wedding costs

Making decisions on wedding costs

This entry is from our Expert Guest series where wedding and honeymoon professionals share their best tips on creating memories that last a lifetime….

Weddings are pricey. No matter where you are getting married, or what kind of wedding you are planning, you are going to spend some money. There are a ton of resources that can help you with planning and budgeting- one place to start is

On this site, you can get the big picture. How much does a ‘typical’ wedding for 150 guests in your geographical region cost? It varies greatly across the country. Where I am, in Fort Worth, TX , it’s approximately $30,000.

Wedding decor costs add up

Photo credit: Beatbox Portraits

Geographic Location + Number of Guests + Style of Wedding = Wedding Budget

Basic logic says: If you have a smaller guest count, you can spend more money on the look, feel, sound, and taste of your wedding. The ‘fun stuff’.

If you get lost in the Pinterest wedding rabbit hole, you probably have BIG ideas for your wedding. You see a photo of a ballroom ceiling covered in hanging tulips and you are blown away. You must have it. The price tag is rarely on these photos, though, and often, your big ideas just aren’t affordable. You may find yourself deciding between a big guest list and an elaborate wedding – from the décor, to your dress, to the 12-piece jazz band.

Making decisions on wedding costs & priorities

Making Budgetary Decisions

Let’s assume you have your date, venue, and caterer picked out. Everything is pretty much lining up with your initial wedding budget. You are about to get to the ‘fun’ part of wedding planning: the pretty stuff…flowers, lighting, linens, dove gray Chiavari chairs that you just can’t live without. This is where the difficult decisions start to come into play. You have spent over half your budget already, so how do you decide exactly where to spend the rest?

As a wedding planner, I can say with certainty that there comes a time in every couple’s planning process when they see the budget start to grow past their comfort zone. Some roll with it – ask their parents for more money, maybe, or start to tap into the credit card available balance. Other couples really dig their heels in – they sit down with their budget spreadsheet, they call their planner panicking, they make tough decisions about what stays a part of the plan, and what gets nixed.

My first response when I have these conversations is usually, “What does your guest list look like?” The quickest way to cut money from the imploding budget is to cut down your guest count. Maybe you have to draw a thick line through your softball team, your office friends, and your freshman dorm pals that you haven’t seen since…well, freshman year.

Do the wedding math

The Realities Of Wedding Math

Here’s some Trust-Me-I’m–a-Wedding-Planner-Math:

  • Food/beverage cost at a high-end hotel ballroom: $200/person
  • Food/beverage cost at a moderate hotel ballroom: $70/person
  • Food cost for a BBQ caterer to bring the food and serve it buffet style: $20/person

See where this is going? If you want a fancy ballroom wedding at $200 a head and you have 250 people coming – your MINIMUM at this hotel to host your reception will be $50,000. That fee doesn’t include the tax, tips, cake, décor, etc. It does include everything the guests will use to eat and drink (glassware, tableware), which is an upside of hosting your reception at a hotel venue.

If 50k is blowing your mind – consider cutting a quarter of the guests right off the top – boom, you’re down to around $37, 600.

Where wedding dollars go

Where The Wedding Dollars Go

If you have a firm number for your wedding budget, count on half of it going to the venue rental costs, basic rentals like tables and chairs, food, beverage. The other half of your money will be allocated to photographer, videographer, florist, DJ, musicians, dress, cake, etc.

Basic logic: if you have a set amount of money and it’s divided among 250 people, you will have less to allocate to each wedding vendor category. If you have the same set amount of money and it’s divided among 80 people, you have more money to spend on the other wedding vendors – ie,“The Fun Stuff”.

It can be overwhelming for sure! Champagne dreams, beer budget…you know the saying.

Help When You Need It

For easy-to-obtain help, we talk about budgets, vendors and all things wedding on The Big Wedding Planning Podcast.

It’s like having a wedding planner (or 2!) in your earbuds whenever you want. One of the questions we get from listeners most often is regarding how the wedding budget breaks down. Everyone’s issues are specific, but the overriding factor remains: Weddings are expensive. Good luck out there, yall!

Help finance your wedding & honeymoon dreams with a honeymoon registry from Honeyfund.

Bio: Chrissy Matthews Event (CME) offers custom planning packages, specializing in Luxury Month Of Wedding Coordination. CME specializes in custom “month of” planning packages. This service is perfect for the clients that have already lined up a venue and vendors and have already begun designing their event CME steps in 4-6 weeks out and takes over, acting as an advocate for the clients and a lead contact for the vendors and venue team.

Christy proudly serves as a partner, advocate, and project manager for clients and expertly guides wedding days minute by minute, from start to finish. 




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How much does a wedding cost?

This entry is from our Expert Guest series where wedding and honeymoon professionals share their best tips on creating memories that last a lifetime.

What’s the average cost of a wedding this year?

It’s the million-dollar question that every other wedding media hack wants to know. As a result, all the prominent wedding magazines, including Brides, Perfect Wedding, You and Your Wedding, and Wedding Ideas conduct surveys in order to find out how much their readers are spending on the Big Day. And for a number of years now, the figures have remained relatively constant. The average cost of a wedding in the UK in 2015, and in all likelihood in 2016, is in the region of £20-22,000 ($27-29,000.)

Wedding costs

Is The Average Cost Of A Wedding Accurate?

Now whatever way you look at it, that’s a lot of cash to be blowing on a single day – even if it is going to be one of the most important days in a couple’s lifetime. To put it into context, very few would ever consider spending £20K on a party to celebrate the birth of their first child. However, because it’s a wedding, society dictates that it’s acceptable and appropriate to spend a small fortune on such an event. After all, it’s what everyone does, and no one wants to be different do they?!

However, by digging a little deeper into the figures, one will soon discover that the average wedding spend is not an especially accurate or reliable. This is because an average calculation often spans a wide range of figures. In fact, one could argue that the £22K average wedding spend in the UK is fundamentally flawed due to extremes in the data that render the figure misleading or irrelevant.

The Survey Says….

For example, let’s say that of 100 randomly selected people who were asked how much they spent on their wedding, 90 indicated that they spent £15,000 ($20,000), 5 spent £75,000 and 5 others spent £150,000. Clearly, the vast majority of people spent £15,000, however due to a minority of extreme cases, the average spend is hiked to £24,750.

Average figures are easy, convenient, and great for the wedding industry as a whole, but they can be rather misleading for brides and grooms and can even encourage couples to significantly and unnecessarily overspend.

This anomaly is backed up by research conducted by Confetti website who surveyed 2200 British brides in 2015/16 and released figures showing that 80% of couples spent less than £15,000.

The Knot website in the USA also demonstrated that the average spend in America is also skewed by a small number of extreme figures. For instance in Utah, Oregon, Montana, New Mexico, North and South Dakota among others, the average spend in 2015 was $20,000. Yet, because of a small number of bi- spending brides in States such as New York (whose average spend was $82,000) and Chicago ($61,000) the overall average spend in the USA was $32,650.

Wedding reception

What Are Typical Wedding Costs?

Instead of focussing on the average spend, it is more helpful for brides and grooms to be aware of the typical fees a specific service or supplier might charge.

For example, you can hire a decent photographer or cinematographer for around £1,000. And a good quality caterer will charge upwards of £30.00 per head for a 3 course silver service meal, whilst a cake will cost from £300.00, a DJ from around £500.00, a florist from £600.00, bridal car £350.00, and hair/makeup £250.00. Obviously, the more established or better known they are, the more they can charge. And newer suppliers will naturally undercut to attract business. However, these ballpark figures are far more accurate and useful for brides-to-be who often have no idea how much a particular wedding service or supplier costs.

Wedding costs do not include the honeymoon, but many smart couples offset the cost of a wedding trip by requesting gifts to the Honeyfund wedding registry.

The table below is an amalgamation of results from surveys taken by You & Your Wedding, Brides and Wedding Day magazines.

NOTE: when assessing these figures it is important to note that the readers of these prominent magazines tend to spend more on their wedding than the readers of magazines such as Wedding Ideas. For convenience of readers in the US, the figures in pounds have been converted to current US dollars.

Contorl your wedding costs


Cost in £ Cost in US $
Ceremony, Civil: £2,790 $3,670
Reception: £3,919 $5,173
Catering: £3,959 $5,226
Drink: £1,280 $1,690
Cake: £300 $396
Music ceremony: £200 $264
Music reception: £450 $594
Entertainment: £773 $1,020
Fireworks: £600 $792
Dress: £1,378 $1,819
Shoes: £161 $214
Veil: £138 $182
Hair accessories £80 $106
Jewellery: £176 $232
Other accessories: £80 $106
Special lingerie: £112 $148
Going away outfit: £300 $396
Honeymoon wardrobe: £300 $396
Hair: £150 $198
Make up: £150 $198
Groom’s outfit: £439 $580
Attendant’s outfits: £436 $575
Photography: £1,046 $1,381
Videography: £905 $1,194
Flowers £638 $842
Transport: £480 $633
Stationery: £465


Bio:Sam Ketterer is the Managing Director of Absolute Perfection Wedding Consultancy established in 2003, as one of only a handful of wedding planners operating in the UK. AP, a small team of leading London wedding designers creating beautiful weddings worldwide, guarantees personable, discreet, and first-class service for a stress-free engagement and a wedding day that is¦Absolute Perfection!

Alongside his wedding duties, Sam also run popular wedding planner courses for aspiring young (and not so young!) wedding designers and DIY brides! Their online Academy operates one of the UK’s most informative and in-depth wedding planning courses, which has trained some of the UK’s most notable and award-winning designers. The latest training course, Version 9, is a comprehensive distance learning program that will teach you all you need to know about wedding planning, including setting up and running a wedding planning business. See their Wedding Academy for full details.

You can learn more about Absolute Perfection Wedding Consultancy or get in touch by email email or phone at 00 44 (0)20 8404 2525.

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