Atlanta Fine Art Wedding Photography

Setting a wedding budget and sticking to it

For Brides

January 9, 2021

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I did a poll on my Instagram stories a few weeks ago and asked brides “what has been the hardest thing about wedding planning (besides Covid, because that’s a given)?” And the overwhelming answer was: creating and sticking to a budget! 

When I was a bride to be, I was on a super tight budget, so I GET IT. It’s tough to stick to a budget and it’s even harder when you don’t know how much things actually cost when you first start planning (I mean, you’ve never done this before, right?).

So, I’m laying out my best wedding budget tips below and I hope this saves you headaches as well as your hard earned dollars. 

Hire a wedding planner. Okay, okay, I know you’re thinking, “but that’s an added expense when I could just do it myself or have a friend help. Isn’t the goal to save money here?” Yes, it is and that’s exactly why hiring a planner should be the first thing on your wedding to do list. Planners are experts at weddings and wedding budgets. A good planner will help you set a realistic budget and stick to it. Since they’ve done this dozens of times, they know how much things cost, and all of the unexpected expenses that pop up. They can build those into your budget upfront, so there’s no surprises. Planners are savvy at saving you money and helping you prioritize what’s really necessary and what’s not. They know so many other wedding vendors and can help you put together a stellar team while keeping your budget in mind. Plus, there’s like a thousand other benefits to hire a planner, so you’re really getting your money’s worth. Oh, and yes, your venue likely has a wedding coordinator that you have access to, however, they are only going to handle matters that pertain to the venue—they won’t be doing a deep dive into your wedding budget spreadsheets or talking you off a ledge when you’re about to bust the budget on the latest TikTok wedding trend. If you need help finding an amazing planner, I have a bunch that I’d be happy to refer you to!

The number of guests you invite is going to be what impacts your budget the most. The more people you invite, the more expensive food and rentals are going to be (the biggest expense of a wedding). Cutting down your guest list is the easiest way to trim your budget (and thanks to Covid, smaller weddings are super trendy these days)! Also, be sure to ask prospective venues what they include as far as chairs, tables, linens, etc., because this could save you money as well!

Set your budget BEFORE you pick a venue. You don’t want to end up “venue poor” with no money left over for the other things you need! There’s a certain percentage of your budget that you’re supposed to spend on a venue… I don’t know what that percentage is, because, well, I’m not a wedding planner. Refer back to the first point.

Decide what your priorities are up front. What things are non-negotiable to you and what things can you compromise on? Pick 3 vendors that are most important to you and budget for those vendors accordingly. Having your list of priorities will ground you when you’re tempted to splurge on something that wasn’t planned. 

Was this helpful?! I’d love to know your biggest budgeting takeaway!

And if you’re a wedding planner, feel free to introduce yourself and leave your website/social handles in the comments!

  1. Danielle says:

    Wedding planner and florist, here!! Sarah said it perfectly. Planners really do know the ins and outs and our goal is to make your day as flawless as possible, budget and all 🤍

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I'm Sarah and I'm so happy you're here. This blog is full of past weddings, engagements and my best tips for photographers & brides!

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Sarah Folsom is an atlanta wedding photographer with a focus on crafting timeless wedding imagery by blending the classic & candid.