Wedding Essentials - What To Budget For In Your Wedding

First up, this is a dry topic. But please bare with me because this will be one of the most important tasks you’ll do when planning your wedding. Let’s tackle this one together!

There is an element of courage when putting together your wedding essentials list together and a budget. It might just be the hardest conversation you have with your fiance or family members. You are not only trying to project manage your dream day, but you are managing expectations of others. Take a deep breath and relax. If you follow a few Project Management rules and put together a simple budgeting system, you will be ahead of the game.

Create Budget Template is the perfect way to monitor your expenses and progress. If you want to skip reading and just want our help pulling a list of all the things you need, contact us for some personal consultation time. Just be aware that whilst we can advise on all things you need to include in your wedding, we are not financial experts. We advise that you speak to a someone who holds an Australian Financial Service Licence if you need help with your finances. 


Budget Template

Create a budget template in Excel. This will help you manage your initial expenses, changing expenses, tasks ‘to do’, assignee and supplier contact details.

You want to be able to see everything planned in one spreadsheet.

  • Who is responsible
  • What is the task
  • What is outstanding on the task
  • First, second, third quote
  • What has been paid (deposit)
  • What is outstanding (balance)
  • Confirmed
  • Company you are dealing with
  • Company contact details
  • Delivery date and details
  • Additional comments and housekeeping
  • Use colour coding to highlight outstanding and completed items.

Manage your various items you want for your wedding under header categories such as ‘stationery’, ‘ceremony’, ‘reception’, ‘bridal party’, ‘honeymoon’ and so forth. This will help structure your wedding costs and see the bigger picture of the day. These can also link up to visual storyboards that lay out the design of your wedding (this is something I’ll talk about in another post so watch this space).


Create a comments section in the template

This section is really important as it will allow you to:

  • Manage appointments
  • Make notes on the people you will deal with
  • Set follow up reminders
  • Set confirmation dates
  • Document payment methods
  • Add in further item details


Creative Accounting

It isn’t always possible to have everything you want at a wedding. You need to be sensible with your decisions. However, if you do some creative accounting and smart negotiation, you might just be able to get everything you hoped for:

  • Document everything you’d like at your wedding
  • Gather quotes to match these items (rough quotes are fine in the initial stages)
  • Work out items that are must haves and not must haves
  • Compare different options and re-jig packages to get as many of the must haves to fit your budget
  • Negotiate with suppliers based on calculations you have made 

For my wedding I used creative calculations, moved things around and negotiated with suppliers. I outsourced the best stylists to customise my dream wedding for the same price as the standard décor package that many venues were offering. I was very lucky that my venue was absolutely outstanding and supported me all the way with my creative endeavours!


Maintain control and communicate as a couple

A budget document is crucial for you as a couple to maintain clear communication on what is being spent and what is still to be done. This document should be available and managed by both parties. I’d recommend setting aside some time each week to discuss the progress or changes in the budget. Each invoice, quote or payment should be recorded as they happen. Clear communication and budget management is key to a successful event.


Pay the suppliers

As a rule of thumb, suppliers will either require payment up front or 50% deposit on booking and 50% final payment within the month before your wedding. You will need access to ALL your funds before your wedding (see my Wedding Poker post!). Use your budget chart to highlight due dates, what has been paid and outstanding amounts. You can also track changes to your original quote.


Leave a buffer for contingencies

It is crucial that you leave yourself 15-20% buffer for contingencies. Believe me, you might think you have it all planned out to the cent, however things pop up. At my wedding, I found out it was going to rain only days before my wedding so needed to pay for umbrellas and an outdoor marquee for our garden games. This added an extra $2.5k on to our budget. Lucky for us, we had factored a contingency percentage into from the start.


Your budget

  • Determine your goal
  • Define what you are comfortable spending
  • Add 15-20% on top of that for contingencies
  • Add in any contributions from family members (known only)
  • Re balance the budget to a final number you plan to stick too
  • Start sourcing quotes to determine what you can/cannot achieve and how many people you can afford
  • Speak to a financial expert if you need advice on your budget.


What’s in a wedding budget

Every budget will be different, so I don’t propose to list everything you’ll need. However, there are a few key things you should have on your list:

Bridal Expenses





Interior Styling

Other costs

  • Hire cars
  • Umbrellas
  • Honeymoon
  • Insurance
  • Accommodation
  • Activities i.e. wine tour, golfing, spa day, breakfast bbq.

Venue hire, food and beverage charges usually are the biggest chunk of your budget. Try to account for up to 30% of your budget.

Once you have outlined what you need, you can go about getting at least 3 quotes for each. Once you have confirmed, summaries the actual expense and update it as they change. This will allow you to identify any savings in the actual budget vs. the projected budget and find the value add that you've achieved along the way.  

(See our article on The True Cost Of A Wedding for statistics)

Congratulations guys! You've made it this far. As mentioned, if you still need help understanding what you will need in your wedding budget then just drop me a line and set up some consulting time with us. You can also learn more about who is expected to pay for what in a wedding here



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