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One of the most frequent questions we get asked by couples, and yet the truth is that the answer can be incredibly varied, depending on multiple factors. The most important thing is that you build a wedding that best represents you as a couple, whilst being realistic. Yes, it’s your special day, but that doesn’t mean that you should have to pay for it for the rest of your lives!

Below, we’ve broken down what a typical wedding might include, as well as some “nice-to-haves”, which can be included if your budget is more sizeable.

  • Venue – choose a venue to host your ceremony and also your reception (including drinks reception, wedding breakfast and evening party).
    • Did you know that The Italian Villa is one of only a few venues that doesn’t charge extra for ceremony room hire – saving you between £500 and £1200!
  • Registrar or celebrant’s fees, if getting married at a venue OR any fees associated with getting married at a religious place of worship.
  • Transport – how are you and your partner, your bridesmaids, and any other close members of your wedding party getting to the venue (or, if having separate venues for ceremony and reception, how will you get from one to the other)?
  • Food & Drink – this will be an important part of your day, and expenditure can be extremely varied.
    • Typically, you’ll want to be able to provide guests with a drinks reception after your ceremony.
    • It’s popular to serve canapes during this time too.
    • Next, you’ll want to enjoy your wedding breakfast (not actually breakfast 😉). There are so many options when it comes to your wedding breakfast, dependant on whether you choose a formally served meal, or something less formal (sharing platters, anyone?!). Less formal doesn’t always mean less expensive, so always worth checking with your chosen caterer (wedding caterer in Dorset, Beales Gourmet, have some outstanding value packages)
    • Decide what drinks you want to provide guests with during your wedding breakfasts. Around half a bottle of wine per guest is a safe guestimate… Will you choose bottled water or jugs of tap water?
    • You may wish to invite more guests for your evening reception. There are loads of great evening buffet ideas, from fusion cuisine buffets to Paella stations – have fun choosing what you’ll provide your guests.
    • Are you providing a bar tab to buy your guests’ drinks? There’s no wrong or right answer here – just something to consider for your overall budget.
  • Photography – Of course one of the key things you’ll want to do is to capture the memories from your special day for posterity. Your choice of wedding photographer and/or videographer is an important one, and, like many things on this list, the costs can vary dramatically. One piece of advice is to find a photographer that you can build rapport with, as you’ll be spending a fair bit of time with them on your big day.
  • Entertainment – This is where you can add personality and a degree of difference to your wedding. From ceremony musicians to bigger bands and DJs in the evening; magicians; caricaturists; casino tables; photobooths; singing waiters; the list goes on. The price and quality of these services can vary dramatically, so best to check with your venue if they have any preferred suppliers that they could recommend.
  • Attire – Yes, apparently, it’s all about the dress! Wedding dresses of every conceivable shape (and colour!) are available from around £100 on the high street through to thousands of pounds from high-end boutiques. But these days, men also want to look their best. There are plenty of options, from suit or tuxedo hire, through to having a bespoke suit created by a tailor. You’ll also want to consider if you’re covering the cost of attire for your bridesmaids and groomsmen, flower girls and page boys.
  • Hair & Make up – Of course, it’s not just what you wear, but how you look overall! Allow for hair and makeup costs for you, and possibly (if you’re paying for) the Mother of the Bride, bridesmaids, Mother of the Groom, etc.
  • Accommodation – Where are you going to stay after the wedding? If your venue doesn’t have accommodation on site, make sure they have good accommodation/hotel options nearby, and that you’ve budgeted for it. You might be bringing in guests from around the country or even further afield, so consider if you’ll be covering this in your budget.
  • Rings – When you finally say the big “I DO” you’ll usually want to exchange rings. These, again, vary wildly in cost and design. Check with your venue, as they may be able to recommend reputable jewellers.
  • Stationery & Favours – When you decorate your wedding breakfast tables, you may wish to leave a traditional “wedding favour” in each guest’s place setting. This can vary from bespoke crafted chocolates in personalised boxes to lucky scratch cards and everything in between. Part of your wedding budget will also need to be attributed to invitations, RSVP cards, table names/numbers and table menus (check with your venue to see what’s included).
  • Cake – A real highlight and visual centrepiece. Your wedding cake could be anything from a single tiered cake to a multi-tiered spectacular! Check if your venue will provide you with a cake knife to cut the cake. Your cake supplier will usually provide you with a cake stand to display your cake, but this is worth checking.
  • Childcare – If you plan on having a significant number of children (perhaps more than 10) at your wedding, you may want to consider a nanny or creche service. These are invaluable, as they allow you and your adult guests to enjoy your special day, while the children have their own fun in a safe environment.
  • Wedding insurance – This is one element that is often overlooked. You never know what unexpected things may happen between now and your big day. Wedding insurance is a great way to protect yourself and the significant amounts that you have spent putting your wedding together.


Ancillary extras

Don’t forget that after your wedding, you may wish to get away for a honeymoon (or mini-moon if time doesn’t allow for a longer break) somewhere exotic. You may wish to factor that in to your wedding budget. Some couples opt to ask guests to contribute towards their honeymoon in lieu of physical gifts.

If you are having guests come from further afield, you may want to host them the day before your wedding or, indeed, the day after. Pre and post-wedding catering is a big upwards trend, and something else for you to consider, if budget allows.

What if I’m not getting married at a fixed venue?

Some couples choose to get married in more remote locations. Bear in mind that you’ll need to budget additionally for marquee costs, portaloos, a dedicated wedding planner/manager, perhaps a toastmaster to run the day for you, tables, chairs, linen, etc.

There is no wrong or right wedding budget. Just make sure you’re allowing for the most important element to you, to make sure that you have the wedding day that YOU want to have!