The Big “B” Word: The Budget


Yes, my dear friends. It is time to get real.

Let’s face it, weddings are by no means cheap. I laid out a few tips for saving some precious cash in my first post, but now it’s time to get down to the “nitty gritty”. Where should you spend the most? How much does a DJ typically cost? Fear not! Let’s take a deep breath and tackle the most dreaded (yet essential) topic of wedding planning.

There are a few things to consider before you decide on your final budget amount. First: Who’s Paying? Traditionally the Bride’s parents have forked over the majority of the money for the wedding itself, with the Groom’s folks handling the rehearsal dinner and honeymoon. But of course times have changed! You have to ask  both his & her parents if they will be contributing. If you’re one of the lucky ones to have your big day completely taken care of, you have little to no say on how much that may be. If you’re extremely opinionated, be careful…if you have a demanding MIL and they’re paying for most of it, you may have little to no say on some elements if they insist on. Same goes for your parents. They who pay have the most say. These days with working young professionals marring each other, it’s not uncommon to see a couple handle their $50k wedding with ease. It’s really up to how much you and your relatives can save, without being stressed! Don’t go overboard and think realistically.

Next: How many guests do you expect? If that number is well over 200, you’re looking at an increase in needed funds. Remember, every person you invite = $$.

Third: Location, location, location. If you’re one of the (un)fortunate ones who happen to live in a big city like my beloved Chicago, weddings cost significantly more. For example: the US average cost is $27, 201. However, in Chicago, it’s $53,069. Obviously these are averages, with many ranges. When you add everything spent and done at my own October 2012 wedding outside of Chicago, my family and my husband & I spent about the US average. We even did shortcuts like had it on an “off day” and shortened our guest list. If you’re in NYC, good luck. You’re looking at an average of a whopping $65, 824!

Next: Date & Time. Wedding season is May to October, with the majority of weddings being held on Saturdays. If that’s what you’re planning on for yours, expect to pay top price. However, you can host it on a Friday, Sunday or even an off month and save a significant amount. Time also denotes price differences. Brunch and Afternoon weddings cost less than an evening affair.

Finally: Wedding Formality. A formal, black tie, glamorous event will definitely cost more than your backyard, rustic affair. Think about what you want your wedding to feel like, what themes you want to incorporate. If your bridesmaids can wear cowboy boots and fit in, then you know it probably won’t cost as much as a venue with grand chandeliers in every corner!

Let’s Break It Down. For the average US wedding of $27, 201 (for 150 guests)

Reception: 48% – 50% (~$13, 600…about $90.67 per person)

Ceremony: 2% – 3% (~$544)

Attire: 8% – 10% (~$2,720) ** This is for your gown, accessories, alterations, AND his tux!

Flowers: 8% – 10% (~$2,176) This is for all your flowers and decor.

Entertainment/Music:  8% – 10% (~$2448)

Photography & Videography:  10% – 12% (~$2,992)

Stationary:  2% – 3% (~$816) This, I think, is one of the most misinterpreted part of the budget. Mainly because this includes your save the dates, invites, rsvp cards, envelopes, stamps, thank-yous…this can really add up!

Wedding Rings:  2% – 3% (~$816) Again, another HUGE misconception of how much wedding rings can really cost!

Transportation & Parking: 2% – 3% (~$544) Limos, Valet fees, etc.

Gifts: 2% – 3% (~$544) For bridesmaids, groomsmen, family, & guests.

 Miscellaneous:  8% (~$2,176)

Don’t forget, typically budgets do not include honeymoons!

So, how should you save? Experts recommend stashing 20% of your monthly income each month. While this can be pretty painful to some, it will really add up in the long run!

Of course, every budget is different. That’s the beauty of it all! You don’t have to fork out almost $3,000 for a photographer! If you want that $5,000 dress but your budget doesn’t allow it, just move some things around! You can have your dream wedding at the right price. It’s all in the research and details!


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