Close your eyes + imagine. Imagine yourself in your dream wedding dress. Imagine passing by countless friends and family members as you walk down the aisle. As you look around you see the gorgeous decor that covers the beautiful venue and the flawless bridesmaid dresses matching the overall theme. You then picture the grand reception that follows the wedding with the most delicious food and unique design. Everything’s perfect.

CUTTTTTTTT. We need to re-take that, that was too well choreographed ... too perfect. Reality Check Please! Argh these movie scenes really put our wedding expectations way too high. Sadly while our imaginations have unlimited wishes, reality has a big fat budget. So the real question is, how do we get our dream wedding under our budget?

Firstly, we have to break down the budget to understand what we spend the most and least on. So let's have a quick look at that.

Recommended Breakdown of a Wedding Budget

(Now remember this is a vague breakdown which can vary a lot based on preferences)

Venue and Catering - 40-50%

This is the biggest chunk of the wedding. It includes renting out a venue space along with hiring a catering company for the food. Any additional request as a bar service or a set up and clean up service will also be included within this price.

Photography - 12-15%

Weddings are magical moments that you should cherish for the rest of your life. And there’s no better way to do that than with photos and videos. The price set aside for photography involves wedding day coverage, photo albums and prints, and even either a highlight reel or a feature film

Decor - 8-9%

The type of decor ranges largely based on preferences. But the main elements that often take up the budget of decor are flowers, ceremony arch, reception centerpieces, lighting and additional rentals.

Hair, Makeup and Attire - 5-10%

This includes the wedding dress! I know right, tight budgeting. Not only does it include the wedding dress but it includes the tuxedos, bridesmaid dresses and any hair and make up service you might like. Don’t forget jewelry is included in this price range too!

The Wedding Planner - 10%

While having a wedding planner is a matter of preference, there are so many advantages that come with having one. Not only do they organize the wedding day management and set up, but they’re excellent with recommending certain venues, coordinating rehearsals and helping with wedding budgets - just what you need.

Entertainment or Music - 8-9%

Prices vary based on whether you're looking for a live band or more of a DJ. Apart from live music, other parts involved in this budget include microphones and sound-systems.

Stationery - 2%

Putting aside 2% of your budget for stationeries allows guests to get a glimpse into the wedding as the invites often match the theme of the wedding. Menu cards, thank you cards and place cards are also all included within this budget.

Transportation - 2%

In order to avoid chaos on your wedding day, well organized transportation is KEY. A bus or shuttle bus would greatly help your guests to be on time and arrive at the correct venue. Also if the reception venue is different from the ceremony venue, organized transportation for the guest to the reception venue will make things easier.

Officiant - 2%

If you would like an officiant to legally bind you and your partner together, expect to put aside 2% of the budget for hiring

Wedding rings - 2%

Now remember, you’ll hopefully be wearing these rings for the rest of your life. So you’ve got to like them and they got to be the right size. That’s why around 2% of the budget should be allocated to rings to buy the rings themselves along with any resizing fee, custom engraving or insurance.

Gifts - 2%

While a beautiful wedding with all your favorite people is already a gift on it’s own, many couples like to organize small gifts for their guests in memory of their wedding. This 2% could include any gifts from wedding party gifts to gifts for your spouse.

Nothing to it right? Now that you know the recommended budget breakdown for a wedding, let’s go ahead and have a look at some tips that might further help stay in your budget.

Tips to make sure you remain inside your budget

1) Choose a date that is typically off-season. Usually wedding season peaks in summer and towards the beginning of fall. This means venues will be more expensive then. If you are flexible with the date, aiming for a wedding in spring or winter can reduce the expense.

2) Limit your guest list. As we just reviewed, catering plays part of that big 50% of a budget breakdown. To put it into perspective, the average price per person for catering is about $70. So the more guests you invite, the more expensive it gets

3) Go easy on the flowers. Having large amounts of flowers can result in adding thousands to the overall price tag. While fresh flowers are beautiful, it would be much cheaper to look into green plant alternatives. While flowers do help set the mood, there are plenty of other ways to do so.

4) DIY. Bring out your inner creativity and save money by hand-making certain parts of the decor or even the cake. You can give a go at creating the table plaques and signs yourself.

5) Shop second hand. Honestly whoever can tell the difference between first and second hand deserves a medal as so often it’s impossible to tell. Second hand shopping is a life hack for saving money on decor or dresses. If you’d rather not shop second hand for your wedding, you can also rent items and clothing.

6) Discuss who contributes what. As awkward as this may be for some it’s an absolute must. Whether it's just you and your fiance or additionally friends and family members that have decided to contribute to the budget it's so important you figure that out ASAP. This will help you further calculate your budget and give you a better understanding on spendings.

Now, you might not exactly feel like a budget pro at the moment as it’s so incredibly difficult to budget for a day you’ve been waiting for all your life, but there are many ways to still have your perfect wedding and cut down the overall price. At the end of the day, the most important part is the exchange of vows between you and your fiance surrounded by friends and family, everything else is just a bonus ;)