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. 🙂