Biggest Expenses to Consider When Planning a Wedding

Love may be free, but white lace and wedding promises cost big bucks. You'll be better able to organize wedding plans that work with your finances if you develop a budget well before the happy event. 
You aren't likely to forget about the dress or the cake, but some of the other major wedding expenses can slip under the radar. Here are some budgeting tips to keep you on track.

 

Wedding Location and Getting There

Wedding locationd and getting there

Where will the new couple exchange their vows? Where will they wine and dine their guests, then dance the night away?

Budget some bucks for the site of the ceremony and lots more for the reception venue, which is often the single-biggest wedding expense, averaging $15,000 nationwide. You'll have hundreds of places to choose from, including vineyards, museums and historic ships, as well as the traditional country clubs and hotel lounges.

You'll also need to organize transportation for the wedding party from the site of the nuptials to the reception. Often this means hiring a limousine for the bride and groom and arranging shuttles for other members of the party and wedding guests.

 

Flowers and Decor

Flowers & decor

Flowers alone make quite a dent in the budget, and you'll have to set aside extra funds if you want a professional florist to arrange them at the venue. Don't forget to factor in bouquets for the bride, bridesmaids and flower girls. Save on expenses by selecting flowers that are in season. 

Wedding decor doesn't stop with blossoms. The tables often feature candles, specialty linens, flatware and place tags that cost money, too. If you're going for a vintage look, you'll need to earmark even more. Picking an already-decorated reception site reduces decorating costs.

 

Music Expense

Music expense

Nothing says "wedding" like the traditional "Here Comes the Bride" tune that was a standard of church weddings for many years. But many modern couples choose a different song for the ceremony and may opt for pop or contemporary music at the wedding reception so guests can dance the evening away.

Budget money for music both during the ceremony and at the reception. Most brides spend between $3,000 and $4,000 for a reception band. If that sounds like a lot, you can reduce the costs to less than $1,000 by opting for a DJ instead of a band.

If you're using a wedding planner, that person can plan the music, but the cost of the planner must appear in the budget, too.

 

Photos for Posterity

Photos for Posterity

Most about-to-be-marrieds choose to pay a professional photographer to snap official pictures of the wedding party and the ceremony. Before you start talking to potential photographers, decide whether you want photos only of the wedding or whether you also want snaps of the bride's day out with her bridesmaids, the groom's bachelor party, the rehearsal dinner and the reception. 

Expect to pay the photographer between $2,000 and $3,000 — that's the national average. It's a good idea to shop around for package deals.

 

Dressing the Part

Dressing the part

Whether you opt for a traditional wedding — with a white, full-length bridal gown and a tux for the groom — or choose a more modern look, your bridal outfits will cost money. The sky's the limit when it comes to the price of the dress and veil, but the average bride keeps it under $1,500. 

If you are also paying for the bridesmaids' dresses and groom's attendants' suits, you'll need to put these in the budget, too. Renting, rather than buying, tuxedos lowers the cost. And don't forget the cost of the bride’s and groom's get-away outfits.

 

Food and Drink

Food and drink

The wedding cake is the star of the show, but many couples offer their guests hors d'oeuvres and dinner as well, complete with wine, Champagne and even after-dinner liqueurs. If you are having the affair catered, you'll likely have a firm quote for the budget — typically around $70 a person. But even if family and friends are pulling the wedding dinner together, there are still material costs. Don't forget to add into the food category the cost of the rehearsal dinner.

 

Rings and Things

Rings and things

The traditional words "with this ring, I thee wed" may bring tears to your eyes, but you'll avoid tears of chagrin over the cost of the rings by budgeting for them. Ideally, the couple is thinking about cost when choosing their wedding rings. 

Wedding favors for the guests and wedding party also go into the budget — as do printed thank-you cards.

 

Good Tips

Good tips

It's the little things that tend to slip through the cracks in a wedding budget, so think about them early — sales tax, tips for all of the vendors and service charges that are often separate from gratuities. Watch for "++" in a catering quote because that usually means sales tax and tips are not included. These charges can add as much as 30 percent to the total.

Anyone who isn't her own boss needs to get a tip, including waiters, florists, servers, bartenders, valets, coat check attendants, photographers, makeup artists, hair stylists, shuttle and limo drivers and cake deliverers. 

What happens if your reception runs overtime? Find out the overtime charges at your venue, as well as the cost of an alternative venue for your outdoor reception in case of rain.

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