How to Set a Realistic Wedding Budget Without Settling

Ok, ladies, time for us to cover the topic no one wants to discuss- building a wedding budget. Even the word “budget” is an ugly word! This will be a true test of stewardship, responsibility, and will power- all of which are important in a marriage; laying a solid foundation now is a great start. Last time, we brushed on how to stay focused and not drown in planning. Remember, if you don’t set clear boundaries for yourself before you dive- you’ll sink or exhaust yourself in the current.  The importance of creating a budget BEFORE talking to vendors is paramount. There’s no way you’ll be able to stick to your guns once you’ve had that tour, tried on that Vera Wang, seen that portfolio, etc.

I was the stereotypical girl who dreamed about her wedding day from an early age, and poured through every issue of Bride’s magazine. However, when the time arrived, I quickly learned that the real world isn’t an editorial spread unless you’re willing to dedicate some serious money to this event. The first dollars I spent were on my dress- my GORGEOUS, designer, next-season, Swarovski embellished, Duchess satin  dress- not very wise! I LOVE my dress and am still blown away by it; but since I spent more than I should have, it made the rest of my plans very frustrating. Hindsight is 20/20, and I want to help you make sure you get the most out of your wedding. Allow me to introduce you to DAD.

Dig Deep

You’ll see “wedding budgets” all over the internet- do yourself a favor and forget all that you’ve read. Do it. Take that mental eraser and wipe it away! Now, try to look at your wedding from your future self’s point of view. What will you value and remember the most? The answer is different for everyone, but some common themes I’ve heard are: family, making more time to enjoy ourselves, pictures with loved ones who are no longer with us, and thoughtful vows. How that translates into your budget relates directly to what you and your fiancé value most; because that is where you should spend the most.


I encourage the two of you to sit down and make lists of what you love and value- not wedding related! Now, look for common themes, and consider how this relates to your wedding budget vs. wishes.


Next, write one wedding expense per post-it note (e.g. venue, cocktails, photographer, dress). Use a flat surface to layout and arrange these expenses in descending order or importance. Once you know how much money you’ll be using for your wedding (figure out who is paying for what), then you can assign a percentage of that total to each expense.

Voila, piece of wedding cake! Thanks, DAD. Now, the hard part is staying true to this decision! Remember, compiling a wedding budget is great preparation for teamwork and responsibility in marriage.

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