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March 1, 2023

The Uncomfortable B Word: Understanding Wedding Budgets

The one thing that nobody wants to talk about, is exactly what we are going to talk about in this episode. Talking about budgets is uncomfortable, and just plain not fun. However, every wedding has a budget, whether they talk about it or not. You might not know what that budget is, but you DO have one. Our hosts have spent a lot of time talking with newly engaged couples lately, and it one thing that most have in common is that they have no idea what to expect in terms of cost for their wedding. That's ok, if you have never done something before, how would you know? Take a listen as Mike, Kristina and Sharon help you understand what a realistic budget is in today's wedding world.  What is the average cost of a wedding in your area? How to decided where to focus your money. What factors greatest impact your budget, and where you can save. Learn all of this and everything else there is to know about the B word in this episode. 

For more information on The Ring The Bling And All The Things Podcast, visit:

Wedding Budget Estimator: Click here to download

Other budget episodes:
Avoid Big Budget Buts:
You're Engaged! Now What?

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The Ring The Bling And All The Things Resource Platform:

Kristina Stubblefield

Michael Gaddie, Lloyd's Florist

Sharon Rumsey, A Perfect Plan Events
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Kristina Stubblefield: We're back with another episode of The Ring The Bling And All The Things now the three of us, we like to have a good time, but this is one conversation I know that's near and dear to both of you all, and this conversation's gonna be about budget. We've done some fun episodes in the past about. But this time it's a little bit different conversation.

We're really taking it far back and trying to be in the situation or in the mindset of someone that just got engaged and doesn't know anything about the wedding industry. Mike, I know you always talk, so Sharon, why don't you start? 

Sharon Rumsey: I think that it's a really good idea that we're doing this episode because I recently met with a lot of couples for our very first meeting. You know, tis the season and [00:01:00] we're meeting with couples that just got engaged and we are doing our very first planning. And when we start to talk about budget, they have no idea what to expect and how could they, this is not what they do. If they're the first wedding in their family in quite some time, they don't know what to expect.

I feel like a lot of times they're just pulling a random number out of the air. Yeah, and I feel like we as wedding professionals somehow are dropping the ball and not educating clients well enough on what a wedding truly does cost nowadays. 

Kristina Stubblefield: I will say something to that, you know, because I'm in a online space.

And I love a good Google search, don't get me wrong, but I think sometimes there's information out there that's not completely accurate, or it's something from three or [00:02:00] four years ago, and where we're at today is far different than last year or the year before that. So they're going out there and possibly doing a search on how much should I spend on my wedding?

Or what, where should I start with my wedding budget? I think the big point to make here is it's different by where you're located. It can be a big difference. 

Sharon Rumsey: There's also so many variables that factor into a budget. As a wedding planner, and I know Mike might, you know, he might even think of things I didn't.

But as a wedding planner, what's your guest count? Huge. What style of wedding are you wanting to have those things factor in. One of, I think the pros to hiring a wedding planner is I can really listen and I can learn what's most important to you, and I can know where to put money and where to take money away, but we still have to have that bucket, our budget to [00:03:00] start with.

Michael Gaddie: Well, I'm glad that we're discussing this because I usually talk to 10 to 12 brides a week, and just this past week we had couples in, and they are a gung ho on what they want. And I always ask at the end, what is your budget? And they look at me kind of crazy and say, well, I really don't know, but you know, we're just going, we're trying to get prices to figure it out, and that's okay. But when it comes to educating, and that's why I'm glad we're doing this. You need to know on the bottom line, where do you start to come up with this budget? And I'm hoping we'll help them here a little bit today.

Kristina Stubblefield: I want to go back to a point Sharon made, and I wanna make sure that people that listen to us, when you talk about style, I think what you're referring to, and correct me if I'm wrong, are you having [00:04:00] it at a family member or parents farm or residence, with tents and things like that. Are you doing a barn type wedding or are you doing a more, upscale or more fine dining type experience?

I hate to say that. More formal. Thank you, Sharon. That's the word I'm looking for because what ties into what you said about guests, and we have mentioned this so many times on episodes. I don't think people still get it. 10 guests is not just 10 guests. It's not just 10 dinners or appetizers that you're serving.

That could be a table. Decor 

Michael Gaddie: chairs 

Kristina Stubblefield: the whole thing. So will you go into a little bit more detail about the style part?

Sharon Rumsey: I think that... we can't really say barn weddings anymore because in our area, some of the most expensive venues are barns in our market are barns. [00:05:00] And I didn't mean that anyway, but I'm saying you have to just look at specific venues.

Kristina Stubblefield: Is that more rustic chic? 

Michael Gaddie: It could be. 

Sharon Rumsey: Yeah

Michael Gaddie: it could be. 

Kristina Stubblefield: Okay. 

Sharon Rumsey: Country chic. Rustic chic. If you're looking at, say a hotel where you have to use their catering, their bar, there's no negotiating, there's no interviewing different caterers to try to meet a budget. So if that's the style of wedding you want, then I think that's where you start because you have no control over those numbers.

Then you get those numbers and you kind of go from there with what else you have to spend. The main thing, I try to counsel my clients on is just what is realistic. You know, can you do a wedding for $10,000? You absolutely can, and it can be very pretty and it can be [00:06:00] your wedding and very special.

But if you want what the average wedding cost in our market, you have to have more money.

Michael Gaddie: An average cost in Louisville. We've researched this. 

Sharon Rumsey: About 35.

Michael Gaddie: Yeah, 35 now in 2023. Last year it was like 24. The year before it was 17. But you've got to realize everything is going up across the board and that's where you got to think about that too.

Sharon Rumsey: I know I was sharing with Mike off air, I got a catering quote the other day from a company that I am familiar with. But because food costs have gone up so much, I mean, look, what's a dozen eggs right now? $6, $7 at the grocery store. I mean, I think we're gonna have to like dye potatoes at Easter because eggs cost too much.

I was just telling my kids that the other day. Everything has just gone up so much that yeah, I think the [00:07:00] average cost in our area is probably about 35,000.

Michael Gaddie: We don't want to scare people because this is not the reason we're doing this episode. It's just that you've gotta be realistic when you start planning, that's the most important thing.

Yes. Your first thing you want to do is pick your venue. Next thing is usually your dress but before even you do all that, you need to sit down, come up with a realistic budget and do your research you know, so it'll be easier for you. So it won't be sticker shock later. 

Sharon Rumsey: Well, and I always tell my clients it's a sucky conversation. You know, when you talk about your wedding, you want to talk about pretty, and you want to talk about love and you want everything to be fun and joyful. But talking about your budget, if you do that in the beginning, and you just have an open frank conversation who is contributing to your budget? Who's paying for what? If you just get that out of the way, then we know what we [00:08:00] have to work with, and I can take just about any budget and make a wedding that a couple will be happy with. But to make everybody's dreams come true, I have to have a number. 

Kristina Stubblefield: One of the things that, and I think I said this when we were doing some research, that average number to me, I really think there's so many factors like Sharon's talking about with guest count and style.

Depending on exactly what you want, and I love, Sharon has always said, your priorities, what is most important to the couple and figuring that part out, and there's some things you have to have for your wedding, you need an officiant. There's some things like that, I just feel like there's not a whole lot out there just to kind of help guide a person along the way.

Like you said, people are coming in, they really don't know the numbers, trying to come up with that figure. They don't even know what all they need from A to Z. [00:09:00] To pull off the day. 

Sharon Rumsey: Well, and that being said, there are so many ways to cut a wedding budget that, in my opinion, don't affect that wedding at all.

I don't know if we're getting that deep into it or not today, but I'm not a huge believer in wedding favors. Because I have broke down enough weddings to know that 75% of those are not going home with the guests, and I'm gonna throw them away at the end of the night. 

Kristina Stubblefield: And they can be pretty expensive.

Sharon Rumsey: Very. I also have a ton of couples now, and my couples have taught me this. We're going to online invitations. We're not paying for, you know, if it, if invitations are important to you and papery is important to you, and branding your wedding is important, we've got people for that and we can do it. If that's not important to you, then do an online invitation. It costs zero. 

Kristina Stubblefield: I really think that's a whole episode in itself.

Michael Gaddie: I think so too. 


Kristina Stubblefield: Ways to save. And I think those are [00:10:00] great tips. So one of the things that we talked about before we decided to tackle this episode is we talked about like a worksheet to help kind of lay out some of the items.

Sharon, let's talk through some of that. Because for somebody that's gotten engaged and it's been a while since their parents or someone in their family has gotten married, they don't know some of the things that need to be on that list to come up with a budget 

Sharon Rumsey: Once you come up with what you think roughly your guesstimate of what your budget is, I use a template that I have for my clients that just breaks down on average. Mike's sitting here next to me. I usually factor about 10% of a budget for florals. I usually factor my venue, my catering, and my bar. Put all three of those together, and I want those to be about 30 to 35% of my [00:11:00] budget. 

Venue, catering and bar. I want to not be more than 30 to 35% of my budget. 

Kristina Stubblefield: Okay. 

Sharon Rumsey: All added together. So if you have a venue where you can do outside catering, outside bar, then you can spend a little more on your venue. But if you have a venue that is gonna require you to use their providers, then you have to be a little less on what you pay for the space, if that makes sense.

You want to factor in who's paying for what, what actually is coming out of this bucket that we've created for our budget. Is rehearsal dinner in there or is the other partner's family paying for that? Should that factor in? Are we factoring in honeymoon? Are we factoring in travel for honeymoon?

If not, get it out of the bucket. Rings, Mike pointed out earlier rings are something that a couple gifts to one another. To me, that's not part of your wedding budget. A brunch afterwards, bachelor [00:12:00] party, bachelorette parties, those should not be part of your wedding budget.

Michael Gaddie: There's so many factors to look at. The reason I'm glad we're doing this episode is I want to bring it back down to the bottom for a minute just to say for these brand new couples that are just starting today.

Sharon Rumsey: And they're heads spinning 

Michael Gaddie: And they're heads spinning, like I said earlier, do your research. Now I have a lot of brides and grooms call me on the phone and they'll say, and this is the reason I'm saying this, is because they'll say, what's the average cost of your wedding flowers? Realistically, I cannot answer that over the phone because 

Sharon Rumsey: No way.

Michael Gaddie: It depends if you want daisies and carnations or you want roses and garden roses. 

Kristina Stubblefield: Would it also matter if you're doing stuff for their ceremony space, their receptions? 

Michael Gaddie: Oh, definitely. Definitely. Bridal Shows, we had an episode on Bridal Shows. That's where you should walk around and talk to your vendors and say, what is the estimate that I should be planning on? [00:13:00] I always say anywhere from 8% to 10%, but just because we say 8% to 10%, that doesn't mean that, that's what it's gonna be. It could be less than that, or it could be 10% more than that.

It just, like you said, it's, it depends on what is a priority to you when planning your wedding. But I think you ought to do your homework on each individual vendor before you even begin to say, okay, I've got $25,000 or $40,000 to spend. 

Kristina Stubblefield: We are gonna put together a worksheet that will be available, that they can plug their number in, that they'd like to be able to spend this number, and it's going to focus on the ceremony and reception in particular. Sharon mentioned about honeymoon, about rings and things like that. We are gonna list down as far as what we say could be needed. Now, some of it you have to have an officiant. [00:14:00] Some of it you have to have for your day.

Sharon Rumsey: Just like when you say you have to have an officiant, you do. Mike can be my officiant, because he's my friend. He's free. So there, there are ways around everything. 

Kristina Stubblefield: Absolutely. And that's something to think about is like you had mentioned about ways to save. That could be something that, and I don't wanna throw numbers out for officiants because I would literally be doing what some people are doing and pulling a number from the sky.

But in this worksheet, we hope that it will help you maybe, you know, upfront, you only have $25,000 to spend on your wedding by being able to plug that number in and the average percentages for the items we're gonna list will break down for you on that sheet. And that may be where you can say, okay, paper's not as important to me.

You can see those numbers and adjust and it may start to start your mind going wow, this number [00:15:00] cannot get me to the style of wedding that I want to have. So that's what we're going to share as a worksheet from us. And I'm sure there's other ones out there that you can use or do research.

Some couples are paying for it themselves. They may only have and I don't wanna say "only have" because $20,000, to me, $20,000 is a of money. So I don't want it to be like, oh, she's saying just $20,000. No, that's a lot of money. But if that's all you have saved and you're as the couple, you are the ones putting on your own event and there's nothing wrong with that.

It helps you prioritize what's most important. And I think Sharon has made it abundantly clear in past episodes, it's your event. Focus on the things that are important to you. Now I know we have another episode we're gonna do that, but it's not always all about the couple, but I think something like that, with those hard numbers in front of you, it really starts [00:16:00] to allow you the space to say, are these things really important for our day?

Sharon Rumsey: Sometimes when I sit down with clients at our first planning meeting, I have a template that I use and I put in what they tell me, and then we kind of break it down. And if they say for instance, you know, we aren't gonna need transportation and I've allotted $2,000 for transportation.

Okay, well then where does that $2,000 go? So sometimes once we've sat down and we talk about it and we work it through, it's not as scary as they think it's gonna be. Again, back to just have the conversation and know where you are and then from there, let's move forward and plan a great wedding 

Michael Gaddie: Something that a lot of people thinks going back to the backyard wedding that you said, and then they say, well, let's do it in the backyard and we'll rent a tent. Just want to put that out there forward, because that doesn't mean it's always cheaper. Because when you get into tents and tables and chairs and [00:17:00] china and 

Sharon Rumsey: linens

Michael Gaddie: tablecloths and all that, that adds up quicker than you would use a venue. that's another thing. 

Sharon Rumsey: Do your homework. 

Michael Gaddie: Do your homework. 

Kristina Stubblefield: Well, I can speak to that because Josh and I did, on my parents' property, with tent, tables, chairs, dance floor, lighting. I can keep going and going and going. But also the factor in here that a lot of people don't think about is the plan B, and if you don't have a wedding planner involved, you know, in our situation there really wasn't much of a plan B in all honesty, there wasn't. 

Now, the reasons we did it was because we wanted a Beachy type thing. My parents have an inground pool. That's the kind of style we were going for. But you're exactly right. There are things that add up. What I was gonna share is, I think this worksheet, this is going to be probably something, we want to do an episode on each [00:18:00] one of these items, because I want to go back to something you mentioned that plays into this, that engaged couples.

If you don't know, you don't know. Transportation, and you've talked about this before, but a benefit possibly of having it at a hotel and all your stuff happens at one location. You are not moving herding cats as we sometimes call it. You are not transporting wedding party, couple, maybe even guests, things like that.

That's why I think what Sharon talked about style is such an important thing to nail down , because if you have a lot of out of town guests and you're going between two different locations for ceremony and reception, transportation probably becomes a bigger factor. 

Sharon Rumsey: Any type of wedding, whatever wedding you choose when it comes to budget, there's the pros and cons of it.

And again, it's just hopefully not to [00:19:00] be a commercial for wedding planners, but hopefully you will retain someone that's going to be in your corner that's educated about this. It's what I do for a living, I went to school for it to help you figure out where to put your money. 

Kristina Stubblefield: To summarize what I was saying, your logistics are going to change dependent upon the style

Sharon Rumsey: right

Kristina Stubblefield: you choose, and that could swing 

Michael Gaddie: either way. 

Kristina Stubblefield: Absolutely 

Sharon Rumsey: A lot of people. Again, we say it all the time, you just don't know what you don't know. I have brides all the time that say, oh, well I won't need that much for flowers because I just want greenery, but I've set by this man enough and enough appointments that I know greenery is not inexpensive.

So again, if a wedding planner's not in your budget, if it's just not, at least do your homework and educate yourself before you go to those appointments. To know kind of what you're thinking. And again, I don't want people who don't have these huge budgets to feel like they can't have a great wedding [00:20:00] because they can. I just feel like you need to know before you go.

Kristina Stubblefield: As we wrap up this episode, I want to say one thing that I think is a misconception out there regarding wedding planners that I know you're not gonna say on your own account. I have witnessed it for many years. Most of the time, wedding planners end up saving you at least the amount it costs for their services.

Sharon Rumsey: I kind of pride myself on that. 

Michael Gaddie: You do. 

Kristina Stubblefield: I think that sometimes we're back to perception. It's just an added cost. But to be honest with you, their knowledge, their expertise, because you do everything around wedding, can end up saving you money. That's how we're gonna wrap this episode up. 

Sharon Rumsey: Well, I liked that

Kristina Stubblefield: I thought you would. So budgeting I think is probably more important than engaged couples realize, and I think maybe it's one of the things that's avoided [00:21:00] because they don't know where to start to come up with a number 

Sharon Rumsey: and they don't wanna talk to their parents or you know, family members and have the conversation because I don't like to talk about money. It's uncomfortable. 

Kristina Stubblefield: And we've done a couple episodes in the past. We've been doing this for quite a while now, so we'll also link to those other episodes because there's one we did about, balling on a budget. 

Sharon Rumsey: Yep. 

Kristina Stubblefield: Big budget buts. I remember that one as well. So we'll link to those others because we went deeper in different parts of the conversation, and I think this is one that this worksheet will help us realize we need to do an episode on each one of these because there's, money saving tips, time saving tips with each one of these items.

Sharon Rumsey: absolutely. 

Kristina Stubblefield: For those that might want to get access to this worksheet we're referring to, you can go to the show notes of the podcast.

Or if you're watching on YouTube, just go to the description and there'll be a link. Or you can always visit the [00:22:00] website and get a copy of that worksheet. 

Michael Gaddie: Sounds great.

Kristina Stubblefield: I can't wait to dig in deeper. Thanks everybody for tuning in. If you have something you wanna share with us or you have questions, reach out to us.

All you have to do is go to the website, click the microphone, record a message, or you can send us a message. And as Sharon always likes to close out with.

Sharon Rumsey: Leave us a glowing five star review.

Kristina Stubblefield: Until next time, everyone take care.