First Steps Planning Weddings – Remember these Budget Items

No matter the type of wedding you decide on, you will need the basics. That is a dress for you, a tux or suit for him, the cake, flowers, music, food, and drink, generally. You are not going to forget those items. Of course, if it’s a smaller affair, you may not need some of these basic items. The first steps Marry me?planning weddings, after the decision is made about the type of wedding, is usually an attempt to list wedding items needed. Yes, actually write them down and start from there.

I have prepared a list of wedding budget ideas that are often forgotten in the initial budgeting process. You know, those “little things” that can unexpectedly add a significant amount to your final budget.

They are clustered somewhat in order from invitations to honeymoon so that you can think through these and other ideas that come to your mind as you begin planning a wedding budget.

Wedding Mailings

Save-the-Date Cards – Get them printed and sent out as soon as you know the date. Busy calendars of family and friends are often filled a year or more Save the datein advance. Make sure your intended guests have your date so they can save-the-date when scheduling their other activities.

Wedding Invitations.

Thank You Cards.

Printing and Postage

Do not underestimate the professional cost of printing the above cards. Even if you decide to print your cards at home, check the cost of the supplies you will need and include it in your budget.

Postage is another big item. Include it in your initial budgeting. If you wish you can create personalized postage stamps online via the U.S. Postal Service,,, and others.

Once you know the number of guests you plan to invite, it should be pretty easy to figure your postage for your various mailings.

License, Fees, Immunizations, Gratuities

Marriage License – Fees will vary depending on where you live. Call your local City Clerk for information.

Passports and Visas – Will you need one or both for your honeymoon?Passport

Travel Immunizations – Honeymoon planning early. Immunizations are sometimes suggested for places you may travel to on your honeymoon and they can often be expensive as they are usually not covered by health insurance.

Gratuities – Check to see what the going rate is in your area for:



Limo Driver.

New Clothing and Shoes

Gown Alterations – You may put on, or take off, a few pounds since your first/last fitting! Be prepared to have your dress fit the way you want it to, by budgeting for it, just in case.

Wedding Shoes – right height for your gown.

Pre-Wedding attire – For all your parties, from bachelorette to rehearsal to showers.

Undergarments and Accessories

You will probably want new undergarments for your wedding day. These may include everything from body shapers to just really pretty frilly things.

Hair Jewelry or flowers.


Pre-Wedding Parties/Dinners

Bachelorette Party – Will it be a local affair or will you travel to another town? Although this party is sometimes put on by the Maid-of-Honor, if traveling out of your city, you will want to pay for your hotel and airline ticket.

If it is not affordable for the Maid-of-Honor, you should budget for all your personal expenses.

Bachelor Party – Same consideration for best man as for bachelorette party.

Attendants’ Party – Some brides and grooms like to have a party just for their attendants.

Rehearsal Dinner – Formal or informal, food is the biggest budget item here.

Gifts Given by Bride and Groom

Presents for your Parents.

Presents for your Bridal Party – You will want to show your appreciation to all those who helped to make your day a special one.

Present for Day Coordinator (see below) or Family Friend who performs this duty.

Welcome Wedding Bags

Welcome Bags for your arriving guests. This is always a great idea and very much appreciated by your out-of-town guests, in particular.

Hotel Cost – Night before Wedding

Want to stay in the hotel the night before? It will certainly be easier to get dressed and get downstairs if your ceremony is in the same location or nearby.

Day of Wedding Costs

Day of wedding Coordinator – Even the perfect DIY Bride may want to leave the final coordination of her wedding day to someone else. A day planner comes in handy here, but an eagle-eyed family member or friend could also fill the bill. Just don’t get caught up trying to do it yourself.

Food – You will have people around you all day at home or in your hotel ladies eating foodroom – dressing, combing, fixing, etc. They will get hungry so plan to feed them before the wedding. (Tip for the food delivery person would be appropriate)

Hair and Makeup. Will you hire a professional hair and makeup artist for your wedding day?

Transportation – Limo/Carriage – what is your plan for getting to the church?

Destination Wedding?

In addition to your air travel, hotel,  new clothes, immunizations (if necessary), car rental, etc., destination weddings usually entail hiring an onsite or local wedding planner. Get the details from the venue and include them at the heart of your budgeting.

Church Requirements

Will you need to pay the church or another venue for a ceremony room? This is in addition to gratuities for your officiant.

Decorations and or flowers for the church or other venues.

Flower Girl Basket with Petals.

Ring Bearer Pillow.

Reception Needs

Transportation from Church to Reception, what will it be?

Dinner for DJ or Band? – Is it a part of your final count for hotel or venue? No, you don’t HAVE to feed them, but do you really want a hungry DJ or band working your reception? Could be distracting! Often times they set-up just around the dinner-hour and may not have eaten beforehand.

The cost will usually be the same per person as your guests.

Unexpected Guests – Okay, it’s a little rude, but it’s Aunt Mary’s boy Tony, who is home from the Navy unexpectantly.  She brought him along because she knew you wouldn’t mind, right?  Be prepared by making sure your venue/caterer can accommodate two or three unexpected guests.

Knife, Cake Server, and Toasting Flutes – These are the decorative ones that you will want as your keepsakes.

Decorations – Will you need to add decorations to the reception room if you are doing it yourself or decorate the back-yard for your reception if it is an at-home affair? This could include everything from string lights to ceiling drapes to table decorations.

Photographer or Videographer- Ownership of your photo negatives will depend upon your contract with the professional. Make sure you understand the details before you sign the contract.

Service Charges and Sales Tax – Have you figured this usually substantial sum into your budget if your reception is being held at a hotel or other venue?

How will you get from the reception to your hotel or “get-away?”

Honeymoon Costs

Your destination, length of stay, the season and the things you plan to do, will help you determine your costs. It is never too soon start thinking about it.

Post Wedding

Gown Cleaning, preparation for storage.

Bouquet Preservation.



Wedding Photos.


This list is just to get you thinking about wedding budget items. You will think of others as your wedding and your needs are as special and different as you are.

Just remember, no one needs everything mentioned here but it is a menu that you can begin to use as the first steps planning your wedding. We will move on and begin to explore in more detail some items we have mentioned here.

Before you go I would like to hear what you think of this post, so please take a moment and let me know.  Also, please feel free to leave any suggestion you may have about a wedding topic that you would like to see a post on.


7 Replies to “First Steps Planning Weddings – Remember these Budget Items”

  1. Great list of to-dos before the big day! My daughter’s friend JUST got engaged and I had already forgotten a lot of these things that we did to prepare for my daughters wedding 5 years ago! I will definitely refer her to your page! Thank you!

    1. Thanks, Misty. I’m sure there will be other things that will be specific to her, but many brides-to-be find these items a great place to start as they begin planning their wedding.

  2. Wow! You have given me a comprehensive list and I am very appreciative of that. I was just talking to someone about looking for a list like this so I can see how long it will take to get everything done and you have given it to me.
    Do you have any tips on what to do when a whole group of people show up unexpectedly?
    Thank you. Great article!

    1. Hi Irma: I’m glad you find the information helpful. I write in a later post about unexpected guests. Of course, it depends on how many people you are talking about. I always suggest the bride and groom have their venue expect 2-3 extra guests, just in case. If you have more than that showing up unexpectedly, that may present a bigger problem if your seating arrangement and the venue can’t accommodate “a whole group.” While you can do your best to accommodate them, given the circumstances if it becomes an issue, you are under no obligation to seat or feed them. You or your designee may have to tell them that and have the venue suggest a local place for them to have dinner.

  3. That is a very descriptive overview. I wish I read something like that when I was preparing for my wedding. We had the ceremony in one country and reception in the other. So I had to book all these items but multiply on 2. It took me 3 months of planning 🙂
    I would also add extra wedding dress if your main one is quite puffy. It is very hard to dance, sit or even using a bathroom in a big gown. So I just switched to something more comfortable during the reception.

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