The Ultimate Wedding Budget Checklist

January 9, 2023

The Ultimate Wedding Budget Checklist

Congratulations, you’re tying the knot! Along with the excitement of announcing your new engagement comes preparing something very important: your wedding budget. While the task of creating a wedding budget may seem daunting, it doesn’t have to be. You can use the information in this blog to help you prepare for your big day, plus, Chambers Bank is offering a free virtual Wedding Budget Workshop on January 21, 2023—and you can sign up here:


Are you ready to get started with a budget checklist? Alright, let’s do it!

Make a Spreadsheet or Use a Budgeting Tool to Record Expenses

To plan and track your spending accurately, it helps to have a tool for recording details as you go along. This way, you can stay in line with your overall wedding budget and adjust as necessary if you spend more in one category than another. Remember—it doesn't have to be perfect; it just needs to stay consistent with your goals.

If you have Google Docs or Microsoft Excel, you can build a simple spreadsheet containing all of your wedding budget categories and then add line items for each category’s different elements. You will want to make columns for estimated cost and actual cost and then be able to total them using the tool’s auto-sum feature.

Not interested in creating one yourself? Excel has good templates you can download for free and modify as needed. You can also find free wedding budget apps in the App Store if you’re an iPhone user or via Google Play if you’ve got an Android phone.

Now, let’s get to the details…

Plan Your Wedding Budget Checklist with These Categories

Below, you will find information about the most common wedding costs and the percentage of a total wedding budget typically spent on each. You can, of course, modify expenditures in each category depending on your personal preferences—and some categories may be optional.


The place where you host your celebration will probably be the most expensive category, and it’s no surprise; this is where you will spend the biggest part of your day, from greeting guests and enjoying cocktails to eating dinner and dancing the night away.

Savings Tip: Saturdays have always been traditional wedding days but choosing another day of the week may help you save a significant amount of money on a venue. Fridays and Sundays have become more popular in recent years. You can also ask about hosting your entire event at the venue, from the ceremony to the dance; this saves you money on rentals and gratuities at multiple locations.

Food, Drinks, and Catering-20%

It’s helpful to determine this second-biggest expenditure by calculating a cost-per-person average. Try to include the price of food, cake, and drinks all in one, to simplify your planning.

Savings Tip: Stay with budget-friendly meat options such as poultry or pork to save on the food budget. Additionally, choose in-season vegetables to maximize freshness, flavor, and value. When it comes to alcohol, offer several beers or wine choices instead of hard liquor. You can still have a cash bar available for guests who’d like to order cocktails.

Additional checklist items:

  • Rehearsal dinner
  • Bridal party brunch on the wedding day


When choosing music for your wedding reception, most couples hire a live band or a DJ. Live bands are interactive and fun for the crowd but usually come with a higher price tag and they tend to book up much earlier than a DJ would. Don’t forget: If you’re planning to hire a musician to play during your ceremony, add this cost into the music category as well.

Savings Tip: If you really want to cut down on your music bill, you can forgo the late-night dancing altogether and have a musician play during the dinner reception; this can create a wonderful ambiance and end the day with elegance. Or, you can rent a sound system, assemble a playlist of songs, and start the music when everyone is ready to dance.

Additional checklist items:

  • Tips
  • Overtime

Attire, Rings, and Accessories-10%

Of all attire items, a wedding dress is usually the most expensive because of its decorative intricacies and the cost of alterations. Wedding rings are typically the next biggest expense in this category and vary widely in cost depending on the type of metal and stones chosen. As far as suits go, some grooms will purchase them with the intent of long-term wear, but others will choose to rent. A rental is probably the easier of the two options, since fitting, alterations, and cleaning are often figured into a single price.

Savings Tip: You can always find deals on wedding attire, accessories, and ring sets—especially if purchased during a holiday sale. Be on the lookout for clearance deals too.

Additional checklist items:

  • Bridal party jewelry
  • Wedding dress cleaning and preservation service
  • Wedding ring insurance
  • Manicures and pedicures
  • Hair styling and haircuts

Photography and Videography-12%

One of the best ways to capture your special day is through quality photography and videography. And like booking a venue or band, these two services tend to book up fast, so don’t wait too long to sign contracts. Overall, the experience will play a big role in how much these providers will cost, as will the number of photos you want and the hours of filming required.

Savings Tip: You may be able to catch deals in this category if you ask providers to charge you an hourly rate for a set amount of time versus a flat rate for the entire day. Some photographers and videographers also give discounts for early bookings, so be sure to act fast and set the date!

Additional checklist items:

  • Photo printing
  • Frames and albums


Fresh flowers make stunning additions to your wedding décor and serve as attractive focal points in your photos and videos. Try to stay in season when you choose flower varieties, so you know you’ll get the types you want at reasonable prices.

Savings Tip: A couple of sure ways to stretch your wedding flower budget are 1), having more greenery added to your arrangements than flowers or 2), buying wholesale flowers in bulk and assembling the arrangements yourself. You could also purchase silk flowers and create your own floral arrangements.

Décor and Favors-5%

Your décor and favors are the finishing touches to your event’s overall appearance and should stay consistent in theme as well as compliment your floral arrangements. Check with your venue to see what decorative pieces and lighting accents they may have on hand; you may be able to use them at no additional charge.

Savings Tip: This is probably one of the easiest categories for you to maximize on DIY and minimize cost. If you look online, you’ll find thousands of tutorials and ideas to help you create beautiful wedding day accents and favors at a fraction of the cost to rent or buy custom-made items.


The stationery you select to announce your wedding helps show your theme and style well before your event takes place. And these days, you have a variety of options for creating stationery in digital format through online printing services. Have your stationery printed at least three months in advance so you have time to address and mail invitations to guests.

Savings Tip: If you really want to cut down on costs here, you can digitize some or all of your stationery. Full digitization involves creating a wedding website, designing an online invitation and RSVP, and then emailing each of your guests. They can then RSVP back with just a click of a button. Still want to send invitations in the mail? It’s also easy and economical to design one-piece mailable invitations that direct guests to your wedding website and provide online RSVP instructions.

Additional checklist items:

  • Thank-you cards
  • Stamps


Besides the usual categories in a wedding budget, it’s important to have funds available for miscellaneous spending. That said, every wedding experience is unique, and having a slush fund for variable costs can provide a cushion if you overspend in one category or cover things you don’t think about in the earlier stages of planning.

Here are some miscellaneous things you may want to add to your checklist:

  • Transportation
  • Hotel or Airbnb costs
  • Vendor tips
  • Overtime fees
  • Wedding license fees
  • The wedding party and parent gifts

Utilize Chambers Bank Tools to Help as You Plan Your Wedding

For generations, Chambers Bank has been helping families grow and build wealth with personalized service and banking tools that make saving and spending easier. We can assist you in your wedding planning with savings accounts, personal loans, and credit cards. 

Good luck planning your upcoming wedding, and congrats from all of us at Chambers!

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