Wedding Budget Calculator Tools & Myths

Planning a budget for your wedding is difficult. No one will ever tell you it is easy. There are many different tools, calculators, and templates online that can help lead you in the right direction when putting together a wedding budget. It is important, however, to use each of these tools carefully. There are many “wedding budget calculators” that allow you to input the total amount that you wish to spend on your wedding, and it will spit out numbers of how much you should spend on each vendor/area based on pre-set percentages. What most of these calculators do not take into account is the location of your event, number of guests attending, or your personal priorities. They also aren't always realistic. 

The location of your event is going to play a major role in how you allocate your budget. While some things most likely won’t change much (cost of flowers, linens, and most rentals), there are many things that will have a different cost if you are getting married in a big city versus a small town. Photography, catering, and band/DJ will all be a much different cost based on your wedding location. Most calculators don’t ask the location of your wedding, which can change the answers that it gives you pretty dramatically. 

One huge factor in determining how to distribute your funds is the amount of guests that will be attending the wedding. This is going to dramatically change the total of your catering bill, as well as have an effect on rentals and your venue selection. While, again, some things may stay the same (a venue for example-as long as they can accommodate your number of guests), most of your budget line items are going to get a bit more expensive when you have a larger headcount. When a bride and groom come to us for advice about how to bring the overall cost of their wedding down, the first thing we look at is how many guests they are planning to invite. This is the number one driving factor for couples to go over budget.

One other thing that these calculators do not take into account is the couples’ priorities. A couple may have decided that they are going to forgo a videographer in order to add more money to their floral budget. Or have a photographer only come for 6 hours instead of the typical 8 or 10 in order to allow more money to go towards food. There are so many different options available to save in one place in order to pad your budget in others, and these calculators are not able to help with these items. They have a percentage that they calculate for each section, but these are just guidelines. They are not the final word on your budget.

One of the biggest weaknesses of budget calculator tools is that they are often unrealistic. For example, if you input a total budget of $30,000 and indicate that you're planning to hire a wedding planner, then that calculator may tell you that you should prepare to spend $1,200 on a wedding planner. That answer is likely based on a percentage model. Here's the problem. Wedding Planners don't cost $1,200, (or at least they shouldn't!) but the tool isn't sophisticated enough to generate the hard truth as an answer. 

I will end this by saying that these tools are there to help guide you. They are wonderful to help get you started on your budget, but should not be what you base all of your decisions on through the planning process. There are many wedding coordinators and other industry professionals that are well versed in creating realistic wedding budgets based on all of these factors. While not everyone can afford a wedding planner, there are so many benefits to having someone with experience help with your budget, even if you hire them purely for a minimal consultation to do just that. 

Kristin

P.S. Yes - we do hourly consulting!! Want some help figuring out a wedding budget or starting out on the right foot? Give us a shout