A close up of a bride and groom laughing with each other during their wedding photographed by Austin, Texas wedding photographer Nikk Nguyen. Image overlaid with text that reads Wedding Budget Breakdown: How to Stay Within Your Budget.

(2021) Wedding Budget Breakdown: How to Stay Within Your Budget

A bride and groom pose in a field during their wedding photographed by Austin, Texas wedding photographer Nikk Nguyen. Image overlaid with text that reads Wedding Budget Breakdown Learn How to Stay Within Your Budget.

Planning a wedding should be incredibly exciting – but too often, couples end up feeling stressed and overwhelmed by the process. One key to keeping your planning as stress-free as possible is to have a clear wedding budget breakdown.

So many details go into creating the perfect wedding: from the memorable centerpieces like a cake or a gown to behind-the-scenes moving pieces like chair rentals and guest transportation. Having a very clear and specific wedding budget breakdown with designated amounts for each element will help to stop you from being blindsided by hidden costs. But how much of your wedding budget should you be spending on each item? Let’s dive into the wedding budget breakdown!

First, find your overall amount

The most important thing that will guide you in your wedding budget breakdown is the overall number you have set aside to pay for the wedding. Once you have the grand total of what you are willing to spend, the wedding budget breakdown becomes pretty easy! There are plenty of factors to take into account as you calculate this cost:

Guest List

This is likely the single most important number that you will decide on as you create your wedding budget breakdown. Many venues and caterers charge per head, so your guest list will determine how much you are going to pay.

In 2021, we’ve seen many states restricting the size of weddings and other gatherings due to the Covid-19 crisis, which has meant that plenty of couples are opting for much smaller, micro-weddings. If you find yourself in this position, your wedding budget breakdown may look different – you may spend less on catering and splurge in other areas.

Contributions from Family

Every couple has a different plan for how to finance their wedding, and everyone brings implicit expectations to the table. Make sure to communicate! It may feel awkward to talk about money with family, but it’s better to be specific now than to run into painful misunderstandings down the line. Some family members may want to contribute an amount for you to use as you please, others will be more excited to pay for a specific part of the wedding.

Wedding Style

The overall style and atmosphere you are aiming for will definitely have an impact on your budget, so make sure you are very clear about this before you begin to budget and plan! A polished and lavish wedding reception will have a different price-point than a more intimate farm-style wedding, so keep this in mind before you start.

Your Non-Negotiables

While the figures I’m going to give you are a general rule-of-thumb, you will have your own unique dreams for your wedding that are important to recognize. Maybe you don’t care about having a live band, but you want to pop a bottle of expensive champagne. Maybe floral arrangements aren’t your thing, but you’ve dreamed of riding off into the sunset in a 1969 Corvette. Whatever your non-negotiables are, figure them out upfront – and factor them into your wedding budget breakdown.

Wedding Budget Breakdown in 2021

The average American wedding may cost $24,723, but this varies hugely from state to state. Also, keep in mind that everyone’s wedding budget breakdown is different. These allocations are a good guide, but you might end up moving budget space around according to what’s important to you – and that is just how it should be!

A groom waves goodbye from the exit car with his bride during their reception photographed by Austin, Texas wedding photographer Nikk Nguyen.

Venue and Catering – 45%

As you can see, the venue and catering for the reception are the lion’s share of any wedding budget breakdown. This includes the rental of any furniture you may need, all the drinks you are providing for your guests, and the wedding cake, which you should expect will be around 2% of your overall budget.

Photography – 15%

This includes the pictures and video footage that you will cherish forever – the way in which you decide to capture every moment of joy and every detail you’ve worked so hard to plan. This part of the budget may include a videographer if you want a wedding video. If you’re looking for a wedding photographer now – come say hi!

Music – 8%

From a DJ to an 8-piece live band, there are a lot of options in order to give your guests the time of their life!

Attire – 8%

Keep in mind that this doesn’t just mean a wedding dress, but could cover anything from new shoes and rehearsal dinner outfits to cufflinks and hair and beauty professionals.

Flowers and Decor – 8%

Bouquets, posies, garlands, table decor – there are infinite ways to incorporate a florist into your wedding and it’s up to you to decide on how you want to decorate your ceremony and reception venue.

Stationary – 3%

3% of your wedding budget breakdown might feel like a lot to spend on stationery but remember, this isn’t just save-the-dates. You have invitations, ceremony programs, place cards and thank you cards, too! 

An elegant bohemian wedding reception photographed by Austin, Texas wedding photographer Nikk Nguyen.

These days there are many digital options for wedding invites and save-the-dates. Some couples love how easy this route is, and others prefer the tangibility of a paper keepsake. Whatever you decide to do, you’ll be glad that you set aside enough space in the budget!

Wedding Planner – 3%

Some couples prefer to plan their wedding themselves to keep costs down – but in some cases, the industry connections and know-how a wedding planner brings to the table can actually work out to be cheaper! In any case, a good wedding planner takes all of the stress out of this process and lets you enjoy the fun parts. If you’re looking for a wedding planner, check out these 7 amazing wedding planners in Austin, Texas.

Ceremony – 2%

The reception is the main cost on your wedding budget breakdown, but the ceremony also needs to be budgeted for, with fees for the venue and the officiant.

Rings – 2%

Don’t forget to leave plenty of time (and room in the budget!) to invest in your wedding bands – after all, you’ll be wearing them every single day for the rest of your life!

Transport – 2%

Whether you are organizing for your guests to get from the ceremony venue to the reception, or for your own exit from the reception at the end of the evening, you are going to want to budget about 2% of your overall wedding budget breakdown to cover these costs.

Favors – 2%

And a final 2% of your wedding budget goes towards tokens of love and appreciation for your guests!

Final Thoughts on Your Wedding Budget Breakdown

I hope this has helped you gain a sense of how much of your wedding budget you should spend on each of these categories. Having a clear idea of how much you are allowing yourself for individual costs will help you keep within your budget – when it’s all written down in black in white, you can make adjustments to one area if you end up overspending in another.

If you’re looking for a wedding photographer to curate your love story – let’s connect!


Image of a bride opening champagne with her bridesmaid while they get ready by Austin, Texas wedding photographer Nikk Nguyen overlaid with text that reads Wedding Budget Breakdown Read More.

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