What does a typical wedding cost?
I get asked that a lot. And I’ve seen the infographics all over Pinterest. And there is no easy answer because I don’t believe there is a typical wedding. There are all types of factors to consider too – what time of year is it? How many guests? What part of the country are you in?
I am a firm believer you can have a fantastic wedding on any budget – just know that you can’t do a 3 course, plated meal for 300 guests if your budget is $10,000. There are some things that I can give you a starting price point on – with the caveat that many factors can make prices go up or down.
Venue – here in Austin you are lucky to find a venue for less than $5000. Can it be done? Absolutely. There is even a gorgeous setting for your ceremony at Chapel Dulcinea – and it is FREE – but most places are going to cost much more. And that $5000 might not even include tables and chairs.
Photographer – such a hot button topic! The photographer is one of your most important wedding pros – he or she will be responsible for capturing the memories that will last a lifetime. You should allow at least $2500 for a good photographer. $3000 or more for the great ones. And yes, they are worth it.
Flowers – Typically boutonnieres run around $15 – $20, corsages $20 – $30. Bouquets for bridesmaids can be around $65 and the bridal bouquet is usually $200 or more. Having said that, no category has a bigger gap because so much depends on the type of flowers used and if they are in season – or how big the bouquets are. Centerpieces can be simple and inexpensive or grandiose and pricey. The good news is, you can make flowers fit within any budget. Just keep your expectations based in reality.
DJ – I see most DJs hover around $1000. Some are a little less and some are a lot more. One of the best buys you can get at a Bridal Expo is booking your DJ. And yes, you do need a DJ if you want a party with lots of dancing. An iPod just isn’t going to cut it.
Officiant – Here’s another broad price range. A Justice of the Peace is sometimes as low as $50 but you usually get an insert-your-name-here type of ceremony. Religious Officiants with an affiliation with a church where your ceremony will be will usually ask for a donation to the church rather than a set fee. Then you have non-denominational Officiants like me that can create a completely customized ceremony for you with prices up to $500 (Carefree Weddings charges $345).
Caterer – Depending on your type of food, number of guests, and style of dinner (buffet vs plated) catering costs can be around $30 or more per person. I include all catering fees in that number, so don’t be fooled by low prices. Make sure you understand all the fees involved. And don’t forget cocktail hour!
Cake – You should expect to pay anywhere from $4 per serving on up for your wedding cake – and the price increases the more intricate the design. I also suggest to all of my couples that they knock about 10 – 15 guests off the final count for the cake…and we still usually end up with a lot leftover.
Day of Wedding Coordinator – Another broad range, this one from about $500 – $2000. My Peace of Mind package is $1399.95 and includes me and two assitants for 10 hours on your wedding day plus pre-wedding planning assistance. And with that in mind, I urge you to hire your DoC as early in the process as possible so she or he can help steer you to other wedding pros that will fit your budget and personality. And sometimes, save you money.
So that’s a start for some of your big ticket wedding day professionals. I urge you to speak to 3 professionals for any category you are considering before making your decision. Be informed and ask a lot of questions – if they aren’t interested in answering them then you can knock ‘em off your list. And most importantly, LOVE your wedding professionals. Don’t choose someone just because the price is right.
I promise the right wedding professional is out there for you no matter what your budget is.