2,000

Best software and apps to help you budget for a wedding

Name Avg. price per year (USD) Free version? Platforms
CountAbout
CountAbout
$9.99 No PC
Mac
iOS
Android
Go to site
Mint
Mint
Free Yes PC
Mac
iOS
Android
Read review
You Need a Budget (YNAB)
You Need a Budget (YNAB)
$84 No PC
Mac
iOS
Android
Quicken
Quicken
$34.99 No PC
Mac
iOS
Android
BudgetPulse
BudgetPulse
Free Yes PC
Mac
PocketGuard
PocketGuard
$3.99 Yes PC
Mac
iOS
Android
Wally
Wally
Free Yes iOS
Android
Goodbudget
Goodbudget
Free Yes PC
Mac
iOS
Android
Simple
Simple
Free Yes PC
Mac
iOS
Android
Read review
Personal Capital
Free Yes PC
Mac
iOS
Android
Read reviewGo to site

8 tips to stretch your wedding budget

Bottom line

When you’re ready to wed your person in life, you may find yourself fantasizing about the big party that goes with it. But one day isn’t worth starting out your new life under wedding-related debt.

Budget more easily for your big day by comparing budgeting apps designed to help you easily manage your money and expenses in one place.

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