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How to Wedding Budgeting


The biggest expense of most weddings is the venue. Venues come in so many shapes and sizes. Some will include every single thing you will need for your wedding, others will be a complete blank slate. Just choosing what kind of venue you want can be overwhelming. Narrow down your process by first deciding what kind of aesthetic you would like. Have you been picturing a banquet hall? A beachfront wedding with an indoor reception? Or perhaps a 100% outdoor wedding in the mountains? Once you decide on one (or maybe two) styles of venue that would bring you the most joy, begin doing research into venues that match your vision in your area. This can be done through a simple google search, word of mouth, or even social media. Price out a few options and add this information to your overall budget, BEFORE BOOKING. Before booking is key. Maybe you found a $15,000 venue that is almost a blank slate. $5,000 sounds like a lot, but it is important to price out each vendor before booking anything to make sure this will actually fit in your budget.

For our example budget, I am going to use a beautiful DIY outdoor wedding in Los Angeles that costs $6,000 for the full day. Our example venue will include chairs, tables, physical bar, lighting, and a gorgeous atmosphere that will contribute to the overall aesthetic.


Catering is another huge expense. There are so many options out there and your approach to finding this vendor really depends on your budget. There are many venues that include catering, but they do tend to be for budgets starting around $15,000. If you are working with a smaller budget or have found a venue you love that does not include catering then selecting this vendor is a great next step. Before deciding on a caterer you will want to decide how you would like the food served. Do you want a more involved plated, elaborate, five course meal or are you more interested in a buffet? Find a caterer that is willing to serve the food in a way that you would like. Also consider the accommodations your ideal venue offers for a caterer. Does your venue have a full kitchen for a caterer to work in? Will your caterer need to bring a mobile setup? Can you afford the type of caterer that can work with the venue? These are all things that need to be discussed prior to booking your venue or your caterer. Don’t forget to budget in a 20% tip for the staff!

For our example budget, let’s use a delicious BBQ caterer who will serve the food buffet style and serve some appetizers during cocktail hour. They will bring paper plates, utensils, and napkins if I want, but I will decide not to use disposable dinnerware. They will charge $16/person.


A planner can absolutely help you map out your budget. Planners have experience and relationships with other vendors that can actually end up saving you money in the long run. Even if they can’t save you money, they can save you a lot of time by using their experience to pinpoint vendors that will help your unique wedding vision come to life. The irony is, what if you can’t afford the planner once you have budgeted everything else? I recommend doing at least a rough draft of your budget prior to booking a planner to make sure you can fit one into your budget. If you cannot fit one into your budget or are excited to do the wedding planning journey on your own, a Day of Coordinator will go a long way. On the day of your wedding you don’t want to have to stress about the details. Let someone else do this for you! Look into a few options and add the prices to your outline. Don’t forget to budget in a tip!

For our example budget, I will say we will use a Day of Coordinator who will set up and breakdown all of my decorations, coordinate with my other vendors, and generally vibes well with (spoiler alert, it’s me). The price will be $850 for 12 hours on the day of my wedding and a few meetings throughout the month leading up to the wedding. I will budget in $100 tip.


Music and your MC are very important for the flow of the evening. You want to start your budgeting process by considering your preferences and needs. Need a Professional Live Wedding Band for your Reception Party or Special Event? What is your vision for the party? Let us help make it happen. Tell us your vision and we’ll turn your ideas into an awesome entertainment plan. When it comes to parties, we’re pros at reading audiences, getting people out on the dance floor, and keeping things organized–you’ll never have to worry about our DJs missing a beat. Which means you can be out there enjoying the party too!

We’re in it until the very last song and we’re experts at finding the perfect groove to keep your crowd dancing and smiling, but we also go the extra mile to make sure people will be talking about your awesome party long after it’s over. Count on our savvy Wedding Band / DJ combo (Monte Carlo) and professional emceeing to highlight each of your special moments and help make great memories.

So let us supercharge your next party or wedding reception. We’re known for our expertise as Los Angeles wedding entertainment and music planners and for awesome parties of all types. We serve Los Angeles, Venture County and Southern California, including San Diego, Santa Barbara and Orange County.


There are many directions to go when it comes to your officiant. You may want a very religious ceremony and you will want someone who can match that tone. Perhaps you are not religious at all and you would like to avoid any mention of religion in your ceremony. You will want to find an officiant that can really capture you and your partners relationship and lifestyle in a ceremony. Officiants range in price. Find a few that you are interested in meeting with and put the price of the most expensive officiant from that list on your budget outline.

For our example budget, I will use a non denominational officiant who meshes well with my personality. They will charge $350 for a 30 minute ceremony. I have found two back up officiants in case this one books someone else before I am ready. They are both willing to work for the same price.


The cost of these vary a bit from city to city. In Los Angeles (as of 2019) the cost of a marriage license is $90. If you aren’t getting married in Los Angeles a quick google search will tell you the going rate!


I’m lumping these two together for research purposes. There are so many styles of photographs and videos out there. You want to start your search by looking into the many styles available. Do you want pictures that are darker and more artistic? Are you interested in very light, bright, and whimsical photos? Find your style and then find a few photographers in your budget. There are many great photographers/videographers out there, but there is definitely something to be said for someone with wedding experience. Everyone has to start somewhere and giving a new vendor a chance is AWESOME! Just be sure that they are prepared to do all of the above and beyond work that an experienced wedding photographer or videographer are willing to do. Don’t forget to budget in a tip!

For our example budget, I will choose a photographer whose style I LOVE! I looked through their portfolio, I read the reviews, and this person offers all of the things I was hoping for. They will include a free engagement shoot when I book them for my wedding. They will charge $1500 for eight hours on my wedding day, a second photographer to capture different angles, and 500 edited photos. I will choose a videographer whose style I also love. They will offer eight hours of video coverage and deliver a 6 minute clip of the highlights of my wedding. They will charge $1600 for all of this. I will tip the photographer $100, and their assistant $50. I will tip the videographer $100.


The bar can be included with some venues or even some caterers. If it is not going to be included or if you’d like to create your own anyway, then you’ll need to consider a few things. First, there are many bar rental companies that include EVERYTHING. This will get you the physical bar, a bartender, full open bar for the evening, set up and breakdown. There are many companies that will send just bartenders who will show up, serve the alcohol you have bought, clean a little at the end, and leave. There are of course many options for anything in between. If you have your heart set on making your own bar make sure that your venue allows this! Many venues will either insist you use their bar, or at very least hire a licensed bartender. This is another reason you want to research all of your vendors PRIOR to booking anything. Don’t forget to budget in a tip!

For our example budget, I will choose to DIY my own bar. I am anticipating about 175 guests attending our example wedding. I will have two signature cocktails, beer, and wine. I will hire two bartenders to serve alcohol throughout my wedding. Between the alcohol, cocktail ingredients, and 2 bartenders (plus $50 tip each) I will spend $1,300.


Cake cutting is a staple at many weddings. The artistry that goes into cake making comes at a price, though! Find a style that you would like and then find a few bakeries that can create your vision. A more recent common trend is a full dessert table. Some people lay out a selection of cookies, maybe you love pie and want a whole table of pie, maybe you want a donut wall, whatever it is you want, budget for it! Don’t forget to budget in a tip!

For our example wedding, I will go with a smaller two tier cake and six pies. I will choose to use a bakery for the cake and find pies at my local grocery store. The cake will cost me $175 and the pies will cost another $100. The bakery will not be providing cake or pie stands. I will tip 20%.


Flowers are beautiful. They enhance any event they grace. They are expensive, though. Consider exactly what kind of look you would like to include at your wedding. Are you wanting big bouquets of roses on every table? Are you more of a wildflower person? Maybe you just want a bunch of greenery everywhere! No matter what you like, make sure that you have a vision and then find someone who can accomplish this vision within your budget. Again, read those reviews! Price out a few options and put the price of your favorite on your budget outline. Don’t forget to budget in a tip!

For our example budget, I will choose to use big green garlands and palm fronds to decorate everything. Even my example bouquet will be a collection of greenery. My florist will charge me $1500 for six bridesmaids bouquets, my bouquet, 22 centerpieces, greenery on my altar, and a three garlands for my dessert table, sweetheart table, and gift table. My groomsmen will not have boutineers. I will budget a tip of $100 for all of the hard work I anticipate going into my greenery.


The wedding dress hunt can be an intimidating one. It can also make or break your budget. There is no shortage of dresses or suits out there but the search can still be tireless. This can be a little tricky, and maybe not so fun, but think of a number that you will not spend a penny over. You can always come back to this aspect at the end if you need (or have) a little more wiggle room in your budget. Don’t forget to budget for alterations, jewelry, and shoes!! Almost every wedding dress will need to be altered to fit your body properly, even if it is custom made.

For our example budget, I will budget $1500 for my dress and another $500 for alterations. After looking online and deciding on a few designers and local bridal shops I like, I am confident I can find something within my price range. I will also budget $250 for my future husbands suit, another $40 for his tie and pocket square, and another $80 for his shoes. Our attire will total is $2,370.


These are also often left out of budgets. People have different reasoning for this. If you are choosing to think of these as a separate expense from your wedding that is fine, but I personally consider it an expense. Like so many other wedding related things, there are a lot of styles and options. Find some that you like and add the most expensive ones to your budget. It is always better to over budget, than under budget.

For our example budget, I have found a beautiful wedding band that I love. I already love my engagement ring so much and I don’t want it to be overshadowed by my wedding band, so I found something simple that is only $120. My partner wants something a little more unique and involved and they range from $250-$450. I will budget the full $450. This lands us at $570 for wedding bands.


Much like photography and videography hair and makeup can come in many styles. Before actually booking this vendor(s) you will want to do a trial run, but for our budgeting purposes find a few (1-3) that you really likes style and put them on your budget outline. Don’t forget to budget in a tip!

For our example budget, I will go with a makeup artist who does a lovely natural look. She will charge $250 for my makeup. She has a great recommendation for a hairstylist who is willing to package their deals and will cost me another $100. My bridesmaids will all do their own hair and makeup. I have found two backup makeup artists and one back up hair stylist who are willing to work at the same rate in case my trial run with my first choice does not go as planned. No matter who I go with I will budget a tip of $50 for my hair and $50 for my makeup.


These guys often are forgotten when it comes to budgeting. They seem so incidental, but add up quickly. Consider how many guests you will invite, but remember you only need one invitation per household. Also remember to budget for stamps. They may only be a few cents each but if you are sending 150 invitations that‘s another almost $75 you will need to account for!

For our example budget, I will need 130 invitations for the 200 guests I plan to invite. I will order 150 just in case some get lost in the mail or I think of other people I would like to invite in the event some of my guests decline the invitation. I also want the same amount of magnetic save the dates. I will order them through a well known large print company. Both will come with envelopes but I will need stamps. My save the dates will cost $140, plus another $75 for stamps. My invitations will cost $170 plus another $75 for stamps. My total spent on these will be $460.


Decorations and personal touches can add up. $10/table number may not sound like a lot but once you multiply this by fifteen tables it starts to add up. Many planners, florists, and venues will offer a selection of decorations to choose from. This is something to consider when deciding on all of these vendors. If you are choosing to find your own decorations make a careful list of the things you *think* you will purchase and budget accordingly. When it comes to decorations it is always better to assume you will need a larger budget than you would expect.

For our example budget, my day of coordinator is an angel and has a selection of decorations that I have access too. Luckily this is included in the overall price. I will use her table numbers, table linens, cake stands, cake serving utensils, dessert sign, unplugged ceremony sign, bar sign, and candle votives. I still have a few of other personal touches I would like to add. I know I need a seating chart and seating cards, but I know there are other things I will want too. I’m still not sure what they are. Even if I decide now, I will probably change my mind before the wedding. I am going to give myself $400 to come up with my own decorations.


Once you have completed your budget, total everything up and see where you land. Maybe you have realized you need to change a few vendors you had in mind for someone that will work better in your budget. Maybe you have found extra money in your budget and you can splurge in other areas. Now jump on those vendors, because finding a vendor you love just to learn your date has been booked is no fun!

de Bois Entertainment has been providing the top wedding bands in the Los Angeles area for over 25 years. You can book our bands for your upcoming event anywhere in the world and we can even help you to pick out a specialty act, such as a comedian, a hula hooping troop, a stilt walker, a juggler, a fire spinner [poi], or face painter for your kids birthday party in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Orange County, Santa Barbara or even internationally, contact us today for more details.

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