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Budget Breakdown: Here's How Much You Should Spend on Each Aspect of Your Wedding Day

Your comprehensive guide to that elusive big-day budget.

eliza peter wedding recessional toss
Photography by: Paige Jones Photography

Creating (and sticking to) a wedding budget can feel like an impossible job, but it doesn't have to be. That's why we've put together the ultimate spending breakdown, so you can crunch the numbers before signing contracts or putting down deposits. No matter how much or little you intend to spend, it's helpful to start with these general guidelines. Then, if you decide to splurge on a 16-piece band or an extraordinary wedding dress—or to save by sending electronic save-the-dates or going minimal on décor—you can tweak as needed. After all, every budget needs a little wiggle room.


Related: The Ultimate Bridesmaid Budget Guide


Food and Drink: 40%

This includes everything from the nibbles and signature spirits at cocktail hour to the cake you cut after dinner. It's almost always the biggest expenditure at a wedding. So try to sit down and enjoy some of your meal!

meki ian wedding michigan great hall tables
Photography by: Lisa Ziesing for Abby Jiu Photography

Reception Venue and Rentals: 10-15%

You should also throw ceremony venue into this category if you plan on tying the knot at a different locale. Just a note—this percentage may be higher if your wedding city or destination is a pricey one.


Photography and Video: 12%

Great photos are a must—many couples agree that this is not an item to skimp on. Some opt out of the video in order to save money, but consider whether you'll regret not having this memento to watch or even share with your kids one day.


Music: 6-12%

This is your big-day soundtrack. A DJ is more affordable than a band, generally. Remember to account for ceremony music, as well.


Fashion: 10%

The bride's dress, veil, shoes, jewelry, and day-of primping (hair and makeup trials included!), and the groom's head-to-toe look fall within this budget.

lindsey william wedding dc bouquet
Photography by: Abby Jiu Photography

Flowers: 5-8 %

This is not only personal blooms (bouquets and boutonnières for the bridal party and honored guests), but also ceremony markers, centerpieces, and other reception decorations.


Stationary: 3-5%

This means invitations, thank-you notes, save-the-dates, and announcements. Don't forget to budget for postage, a pesky hidden cost!

Photography by: Corbin Gurkin

Transportation: 2%

A shuttle for guests is a nice touch, particularly if your ceremony and reception are in different locations. A cool ride for you two is a fun tradition, too.


Miscellaneous: 1-5%

The marriage license, taxes, tips, and late fees. Consider wedding insurance in case of cancellations or damage.