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 https://www.costofwedding.com/
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.
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 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.
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 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.