Setting Your Wedding Budget: What To Splurge On + Where To Pinch Your Pennies

Donna Maurer on 13th Aug 2020

When you imagine the wedding you have always wanted, you’re not concerned about things like costs and budgets. You just have this wonderful idea in your head of what it will look like: the venue, the decorations, the flowers, the guests.

The reality is that most weddings do not come cheap, so when you are planning your big day, setting a budget is a must.

But, how do you decide what’s more important to splurge on, and where can you try to save so that you can stay within your set amount?

Create a Numbers Sheet

The first piece of good advice you should follow when setting the budget is to be as realistic as possible with yourself. How much can you actually get away with spending? Do you have savings, can you save more as you go along?

When you set your limit, be sure to give yourself a little bit of wiggle room for things in case they do cost more, but anywhere you can save money be sure to do that too. You should also take into account here if you will have anyone else outside of you and your partner that will contribute to the wedding. In some cases, parents of the bride/groom might cover certain things, like the rehearsal dinner, etc. so you don’t have to incorporate that into your own budget.

Sit down and actually put everything down in a spreadsheet. This might be tough if you’ve never really kept a good track of expenses before, but it’s a great habit to get into. Have your partner sit with you and go over all your expenses, see how much you can save each week or month, and how much you already have saved to come up with a realistic number to go by for your budget.

Wedding Costs

The next step would be to create an actual wedding spreadsheet and write down everything that you know you’re going to want/need for your big day. Estimate prices for things like your dress/tux, the cake, venue, and flowers so you can give yourself a starting point on costs. Not only will you get set on your budget but you’ll have something to follow as you go along to keep your monies in check.

When you set up your list, do it by your own preference. As in, where do you want to spend more money or think will cost the most? Create a prioritized list starting with those two things in mind and move down. You can then allocate by percentage and see where you might have some more wiggle room.

Where To Splurge

Think about what things everyone talks about after going to a wedding. These will probably be things you will want to spend more money on for your guests. According to the amazing Evelyn Francesca, a wedding planner in San Diego, here is a breakdown of what are the more important aspects of your wedding you might consider spending more money on (Besides, of course, saying Yes to the Dress first):


Everyone, absolutely every guest you have is going to talk about how good (or horrible)

everything looks or tastes at a wedding. This is a high recommendation that if you can afford to put more away for your reception venue and the caterer, here is the first place it should go. Having a beautiful location and delicious food are good priorities.


Next to the look and taste of everything, your guests are going to care about the music

that is played. Do you have an engaging MC who really gets the party started and

everyone on the dance floor? Or do you know of an awesome wedding band that people

have raved about even though they are a little on the expensive side? This is another

place that you should be willing to have extra put away for.


This another area where you should think about paying for quality. These photos are going to be memories you’ll want to look back on for many years to come, so it is worth paying the extra for the exceptional talent behind the lens. The day goes by very fast, and there is a lot that you might miss that you will wish you hadn’t, so photographs are one the best ways to go back and remember that amazing day.


The last of things within your wedding budget where you should be willing to splurge on includes the bar. If you know your guests are looking forward to a good time and want to get the party going, an open bar where you put forth the hosting with a good selection of wine and beer will truly have your guests enjoying their drinks without limits. This may be something where you can get a contributor to help you so you can afford to spend more, too.

Where To Save

There are so many aspects of a wedding where you can cut costs, and here are some of the things you can definitely afford to not pay an arm and a leg for when planning the big day.


This is something that in reality, will probably get thrown away by most of your guests, except for you to put in a shadowbox, and maybe your parents. So it’s no surprise that this is something you really don’t have to spend a lot of time, effort, or money on. Did you ever care what someone’s wedding invitations looked like? You could even save a TON of money and just create virtual invitations to send to everyone’s email that look pretty, and you won’t have to buy a bunch of stamps!


Just like the invitations, how many of your guests do you expect to hold onto your favors? How many favors have you held onto that you’ve received at weddings? Realistically you can really cut down on a lot of costs by doing very simple favors that look nice but won’t have you spending a ton to get a lot of them.


If you have already put forth the money for a beautiful venue, you don’t have to spend a ton extra on decorations or flowers. Things like extra streamers or tulle aren’t going to be necessary. Instead, they come off more like ‘fluff’ that you really don’t need. Keep those things simple and cut your costs way down, they are a minimal “extra” that doesn’t necessarily need to be too thought-out. Just think of it this way: fake flowers are a great way to not only save money but you can have bouquets that last forever, too!


You may feel you want to spend more on the cake since it will have its own table and be the centerpiece. But so many couples go great lengths to add big dessert tables and extra cupcakes for their guests. This isn’t needed, and there is no reason to spend more money on desserts if you have a perfectly good cake to share. Most of the time, your guests are too busy dancing and having a great time mingling to even notice that there is a cake to eat at their tables.

Ultimately, deciding on your wedding budget and where you want to spend more money is going to be up to you and your significant other. If you are willing to spend a little more on a bridal gown that is perfect, and a little less on your cake, do it. Be willing to set that give and take throughout things, (such as more on the food, less on the invites) while looking at other things so that you can stay within your set limit.

The main idea behind wedding spending is not to go too overboard with the belief that everything you purchase has to be of the best quality and highest cost. Couples shouldn’t have to go in debt to have a lovely wedding day.