This entry is from our Expert Guest series where wedding and honeymoon professionals share their best tips on creating memories that last a lifetime.

What’s the first step brides should take when planning their wedding?  Hint: it’s not hopping on Pinterest!  The first and most important step is establishing a realistic guest count and budget!  Sarah Chancey, Founder and Creative Mentor behind Chancey Charm is sharing just how to do that in the below video.  She is also covering why your guest count determines how far your budget can be stretched and how keeping your guest count smaller helps the wedding planning experience.

Steps In Planning Your Wedding

Get A Handle On Your Guest List And Budget

Wedding guests

When the first step in your wedding planning journey is setting a realistic guest count and budget, you are able to start the planning process on the right foot as you know just how much you have to work with when you begin approaching venues and vendors.  Below, you will find the average cost of a wedding in America, along with the average prices for vendor services.  Please note, these costs are based on a guest count of about 100 guests and a budget of about $30,000, which may be above or below what you have to spend.

How Should Your Budget Break Down?

If your wedding doesn’t fall in this sample price range, planning your budget from the perspective of percentages (see below) is a better fit.  This will also be helpful in planning accordingly to make room for your “non-negotiables” or elements of the wedding you are willing to splurge on.  Having your heart set on a particular venue or vendor may mean you have to adjust your budget.  If you notice the cost of your dream photographer is over the allocated amount you have to spend in that area, for example, then it will be imperative to find ways to cut back in other areas you may not be as passionate about.

Wedding budget 47601089_s


  • $1,000   Invitations and Paper Goods
  • $1,000   Transportation
  • $1,000   Ceremony Site
  • $750       Ceremony Music
  • $2,500   Flowers and Décor
  • $2,000   Gown
  • $2,500   Reception Venue
  • $750       Cake
  • $8,000   Catering
  • $2,500   Reception Music – Live Band or DJ
  • $3,000   Photographer
  • $1,500    Videographer
  • $3,000   Planner
  • $500      Miscellaneous (Favors, Welcome Baskets, etc.)

Total Costs: $30,000


  • 5%         Invitations and Paper Goods
  • 5%         Transportation
  • 5%         Ceremony
  • 5%         Ceremony Music
  • 5%         Flowers and Décor
  • 0%         Gown
  • 5%         Reception Venue
  • 5%         Cake
  • 27%       Catering
  • 5%         Reception Music – Live Band or DJ
  • 10%       Photographer
  • 0%         Videographer
  • 10%       Planner
  • 0%         Miscellaneous (Favors, Welcome Baskets, etc.)

Wedding collage

For more wedding planning tips, visit Chancey Charm’s blog and free wedding planning video series!

Looking for a way to help finance your wedding trip? Consider setting up a honeymoon registry as part of your bridal registry.

Sarah Chancey started the Chancey Charm journey five years ago with a clear vision and a strong desire to build a business she loved. Her business has since grown into a national brand, with planners spanning nine cities and counting. A huge component of her success is her unmatched knack for design. Her use of custom sketches and design boards in the luxury wedding planning process is something that developed naturally and helped her find her niche in the industry. Throughout the years, Sarah’s designs have been featured in several top-tier publications, including Martha Stewart Weddings, BRIDES, The Knot, Style Me Pretty, Once Wed, Southern Weddings, Bridal Guide and Weddings Unveiled, along with countless others.

For more information about planning a wedding, visit the website of Chancey Charm  for great ideas.

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