Pep Talk Tuesday {The Average Wedding Budget}


I'm sure someone out there is going to tsk tsk or frown upon what I'm about to share, but our wedding, the one you all saw here, cost us $27,000 give or take a few thousand. Twenty-seven thousand big ones, my friends, $10,000 of which was generously given to us by my parents and $5,000 which was given to us by Andrews. The rest was funded by us. While we never really had a budget set from the get go we simply decided along the way if select items were necessary, important or doable for us. If we couldn't make something work within reason then we moved on and learned to live without that specific something, done and done, end of story. And in the end we made $27,000 work for us. How do ya like them apples, blogettes? It's not a number I am ashamed of and it's not a number I am proud of but instead is merely a number that represents what we spent on everything that made our wedding what it was. For those inquisitive readers out there who are a little nosy (I'm nosy too, it's cool) fifteen thousand went towards our venue, ceremony, food, alcohol, cocktail hour, and linens costs. The rest, including our honeymoon fell within the $12,000 remaining. If anyone is interested in any specific breakdowns of how much I spent on decor, DIY projects, photography, my dress or whatever, then send me an e-mail. I have no problem disclosing the totals on everything else. 

The point of my post today, is I wanted to generate a discussion on what the average wedding budget really is and what it truly means (not that I believe one specific average wedding budget exists because it doesn't). There are so many magic numbers that float around out there as being industry standards for quality product and services and while it's my job as a wedding stylist and coordinator to be aware of these prices so I can educate my clients I can't help be feel like there's a huge gray area when it comes to the cost of throwing a wedding. Some penny-pinching couples (I adore you guys, you amaze me with your frugalness and attention to detail) think $5,000 is an appropriate average wedding budget. Some couples think $100,000 is a fair amount to fork over for their big day. Maybe that's just a number they've picked off the top of their head, maybe it's what they can afford or what they've been given by their parents or maybe it's the 'average cost' among their social circle and community. And some couples, perhaps in smaller cities may think $15,000 or $40,000 or whatever the number is is more along the lines of an average cost. And much like how unique each and every wedding is, the budget for each and every wedding is completely rare in it's own form.

I saw this once on A Practical Wedding and thought it was a fitting idea for today's Pep Talk so I am encouraging everyone, married or not, to leave an anonymous comment below with the cold hard facts of how much you spent or plan to spend on your wedding day. You can leave one total or a combination of totals that culminated to your grand total but please be respectful of others and refrain from bragging about how you saved money/had money to work with/spent almost less than half of the commentor above you. I for one, always had a greenish-hued cloud of dolla bills hanging over my head during my 2.5 years of engaged bliss and know that hearing from others would have made me feel a bit better about my choice to spend or not spend x amount of money in one direction or another. Money is a touchy subject and people are often quick to judge others based on their spending and saving decisions so I can only hope the post will allow you and I to have a new outlook an what that pain in the ass of an average wedding budget really is and what it really means, big budget or not. The whole wedding cost discussion is a little taboo and I want to change that because wedding costs are as real as the pretty pink roses in your bouquet. Ready, set, go! Above photo by Amanda Wilcher Photography.

48 Lovely Comments:

Anonymous said...

I am still in the planning stages but it is looking like it will be around $30,000 not including the honeymoon.

Chic 'n Cheap Living said...

We were about national average cost but likely below NYC costs. It definitely is something couples should be aware of, but yes if it's reasonable for them so be it!

xoxo,
Chic 'n Cheap Living

K. said...

Excellent post!! We're in the planning process right now and getting married this September in Southwest Ontario, we had originally budgeted about $20.0k (about 75-90 guests) but will likely be over due to the Sandals honeymoon (fingers crossed, no hurricanes!) my future husband has to have! hehe...Anyone know what a reasonable cost for a DJ is? I've been getting quotes anywhere from $500 to $1000 & up?

LB said...

The first time I was engaged, we were planning on spending about $40,000 but after calling off that wedding and losing so much of the deposit money, I've decided that my budget will be around $25,000 the second time around. Plus, the first was in Texas and the second will be in Oklahoma which is a lot cheaper in general!

Brooke said...

well me and my fiance are 19 & 20 years old so it's not like we've been saving or anything, but my parents are generously giving some money to use and the rest is from us of course and really we can only afford like $3000 barely ha. I think $10,000 is a good amount which I think is ridiculous for a wedding but everything is so costly these days even with DIY! ha

Shana said...

I thought that I was a practical girl until I started planning my wedding. I realized I had a vision of a day that was not going to come as "cheaply" as we would have liked! We had originally thought 10 000 would be the most we would spend ( we do live in a small city and we are not having a sit down dinner ). But the wedding spreadsheet says otherwise. I think it will end up being around 20 000 or 25 000 after all is said and done. My that's the first time I have written that down and admitted it!

HiLLjO said...

It's not for anyone to say what you spent on your wedding was right or wrong; it's too personal! You're right about spending whatever just seems right.

We have a hard time representing ourself with material objects so most of our things like favors were very cheap and small (seed packets) because it's just so "us." We're also DIYing the living daylights out of our wedding. That alone saved us over $400. Everything (from "will you" to cleanup) will be about $8,000.

Some brides just have to have that wine stopper for a favor at $2.50 a pop.
The little costs add up to make the total of a wedding fast, so whatever the size the vision for the wedding just usually matches the size of the budget as a rule.

Anonymous said...

When we started planning, our initial budget was $30K based on what we read was the "national average"...fast forward almost 1.5 years and our final number is looking more like $60K when all is said and done--that includes (rehearsal as well as the wedding day ceremony and reception)...lucky for us, my parents are paying for more than half and my fiance and I are paying for the other expenses, as well as $10K more for the honeymoon...love this post Rhiannon!!! It's not about what you spend or how much something costs, but making it your special day and remembering it's the unity of two people into one marriage.

Anonymous said...

We're about to be done (we're getting married Saturday!) and we spent about $10,000 on 200 guests.

I think talking about money is super important but I also believe that you shouldn't let anyone make you feel inferior for spending more or less. What's important is that you know your limit/budget and you make it into everything YOU and your hubby wanted.

Best wishes to everyone!

Krystal said...

I would say 8k to 10k. Things did add up but we managed to do everything pretty cheaply but I HAD to splurge on photography and a wedding planner.

Belle on Heels said...

ours is going to be between $25-27k, not including the honeymoon or rehearsal dinner. we're going with my future in-laws to look at potential rehearsal dinner sites this weekend, so stay tuned!

Anonymous said...

Our wedding cost around $8,000.00 and the honeymoon around $1,000.00. Lucky for us I have been in a million weddings and learned A LOT of money saving tips. Plus, my mom makes cakes professionly and one of her best friends in a professional wedding coordinator and florist, and my husbands Aunt owns a print shop! So, my mom made my cake, our friend cut us a HUGE deal on her services, and our invites were a gift from his aunt and uncle. So those costs right there cut our budget by around 7,000 dollars. We also opted not to go on a big honeymoon because we knew we'd be tired after the wedding SO, we went to a gorgeous bed and breakfast out of town and spent a few nights just enjoying each other and spending quality time. Plus, it's close enough to enjoy every anniversary! We're planning a BIG trip for our anniversary this year and we can't wait!!! :)

Katherine Michael said...

We pulled on TONS of friends and family favors for our wedding getting us discounts on catering, reception venue, cake, and photography. Even with all of this thrifty spending we landed around $9,500 (including honeymoon). I think staying under $10,000 made us more the exception than the rule for the USA.

Anonymous said...

When we got engaged, we don't have a specific spending amount...but we know that we are not spending more than $15,000. We opened a savings account and part of our paycheck goes straight to savings...even bonuses, and tax refund. Went to swap meets and antique shops. I DIY a lot of stuff for the wedding. I made sure to find coupon codes when I'm buying things online. One of our guests' wedding gift to us is a videographer...that saved us a lot of money!

Now that the wedding date is getting closer, all vendors are booked plus all DIY materials plus wedding necessities...our wedding will cost $12,500.

We are putting off our honeymoon until next year so we can save again...we want to go to Maui, Hawaii. But for now, after the wedding, we are planning on making small weekend trips to places we've never been & seen here in Cali.

Megan said...

Our budget was $25,000 for 100 people, but we probably went over by a thousand or so. More than half went to the venue and food. We did DIY a lot as well. I made all the paper goods and favors. That doesn't include our honeymoon, which was a gift from my parents.

Amy Stewart said...

I agree. I think we had a pretty reasonably low budget for our wedding and ended up close. It's hard but you just have to get creative! :)

Come check out my rope bracelet GIVEAWAY and enter when you get a chance!

Nicole said...

Hi All, I live in Denver and my fiancé and I are getting married this July... We are spending about $25,000 to $26,000, not including a honeymoon, which I feel quite embarrassed about sometimes even though I know I shouldn't.

Here is a quick breakdown (200 ppl):
$16,000 on venue, food and alcohol
$4,000 on photographer (my splurge)
$2,300 on Paloma Blanca dress
$675 on DJ - 5 hours worth
$500 on Gigi's cupcakes
$300 on Save-the-dates & invites
$500 on hotel rooms
$300 on bridal accessories
$300 on bridal party gifts
and possibly $1000 on limos

I really wanted a good photographer... this was my ONLY have-to-have product/service. We had a big wedding because my mom wanted one :) This would definitely be the place I would have cut costs.

If people want to save money, I'd definitely say a smaller wedding is the way to do it and still have all of your pretties.

My wedding is honestly going to be very similar to Rhiannon's... and I promise I'm not copying. :) Just came across your blog a week ago and I LOVE IT and your wedding!! You rock!

Anonymous said...

Also in the 26-27 range...150 people in the city.

Miss K said...

The fiance and I are paying for the wedding completely. Luckily, our parents did buy a few things here and there (his parents bought the plastic silverware/plateware, my mother bought my dress). Those are both items that definitely helped us save a TON. Our wedding it in less than 50 days and we're trying to stick to $10G plus the honeymoon. I'm not sure how much is going where, but I'm putting it all together this weekend- yay!

Caitlin said...

All I can say is getting married in NY is so much more expensive than I ever imagined. In my opinion we did it smartly and saved where we could. I remember feeling discouraged when comparing with other friends from around the country, the cost difference for the same things is just outrageous! We found what worked for us by lots of open dialogue about our day with each other and our parents and it turned out to be an amazing day. My advice to brides would be to get a lot of options and quotes, get a feel for price ranges and what is reasonable in your area. Decide on what you want to splurge on and what you can save on. Lots of online research helps. And remember, especially in this bad economy, almost everything is negotiable! Don't be afraid to ask. Happy planning! When you feel stressed, look into your fiance's eyes and remember why this day is even happening :)

Alicia@CharityWedding said...

Our original goal was $10k but we never factored in things like honeymoon or wedding bands. I think couples should definitely talk budget but from someone not in the industry, who had never planned a wedding, I really had no idea what all went in to the day. So couples, should also be prepared for unexpected expenses! We probably spent at least $15k but due to the unique nature of our wedding, the services we received probably would have put us in the $20-$25k range if we had paid set costs for vendors!

Anonymous said...

Our parents split the cost of the rehearsal dinner and wedding. The total for both the wedding and rehearsal dinner was $14,000. We live in a relatively small town so I am sure costs of vendors are less than that of a big city. We didn't have a set budget. Just tried to do everything as inexpensive as possible. I am happy with how the wedding turned out for the amount we spent. I think a guest at our wedding would have thought it cost much more than it did.

bridechic said...

You have such a lovely blog here. I'm going to look forward to checking back in with you Rhiannon . . .

Anonymous said...

For 200 people, we are planning on spending $35,000 without including the honeymoon but including the rehearsal dinner and everything else. We are getting married in a college town but we splurged big on the band and the photog. Our biggest item is still the food and alcohol, though. I cut costs in places that I don't care about, like the calligrapher and fancy linens. I don't have a creative bone in my body so no DIY for this gal! 2 months to go so we'll see how it turns out!!

Koru Kate said...

All I can say is too much :-) As a few posters have mentioned, weddings in the NYC-area are crazy expensive. We got married in winter to save money on everything from our venue to our vendors & we cut/downsized many things that weren't terribly important to us. Still, our wedding added up very quickly. In the end, it was truly worth it. Set your budget & your priorities & you'll be fine!!

Anonymous said...

I'm getting married in California this Sept and our budget so far is totalling to $15,000.00 without the honeymoon.

Anonymous said...

I'm getting married in California this Sept and our budget so far is totalling to $15,000.00 without the honeymoon.

Rosie said...

What a great post Rhi!! Thanks to you and all your lovely followers who responded I have an idea of what I should research/expect when it comes to setting a wedding budget. This was extremely helpful since I am engaged but have not yet to set a date or a budget.

http://rose-sea.blogspot.com/

Lauren said...

I spent $20,000 (a few hundred over, I think) on my wedding in 2009. It was held in a suburb 15 minutes outside of Boston. My friends thought I was crazy and would have to sacrifice like mad, but the truth is, it was really doable. Have reasonable expectations, try some DIY projects, and remember that first and foremost, that day is about celebrating your new marriage with those whom you love and love you back. That is all that matters.

Anonymous said...

We are going to spend between $14,000-$16,000. I'm still crying. Ugh for one day that sis ridiculous. Vegas is alot more appealing now LOL

{The Perfect Palette} said...

Great post! Full of wisdom, you are!

Anonymous said...

Our initial budget for a 300 person wedding with an open bar was $12,000 excluding the honeymoon cost. We are one year away and have potential to stick to that number as long as we keep the focus on the things that make us happy and not just buy stuff because it seems like the thing to do. It's difficult to budget but I find it rewarding to involve my creative and talented friends and family to assist. Best of luck to everyone out there! What a beautiful time of our lives:)

Melina said...

My wedding was in Oklahoma and ended up being around $17,000 with honeymoon and for 150 guests. It would have been more around $20,000 if I actually got what I wanted. (better centerpieces, better decor) Our budget was $15,000. I think $20,000 was around what a lot of my friends spent on their weddings.

Great topic for a post!

Alisha said...

B and I spent round about $12,000. We initially were trying to stick to $10k, but went a little over budget on the food. But Rhi, I wish you could've been at our wedding. Our food was absolutely DE-LICIOUS!!

We did a lot of DIY and had family pitch in and help with decor. Our flowers were a gift. Cakes came two for the price of one through a personal friend. And our photography was around $2k. We are so blessed to have had a fabulous wedding. It was exactly what we wanted!!

la petite coquine said...

You are so amazing-what a terrific post! For all the wedding planning talk, there's very little frankness about brass tax. I think you should exactly as much as you and your family (if they're pitching in) can afford and feel comfortable spending. 100k weddings can be drop dead, and so can a sweet DIY affair that comes in under 10!

Anonymous said...

We spent about $5K for 100 guests.

Our biggest expenses were $1,400 for the venue & $1,200 for the photography.

We went nuts and DIYed almost everything else, including the food & my dress! It definitely got a little hectic at times, but we had fun : )

Emma said...

Apparently the average Australian wedding is about $50-$60K, we are budgeting for about $40K but I can see this blowing out to $50+ as we are having a marquee wedding on our farm in the middle of a paddock so suppliers are all going to charge through the roof (we have to get power to the site, we have to get access in case of bad weather so bus hire to ferry guests, portable toilets, caterers tents etc!) I've done a spreadsheet for us and our parents to track it all and so far we are coming in under budget. Fingers crossed!

Ashlie said...

We got married at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. It was beautiful and not too expensive since we didnt have a reception. The reception would have been the kicker at 95 a person for 100 people. We spent about 9,000 and that is including my 1,500 dress. The most expensive part were the photos and the flowers. I would have loved to get married at the Temecula Winery here in CA where I live, but could not imagine spending almost 20,000 just on the food. Our photos are amazing and that is really all I cared about.

- - Little Miss Martha - - said...

Ours was around $18K. We tried to keep it down since my parents covered up to $10K and we got the rest. I'm a big fan of the 3 way split... I think it's the more modern way to do it and the least stressful on the bride and groom. We didn't do that, but wish we could have. There are things I still wish I would have done differently, but we continually to this day get great comments about the wedding.

I entered contests too to try to offset the costs. I actually won our honeymoon! All we had to cover was the flight and one meal a day. I also won a couple other things. I entered EVERY contest on SMP, Wedding Chicks, etc! EVERY CONTEST! Just food for thought!

Perpetual Blind Date said...

thanks for being so honest and openly talking about your budget. I am no where near getting hitched but its still nice to know you can make it work on any amount!!

Megan said...

I love that you are so open and honest about this. Seriously, what is there to be ashamed about? My dad paid for everything for the wedding...he was SO wonderful. We tried to stick to 15,000, but it ended up closer to 20,000. I do think that's a ridiculous amount of money, but we didn't go overboard on anything. We had exactly what we wanted and needed, without being extravagant.

Liesl @ FabulousFashions4SensibleStyle said...

You did amazing things with your budget Rhiannon, which was no small penny, but prices add up to so much, so quickly!

I am so lucky to have my extraordinary parents covering the entire wedding, festivities in between and brunch the following morning or else I just don't know how I would do it! So, after I heard how much my sister's wedding coast, which I knew was pricey just by the looks of it, I had no idea it met the cost it did!

That said, it is so important to get create a budget, as you say, no matter where the money is coming from and go from there! One can make it special and unique pretty much no matter what the cost...you just have to get creative, and perhaps a little DIY friendly! :)

Another lovely and very helpful post, my dear!

Liesl :)

Tamara Nicole said...

I'm so glad I read this! This topic came up in a conversation, I told people how much we paid ($20,000 all on our own!) AND one lady was freakign out saying that is wayyy to much to spend on a wedding, and she kept going on and on. It actually made me really mad. I LOVED our wedding and wouldn't change a thing. So to have someone tell me I spent too much pissed me off lol, don't be-little my special day:-)

Thanks for this!

Anonymous said...

Our wedding is in August, and it'll be about 43K, give or take a little. The biggest splurge was the photographer who was 8k, and the videographer who was 5k. Our original budget was 25K. Great post!

Electric Blonde said...

We plan to spend about $30,000 for 120 on the wedding alone. We have registered for our honeymoon and we are having a simple BBQ for the rehearsal dinner. Our wedding is in Muskoka. Both sets of parents made a good size contribution to our budget. We know that 30k seems like a lot but we wanted to show our guests a really good time! And create a day that we could be proud of for years to come!

Anonymous said...

Having just graduated from college I don't have much to contribute to my wedding..however my parents have given me $7,000 and I have about $2,000 to contribute and so does my husband to be! Being someone who is a wedding blog addict and is dying to have a wedding that showcases the latest trends while being so grateful for what was given to me by my parents inside I was a little disappointed that I would not be able to do so many things that I wanted to do. HOWEVER our wedding 3 months away and I think we are going to come in UNDER $10,000 including honeymoon to San Diego, my beloved photo booth, the expensive rental chairs I really wanted, and a dessert dresser (!). What I found what that by doing A LOT of the work myself and picking and choosing what was really important I was able to stick to our budget and get everything I really wanted!For example I love the wild flower look so for our centerpieces I have ordered hundreds of Dahlias from a local Dahlia farm for less than $300 that I will arrange myself in canning jars!We scored our catering for very cheap because we proposition a family favorite local restaurant to do their first catering job for our wedding. This would scare a lot of brides to DEATH- but I have gone over the details many times and these people are really great and I truly trust them now having spent time with them! My suggestions are call and price EVERYONE and look locally!

Anonymous said...

We spent a total of about US$11,000 for our wedding in 2009. Our location was in the middle of nowhere, so we rented accommodation for all of our guests, provided all transport once they'd arrived and all food, champagne and wine for 3 days. We wanted everybody to have fun and we were specifically not going for something sophisticated (well, it was extremely rural, after all!). This was in France (husband French) and nowhere near Paris, so kept prices down. After all the fussing I made about decorations, the guests are still raving about...the food! Nobody cared about my beautiful fabric flower backdrop - apart from me ;)

J (Sparkly Love) said...

Obviously head count can drastically affect budget. I could have spent a lot less money, but I would have had to leave out people I love (and boo to that!!) We are getting married this July and we should come in right around $15,000 (for 125 people) honeymoon included.