(Closed) Madison wedding budgeting help!

posted 8 years ago in Madison Wisconsin
Post # 3
639 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

hello.  I’m also planning long-distance to madison from Denver.  We are having a similar-size wedding 120-160 people.  Our total budget is 15,000, but that does not include my dress.  We are doing a plated dinner, live music, etc to give you an idea of what we can fit in the budget.  Our photographer is our most expensive vendor (aside from food), but we did meet with many less expensive photographers before deciding on this one so there were more affordable options out there.  My experience planning in Madison so far is that there is a wide range of vendors at all price points for pretty much every service you might need. Good luck, and feel free to pm me with more questions if you have them.

Post # 4
131 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: October 2010

Congratulations!  I currently live in Madison and have been working tirelessly on my budget, since it’s about 12,000.  For that, we’re doing a plated sit-down dinner, a DJ, full-day photographer, hosting beer at the reception (cash bar for all else), and it also includes my dress.  Here’s a general breakdown of some of the big stuff, and I can give you more details if you’d like:

Dress: 1,000

Photos: 1,500

DJ: 800

bus: 250

wedding bands: 500

hall rental: 650

church: 1,000

flowers: 50 (farmer’s market!)

the rest is wrapped up in food, drink, rehearsal picnic, misc items….


Also, since I’m living in Madison (and have lived here for 7 years altogether!) I know a lot about venues, etc.  Let me know if you need anything.

Yeah for Madison weddings!!!


Post # 5
1403 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2010

I live in the greater Milwaukee area, which is close enough to Madison to give you good ball-park numbers.  I shopped around for deals from local vendors, and my taste is pretty moderate, so I’m spending less than what you’d consider the average for the Madison/Milwaukee area.  All of these cost estimates really depend on how extravagant your taste is too.

Cake:  A custom cake for 150 people by a wedding cake specialist will run anywhere from $500 for a very simple design to $1000 for something ornate with fruit filling and etc.  A less expensive alternative from the local baker could be as low as $300, and it would still be a tiered cake.  I’m spending $400 at a local baker.  Delivery can be as high as $100 if they have to drive a long distance.

Flowers:  This depends on what flowers you pick, whether they’re in season, etc.  Florists usually just charge by the number and type of flowers you order.  Assuming you don’t go wild with exotic lilies or something, you can expect the bride’s bouquet to be $200-300, the bridesmaids’ to be $100-150 each, and the corsages/boutoniers to be $5-10 each.  If you’re doing flower centerpieces, just figure $4-5 per flower X number of flowers per centerpiece X number of centerpieces.  Delivery again can be as high as $100 or more, and usually includes the florist pinning on the boutoniers before the ceremony and then setting up at the reception.  I’m spending around $800 for a bridal party of 8, all the parents and grandparents of the bride and groom, 15 very very simple centerpieces, and a few extra potted things.  I interviewed one florist that quoted me $1,500 for the exact same thing though.  I chose a lot of less-expensive and less-popular flowers to keep my cost down.  This is one area where you could easily splurge above $2,000.

Reception venue:  In the heart of the city, plan to spend upwards of $7,000 for the banquet hall and catering.  At the outskirts, it’s more like $4,000 and up.  These prices reflect the common “food and beverage minimum” that hotels and other banuqet facilities require you to spend, regardless of how many people you’re feeding.  To avoid the food and beverage minimum, you can book a nice restaurant with a large hall, which will charge strictly by head, and range from $8 for a chicken buffet to $30 for filet minon sit-down.  Multiply that by 150 guests, then add a %17 service charge for your total.  I found a very nice “wine and dine” place way outside of town, and I’m paying $17 per head, for a total of $3,000 – pretty good for what I’m getting.

Alcohol:  Open bar can run about $7-8 an hour per head, and a champaign toast is usually charged by the number of bottles opened but you can estimate $2.50 per head for that.  My venue also required me to pay for two bartenders, which were $75 each for the entire night.

Photographer:  A single photographer new in his/her career might charge $600 for the day.  A well-known experienced photographer with lots of references will charge more like $1,000-2,000.  If you book through a large agency, expect to pay even more.  I got a great deal of two photographers with decent experience for $1000.  Add at least another $500 for the album.

Videographer:  I didn’t book a videographer, but I think they usually charge a little more than photographers.

DJ:  A self-employed DJ will probably charge $800-1,000 for five hours plus dinner music.  This is another service where experience and good references can jack up the charge to $1,500 or more.  My self-employed DJ’s (yes, there are two of them) are charging $800.

Live band:  You could put together a few local music college students for about $50 per band member per hour, or you could book a professional band for $200-300 per member per hour.

Total budget:  If you go with all the cheapest options above, you can get by with $3,000 maybe.  If you splurge a little, you could spend more like $20,000.  When all is said and done, mine will probably be $6,000-8,000.

OK that was a lot of information.  Hope it helped.  🙂

Post # 6
2767 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2009

I live about 3 to 4 hours from Madison, in a city that is probably similar in size and culture.  My wedding had 109 people attending in the end, we had invited about 160.  The total cost of my wedding was around $20,000.  The little things really added up.  Here are the big things:

Venue – an art center, $1500 rental fee

Caterer – around $4000 for food and wine and 1 keg of beer

Photographer – $1800 via craigslist

DJ – we went with the cheapest we could find and it probably showed, he was $500

Cake – $375, 3 tiers, made by the local grocery store bakery (who did an awesome job)

Flowers – close to $600, maybe a little less.  I had really simple centerpieces – 1 large dahlia basically (the rest of the pieces of the centerpiece I did myself).  The flower cost was mostly bouquets, corsages, and bouts.  We didn’t have any flowers decorating the ceremony space in the church

Church – rental fee was $250, Musicians were $150, and I paid another $150 to my violin teacher who played at our ceremony too.

Transportation – a limo was booked at the last minute just days before the wedding.  We only used it for 1 hour on the wedding day and it cost us $100, tip was included in that price.

Obviously, gifts for the attendants, our attire and accessories, paper lanterns, all the DIY centerpieces, favors, invites, and paper products cost us a lot extra and helped us reach that $20,000 final bill.  We could have done it for less if we had a shorter engagement.  I find things are much simpler the less time you have to plan!


Post # 7
2201 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: August 2010

Number of guests: 200 (cocktail reception, not a dinner)

Venue: $1500 (goes down with more food purchases)

Flowers: $500 (4 bouquets and a bunch of boutonnieres/corsages, no centerpieces)

Photog: $2600

Cake: $400

DJ: $700

Post # 10
131 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: October 2010

We’re doing a school bus 🙂 3 hours is $250 through Kobussen.

Also, there’s a fabulous cake shop in Verona: Craig’s Cakes. Yummy and inexpensive.

Post # 11
7771 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: July 2010

I thought Madison was so expensive!  I actually ended up going to La Crosse!

Post # 12
4704 posts
Honey bee

sheglows good idea on the bus thing…i lived in madison for about 2 years and traffic can be a pain in the rear-end sometimes!

MadtownBride kobussen is a great line to use for transport!

cbee because madison is a “big town” in wi it’s going to be more expensive. hence why we’re not getting married there and had to move outta the city when Mr.TKE was done w/ grad school

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