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How to Make a Wedding Budget that Actually Works!

5 Steps to Help You Get Started.

Plus, a special offer to get a customized budget built for you!

photo by Stephanie Mason

Creating a budget from the onset of your planning is crucial for a stress-free experience. It grants you the flexibility to allocate more on things you love and alleviate feeling like everything is out of reach.

Before we get started, let's squash the stigma around budgets. Everyone needs one, no matter the amount!

The biggest mistake I see couples make is dive into planning and vendor bookings without creating a plan and conducting research first.

I know, you're probably thinking "research?! who has time for that?". Well, that's where I come in!

As a wedding planner with over 10 years experience, budgeting is the first exercise I do with every couple and they're often surprised by the final number. It may be higher than expected or more manageable than they thought, and I always save them along the way!

So here it is, 5 steps to help you get started.

PS: Make sure to read until the end of this article; I have a special offer to help customize a budget just for you!

photos by Amy Pinder

Step 1: Wedding Venue

Your wedding venue will be your biggest expense, so let's start here.

If you're considering multiple locations, this exercise will offer a thorough comparison to help in your final decision-making. So, dust off your Excel skills, create a table and let's start ranking!

  • Does your venue have a rental fee?

This is usually a flat rate, or an amount waived upon reaching a minimum spend. If the answer is yes, mark this number down.

  • Does your venue offer turn-key packages?

This typically includes everything from tables, chairs and cutlery to staff and catering. The cost of these packages will vary (e.g. open bar vs host bar), so if the answer is yes, mark down the package that appeals most to you.

If you answered no, you'll need to source and manage more vendors and logistics. This adds to the necessity for hiring a planner. Your peace of mind and finances will thank you along the way, I promise!

Photos by FCP Weddings

Step 2: Guest Count

Your guest count significantly impacts your budget and venue choice.

Prior to booking your venue, create a preliminary guest list to avoid surprises. Your estimate may be off; you might expect 100 guests but end up with over 200, or vice versa.

Once you have a rough number, jot it down and multiply it by the venue's per person cost.

P.S. Don't overlook vendor meals! This includes those staying for the reception only - like photographers and band/DJ. Depending on the venue, they will have a separate cost from guests. For now, include them in your overall guest count until you confirm details with the venue.


photos by Andrée-Anne Joly

STEP 3: Tax and Gratuity

Including tax and gratuity from the start is often overlooked in budgets, but they are essential and will impact your baseline.

Remember, tax rates vary by location, such as 13% in Ontario and 15% in Quebec.

Gratuity is usually set at 18%, but check the venue's terms as it may already be included in the package price or set higher, like 20%.

Tipping other vendors is discretionary, but consider adding a line item for each vendor to remind yourself.

photos by Sam Yeldon

Step 4: Nuptuals

It's funny how the main purpose of planning often gets forgotten on budgets - that is, the cost of actually getting married!

Regardless of the location, you'll need a wedding license from your province. Check your city's website for the registration fee and process, as it varies. Once you have the amount, note it down.

Where you choose to wed will also impact your budget. Whether it's City Hall, a place of worship, or a venue with an onsite officiant, each option has different fees, ranging from $200 to over $3,000.

Take your preference into account and provide an estimate for now.

P.S. if you plan to have your ceremony at your venue, an additional rental fee may be required to provide you with the ceremony space.

girl holding book with inspirational photos of weddings

photo by Brooke Lacombe

Step 5: Reflection

Ok. Let's pause there.

Where are we in terms of numbers? How do you feel about it? Is it manageable?

With this baseline, you can decide whether to adjust your initial vision or proceed with finishing your budget plan.

Now is also the ideal time to consider hiring a planner, before booking any vendor. Why? Because this investment will not only provide insight into real vendor costs, but planners will pave the way for a cost-efficient, flexible and stress-free planning experience that prioritizes what matters most to you.

Photo by Brooke Lacombe

Special Offer

Throughout the month of May, I'm offering customized budgets just for you!

This is typically a catered service only offered to Fino couples, but for a limited time you can benefit from this guided exercise for an investment of $500.

Note: My planning packages begin at $3,000, making this an opportunity you do not want to miss!

This means dedicated time for us to discuss your vision and tailor a plan that not only works, but also prevents future headaches. Limited spots available.

Click here to find out more and book your introductory call with me, Nicoletta.

Want to know what it's like to work with me?

Hear from real couples below!

Where do I even start with my experience with Nicoletta. I always thought I would really enjoy planning my own wedding, and got about 40% of the way in before realizing how much stress some of the aspects were causing me (budgeting, timelines, vendor contacts, shuttles, room blocks). She swooped in and made me feel like I could enjoy the planning process again. I truly did not have to worry about a thing. I literally could not have done this day without her. She is organized, kind, caring, and has such an eye for the fine (or should I say FINO) details. I would recommend her to every friend I have getting married - seriously she is amazing.

Christie & Trevor

Nicoletta was so amazing to work with! Throughout the entire process, she made sure to listen to all of my questions and concerns and did a wonderful job guiding me and finding affordable vendors for my big day! Nicoletta has so much knowledge and expertise in event planning and she does a really great job paying attention to details to ensure everything is perfect to the bride and groom's liking! We would not have been able to plan such an amazing wedding or be able to enjoy it as stress free as we did without Nicoletta's help! I 100% recommend Fino Events to any upcoming bride or someone looking for guidance in event planning!!

Cora & Alex

Click here to read more from Fino couples!


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