We got married on May 16th, 2015 in Orlando, Florida (depending on time of year and location is clearly part of one's budget as well). I figured that I'd break down our budget and share with others who may be feeling that they can't do an awesome wedding within their budget.
I've broken it down in the most logical order for easy reading…
- Budget: $10,000 (originally $5,000)
- Size: 102 guest invited, actual size 39
- Top priorities: cost, location, and atmosphere
We didn't have any savings for a wedding, and my parents each gave us $5,000. The same they gave for my sister's wedding four years ago. Mother-in-law also chipped in $1,000, which was a lot of money for her. We were extremely grateful for all the help and the few strings attached we were able to over-come.
- Reception: $2,125 (We were gifted $125 from the owner)
- Ceremony: $113 for 2 hours ($100 deposit fully returned)
No contracts, restrictions, other permits, or insurance needed. I was able to talk down the price some of the reception space simply by asking if it was okay to pay $2,250 for the weekend. The ceremony had a minimum of time, which is what we did. I wish we could have talked that down more, as we didn't need the space that long because we didn't do any decorating or prep. It was in a park, and lovely on it's own.
Total = $2,363
(Our goal was for the venues to be under half our budget, which it was!)
Rentals and items bought as alternative
- 40 chairs rented: $107 + $23 tip = $130
- Spotify Upgrade: $10 for a month
- DJ app: Free
- Stereo: $210 (instead of renting)
- New power cord for iPad: $10
- Mic: $7 on clearance
- GoPro: $303
- Photo booth and props: Free (Friend's camera, tripod, and props plus some of our own)
We didn't want to rent anything, as it seemed like the most wasteful way to spend money, so getting away with just chairs isn't bad. Although we went with the cheapest place I could find which cause a few headaches, but whatever!
Total = $670
- Photographer: $800 + $100 tip = $900
- Food truck: $500 + $100 tip = $600
Our photographer was with us from a little before the ceremony (4:30pm) to end of reception, when we said she could go at 11pm. That was about seven hours of coverage, at two locations, and she had an assistant helping her manning our instant camera station. We got roughly 300+ edited photos a week later (yay on not waiting for months!) and did an amazing job. Best deal ever!
Our goal was to be under $1,000 for each of these big ticket items. It took a lot of looking and thinking outside-the-box to find our photographer. We already knew the guys who ran the food truck and, after checking with a few trucks, they easily had the best deal and communicated the best.
Total = $1,500
Outfits and beauty
- Bride's outfit: $662 (Dress, custom vest, underwear, heels, boots, necklace, plugs, bag, rings and bracelet already owned)
- Groom's outfit: ~$340 (Shorts, boots, shirt, suspenders, unused pants, bow-tie he already owned)
- Waxing: $60 (tip included)
- Hair: ~$80 day-of + $50 for trial + ~$20 tip = ~$150
- Make-up: ~$50 day-of + $15 trial + ~$10 tip = ~$75
- Mani/pedi: ~$75 (tip included)
- Honeymoon lingerie: ~$175
We didn't really have a budget for any of this, and think we did pretty well considering our lack of budgeting.
Total = ~$1,537
Save the dates, invites, and Thank You cards
- All: ~ $300
I'm going to be honest, I totally lost track on these. It's high because I'm a designer, and went a little overboard. This price includes Save the Dates from Moo.com, DIY invites and Thank You cards, tools used, and some of the ink. Also the paper used, which was also used for other decorations and signage.
Total = ~$300
Decorations and other items
- Decorations: $317
- DIY tools and materials: $384
- Guestbook: $211
- Party Supplies: $158 (Plates, cups, napkins, tablecloths, silverware, glow-sticks and glow-necklaces)
- Favors: $73 (Custom guitar picks and pins)
- Film for instant cameras: $121 (cameras already owned)
- Pineapples: $45
- Bubbles and balloons: Free (gifted)
We had no set budget for this, and just played it by ear based off how much the bigger items were. DIY can easily add up though, and lots of time was spent making things.
Total = $1,309
Desserts, appetizers, and drinks
* Mini pies: $94 + $22 tip = $116
* Cupcakes: ~$105
* Gluten-free cookies: $10
* Pupus: $35 + Free fruit and veggies from our friends
* Wine: $126
* Beer: $129
* Soda + water: $32
We had just the right amount of snacks and wine, but we missed estimated how many would drink beer, and the soda was barely touched.
Total = $553
- Bride's custom ring: $600
- Groom's: $575
We planned on spending a lot on our rings, as we felt it was worth the investment to get nice rings and knew I had to get something custom to match my custom made engagement ring.
Total = $1,175
Officiant and marriage license
- Officiant: Free
- License: $98
I found the marriage license to be expensive! We could've gotten it for cheaper if we did pre-marriage counseling, but we weren't about to add that to our list for $30 off. At least we didn't pay anything for the officiant, as we had our friend do it.
Total = $98
Thank You gifts
- Wedding books: $98
- Framed 8×10 pictures: $12
- Framed 4×6 pictures: $8
We kept our Thank You gifts simple. We gave our parents framed pictures of us and a wedding book I made on Shutterfly. The pictures were free with a discount code, and another discount code was used for the books. The frames we just got from Target. We also gave out pictures to friends and family that helped.
Total = $118
Wedding night room and honeymoon
- Wedding night room: $369
- Honeymoon: $7,832 for 12 days
Doing an all-inclusive honeymoon for two weeks is costly! But so worth it. It was absolutely amazing, and we know it'll be the only time we ever get to do something like that.
Total = $8,201
Total spent on the wedding:
- Just the wedding: $9,992
- With the honeymoon: $17,824
Comments on Wedding budget breakdown of a $10k wedding
Thank you for a much more realistic breakdown of wedding costs and budgeting!!!! I was so tired of seeing other “You Can Have a Wedding for $5k!” articles where pretty much everything was free/low cost (photographer was a friend, aunt made the wedding cake, got married in a park, etc.). That’s all well and good, but what if you have to hire a photographer, a venue, etc., you don’t live near any family, you aren’t getting married in your parent’s backyard, and you are getting hitched in one of the most expensive places in the country (Virginia/DC)?!? So thank you for the budget breakdown.
Heather, I felt the same way when trying figure out how to cut cost. We did get help from our friends, but all the big major things that make up a budget we paid for. My sister currently lives in the DC/Virginia area, so I know what you mean about costs! My best suggestion is to just think of places you like that aren’t a wedding venue, or ever been used as one anyways. Things became a lot more reasonable the second we stopped looking for wedding vendors. Like doing a food truck that had never done a wedding, using a venue that was a photo studio, and our photographer was actually a music photographer.
Hey Katie — I’m also Katie and I’m getting married in the Tampa area next April. May I ask who your photographer was? We’re on a similar budget (looks like it’s gonna be 8K-ish) and we would love to find a good photographer in that price range.
Of course! Our photographer was Kayla Surico and she was great to work with. She’s out of Kissimmee and her website is kaylasurico.com. 🙂
I already got married this past July in Virginia for just over $10k! I have excel sheets out the wazoo with budgeting, as I had to hire everything and I did a ton of DIY because I’m an overachiever! So it’s definitely possible to have a great wedding for $10k! I was just affirming this article LOL.
Thank You so much for the budgeting and cost cutting you have mentioned here. I was wondering about the cost at first, but after jotting out the whole blog, i came across various facts about wedding and its accessorization.
Kalpana, I’m glad you found it helpful!
Great post for the most part, but $800 for a professional photographer? That’s not realistic. They didn’t make any money for 7 hours coverage and giving 300 images. This doesn’t give a realistic vision of a wedding.
Hi Regina, while $800 isn’t the average, it is what we paid. It took us a long time to find a photographer who was willing to work with our budget. Our photographer was young and mostly does bands and concerts. We were and are the only wedding she has done.
If someone was looking to get that price for an actual wedding photographer like your self, then you are correct. As far as I could find, there are no wedding photographers in that price range. It has been my experience that any vendor who’s focus is on weddings is going to cost more, which is why we opted for a photographer who’s focus was else and fit us better.
I found a photographer for $750 for 5 hours of coverage with two photographers. His pictures weren’t the most amazing I had ever seen, but they were very professional and captured the essence of the wedding. Working ala cart helps quite a bit.
Like I said before that is AWESOME for you guys as the ones getting married, however we need at least $1500 to just break even for a full wedding. Most likely they have another job that pays the bills so that they can charge less.
I am finding plenty of photographers in the 800-1200 dollar range for 6-8 hours of coverage, no frills/extras like engagement session, etc. I am in the Chicago area, so maybe that is normal for my area, but I don’t think it’s unrealistic at all to find a photographer in that price range.
That is great for you but not for professional photographers. We are breaking even at around $1500 for a full wedding. Which means these photographers are losing money. That is if they are professional and have all the expenses that we do running a small business. They may have another job that makes money and do this on the side. That’s the only way I was able to charge less was when I had another job.
Regina, I guess we’ll agree to disagree as my photographer was and is a professional. And I also can understand where you are coming from, as I’ve stated I paid less then what your base price is and are a local photographer for the area.
As you know there are many factors that go into how any freelancer sets their prices. That may be the average, or more likely your base price based off of your own factors (cost of living, experience level, etc.). But to continue to imply that anyone who pays for a photographer under that number somehow isn’t a professional, must only do it on the side, or we’re costing them money is a little insulting and is beginning to make me question your level of professionalism.
Every wedding has a different budget, just like every vendor has a different price range. This is just what I paid a professional, and some others have stated they have paid similar or have looked at photographers with similar prices.
Katie! Thanks so much for posting this. The costs of things is what scares me in even thinking about planning a wedding, and we really don’t have any savings whatsoever for a wedding…which is why we’ve been engaged for exactly five years today. :/
My concern is pressure from a super traditional set of in-laws, who have done the whole traditional wedding thing with two other kids (and they were big, expensive fancy ordeals) and we really don’t want to be a burden on anyone. I don’t want a big fancy wedding. It’s not me. I don’t even want to get married in a church (we’re not religious), but I feel like we’re going to have to because his parents would disapprove otherwise and not help us if we didn’t do what they wanted.
As for the photographer thing: I’m a professional photographer myself and I don’t charge a crazy amount for my services. I gauge what a client’s needs are, and if they seem to balk, I work with them. I charge 1,200.00 for a wedding and that includes 8 hours of my time, hand-edited images and a DVD with rights. Yes, I do have a full-time job (because my job has free health benefits! hello!) so running a photo business full time really isn’t possible. It’s just extra money, and I don’t feel justified on charging a crazy amount for something I do on occasional weekends. The amount of money you charge does not gauge if you are a professional in the field or not: your attitude and professionalism and your quality of work does. We all start somewhere!
Michele, I found the cost intimidating as well. It’s even more so when the money you used was gifted to you.
Having traditional in-laws when your non-traditional can be tough. Here’s a couple things I did with the money we were gifted for our wedding, but I will note our families were fairly open to the non-traditional things we wanted to do.
1. I asked to directly get the money, instead of having my parents/in-laws pay the vendors. Being the middle man worked in my favor, and I didn’t tell them who my POCs where for our vendors. I also didn’t tell them any details, like I just said we were getting a food truck, but not which one.
2. I had distance on my side. All of our family lived out of state, so it was harder for them to interfere with things. Particularly if I didn’t give them details.
3. We were up-front they should expect. We weren’t going to be traditional. I wasn’t going to have my dad walk me down the aisle. We weren’t going to have a bridal party. Etc. We weren’t trying to hide what we were doing, and did provide regular updates on our planning progress.
4. Be ready to pick your battles. We were sure on things we’d fight for, others we prepared to give into, or compromise on.
Remember it’s YOUR wedding, not theirs. They are gifting you the money, and like all gifts once it’s been given you can tell someone what to do with your gift. Just be upfront with them at the beginning and make sure you’re all on the same page before money gets involved.
I wish you luck! Maybe since they’ve done that type of wedding already with their other kids they may be more open to doing something different?
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