Your $10,000 Wedding Budget: Where Should the Money Go?

Make your funds go as far as possible with our advice.


Getty Images

Figuring out your wedding budget is the first step toward getting all that planning taken care of. After all, you’ll need to know how much you can spend before you can start working on the details. The good news is, big inspiration doesn’t have to mean a big budget. If you’re looking to spend a little less, here’s how to turn a $10,000 budget into an incredible wedding celebration. Looking to prioritize differently? Move the funds around to fit your style, whether that means splurging on food or skipping flowers to get a great band instead of a DJ.

Ceremony & Reception: $4,600

The venue will be your biggest ticket item, no matter what you’re spending. Seek out a reception venue that includes catering, a bar package, basic rentals (think simple linens and banquet chairs), and service all in one, as you can save money with a package deal. Many venues also make cakes on-site, which will be added on to your food and beverage package. If you’re planning to get a cake elsewhere, limit yourself to between $200 and $300 to help your budget go further, or look into options like cupcakes, pies, or an ice cream bar, which will be more affordable because they’re not as labor-intensive as a fondant-wrapped wedding cake.

For your ceremony venue, set aside between $100 and $500 as a donation and fee if you’re getting married in a house of worship.

Attire & Accessories: $1,300

This includes attire for both you and your partner, accessories, and hair and makeup. Allocate around $600 for your wedding dress (and make sure to account for alterations). There are a ton of beautiful gowns for under $1,000, and a perfect fit will make an affordable gown look like couture. You’ve got $200 for accessories (think shoes, jewelry, and your veil), plus another $200 for hair and makeup. And don’t forget your groom. $100 can get you a fantastic rental from sites like The Black Tux, leaving you $200 for wedding bands.

Photo & Video: $1,200

You’ve got to preserve those memories. You can use all $1,200 for your photographer or split it up to add video. Look for a package that includes an album, or set aside an extra $200 to create a beautiful one online once you’ve got the high-res photos.

Flowers & Décor: $900

$75 will get you a beautiful bridal bouquet, while $20 a pop is plenty for simple blooms for five bridesmaids—and they can be repurposed as centerpieces at the reception. If you’re looking to stretch your floral budget, skip the boutonnieres and corsages, or just get a boutonniere for your groom. Opt for a few simple arrangements for the ceremony space, then devote the rest to flowers for your centerpieces.

Entertainment: $900

A smaller budget most likely means you’ll be hiring a DJ instead of a band, but it’s all about finding the right one, not how much you spend. Look for a DJ with lots of wedding experience who will work with you to customize the playlist—a great DJ will help track down the tunes you love, even if they’re more obscure. Love the DJ who plays at your favorite bar on Saturday nights? Next time you’re out, ask how much it would cost for them to play for the evening on your wedding day. You might be surprised. No matter who you hire, make sure they’ll bring their own equipment, including speakers, so you’re not stuck renting elsewhere.

Invitations, Etc.: $400

About $300 of this budget should go toward anything you’re mailing: Save the dates, invitations, and thank you cards—and don’t forget the postage. A simple suite with your wedding website’s URL will weigh less (fewer stamps, hooray) while still allowing you to share all of the information you need with your guests. The remaining $100 should be used on escort cards, menus, and ceremony programs, or skip the individual pieces of paper in favor of pretty signage with table assignments and the evening’s proceedings that can double as décor.

Favors & Gifts: $400

For a couple on a budget, favors may not be super high on your radar. If you can’t imagine sending guests home empty-handed, allocate between $100 and $200 for a small token (or ask your caterer about doing a late-night treat like cookies as guests head out the door). Divide the remaining funds amongst gifts for your bridesmaids, groomsmen, and your parents.

Lodging & Transportation: $300

You’ve got to stay somewhere. When you’re setting up your room block, ask if the hotel offers a free stay for the couple if a minimum number of rooms is met, which could leave you $300 in your budget for a fab getaway car and shuttles for your guests. Staying in the same place where you’re getting married? Use this to upgrade to a suite for the night.

Related Stories