Wedding Costs – What Does It “Really Cost” To Get Married?

Figuring out your wedding costs and make a budget could be difficult if you’ve never planned such a large event. It’s hard to secure a considerable amount of money if you’re uncertain just how much benefit you can get for your budget. Sometimes what the couple wishes doesn’t happen with what they could afford, and that’s when the trouble begins.

Your wedding is one of the best times of your life so you will feel pressure to plan an elaborate party. However, you do not have to go into debt. You may have a beautiful and unforgettable wedding—regardless of your budget!

If you do not want to waste a huge amount of money into one (although very particular) day, I’ve got some practical tips to plan a cost-effective wedding you’ll still love!

How To Plan Your Wedding Using A Budget

1. Determine The Kind You Desire

When you imagine your wedding, what do you see? A swanky reception at a downtown loft? A classic hotel ballroom reception? A backyard barbecue with all your family and friends?

If you need a little more inspiration to think about all the weddings, you’ve been to, scrolled through on Pinterest or seen on TV. What did you like–or not like–about them?

Do not get hung up on the little details just yet. Instead, consider the overall feel you want your wedding to get. Your priorities matters when it comes to planning a wedding on a budget.

2. Have The Wedding Budget Talk

Everyone paying for the event (groom, bride, and parents) must sit down and calculate the overall wedding costs budget. This could be your first time making a budget with your future mate as partners. What an invaluable experience!

Getting a chance to talk openly and frankly with your future spouse about how much you can spend– just how much you are willing to pay for wedding costs–will set the foundation for excellent budget date nights once you’re married!

As uncomfortable as this wedding budget talk, might be, and just remember–it’s a heck of a lot easier than still paying for your wedding day on your fifth anniversary!

When we say budget here, we are not just talking about how much money you can spend in total –we are talking about how much you should invest in each particular area.

wedding costs catering

We recommend dividing the total wedding budget into sections and estimating what percent to dedicate to each:

Reception: 50%

Ceremony: 10%

Photography/Video: 12% (think about using a drone for aerial videography)

Wedding Planner: 8%

Dress and Tux: 10 %

Miscellaneous/Cushion: 10%

These aren’t set numbers; that is just an example. You should set your ratios based on what is important to you. Perhaps you’re willing to splurge on photos, but flowers do not matter to you. If you are conscious about one area than another, change up the percentages.

3. Decide What Is Non-Negotiable

Based on your ratios, take a moment with your future spouse to decide on your top few must-haves to your big day. They may be sensible or frivolous: an outdoor reception, a plated surf and turf dinner, heaps of flowers, a live jazz band–whatever you want more.

You can prepare your wish lists separately or together, but be sure that you sit down and decide what you both want. Let that vision formulate your budget.

Wedding Costs Budget Breakdown

Give your budget a little breathing space. Unexpected expenses will occur, so know that your budget will increase throughout the preparation process. Take those surprises into account by placing a little bit of margin. That way you have the option to handle any unexpected expenditure

A wedding is a big occasion to plan, so it’s helpful to know what you could get for a specific dollar amount. What does $5,000 get you? $15,000? $20,000?

Here are some budget categorization examples for weddings from $100 to $30,000 and some tips to bring them into reality.

The Basic Courthouse Elopement

If you have a $100 budget, you can spend on your wedding like this:

Marriage certificate: $25 to $100 (varies according to states)

Let’s say the charges for a marriage license is $99.50. And $60 of which can be ignored if the couple finishes a premarital counseling program over the last year–hello savings!  You need to research these things.

The City Hall Wedding

If your budget is $500, you can spend your cash like this:

Venue: $25 to $100 (based on your state) for a short ceremony at City Hall, officiant included

Food and beverages: $250 for lunch to get a group of 10 closes buddies.

Attire: $0 for a suit you already own; $150 for a dress

Decorations and flowers: $50 for a dozen roses

Photography: $0 for an expert friend

The Backyard Venue

If your budget is $3,500, you can spend your money like this:

Venue: $0 to your’ backyard

Food and beverages: $750 for a buffet and drinks prepared by family and friends

Attire:  $200 for a suit rental; $200 for a dress

Flowers: $0 for wildflowers you got for a bridesmaids’ bouquets, bridal bouquet,  and boutonnieres

Decorations: $1,500 for dining table, dance floor, a tent and chair rentals,  DIY centerpieces, and lighting

Wedding Planning: $0 for an aunt enthusiastic about helping and organizing the day-of details.

Photography: $500 for a skilled friend or recruit via Craigslist

Entertainment: $0 for a great playlist; $75 for a speaker rental

Dessert: $50 to $200 for pies, cupcakes, or a cutting cake from a bakery

Invitations: $50

The Rustic Wedding

If you have a budget of $ 7,000, you could spend your money like this:

Venue: $2,000 for the bridal suite, chairs, linens, and tables

Food and drinks: $1,500 for beverages and appetizers

Attire: $200 for a tuxedo rental; $500 for a dress

Flowers and decorations: $400 for DIY bouquets,  lighting, and centerpieces

Wedding Planner: $0 for a friend who gives their talents as a wedding present

Photography: $2,000

Entertainment: $0 for a great playlist; $75 for a speaker rental

Dessert: $0, DIY-dessert table with meals provided by friends and family

Invitations: $130, DIY

The Museum or Art Gallery Gathering

If your budget is $12,000, you can plan like this:

Venue and full-service catering: $8,000 for chairs, linens, food,  tables, beverages, and staff

Attire: $0 to get a suit you already own; $200 for a dress

Flowers and decorations: $800 for centerpieces and DIY bouquets

Wedding Planner: $600 for an hour minimum

Photography: $1,000

Entertainment: $750 for a DJ

Dessert: $400 to get a cake

Invitations: $100, DIY

The Small Destination Wedding

destination wedding

If your budget is $15,000, you can plan this way:

Venue: $8,000 for a big villa(seven-bedroom for the whole week

Flights charges: $1,000

Food: $2,000 for a buffet meal and drinks

Rentals: $700 for tables, linens, chairs, and lighting

Attire: $150 for a suit on sale; $300 for a dress

Flowers and decorations: $400 for boutonnieres, bouquets, and centerpieces

Wedding Venue or Planner Coordinator: $0, included with the venue

Photography: $2,000

Entertainment:  $0 for a great playlist; $100 for speaker rentals

Dessert: Cutting cupcakes and cake for $300

Invitations: $50 DIY,

The Elegant Loft Wedding

If your budget is $21,000, you can spend your money like this:

Venue and full-size catering: $12,000 for tables, chairs,  linens, beverages, food, and waiters for 50 guests

Attire:  $200 for a tuxedo rental; $800 for a dress

Decorations and flowers: $1,500

Wedding Planner: $3,000 for help in planning and preparation before and the day of the wedding

Invitations: $200 from Etsy

Entertainment: $1,000 for a DJ

Photography: $2,000

Dessert: $275 for a cake

Church Ceremony with Ballroom Reception Blowout

If you have a budget of $30,000, you can plan your wedding this way:

Church leasing: $400

Invitations: $200

Venue and full catering: $15,000 for tables, linens, food, drinks, and staff

Dessert: $500 for a cake

Attire: $200 for a tuxedo rental; $1,000 for a dress

Flowers and decorations: $2,000 for bouquets. Lighting, centerpieces, and other arrangements

Wedding Planner: $4,000 for a full-event planner

Entertainment: $4,000 for a live band

Photography: $2,000 for a top-rated and expert photographer and an assistant.

Money-Saving Wedding Tips

Now that you have a better perception of what your funds can get you, how can you lessen the wedding costs even more? Here are seven ways to keep wedding costs down and help you stay on budget!

1. Limit Your Guest List

Less is sometimes more! You may feel excited to keep your guest list long just like a royal wedding but remember: Every guest is an expense. It seems hard, but it is a reality, you guys! With each addition to your guest list, you are only driving up the cost of your wedding.

To save money, you may want to host a smaller, more private event. If you and your fiancé don’t want to prefer more people at your wedding, attempt to cut your guest list by 20%, and another 20% on top of that. Or invite more guests to the wedding ceremony and host a small reception with your loved ones and friends.

2. Host The Reception At Home Or Outside

The venue eats up the largest chunk almost half of the wedding budget.  Why not save money by using your house, a public park or a parent’s home as the backdrop? An outdoor reception and ceremony in a spot with personal meaning eliminate the need for an elaborate, and over-the-top venue.

wedding cost budget

If you go with an outdoor party, consider having a proper backup plan. Even extreme heat or rain can put a damper on your day, so just make sure you’ve got plan B handy.

3. Ask Friends And Family To Exchange Skills

If you have family members and friends with inventive or organizational skill sets, ask them to use their talent at the wedding instead of a gift. Would you rather get music or stand mixer, free of cost?

Explore the skills in your network. Does your friend love photography?  Is your aunt an unpaid florist?  Is your acquaintance owns a restaurant who might lend you their place? You could still score a discount if they cannot provide services at no cost.

Don’t neglect your own abilities. Use your skills to trade for wedding planning. Offer your graphic design skills to get a free wedding cake in replacement, or exchange your accounting skills for free clothes alterations. Get inventive!

4. Do-It-Yourself Whenever Possible

You and your future spouse can save money by doing things yourselves, but valuable advice: Just DIY when you know the result will be well worth the effort. And give yourself plenty of time. You don’t have to wake up till 3 a.m. the day putting together table centerpieces or putting wedding frosting cupcakes.

Pretty wedding invitations are elegant, but do you really want to spend $800 on something that’s finally going to wind up in the trash? Save money. All you need is a house painter and an invitation kit from an office supply store or a stationary shop.

Don’t forget the DIY online route! Sites like offer cheap wedding invitations you can create and order online. You can even use a free design site like to reduce your expenses. It may not be as fancy as a gold leaf or an invitation printed on a tea towel, but it will be much affordable.

Instead of hiring a caterer, prepare the food yourselves! Converse with your families to plan a menu and buy food and supplies. Make table centerpieces and bouquets using supplies purchased from a wholesale florist or dollar store. You can even get flowers from your own garden.

Try using seasonal décor, too!

5. Use a Dummy Wedding Cake

Wedding cakes are costly! Cut on wedding costs by decorating a dummy wedding cake. Pastry chef– or anyone you remember who has icing skills deserving of a spot on a reality TV baking contest — can decorate a heap of Styrofoam just as elaborately as a wedding cake. Give guests slices from a sheet cake you purchased at the grocery store. They will never know the difference!

If you decide on the cake cutting ritual, just have a smaller cake made for you and your new partner. You could use it as the topper of the dummy cake, so it seems like a good deal!

6. Time Your Wedding Wisely

The average cost for a plated meal will be about $71 per person. Cut down the price of a sit-down meal by organizing your marriage in the day and arranging a reception that is more like an extended cocktail hour with passed hors d’oeuvres.

Also, consider the day of the week. You will get the venue at half the price if you decide to hold your wedding on a Friday or Sunday. Plus, you will have more options for vendors –like DJs, photographers and bakeries –which tend to get booked up quickly on Saturdays.

And keep in mind the time of the year. September and October are the most common periods for the wedding. So you are going to pay more in the autumn when wedding resources are limited.

7. Scout Out Vendors

Take the time to choose from different wedding vendors. If you’re searching for a pastry chef, don’t instantly select the first person you consult. Take time to consult with more than one vendor to be sure you’re getting quality service for the price.

There is nothing like a recommendation from someone you trust! Do not forget to ask your family and friends for vendors they’d recommend. Once you’ve found one who seems best, search the internet for online reviews to make sure you’ve picked a winner and the wedding cost falls in-line with budget.

A Lovely Wedding on a Budget is Viable!

Keep in mind: Your wedding is about you and your spouse and your marriage. And it is not about just one day; it’s for the entire life. Through all the wedding planning fuss, don’t forget what truly matters.

Planning a big-budget wedding will not prove your love for one another, but it can leave you with an empty bank account. It’s entirely possible to host an affordable wedding that’s stylish, beautiful, and affordable!

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