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A helpful word on wedding budgets. PART 2

February 9, 2016

So, we have an appropriate number for our guest list to reflect our budget.  Now what do we do?

Wedding Budget Percentage

Now we allocate the different portions of our budget!  As a disclaimer, the following allocations are mere suggestions based on our research, and experience helping couples plan their weddings.  They are not hard & fast rules.  

We will use the dollar amount and figures from PART 1 of this blog post.  We will even give the breakdown for the “Tight Budget” figures ($8,000 budget, and expecting 70 confirmed guests), and the “Mainstream Budget” figures ($26,444 and expecting 200 guests).

This article also assumes that you already have an officiant lined up.  If not it would be appropriate to find one in the same step as your venue.

Let’s start with the food, venue, and cake.
Our recommendation:  35% of the overall budget

From an $8,000 total budget:  $2,800
From a $26,444 total budget:  $9,255

Tight Budget:
We recommend narrowing your search to venues that have on-site food service, and are appropriately sized.  It’s very important that a room never be too big for the crowd invited.  There are lots of wonderful venues that provide on-site catering.  If you are looking to keep your cake budget in check it can help to have a smaller cake for display, and sheet cake for serving.

Mainstream Budget:
This amount does allow for more venues, and off-site catering.  However, venues that provide on-site catering should be considered as well.  Often times the food is better when it doesn’t need to be transported while being kept warm.

Next let’s get the entertainment.
Our recommendation:  15% of the overall budget

From an $8,000 total budget:  $1,200
From a $26,444 total budget:  $3,966

Why entertainment immediately after the venue?  There is no getting around it.  The entertainment is the #1 thing most remembered by your guests at your reception.  Why?  As Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  We Present our case as to why a DJ may be preferable to a live band, but we completely respect the art of live music.  The bottom line is that entertainment is the most crucial element as it is the vendor you trust with creating the atmosphere at your event, and the atmosphere will set the mood.  It will be the most influential service when it comes to how your guests feel.  

Therefore this is the vendor to secure next as entertainment services will vary greatly, and you want to make sure you get exactly what you want.  This is also a vendor where if you find one you really like, it’s worth it to stretch the budget a little.  It pays back in dividends with great memories to last a lifetime.

Tight Budget:
At this time the $1,200 figure happens to be the national average for DJs, so the good news is you will still be able to find a decent provider at this rate.  However, if you value quality, you will be looking at DJ services only without other finishing touches such as uplighting, photo booths, etc.  Trust me that quality should always come over quantity, and any service that does all 3 for this price is not going to provide the same quality.

Mainstream Budget:
This amount may sound like a lot, but entertainment providers, and in this case we’re talking about DJs, often times offer far more now than they ever have.  Photo booths, uplighting, monograms, pinspotting/accent lighting, video montages, and more.  On the flip side, if you’re considering a band these can range greatly as well.  A 4 piece combo or rock band will typically be less expensive than a 20 piece big band, but often times couples still hire a DJ & emcee to cover when the band takes breaks, and to direct the event.

Now we want to preserve these memories.
Our recommendation:  9% of the overall budget for the photography, and 5% for videography, however feel free to lump this as 14% and split it up any way you see fit.  We’ll give the 14% portions below.

From an $8,000 total budget:  $1120
From a $26,444 total budget:  $3,702

Tight Budget:
It’s going to be difficult to find a photographer and videographer in this range.  Your best bet is going to be finding a great photographer who’s style you are in love with.  Look early and book early to have a better opportunity of finding what you want.

Mainstream Budget:
Again, find a photographer and videographer who’s style you absolutely love.  If you don’t love it then keep looking.  There are also plenty of solo photographers who charge this much, and more, who are worth it.  It is possible to find services that provide 2 photographers and a videographer at this rate too.

Once you have these providers set CONGRATULATIONS!!  This is one of the hardest parts of planning as these providers are typically very limited availability (often times one wedding per day), and getting them all aligned on the same day is no easy task.  They will also have the most impact on your day, and the days after your wedding when it becomes a memory.

What’s left?

Tight Budget:  $2,880
Mainstream Budget:  $9,521

What to do with this remaining amount?  From the remaining amounts come things like decorations, flowers, the couples’ wedding attire, wedding rings, favors & gifts, transportation, and the rehearsal dinner.

Need more money to have your dream wedding?  There’s a company who is now taking applicants where they will loan you $10,000 toward your wedding, and you never have to pay it back as long as you don’t get divorced.


– an update about the link immediately above this – SwanLuv sadly did not deliver on its promise as people had hoped.  It was marketed and advertised as a lending business, but with the overwhelming response it received (and the red tape to become a lender) they pivoted their business model to being a place where couples could crowdsource fund weddings (like Indiegogo or Kickstarter, but for weddings).  This did not bode well, and now their domain is no longer in service.

Thanks for reading, and if you would like to pick our brains feel free to give us a call at 920-403-0827.  


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