Mary Thompson
Owner and Designer


Mary Thompson
Owner and Designer


Budget planning tools for weddings.

Why wedding budget planning tools don’t always work


Today, as I was updating my Wedding Wire account, I went into their budget tool for brides. Like every other budget tool I’ve tried, this allocated a percentage of the available funds to each item. However, many of the suggested costs are unrealistically low.


It is important to have a budget and these tools can keep you on track if you do your pricing homework. Start by talking to your fiancé and involved family members. Discuss expectations and money. Once there’s a list of “must haves” with average local cost, you can rank items from 1 to 10. If pictures of the ceremony and family portraits tops the list for four out of six of you but live music is not that important, spend your money on a good photographer. If your guest list is small but your family church is a large cathedral, would you consider using a small chapel or other venue at a fraction of the cost?


Guest lists and the number of attendants are big budget busters. If you have a tight budget it’s imperative to control the guest list and limit your wedding party members.


Below is a list with estimated price ranges for northern Arizona. It’s all about prioritizing and, of course, you get what you pay for. If Uncle Earl offers to take photos for free, that doesn’t guarantee they will turn out. No back up camera can leave you without lasting memories. Also, it doesn’t matter how great a cook your mom is, she shouldn’t miss your wedding because she is working in the kitchen. Remember, If it’s important to you, hire a pro.


Basic Wedding Budget. (And … you don’t have to do everything. After A , B & C it is all about you and what you can afford.)


Getting Married:

  1. Marriage License $76 in AZ.
  2. Optional: Certified Copy $27 in AZ. This is mailed to you.
  3. Officiant $0 to $300+


The following make it a WEDDING :

  1. Ceremony & Reception Venues $0 to $2000+
  2. Dress $0 (borrowed or from your closet) to $2000+
  3. Groom’s Attire $0 (as above) $200+
  4. Flowers $40 to $1000+ Depending on silk, fresh, style and number of pieces.
  5. Attendants gifts, lodging, parties, flowers, meals.
  6. Music $0 (iPad) to $1000+
  7. Professional Photographer $500 to $4500+.
  8. Food $10 to $75 per person. Local Public Buffet or Private Club
  9. Bar $5 to $50+ per person. Keg or a full Bar
  10. Cake $1 to $4 per person, Sheet Cake or tiered Wedding Cake
  11. Day of Coordinator or Wedding Planner $250 to $1000+
  12. Invitations and postage; DIY or printed $1 t0 $5+ per family.


And don’t forget: Linens, Decorations, Party Favors, Hair, Make Up, Rings and Jewelry, Dance Floor, Lighting, Transportation and the Honeymoon.


Suggestions or comments? I would love to hear from you.


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