The ultimate wedding budget checklist

7 Min Read


married couple walking whilst guests throw confetti

We broke it down, so you don't have to!

Ok, so here’s the thing… Budgets are not sexy. But they ARE important. Setting (and sticking to) a wedding budget will be one of the most pivotal aspects of your wedding planning journey. It’s the basic framework that allows the rest of your day to take shape!

As the UK’s most popular wedding gift list, we get to speak to hundreds of couples every week. And, lucky for you, we’ve learned a thing or two over the years about breaking down a wedding budget. SO, read on for all the insider info and find out how to plan a wedding on a budget – we promise to try and make it interesting!

  • How to set your wedding budget

  • How do you calculate a wedding budget?

  • Wedding Spend Breakdown Examples

wedding seating decorations

How to set your wedding budget

First thing's first, how do you decide on a sensible wedding budget? This is where many couples are tempted to google things like: “what is the most common budget for a wedding?” or “how much is the average wedding UK?” But we’d advise against this… sorry to burst your bubble, but there’s no quick and dirty, one-size-fits-all solution to setting a budget. The only real way to go is to get to grips with your finances and figure out what works for you. But we do have a few solid suggestions to get you started:

1. How much do you WANT to spend on your wedding?

Have an honest conversation with your partner about how much you would like to spend on your wedding. You may think you know what’s in their head (and their savings account) … but it’s worth having this chat to make sure that you’re both on the same page from the get-go.

2. Where is the money coming from?

This is a big one. The bit where you have to get realistic about what you can really afford. Think about what savings you might already have, (and how much of them you’re happy to part with). What disposable income you can both dedicate to the wedding budget between now and the big day? And last, consider if anyone else will be contributing.

The days of the bride’s parents footing the entire bill are, for most of us, sadly long gone (booo!). But you never know who might come knocking with an offer of help, financial or otherwise… maybe there’s a keen baker in the family who might like to have a bash at your wedding cake. Maybe your maid of honour is a dab hand with a pair of GHDs and doesn’t mind doing hair on the day… you get the gist!

moet champagne in an icecooler
blue presents stacked up

3. Think about the guest list!

Your guest list will play a massive role in determining what a realistic wedding budget looks like for you. How many people you want to invite will determine your venue size and catering costs, which usually amount to around half of your overall spending. So, if you’re strapped for cash, a streamlined guest list might just be your saving grace!

4. Sort your must-haves from your nice-to-haves

Last, make a list of all the key elements that you absolutely, 100% want to have for your wedding, and block those costs out. Anything else can be taken out of the plans if the wedding budget doesn’t allow it. Always dreamed of having a giant doughnut wall at your wedding? Block that cost out, baby! It’s a must-have!

How do you calculate a wedding budget?

So, once you’ve both agreed and locked in your wedding budget, how do you split it up to make sure you have enough to cover everything? This part will be different for everyone, but we’ve given an example wedding budget breakdown below to give you a rough idea of where to start.


The ceremony: 2% of your budget

When it comes to getting married, the only bit of your wedding budget that is absolutely, 100% non-negotiable is your ceremony. As for the rest… you’re free to ditch it! You don’t need a cake, you can turn up in ripped jeans if you like (how rock & roll of you!), and you don’t even need to exchange rings. If you’ve paid for the ceremony, you WILL be married by the end of the day.

This cost covers the hire of your ceremony space, the registrar’s fee and all the admin fees for the legal bits – giving notice, getting a copy of your marriage certificate etc. Luckily, these costs are usually pretty reasonable, so if you DO want all the bells & whistles, you should have plenty of cash left over to splash!

The rings: 2% of your budget

So, as we said, you don’t HAVE to have rings… but a shiny new wedding ring IS nice to have! And they don’t have to break your wedding budget either… you could splash out on a fancy bespoke design, or you could choose a classic plain band from your local high street jeweller… they both get the job done!

couple holding hands showcasing their wedding rings
mauve wedding sign on easel next to flower bouquet

Venue hire: 20% of your budget

Venue hire is likely to be a big chunk of your wedding expenses. It should also be one of the first aspects of your day that you book. Once you’ve got your venue locked in, you’ll have a clearer idea of how much you’ve got to play with when it comes to the finer details like menu choices, décor & entertainment.

Food & drink: 28% of your budget

This often goes hand in hand with your venue hire, as many places offer packages which include catering. But that’s not always the case, so it’s worth having a good idea of what you can spend on feeding people.

This cost is usually another hefty chunk of the budget – especially if you plan to have an open bar. But it depends a lot on your guest list. Feeding 300 of your nearest and dearest is EXPENSIVE. But if you can trim your guest list down to your core ride-or-die types, it will really help to keep your wedding costs in check.


The cake: 2% of your budget

Who doesn’t love cake? We do. Wedding cake costs vary massively depending on size, style, and design. A rustic naked cake will cost less than an intricately iced showstopper.

Top tip: Use your cake to save money! Why not serve wedding cake instead of dessert at your wedding breakfast? Or, if you’re not really cakey people, you could opt for a glorious 5-tier tower of cheese wheels instead, which can double as your evening nibbles! And if you really want to cut back on costs… allow us to recommend… Colin the caterpillar. Everybody loves Colin!

Outfits & beauty: 12% of your budget

This is one part of your wedding expenses which can really ramp up or down, depending on how you feel about it. You may love the idea of a designer wedding gown, tailored suits for the groomsmen and having a team of professional hair & makeup artists on the day. Or, you may NOT love the idea of spending big bucks on an outfit you’ll only wear once. You may be somewhere in between. All stances are 100% valid. It’s your day, your way!

Top tip: Rock My Wedding have a fantastic nearly new section – check out Recycle My Wedding for amazing discounts on pre-loved designer dresses and accessories! … Then maybe recoup some of your costs by passing on your wedding dress to another bride after the big day.


Flowers & décor: 8% of your budget

This cost will depend a lot on your venue. If you’ve chosen a stunning stately home, you may not need too many extras to make it look phenomenal. Whereas if you’ve saved money on a less ornate venue, you may want to spend a little more of your wedding budget to make it look the part for your big day.

Photography/videography: 10% of your budget

Your wedding photography is one area you definitely don’t want to scrimp on. Once your big day is over, the photos (and/ or wedding video) are the bits that you get to keep forever. And there’s no do-overs… once your day is done, you get what you get. So take your time, do your research and pick a photographer whose style you really love.

Don’t forget to check what the package you’ve paid for includes… how many hours they’ll stay, whether you’ll need to provide food or pay travel expenses, and whether the fee includes prints or just digital copies… it’s important to make sure that everyone’s on the same page.


Music & entertainment: 8% of your budget

From string quartets for the ceremony to photobooths for the reception, to a band or DJ (or both!) to get the party started… these are the bits that bring real personality to your day. So, it’s worth dedicating a healthy bit of your wedding budget to… what’s a wedding without a good party after all!

Transport: 2% of your budget

It’s all fun and games until somebody forgets to book transport and you have to jump in an Uber in your wedding dress! Our advice – don’t leave this bit till the last minute. Especially if you have to transfer guests between two venues… Book a party bus – make it fun!

emma and warren
emma and warren

Stationery: 2% of your budget

Of course, it’s lovely to have a full traditional stationery suite. But this is another area of your wedding costs that can be squeezed if you run short of funds. Online wedding invites are a budget-friendly option - they’re super-quick and a great eco-friendly alternative too!

Miscellaneous: 4% of your budget

Think of this as your contingency budget. You can use it on things like wedding favours and gifts for people who’ve helped you out, wedding insurance, and any unforeseen costs that crop up (because trust us - they will).

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Wedding Spend Breakdown Examples

Let's say you have a budget of £5,000 or £10,000. An example breakdown of your budget would look something like this:

Wedding budget breakdown

Total budget £5,000

Total budget: £10,000

The ceremony



The rings



Venue hire



Food & drink



The cake



Outfits & beauty



Flowers & decor



Photography/ videography



Music & entertainment



cornwall honeymoon sea front beach surrounded by trees
sandy beach in the maldives

What about the honeymoon?

Picture the scene. You’ve planned your perfect wedding budget down to the last detail. Everything has been paid for and you’ve had the wedding of your dreams. But… Houston, we have a problem: there’s nothing left for a honeymoon!

NOT ON OUR WATCH. Add a honeymoon fund to your Prezola gift list so your wedding guests can contribute towards your trip of a lifetime. You can even personalise your fund to let your friends and family know exactly where their money is going. It’s always more fun to know that you’re paying for surfing lessons, or breakfast in bed, rather than simply handing over a boring old envelope of cash.

So, there you have it. If you’ve read this far… well done, you absolute trooper! We hope this has been helpful and not too dull (we tried our best!). There are plenty of more fun things to read in the inspiration section of our site. Now that you know how to do a wedding on a budget, why not take a break and check out some stunning real couples' wedding stories… go on, treat yo’self!