Setting your wedding budget will be very personal to you and your circumstances – but ultimately there are a few guidelines you can follow that result in the best way to budget for your dream wedding.  Ultimately your wedding budget will most likely be a combination of several sources, and will be heavily influenced the type of wedding you want to have.  Please find below our step-by-step guide to budgeting for the wedding you want and deserve!

1. Decide with your partner what kind of wedding you both want.

Ultimately all wedding planning, from hiring a wedding photographer to booking your dream venue, all stem from this most crucial exercise.  Are you looking for a small intimate wedding with close friends and family, or a grander affair?  Are you wanting a boho wooded wedding outdoors – or a fairy tale wedding on a lake?

Discuss with your partner what both of you would love your day to look like, and very importantly how you would like it remembered!  If you’re struggling, then our piece of advice is to imagine looking back on your dream wedding as if it has already happened and what five words you would use to describe that day…  These five words will be a good starting point for your imagination and decisions processes to begin.

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Examples of two recent brides who did this after we spoke with them…

Bride & Groom 1:

  1. Romantic
  2. Sweet
  3. Memorable
  4. Quaint
  5. Classy

Bride & Groom 2:

  1. Family
  2. Castle
  3. Fantastical
  4. Disney
  5. Vintage

In both these cases the couple were struggling until they achieved a vision from this starting point.  After the vision was set, the details could be put into place with budget priorities going to those elements that featured the most prominently.  In the above cases, Bride & Groom 1 went for a small venue with a rustic theme that ultimately allowed more budget for fun & games as well as entertainment.  Bride & Groom 2 went for a large castle with family staying over the night before, with breath-taking wedding photos in the castle gardens and also of the medieval entertainers brought in for guests.

CLICK HERE for tips on budgeting for and choosing your perfect wedding vendors (and getting the most out of them)

2. Speak with family about any contributions they may wish to make

So this can be awkward…

Especially for us English! But suck it up and have ‘the chat’ with parents as you may be surprised by how keen they are to help.  It may be difficult and awkward, but it’s essential to figure out early on exactly what help and contributions they wish to make.  Will they be purchasing certain elements of your day for you (often Mykey Day Photography is purchased as a wedding gift from Bride or Groom’s parents), and if so which elements and how will the decision process work there?  Or perhaps they have a figure in mind?  Either way, ascertaining this early on can be crucial in determining your ultimate budget.

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3. Work out the Final Numbers

Once you’ve added together any and all contributions friends and family are keen to make, along with your own savings combined with the amount you can put aside each month yourselves, you’ll have a much better idea of your final figures.  For many couples this is the first big conversation they have about finances, so it’s important you set time aside to have conversations in depth.

This is the point where a lot of online magazines and bride blogs make the same boring cliché statements “once you’ve got your final number that’s your budget and stick to it” BUT to us this is further evidence of just how ‘out-of-the-loop’ these non-wedding-professionals are as that simply never happens.  We work with brides from almost the beginning of their wedding planning all the way to beyond the wedding date itself, and to say that this is untrue in most cases would be an understatement.  It’s just an easy statement to make without much experience.  Here’s some real advice that’s actually useful…

So we know you’re going to go over budget (10-20% in most cases), so we need to mitigate that by:

  • Knowing why that happens (preventing common scenarios for over-spending)
  • Making plans for when it does inevitably happen.

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4. Why weddings always go over-budget

There’s a whole host of reasons why this happens, and our aim here is prepare you for as many of those scenarios as possible, so as to either avoid them or mitigate the damage!

1. We booked the venue… BOOM, we overspent already…

Many wedding budgets fall at the first post when it comes to booking the venue, and you’re not to be blamed!  Most wedding venues know that they are the first and biggest expense you are making, and use this to their advantage in ensuring they get the biggest slice of your budget pie as possible.  Whether it’s a host of unexpected costs (see point 4) or the fact they are commanding a high price for your date, many a budget has been sunk into the venue leaving very little for the whole host of extra service you will need.

2. No one wants average…

You’ll notice that even by this point we haven’t told you to ‘go get a feel for pricing in your area’ or to ‘email around to find the average price’.  We’ve not done this on purpose, because this is the second biggest reason most wedding budgets go over the top.

You see, at first glance it makes sense: “We’ll find out the average price of all the services we’ll need and then that will make the final budget number for our wedding!” So find out the average price of any/all services there are, mash that into a calculator, and that will spit out our budget –  Easy peasy!

Except it’s not that simple – no one wants ‘average’ for their wedding day…

We’ve mentioned in previous articles, it’s very rare that a bride wants to book an ‘average’ photographer, or ‘average’ catering…. No, most brides want ‘perfect’ or failing that, ‘the best value for money’.

Furthermore, and crucially, once you’ve found your perfect wedding photographer or videographer, your ideal toastmaster or wedding DJ, and once you sit down to taste-test your wedding breakfast meal and wine – it’s very rare that you’ll want the ‘average’ option.  The cheap/middle package, the smaller wedding book, the ‘budget’ chicken wings and chips…. Most people, when looking around the wedding fairs will be wanting wedding vendors that impress, and by their very nature – the impressive vendors are not the ‘average’ ones, the best packages with value for money are not the cheapest ones…

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The solution?

Start your research with a clean slate.  Just because you can ‘get’ a wedding photographer for £1000 doesn’t mean you ‘want’ that cheap level of service. Just because there are caterers who offer £20 per-person meals, doesn’t mean they are any good….

Researching the ‘average’ is useless, and falls at the first hurdle.  Looking for vendors who are amazing and that you want to book will far better inform your budget expectations than just discovering ‘the average’.  Many brides simply mash the ‘average price’ for all services into a calculator which spews out a budget the other end, but the budget is WRONG because that is the budget of a random average wedding – not the budget for your unique wedding.  It includes services you might not even really want, but also convinces you not to spend money on getting the best quality services that matter to you…

To this end you must prioritise which services are the most important to you.  Why pay the ‘average’ price or even any price at all on a service that doesn’t match the vision of your day (point 1 above), as here conversely you’re throwing money at something purely because you feel you should…

CLICK HERE for an article that explains further why this makes no sense in your budget

  1. Extras, extras, extras…

The upsell, the add-ons, the extras.  There’s a lot of them at weddings.  Whether it’s those pesky photographers and their second shooters or album pages, florists and their wide array of awesome choices, or the wedding drone your cinematographer is going to convince you that you need.

In our defence, can you blame us?? It’s our business as wedding professionals to offer you the most amazing options for you to choose from to have the wedding day you want!  It’s in your interest for us to have a wide-array of super awesome services that you will love and treasure forever – but has the unfortunate side-effect of presenting you with lots of potential expenses not budgeted for…

The solution? Talk to friends who have been married before and ask them what extras and add-ons they went for, however this solution isn’t perfect as they may not have gone for something you might want.  So also talk to your suppliers when you book them.  What are their clients’ typical final spend?  After you’ve explained the kind of wedding you are having, ask the what sort of things they think you might be wanting on top?  These questions are likely to give you an idea early on of what you might be tempted to spend…

  1. Unexpected costs (you weren’t told about or weren’t planning to make).

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This point is different to point 3, as these are not ‘extras you may want’ but costs you will have to make but were unprepared for.  Unfortunately, there can be a whole host of them…

  • Wedding venues may sell you a date 2 years ahead but not confirm pricing until that year.
  • We’ve also seen two sets of clients stung by a ‘service charge’ from their venue or caterers of £500-1000 or more less than a month before the wedding, which was not mentioned at time of booking.
  • Wedding photographers may advertise ‘from bridal prep to first dance’ but hide away a figure of how many hours that is deep in the T&Cs, meaning that once your final timeline comes together you’re spending more for what you thought you already had.
  • Wedding photographers may show you super deluxe albums with leather options and hundreds of pages but not fully explain that the ‘package album’ doesn’t look like that and all the leather options and pages are payable upgrades.
  • Feeding your DJ, Toastmaster, Videographer, Photographer – have they included in their contract that they get the same meal as your wedding guests?
  • Travel Costs – Are you hiring in supplier from far away who may add on travel costs when the final balance is due?
  • Hiring a band can often lead to additional expenses, where many expect transportation costs as well as hot food provided at exact times. Some even demand bowls of M&Ms with all the brown ones taken out!
  • Over-time and set-up/breakdown fees – depending upon the timings you want for your wedding ceremony and/or reception there may be additional fees levied for your wedding.

The Solution?


When booking a wedding venue or supplier, ask them outright what other costs you’re likely to have to pay.  This can be answered by asking a supplier what their typical final client spend is (as noted above) but dig a bit deeper and ask “what other expenses are there not listed here?” and similar probing questions. A good wedding supplier or wedding venue will be upfront about any and all costs you might possibly make, and especially up front about common ones not listed.

If you ask, and they don’t mention something that later comes up – you can justifiably argue that that isn’t something that was mentioned or agreed before and that they will have to justify the cost before you pay it.  For example in the case of the additional ‘service charge’ of £500 levied by a wedding venue to our clients, once questioned this ‘cost’ magically disappeared.

CLICK HERE for an article about why booking wedding suppliers who are ‘cheap’ often end up costing you more in the end…

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5. Discuss expectations and your wedding date

The budget you have ultimately decided will hopefully be heavily influenced by the steps above that you have taken, and if in doing so you are confident that you can finance the wedding of your dreams then you are set!

However, if you feel the day you can plan falls short – then not all is lost!  Firstly, this is the perfect time to go back through the steps and using all your super-awesome research you have done, really hone in on the essentials for your wedding day.  You’ll be able to downsize or cut out altogether elements and services that aren’t important to you, safe in the knowledge that they weren’t that important anyway.  You’ll also be able to revisit your wedding venues and suppliers forearmed with a good knowledge of the market prices and see what really rates as value-for-money.

However, if all of this still falls short of the mark, then this is where you can play your final ace-in-the-hole… You can set the wedding date far enough ahead that you have extra time to have the wedding you ‘want’, not the wedding you ‘can afford right now’.  Far too many brides we’ve seen have regretted rushing to book the venue (afraid to lose that mythical ‘perfect date’) only to realise it leaves them far too little time to plan and finance it.

One last little tip, discuss with your wedding photographer and videographer if they are happy to take some payment after the wedding date itself.  They’ll still be working with you after the wedding date to deliver your album and videos, and that extra 2 or 3 pay cheques could be the difference between their ‘average’ middle package and the deluxe awesome Black Label collection you really want…

CLICK HERE to see the top 10 misconceptions about weddings that you can safely ignore

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6. Prioritise What’s Important – When To Spend and When Not To

It’s been mentioned above throughout various points but it’s worth stating alone – that the biggest trick to budgeting your wedding is prioritising what’s important and trimming the fat on the elements you couldn’t care less about.

True Story:  One wedding couple took our advice on prioritising to heart and swapped out their £500 wedding cake for a £15 M&S Caterpillar cake.  Funniest cake-cutting we’ve ever done, the couple loved it, and the saved money afforded them the fireworks display they had had their heart set on but thought they couldn’t afford!

There are various ways to save once you’ve made your priorities clear – by now you’ll hopefully have come up with a vision of your wedding and the elements it will include.  By simply forgoing those things that don’t line up with your vision you can save money for the things you truly care about.

  • See if your current vendors can save you money:Maybe your DJ also offers lighting and dance floor or photo booth services? Perhaps your Cake maker can also arrange edible wedding favour?  Does your photo booth also do a video message service or marryoke?  Your current vendors are the best placed to give you the best prices on extras and upgrades – particularly when they’ll already be attending your wedding anyway with no extra transportation costs.  Furthermore, this means fewer wedding suppliers to keep track of on the build up to the big day!
  • Changing Venue – You may have an idea in mind for the venue of your dreams, but after doing your vision exercise in point 1 (above) and then all the additional research and meetings with vendors, you will have perhaps changed scope on your wedding entirely. Also you’ll know to ask what restrictions they have in place on the fabulous ideas you now want to incorporate – or you may realise that the cost of decking out the bare bones hotel or barn you were originally considering makes it a far less attractive option than the fully equipped large venues…


  • Trim the guest list – After you’ve accounted for the invitation, welcome bag, transportation, reception meal, and party favours, each and every guest can be a real financial consideration. Think about the reasons you’re inviting them, and in some cases – whether they appreciate the invite in the first place!

CLICK HERE for the definitive super-serious list of top ten people NOT to invite to your wedding

  • Consider a Mid-Week or Winter Wedding – If the guest list doesn’t necessitate a summer peak season weekend date, you can save £1000s on opting for the less popular dates – leaving the budget for the extra wine options and drone you really wanted.

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Large Part Of Your Wedding Budget and Not Complacent About That Fact Wedding Photographer Mykey Day

Your Wedding Day will never be as important to anyone else as it is to you, but trust us when we say – your wedding will be crucially important to us as well! Please browse our website for examples of our work, and we look forward to making your wedding photographs special too.

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CLICK HERE to see a list of helpful articles for helping you to plan your wedding

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