Most often asked question...

"How do you set a budget and what should we expect for costs?"

Lauren Victoria Photography

This conversation is tough. Talking money, in any area of life, is always tough. Forget about finances for a wedding. That’s a beast in and of itself. The first thing I always say when couples ask me this is…

“Don’t rely on Google.”

It’s that simple. Unfortunately, when it comes to researching pricing and setting budgets for a wedding, you have to do it the traditional way. Pick up the phone and make those calls people.

Google does not set realistic expectations for vendor pricing and the cost of a wedding. If you Google “average cost of a wedding in BLANK area”, you’re going to get search results that will tell you anywhere from $25,000 - $35,000 on average. However, every wedding is different so how can you compare what the average is when everyone’s event is different? You can’t.

Maybe you want a minimalistic wedding with a low guest count and simplistic vibes. This may budget closer to $15,000.

Maybe you want a beautifully decorated wedding with gourmet food and an unbelievable guest experience. Then you are probably budgeting closer to $45,000 - $60,000 or more.

Even worse, Google does NOT set realistic expectations for average vendor costs. The costs you’ll find online are certainly MUCH lower than what you’ll find when you actually start reaching out to businesses.

Every single wedding is different and so it is SO important that when you first start setting your budget you do your research and NOT on Google.

I’m going to outline some simple and realistic steps for you below so that you can set a manageable budget for your wedding day and one that will not throw you curveballs leading up to the big day.

Here we go…

Step 1: Don’t throw out a random number and call it your “budget”

Listen, it happens all of the time. Your friends or family will tell you what they spent on their wedding and you’ll assume that you can make that happen too. Remember, every wedding is different. And chances are, your wedding is going to be different than theirs.

Step 2: Start putting together your wish list and a vision of what you want your wedding day to look like

This list is going to include everything from a live band to a plated meal and 8 hours of photography and videography to specialty rentals and a horse drawn carriage (whatever your heart desires, my friend).

Step 3: Take that wish list and vision board and start contacting vendors in your area

When you start reaching out to vendors, ask for “all-inclusive quotes”. This will give you a better understanding of the overall price you’ll expect to pay. If you just ask for a quote, they aren’t going to include delivery, set up, tax, service charges, etc. In the end, those costs add up and they need to be incorporated into your budget or you’ll be hit with unexpected costs leading up to your big day.

TIP: don’t just reach out to 1 florist, 1 photographer, 1 catering company, etc. Reach out to multiple in each category and price shop. BUT also know and understand the value you are going to get from each. Just because a vendor is “cheaper” doesn’t mean they are going to give the quality you are looking for.

Step 4: Categorize and organize your quotes

Take the quotes you received from the vendors during Step 3, categorize them and organize them so that you can start building your budget.

Keep note of all vendors you reached out to so that when you are ready to book, it’s much more efficient.

Step 5: It’s time to settle on your budget

Once you’ve put together all of the quotes and categorized them, it’s time to add them all up and determine what you are willing to pay for and what you are willing to spend overall.

Remember, some family and/or friends are going to want to contribute to your wedding costs. So keep this in mind when putting together your budget.

You may put together all of these numbers and think “oh Lord, how are we ever going to pay for all of this?” But know that you can delegate categories to those individuals who want to help with wedding costs.

If you don’t have anyone assisting with wedding costs, that is OK too! I’m going to give you one extra step to help with this…


Step 6: Prioritize your categories

Now you’re going to do a deep dive into categories and decide which elements you can do without and which ones you cannot live without.

Maybe you could build your own custom arbor that you were originally going to rent out. Or maybe you could change up the type of fabric you were originally wanting for linen. A simple change in fabric could save you hundreds of dollars.

Remember, there are always options. You don’t have to give up on details for your big day. You may just have to tweak some things and brainstorm creative ways to make it work within your budget. There is always a way!


For more assistance on setting a realistic wedding budget, book a 1-hour Consultation with me. We'll do a deep dive into your wedding day and create a realistic budget that you can work with and one that will leave you stress free as you continue on your wedding planning journey.

Here to help in any way.