So, you’re in the process of planning your wedding. Congratulations! The next few months (at the very least) are going to be a whirlwind of excitement and stress, happiness and panic, and, hopefully, a lot of fun.
One of the first, and least enjoyable, steps when planning your wedding is to set a budget. This should be done before anything else, as your budget will dictate every choice you make down the line.
Now, why is knowing the average cost of a wedding beneficial?
Well, while it won’t provide an exact price tag for your own wedding, it will give you a good idea of what to expect along the way. With the average costs of each wedding detail in mind, you can plan and prepare accordingly.
To learn what to include in your wedding budget and what to plan for in terms of wedding costs, just keep reading!
Venue, Rentals, and Catering
Let’s talk about the venue and food first, as these categories will make up the bulk of your budget. Between the venue, rentals (such as chairs, tables, dinnerware, etc.), and catering costs, you can expect to spend about 50% of your budget.
If you can, include your wedding cake in this category as well, as it’s typically another big-ticket item. Other desserts and cake cutting should be part of your catering package.
To save on the venue and catering, consider hosting your wedding during the off-season or on a day other than Saturday. Believe it or not, you can book your venue and catering service for up to 50% off the regular price simply by having your wedding on a Friday!
With busy work and life schedules, however, a Saturday wedding might be non-negotiable. If this is the case, taking out a wedding loan with Plenti is always an option.
Average Cost: $18,000 for venue and rentals; $70 per head for catering
Photographer and Videographer
One of the worst parts about weddings is how quickly they go by. You spend months on end planning and when the day finally arrives, it feels as though you blink and it’s already over. That’s why having plenty of photos and videos of the big day is so important.
If you’re hiring a professional photographer and/or videographer, you should set aside around 12% of your budget for their services. You can cut down the costs greatly in this category by enlisting a friend or family member to snap some candid photos during the ceremony and reception.
Average Cost: $4,200
Clothing, Hair, and Makeup
Depending on the style of dress you choose, the wedding dress might be one of the most expensive items in your budget. Plan to dedicate at least 9% of your budget to the dress, tuxedo, shoes, and accessories, as well as day-of hair and makeup treatments.
If you need to bump up this percentage to accommodate your dream wedding dress, no worries! All you have to do is take a portion from another category. For example, maybe you skip hiring a wedding planner so you can put that extra 3% toward your dress.
Saving in this category is easy. Everyone has a friend or aunt handy with a curling iron and a makeup brush. Or you could make a morning of it by inviting the bridal party and other close friends to get ready together DIY style while having breakfast or watching a romantic movie.
Average Cost: $2,000
Between your ceremony and reception decor, you can expect to spend about 8% of your total budget. This includes floral arrangements, lighting, and any other decor to bring the theme of your wedding together.
To save money, consider using the same flowers for both the ceremony and reception. If you’re having the ceremony and reception in the same venue, the venue staff might be able to shift your decor during cocktail hour.
Those traveling from the ceremony venue to the reception will need to ask a friend or family member to help out with decor transportation and arranging.
Average Cost: $2,500
The pleasure of your and your guests’ company makes for a strong foundation for a great reception. That said, it’s never a bad idea to provide some reception entertainment as well. After all, what party is complete without a little music and merriment?
This can be a professional DJ, a band, a sound system rental for broadcasting your own playlist, a photo booth, or any other fun activity you want to provide. The exact cost will depend on the type of music and activities you envision for your reception, but 7% of your budget is a safe bet.
Average Cost: $5,000
Is a wedding planner a requirement of a fantastic wedding? No. But, when you’re deep in planning panic mode, he or she can be a real life-saver.
To get the most out of your wedding planning and the big day, you need to cut down on stress. And it’s a wedding planner’s job to do just that! When you hire a wedding planner, all you have to do is know what your dream wedding looks like and allow them to help you bring it to life.
The amount your wedding planner charges will vary based on their experience and your needs, but saving 3% of your budget to cover the costs should be enough.
Average Cost: $1,500
Invitations and Other Stationery
Unless you’re sending out all correspondence electronically, more stationery is involved in the process of planning a wedding than you might think. You have the engagement party invitations, the save the dates, the wedding invitations, ceremony programs, menus, place cards, and thank you cards.
The more festivities you want to include in the months before the wedding, the more stationery you’ll need!
Set aside 2% of your budget for all the paper products you’ll be sending out, as well as the stamps and envelopes.
Average Cost: $600
Though hiring a traditional ceremony officiant is common, it’s not a requirement for modern weddings. More and more couples are choosing to get legally married before their wedding day, then asking a friend or family member to say a few words the day of.
You could even forgo the ceremony and simply use your wedding day as a celebration of your and your partner’s commitment to each other. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks your wedding day should be – the decision is yours and your partner’s alone.
If you do decide to go the traditional route, 2% of your budget should cover the officiant’s fees and a tip.
Average Cost: $275
Transportation might not have been included in your initial list of wedding prices, but consider this. How will your guests get from the hotel to the venue? Or from the ceremony to the reception?
You can rely on guests to get from one place to the other on time, as long as you’re prepared for things not to go quite as smoothly as you’d hope. Another option is to provide transportation from one location to the next.
Also included in this category is your post-wedding getaway car for you and your spouse, or a limo to transport the wedding party to and from the ceremony and reception. This should take up about 2% of your budget.
Average Cost: $800
A portion of your guests are no doubt traveling to be with you and your partner on our wedding day. And even those who live nearby are taking time out of their lives to celebrate with you. It’s good manners to thank them for it!
Your wedding favors don’t have to be anything extravagant. A little something to let them know that you appreciate their presence at your big day goes a long way.
A good wedding favor is useful (not junk!), easy to carry home, and representative of your wedding day vibe. You should spend around 2% of your budget on favors and special gifts for the bridal party.
Average Cost: $400
Use the Average Cost of a Wedding to Create Your Budget
Keep in mind that these number aren’t set in stone. While no one would argue that weddings aren’t expensive events, you don’t have to come anywhere near the national average to have the wedding of your dreams!
The best route to take is to start with your overall budget, then use the percentages listed to allocate your funds.
And if, for example, you want to cut back on venue costs to spend more on catering, you should absolutely do it. At the end of the day, it’s entirely up to you!
Looking for more wedding planning guides and ideas? Be sure to check out our blog!