Wedding Budgeting Just Got a Whole Lot Easier With These 16 Useful Tips

Short Wedding Dress with a Long Veil
photographer: Kamila Nowak Photography | planner + stylist: Rebecca Marie Weddings | florist: Sass Flower | dress + veil designer: Moon Child Bridal | jewelry: The Vamoose | hair + makeup: Daniella Makeup & Hair as seen in this Short Wedding Dress feature

So, the engagement high has cooled off and you’re ready to get down to business. Welcome to the club! There’s a lot of work to be done. While you may have already started on your budget, we can almost guarantee there are some spots you missed. But don’t freak out! That’s exactly what we’re here for. So sit back, relax, and enjoy these 16 wedding budgeting tips – straight from the pros.

#1: Build Some Cushion Into Your Wedding Budget

Luxe Wedding Inspiration in South Asia
photography: JuMi Story // stylist + planner: Melissa Ortanez Eventsa // florals: Vivio Flowers as seen in this Light-inspired Wedding

Ah, so you’ve just got an unexpected charge from a vendor. We’ve all been there. Don’t fret! You’ve got this all planned out. Setting aside some extra funds for this exact scenario will save you the headache later down the road.

It’s almost guaranteed that you’ll run into some hidden fees or other unexpected expenses, so make sure to give yourselves a cushion. We recommend using about 5% of your total budget as a buffer to cover any unanticipated costs. This could include sales tax, service charges, delivery, setup, and cleanup fees, overtime charges – oh my! It’s best to be prepared for these potential overages by building up your budget to cover any unanticipated charges. – Jenna Miller, Creative Director of Here Comes The Guide

When setting your wedding budget, always allocate a line item for miscellaneous items. This allows you to save some money for those added expenses that could come up, like a cleaning fee for the venue, adding a security guard, or valet parking – Kari Dirksen, CEO + Lead Planner, Feathered Arrow Events

#2: Someone May Offer a Helping Hand

In the same way that you can’t plan for unanticipated service costs, you can’t plan for people to just pay for various parts of your wedding. You can, however, plan for the potential of that being the case. For example, maybe your aunt mentioned one time that she would like to pay for your bridal party’s makeup and hair. Great, that’s such a kind offer! But at the end of the day – things happen. Plan for that cost in your initial budget, but also make a Plan B for those funds in case that favor does come to fruition. Just remember – no one owes you anything on your wedding day.

Planning the perfect wedding day might have some hidden costs you didn’t prepare for, but you can make sure it doesn’t take the fun out of wedding planning. When you build your budget, include a contingency budget for those unexpected items. You’ll reduce your financial stress if you can pull from that budget when a surprise cost comes out, rather than dipping into your other finances. And don’t assume you have to cover the cost on everything, there are some areas, like your wedding party, where friends and family will pay for their suits or tuxedos and dresses. And remember, renting is a great option that is easier on their budget than buying. – Matt Ramirez, SVP of Marketing, Generation Tux

#3: Include Your Bridal Style

petal veil via BHLDN

You’ve picked out your dream dress, but have you thought about accessorizing? The cost of a veil, shoes, and jewelry can really add up! If you haven’t considered these in your wedding budget, you may be in for an unwelcome surprise. 

A part of the budget I often see a bride neglect is her entire bridal style. She tends to have a sense of how much she wants to spend on her gown/attire, but hasn’t thought about accessories and alterations. Remember to create a budget for shoes, undergarments, jewelry, headpieces, and other accessories, like belts, and cover-ups. Also, alterations are not cheap, especially if you’re working with a highly skilled seamstress (which you should be). Every market is different and each gown commands different alterations, but I recommend setting aside at least $350 for alterations, and just be over the moon if your alterations cost less than this. – Maya Holihan, CEO & Founder, EWedded

After you find your dream gown, you’re not quite done yet! From fittings to alterations to preservation after the wedding day, there are several other costs to keep your gown pristine that can add up quickly! Talk to your bridal designer or boutique to get an estimate to expect for additional costs like these so that you can plan accordingly for your budget. – Sarah Alouache, Creative Director, Designer & Founder, Sarah Alouache Bridal

#4: Don’t Forget the License

friend officiant
photo by Ardency and Arrow // from this Black Tie Botanical Wedding

This one may seem like a given, but it’s often forgotten about because it’s not something that is a part of your wedding day visuals. However, it is very important if you want to make your marriage legal. Keep in mind that you will have to pay a little extra if you’d like a copy of your marriage license as well. – Lisette Gatliff, Lisette OC Photography

#5: Insurance Is Worth It

Sure, it may not be the sexiest aspect of planning your wedding. But getting insurance comes with its perks! At the end of the day, you’re paying for peace of mind – and that’s worth a whole lot. 

You do not want your honeymoon interrupted by a massive bill because a vendor or guest mistakenly damaged your venue or was injured. Any legitimate venue carries its own policy to protect their business, but do not confuse that as something that will protect you from unforeseen costs. The peace of mind is worth it. Frankly, it can be a good indicator of your venue’s experience and professionalism if they encourage or require couples to purchase a policy that helps ensure they don’t get hit with unexpected costs post-event. – Sam McElhinney, CEO, Weven

#6: Transportation Is Vital

Transportation logistics for your wedding can take many forms. Whether it’s parking, hotel dropoffs and pickups, or making sure there are designated drivers, getting your guests to and from your wedding safely needs to be a priority.

Are you bringing guests from a hotel or local accommodations to your amazing venue? Don’t forget to think about the potential costs of helping guests get there! From things like bus rentals, which charge by the hour or day, to fees associated with them, (like driver meals or taxes), it’s better to plan ahead. If many guests will be driving, does your venue have a parking attendant to help ensure safety? Will there be a local police detail required by your venue or the town? Be sure to ask your venue for advice or even solicit a few quotes to better understand these costs before booking your event. – Sam McElhinney, CEO, Weven

Usually, vendors warn couples about possible extra costs, such as travel fees. Even so, you should be ready to add $50-$400 for extra spending. 50% of our couples receive extra bills after the wedding day for parking, tolls, and other transportation fees.Daria, Creative Manager, Precious Pics

#7: Rentals (Especially Tents) May Surprise You

Park Hyatt Wedding
photography: Stetten Wilson Photography as seen in this Park Hyatt Aviara Resort wedding

We’ve all heard the saying, “At least one thing will go wrong on your wedding day”. While it can be something minor, like forgetting to wear your veil, it could also be something big, like needing to rent a tent because of an incoming storm. Don’t leave yourself unprepared!

Whether it’s a rain plan or a heat plan, you may not be prepared to pull the trigger on a large last-minute rental, like a tent. Depending on the style and size reserved, these can run couples extremely high tabs with their rental companies. – Ashley Lachney, Owner of Alston Mayger Events

#8: Don’t Forget Trial and Overtime Expenses

photo: Peterson Design & Photography hair stylist: Lio Ramirez featured in this Retro Wedding

Even though a lot of our couples request packages with an engagement session as a trial session, there are things like venue walkthroughs and rehearsals or hair and makeup trials that can add a bit to your budget. Discuss possible extra spending like this with your vendors before hiring! Also, your wedding vendors, (photographer, DJ, caterer, etc.) have an agreed timeline with you. However, it’s quite common for your wedding to run a bit longer than you expected. After all, who wants to leave a great party?! We recommend including space in your budget for one extra hour for each of your vendors in case it’s needed! – Daria, Creative Manager, Precious Pics

#9: Please Tip Your Vendors!

wedding neon signage
photography: Jenna Routh Photography // design: Lovelyfest Events // florals: Idlewild Floral as seen in this Modern Lilac Wedding

Just as you would tip for any other exceptional service, be sure to tip your wedding day vendors, too. Many of these people are up from dawn until dusk doing manual labor to make your wedding perfect. Tipping really shows how appreciative you are of their hard work.

The number one thing that my couples forget to account for in their budgets ahead of time is gratuity. Gratuity typically happens on the wedding day and is often not included in the estimate that vendors supply, so couples are often shocked by the final budget spend. – Melanie Levin, Owner of LuckEleven Events

#10: Oh – And Feed Them, Too

blue and pink wedding reception decor
photog: Christy McCarter Photography // planning: LuckEleven Events

You know that feeling after a long day at work when you just want to curl up on the couch with a delicious home-cooked meal? Well, while there may not be a couch and Netflix involved, there’s no better way to show your incredible vendors your appreciation for their hard work on your wedding day than making sure they get a hot meal to eat for dinner! Plan on leaving some room in your catering budget to make sure your vendors like your planner, photographer, DJ, etc. will be able to have a hot meal – bonus points if you serve them the same delicious offerings you’re providing for your guests! Be sure to ask them if they have any dietary restrictions as well so that they’re taken care of. – AJ Williams, Founder & Creative Director,  AJ Events

#11: Save Money (And Time) For Photos

Bride with tulle wedding dress
photog: Albany Katz Photography // planning: Feathered Arrow Events

In the same way that money is a finite resource, so is time – for both you and your photographer! Be sure to allocate room in the budget for the photographer of your dreams, as well as any extra fees that may incur. 

What so many of our couples realize they ultimately want to shift more budget to is…photography! It’s capturing and preserving all the memories of the venue, catering, florals, decor, dance floor, ceremony, and everything else. So hiring the best photographer(s) is an expense couples will never regret. Stretch that photography budget! – Melissa Wilmot, Founder & CEO, WedBrilliant

You may have contracted these folks without the help of your planner, which is fine! Once we start to take a strategic look at the timeline balanced against everything you’d like captured, we often find ourselves having to add in an additional hour to the photo + video teams, which translates to extra $ spent. – Ashley Lachney, Owner of Alston Mayger Events

#12: Don’t Forget Day-Of Expenses

With all of the hustle and bustle leading up to the big day, it’s easy to forget the things you’re responsible for the day of. Do yourself a favor by planning for these expenses in advance.

Besides the usual suspects when it comes to a wedding budget, we tend to see a few areas that get overlooked. Many couples fail to include day-of stationery or signage in the budget, as they are only thinking of save-the-dates and invitations when it comes to printing. – Nora Sheils, Founder Bridal Bliss, Co-Founder Rock Paper Coin

As engaged couples allocate their budget for big picture costs involved in their wedding, they should also consider additional pre-and post-wedding costs, as well as day-of expenses. Couples should set aside a budget for wedding planner fees and/or day-of coordination, vendor gratuities, thank you gifts for the bridal party, and day-of signage and paper goods. – HoneyFitz Events

#13: Signage Sets You Apart

photog: Jessica Hill Photography // planning: Bridal Bliss

Wedding signage is one thing that’s sure to set your wedding apart. It helps to create a sophisticated, playful, or romantic mood! Budgeting for unique wedding signage is a guaranteed way to make your wedding even more memorable.

One area that we see couples often forget to factor into the wedding budget is wedding day signage. It’s a category that can get left towards the end of wedding planning when the budget has all but been allocated, but oftentimes it is one of the aspects that can set a couple’s wedding day apart from all the rest. We encourage couples to pick a few must-haves for wedding day signage and make those pieces wow factors. – Danielle + Hannah, Joyfully Gathered

#14: You Need Somewhere to Stay

For many couples, the anticipation leading up to seeing each other (either during the first look or when walking down the aisle) is super important. You can make it that much more exciting for yourselves by renting a hotel suite to stay in the night before. No peeking!

This is so that both you and your fiancé have a clean place to get ready with your bridal parties. Not only does getting a suite for the night before and the day of your big day take the stress off checking-out times, but it’s perfect because it’s a spacious room filled with light for your photographer to capture all the beautiful moments and emotions. – Lisette Gatliff, Lisette OC Photography

#15: Don’t Forget to Say “Thank You”

embroidered handkerchief
photog: Love Me Do Photography // handkerchief: The Handkerchief Shop

Don’t forget to budget for ‘thank you’ gifts! You will want to show your appreciation to all of the people who helped you plan your big day with a little gift or keepsake. So make sure to put some spending money aside for those items as well! – Colleen, The Handkerchief Shop

#16: Jot Down Everything. And We Mean Everything

Since most of our clients are hosting a wedding or an event of this size for the first time, they often forget the smaller details when talking about their budget. But these elements are still on their minds, and in their mood boards! The best thing to do is simply list EVERYTHING you want. Even if there is repetition, your planner can help you figure out whether what you’re looking for is covered under something else. That way, you won’t forget about the stationery, the rental furniture, the gifting, the midnight snacks, the amenities in the bathrooms, the seating plan, etc. If you budget for these things early on, you can make sure that they are as impactful in real life as they are in your mind. – Charlotte Ricard-Quesada, La Fête

We hope you’ve found these 16 budgeting tips helpful! If you’re still looking for wedding planning content, we’ve got plenty. Check out our tips for planning wedding appetizers or choose your bridal shower invitations. Wherever you are in your wedding journey, happy planning!