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What to Expect from Your Wedding Budget

Templates and tips for wedding budgets are plentiful! What can be harder to know is what you're likely to get with the amount allocated for each area. Read on to see what you can expect from common wedding vendors!


Base, More, Most - You will notice that there are no numbers in this article. I have organized it in this way because specific dollar amounts will vary from vendor to vendor. What I have provided instead is a scale to show you what you can expect to get from a vendor for each amount allocated.

Fees to Anticipate - Here I will list any fees typically excluded from those original amounts. These are fees vendors add to compensate for additional time/services requested.

DIY - It is becoming more and more common for couples to provide or prepare certain wedding elements themselves! Take a look at this section for DIY possibilities in each area.



Base | Bridal only hair and/or makeup. Depending on the cost, you may also be able to add in the Mother of the Bride as well (or another person of this nature) and still remain in this range.

More | Bridal hair and makeup as well as several attendants (2-3).

Most | Bridal hair and makeup, attendants (4-8), and mother of bride (or other person of this nature).

Fees to anticipate

  • Stylists often charge a travel fee if you ask them to come to the hotel or venue to complete hair and makeup.

  • Pricing varies on how fancy you want to get with your makeup. Many stylists offer something called “airbrushing” which is an airbrushed application of foundation. It can provide very smooth looking skin and often costs an additional fee!


  • Have someone you know do your hair and/or makeup.

  • Have a stylist do either your hair or makeup, and you or someone else does the other.


Base | Dress from an off-the-rack store, warehouse sale or secondhand store. You can find great selections for lower prices!

More | Specialty bridal store with specific brands

Most | Custom-designed or designer gown.

Fees to anticipate

  • Alterations - Depending on how well the dress fits before alterations, the cost to alter can vary from minimal to as much as the dress. Make sure to take this into consideration when making a selection.

  • Undergarments - Certain dresses require undergarments that you may not otherwise own, such as bustiers, spanx/shapewear, etc.


Find a dress somewhere other than a bridal store. You can find gorgeous dresses for a quarter of the price of wedding dresses simply by dropping the qualifier: wedding.


Base | Several hours on the wedding day with a short compilation.

More | All of the wedding day with a short video.

Most | All of the wedding day with longer video, full ceremony video, and/or additional video content.

Fees to anticipate:

  • Many videographers provide add-on options for extra film time or longer videos. These options allow you to customize your package.


  • You can use applications like WeddingMix to have guests record and submit their own content from your wedding day.

  • Have a friend or family member record the ceremony and/or reception.

  • Set up a video camera and leave it. (You’ll get some interesting shots this way!)


Base | Several hours on the day of the wedding.

More | All of the wedding day with a digital library of photos (amount varies).

Most | All of the wedding day with a digital library of photos and/or special prints or albums.

Fees to anticipate:

  • If you’re interested, you can talk to your photographer about adding a second shooter if it’s not already included. One photographer works great but having two photographers can often increase the variety of the photos captured.


  • Have a friend and/or family member take the pictures. Unless you strongly trust this person, I wouldn’t recommend this option. It would be very sad to be without quality photos from your big day if you were hoping to have some!


Base | All or a portion of the venue on a weekday.

More | All or a portion of the venue on a Sunday.

Most | All or a portion of the venue on Friday and Saturday.

Fees to anticipate:

  • Some venues offer tables and chairs for addition fees per unit. Their rates are often competitive and worth looking into!


  • Select a public venue that has very low rental costs, like a park.

  • Have your wedding in a backyard! This is becoming more and more popular. 2021 is the year of the backyard wedding!


Base | Appetizers (displayed) and drinks (typically, water and tea or lemonade).

More | Buffet meal, sometimes with appetizers and drinks.

Most | Plated meal with multiple options and drinks.

Fees to anticipate:

Linens - It can be convenient to rent linens from your catering company, especially if they are also setting up the tables and chairs. However, it can still be helpful to compare costs with those of a rental company.

  • Flipping the ceremony space to the reception - Most catering companies charge per person for the service of moving around tables and chairs to prepare the ceremony space for the reception. This service is extremely helpful and often expedites the process, but it often tacks on an extra fee.

  • Set up and/or tear down. Not all caterers include set up and/or tear down in their food costs. Make sure to keep an eye out for this fee in your invoice.


  • Consider providing the food but hiring a serving company to be in charge of it for the day of.

  • Have appetizers be DIY, with assistance from the wedding party or family to set out. Then, let the caterers handle dinner!

  • Provide all the food and ask the wedding party and/or family to help serve.

**When considering the above options, be aware that food and alcohol have particular guidelines if your wedding takes place at a venue. Talk to your venue manager or review your contract for specific rules regarding food service.


Base | Just the ceremony.

More | Full ceremony and reception.

Most | Full ceremony and reception along with additional features like a photo booth.

Fees to anticipate

  • Sometimes, DJ will charge additional fees for microphones if you want to have a microphone for your officiant and/or yourself and your spouse, especially if you request a lapel mic.


  • Ask a friend or family member to run your sound for the ceremony and/or the reception. If they have great DJ skills then you can let them run the music; if not, I recommend creating a playlist for them to use.

**Although it can be tempting, leaving your music set up as a playlist is not always the most conducive dancing environment. While it can be great for providing ambience, it does not always provide the same atmosphere that a DJ can create.


Base | Day of Coordination (which is a misnomer - it is really more like the two months before as well as event management on the day of)

More | Partial planning & design. If you would like help with more than just the details at the end of the planning process, partial planning gives you more support from a professional!

Most | Full planning and design. Takes the stress out of planning but leaves all the fun!

Fees to anticipate:

  • Travel fees - Similar to many vendors, if your event happens outside of their main service area, they may charge for travel expenses.


  • Ask a friend or family member to coordinate the wedding day.

  • Get advice or planning help from friends or family.


Base | Bouquet and boutonnière, or any combination of these two items.

More | Bouquet and boutonnière, several attendant bouquets and/or boutonnières, and greenery for tables.

Most | Bouquet and boutonniere, attendant bouquets and/or boutonnières, floral centerpieces, and additional florals (like altar backdrop).

Fees to anticipate:

  • Flowers that are out of season are going to cost more than flowers that are in season. Talk to your florist about what they recommend for the time of your wedding.

  • Set up and tear down fees - If you would like your florist to come to the venue and set up and/or pick up and tear down at the end of the event, there may be an additional fee.

  • Rental items - Some floral companies offer the rental of vases and other decor pieces to accent your floral choices. These are often charged separately from the flowers and greenery themselves.


  • Purchase fresh florals at a flower market 1-2 days before and create floral arrangements, bouquets and boutonnières. Make sure to keep them refrigerated after creating!

  • Pick-up bouquet and boutonniere (and other desired florals) from a florist and bring to the venue yourself.

  • Order fake florals and arrange everything yourself.

**You can combine fake florals with real greenery for a more realistic look.


Base | Ceremony and short rehearsal the day before. Some guidance in creating service.

More | Ceremony and rehearsal day before. Guidance through ceremony creation.

Most | Ceremony and rehearsal day before, guidance through ceremony creation and premarital counseling (or other such offering).


  • Have a friend get certified to marry you and your fiancé.

  • If applicable, ask the pastor from your church to officiate. They are often happy to do so for no charge or a minimal fee.

Remember, this is only a guide to help you determine how much to set aside for your vendors based on what services you want for your big day. Numbers themselves will vary, but I hope you find this a good place to start creating your budget!



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