Learn how to create (and maintain!) your wedding budget in 6 simple steps. We’ve included a free printable wedding budget checklist + find our wedding budget spreadsheet available for purchase.

Create Your Wedding Budget

How to Create Your Wedding Budget

You’re engaged (congrats!) and ready to get serious about wedding planning. One of the first things you’ll want to do is create a wedding budget. 

We get it – this is likely not at the top of your list of fun things to start planning for your big day. But we promise you this – if you prepare for your wedding costs upfront, it will make the wedding planning process much smoother and enjoyable. 

In the article you’ll find:

  • What to know before you begin
  • Create your wedding budget
    • Grab the tools you’ll need to create and track your costs 
    • Determine the funds you have available (or are willing to spend)
    • Gather initial cost estimates 
    • Refine cost estimates by talking with venues and vendors 
    • If estimates exceed your budget, start to prioritize
    • Maintain your budget and track payments 
  • Common wedding budget questions:
    • What is the average wedding budget in the US?
    • What is the average wedding budget in Montana?
    • How much does a 100 person wedding cost?
    • Who traditionally pays for the wedding? Do parents still pay?

What to Know Before You Begin

Will you hire a wedding planner? This is a common question we ask in the early stages of wedding planning. Decide if you want a wedding planner as soon as you can. Take full advantage of your wedding planner’s services. Likely, they will help you create and manage your wedding budget. Learn more about why you should hire a wedding planner or coordinator.

Estimated guest count. Knowing how many guests you expect to attend will be important when determining costs. A wedding budget for 100 will much different than a wedding budget for 500 guests.

Type of venue. Your venue is also a major consideration. Will you rent a venue or have a backyard wedding? This decision will make a big difference in wedding costs.

Location. The geographic location of your wedding will also make a significant impact on how expensive your wedding will be. For example, a destination location in Glacier National Park will tend to be more costly compared to a hometown backyard wedding.

Creating Your Wedding Budget

Here are six simple steps to prepare and maintain your wedding budget.

  1. Grab the tools you’ll need to create and track your budget 
  2. Determine the funds you have available (or are willing to spend)
  3. Gather initial cost estimates 
  4. Refine cost estimates by talking with venues and vendors 
  5. If estimates exceed your budget, start to prioritize 
  6. Maintain your budget and track payments

1. Grab the Tools You’ll Need

You’ll want to use a wedding budget template or tool to help you create and manage your budget. We recommend using an editable format vs. a printable format so you can easily change and update as you go.

Our wedding budget template is a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet template, including budget tabs for your wedding, rehearsal dinner, and honeymoon.

Wedding Budget Template Cheers MT

The budget template lists each cost and cost category. And has areas for both initial cost estimates and actual costs. Plus, a section to track deposits, payments, and balances due.

Available here:

Here is a quick tutorial on how to use the template.

Use the light pink cells to add your information, as shown by the grey arrow below

Wedding Budget Template Input Cells

Each dark grey column contains formulas and will calculate as you input information – it does all the work for you! Do not type in these cells.

Wedding Budget Template Formula Rows

Please note: not all costs will apply to your wedding. For example, we have rows for bridesmaid expenses, but you may be asking your bridesmaids to cover the costs of their own dresses, hairstyles, etc.

Be sure to delete or hide any rows you don’t need.

If you need to add rows, be sure to copy formulas in the grey columns down.

This template also includes tabs to plan for your rehearsal dinner and honeymoon.

Prefer a different format? Let us know! Email us with any questions at [email protected]

Our budget template also serves as a wedding budget checklist. But here is a handy printable wedding budget checklist (in PDF format) in case you already have a budget template and just need the list.

Wedding Budget Checklist Preview

Download our free wedding budget checklist here:

2. Determine What Funds Are Available

The next step can be a loaded question – what funds are available? And more so, what funds are you willing to spend.

Sit down with your fiancé and determine the amount you both will put towards your wedding.

Next, have conversations with both sets of parents (or family members that have offered to help out) to find out how much they plan to contribute. 

➵ PRO-TIP

Please do not go into debt to pay for your wedding. Get creative about ways to save or postpone until you can pay for the wedding you want. A wedding consultant is an excellent resource to help you find ways to save!

On the budget template provided, note the funds you have available for your big day. And your estimated guest count.

Wedding Budget Template Funds Available Cell

3. Gather Initial Cost Estimates

Then start to research and estimate all costs. Fill in each cost estimate. Take your time – this doesn’t need to be done in one day. Collect information over several days to avoid getting overwhelmed. 

Use the initial estimates column, as shown below.

Wedding Budget Template Initial Estimate Column

And remember – things will change as you continue to gather information. 

Some wedding expenses are fixed, and others will be variable based on factors such as headcount. 

Fixed costs won’t change with the number of guests expected — for example, wedding dress, groom tux, DJ or live band, decor, etc.

Variable costs will change as your headcount changes. Examples are the number of guests, bridesmaids, or groomsmen change. 

Wedding favors, cake, catering, some rental supplies, tables, chairs, linens will all depend on your guest count.  

Be sure to update costs estimates for variable items as your headcount estimates change. And communicate these changes, as applicable, with your venue and vendors.

4. Refine cost estimates by talking with venues and vendors 

Now that you have initial estimates and an idea of the total cost – begin to speak with vendors to refine your budget.

Continue to use the “estimate” column. If you want to save your very first estimates – make a copy of this tab.

Wedding Budget Template Initial Estimate Column

Be sure to use your venue and vendors as resources when it comes to cost. 

Your invitation provider will know how many invitations you should order and what to budget for postage, for example. 

Your baker can recommend how much cake you’ll need for your number of guests or how many cupcakes you need. 

➵ PRO-TIP

Use your local wedding experts for insight – everyone in the wedding industry is so helpful and ready to make your day magical. Including making the most of your budget!

5. If Estimates Exceed Your Budget, Start to Prioritize

Ideally, when you create your budget, the total of your planned expenses will fall below your funds available. Leaving extra for minor items you may have missed. 

However, this is not always the case. You may need to prioritize must-haves and eliminate certain expenses. Or find creative ways to save. 

Use the percentages column in our budget template to review the percentages of each expense item vs. total spending. Do the proportions make sense? Is this where you want to prioritize funds for your wedding.

Wedding Budget Template Percentage Rows

For example, is spending 20% of your wedding budget for your gown essential to have the wedding of your dreams? (The answer may be yes, and that’s perfect – it’s your day!)

What about your venue? Catering? Cake?

Again, use your local wedding experts. They will be able to help you find creative ways to save. Your florist can recommend less expensive flowers that are equally as beautiful.

6. Maintaining Your Wedding Budget & Track Payments

As you begin to sign contracts and pay deposits, update your “Actuals” column.

 Wedding Budget Template Actual Column

Also, use your budget tool to track deposits and payments.  Use the notes column to note the payment dates.

Wedding Budget Template Payment Tracking

You can track payments as you issue them or every month. Entirely up to you! And of course, this depends on your wedding timeline as well. 

Maintaining your budget will help you stay on track. And you’ll have the reassurance that funds will be available for final payments.

Common Wedding Budget Questions

Here are answers to common wedding budget questions. If we have not addressed your question, please add it to the comments below.

What is the average budget for a wedding? 

According to Wedding Wire’s latest report, the average budget for a wedding in the US is $28,000, which is $215 per guest—making the average number of guests around 130 people. 

What is the average wedding budget in Montana?

The average price of a wedding in Montana is $20,000. The venue can take 25% of more of that budget. And about $154 per guest. 

How much does a 100 person wedding cost? 

The average wedding budget (given the data above) indicates a 100 guest wedding in the US can cost around $21,500. And in Montana, the equivalent is $15,400.  

Remember, this is just an average. Depending on the type of wedding, your actual wedding cost may be much different. 

Who traditionally pays for weddings? Do parents still pay?

Traditionally, parents of the bride pay for the engagement party, wedding ceremony, and reception related expenses. And the parents of the groom pay for the rehearsal dinner, honeymoon, and alcohol at the reception. Martha Stewart Weddings breaks this down even further.

However, both times and roles are changing. The wedding budget is a collaborative effort in most cases. Wedding Wire reports 47% of wedding costs on average are paid by the couple, 52% of expenses paid by parents, and 1% other. 

Sit down as a couple to plan the amount you can cover. And ask both sets of families what they are willing to contribute.

Each family dynamic will be different, and its best to have open and honest communication upfront about wedding fund contributions.

Final Thoughts on Wedding Budgets

Following this 6 step process and using your local experts (we can’t stress this enough) will make planning your wedding a much more enjoyable experience.

Do you have additional questions? Or have advice or stories to share with other brides? Comment below.

6 Simple Steps to Create Your Wedding Budget

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