Portioning up the wedding budget

One of the biggest challenges to throwing the wedding of your dreams is usually somewhat related to money. Chances are, your wedding plans will be in some way constrained by your wedding budget (or the lackthereof!).

What’s the average cost of a wedding in New Zealand?

It’s tricky knowing how much you might expect to spend on your wedding.  People don’t share what they spent (if they even added it up in the first place!) and it’s a little rude to ask.  But I did anyway! In the interests of research and giving ya’ll a realistic idea of what people may spend, I surveyed the Southern Brides and found people had an average wedding spend of $25,000.

There was a huge range of responses to the wedding budget survey, from a couple who said “as little as possible” to a few big figures in excess of $55,000. The comments on this survey were quite telling too. I was quite surprised at the number of people who didn’t have a budget at all, and were just throwing a ballpark figure out there.

The $25k figure is slightly less than the national average of $30,000 (and that figure is from a couple of years ago). Which is probably due to weddings being a bit cheaper in many parts of the South Island (especially venue hire and catering from what I’ve seen).

But while $25,000 might be lower than average… it’s still a lot of money! Where exactly are people spending all this cash? A marriage licence only accounts for $150ish, no matter the budget. So how are couples portioning their wedding budget up?

how much should you spend on each aspect of your wedding

Where do you get your wedding budget from?

To set your budget, the very first thing you need to know is how much you’ve got to spend.

This means you’ll need to have a talk with both sets of parents and see if they are willing to contribute – and they need to tell you how much they’re going to shell out! I hear about parents promising to help out, but pussyfooting around the figures – listen, Mum & Dad, this bride has a budget to put together, mmkk?!!

Once you have a rough idea of what you might have to spend, then you can start fleshing out a wedding budget, to see if the amount you have, the guest list you want, and the vision you’re planning is realistic. You might find the wedding you want won’t work with the budget you have – so as a couple, decide if you change the scope of the wedding (scaling back the celebrations or guest list), or the budget (by finding more money).

Typical Wedding Budget Breakdown

The thing is, you only get married once (usually) so you don’t know how much things cost. So, how much should you spend on what? Well, I’ll get to that in a second, but first you should consider how you’re going to record your wedding budget, going forward.

If you’re not sure how much to portion out to each part of the wedding – or you are concerned you’ve missed something off the list – then check out the Wedding Budget Template and Planner. This Google Sheet template allows you to type your proposed budget in, then it automatically portions out the costs between the different aspects of your wedding day.

As well as a starting point for the big conversations with your fiance and (hopefully) parents, having a concrete plan in place is VITAL if you are to have any chance of sticking to your wedding budget (big or small).

Once you start paying deposits and buying things for your wedding, the Wedding Budget Template + Planner keeps track of your spending and tallies what your total cost is looking like. It’s a good idea to do this from an early point, as the closer people get to the wedding, the more random costs seem to pop up. This way, you can make some tough decisions on whether you can afford some of those more “nice to have” items on your wish list.

Where does your wedding budget go?

A rough guide to where your wedding spend will go typically looks like this:

  • The most expensive part of your wedding is generally the wedding reception, with between 35 – 40% of your total wedding budget going into this. Remember this includes the food and the alcohol, which vary heaps depending on the guest list.
  • The next is clothing – the bride’s dress, bridesmaids, groom and groomsmen all can take up to 20% of the total wedding spend to be decked out. If your bridal party looks after their own clothing this can bring the cost down a little, but typically couples tend to cover this cost.
  • Next, the commemorative side of things – photography and videography – rack up about 15% of the bill.
  • Items such as stationery, flowers and transport make up 10 – 15% of the budget.
  • Your wedding ceremony can account for 7-10% of the total bill (which isn’t very much considering this is the essential bit of the day!)
  • Finally, beauty appointments, gifts and misc costs can add up to 7%

If you want to see some real life wedding budgets, check out my full wedding budget here and see how much I spent on my wedding.

Do you have a wedding budget?

I’m curious – do you (or did you) have a wedding budget to stick to? It’s easy to get carried away without a budget keeping a track of where the money’s gone. It’s also a great way to practice decision making and compromise with your partner! I’d love to hear your experience and advice if you have any.

12 thoughts on “Portioning up the wedding budget

  1. Wow, that’s a massive wakeup call. I had no idea that was the average cost! My budget is definitely going to be lower than that as I have other priorities (like saving for a house) – great to have a budget worked out beforehand to help you stay on track!

    1. It’s crazy huh 🙂 We had a much cheaper wedding than that too, as we’d not long bought a house. Having a budget worked out beforehand helps you figure out where you’re going to have to compromise – for example if you want a sit down meal, then you might have to go for a smaller wedding party… etc 🙂

  2. We got married 150,000 years ago in Sybney and payed for everything ourselves. I have no idea how much it cost in the end but it certainly wasn’t lavish. I always said if we could do it again I would elope and save the drama so we did two years ago and renewed our vows Elvis style in Vegas for our 20th anniversary. I think I enjoyed that more than the first one and it was just the two of us

    1. Our wedding was pretty no frills, being in the industry now I think if I was to get married again it would have a heap less guests (but probably cost a whole lot more, because I would want to use the best vendors!)

  3. Oh my goodness – when we first started planning we said our budget was $10k… in Australia. When we started exploring, $10k basically was only going to allow us about 20 guests at a restaurant… which couldn’t happen for us because we both come from reasonably sized families.

    The biggest chunk came from the reception definitely, but also the flowers. Venues really rip people off especially when they hear the word ‘wedding.’ So basically we decided to get married overseas, which still cost more than the $10k mark, but we got a lot more bang for our buck.

    1. The reception is the biggest cost huh 🙁 I think being flexible about what you want is the best compromise (like going for a destination wedding vs at home)

  4. Oh my gosh i had heard the average wedding now costs 45k – 55k and that’s just for basics. Most of our friends in Melbourne have spent around this and they were beautiful weddings don’t get me wrong but just your average wedding I would say. I’m actually a little releifed seeing you write 25k -35k as this is one reason we haven’t gotten married yet when saving for our first home. Thanks for the tips Amanda xx

    1. Where you are based definately affects the budget! We bought our first home before we got married which I think is a good thing financially but also means you are more careful on the different bits and pieces you spend your money on

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