posted 5 years ago in Money
Post # 16
814 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: The Retreat at Bradley\'s Pond

OK- so far it looks like I’m the odd man out. We live in Tallahassee, FL which I know to be a lower cost of living than most. Still considered southern as far as Charleston is concerned (versus NY)- but still smaller and less popular now. 

Our total budget was around $20k- broken down that was supposed to be around $2k for the honeymoon, $18k for the wedding.

We had invited ~120 guests and had ~95 attend (including a handful of children). Ceremony and venue were at the same facility outside of “downtown” Tallahassee- about 20 minutes down beautiful winding canopy roads. 

Venue: ~$3,500 for all day Friday & Saturday. This allowed us to decorate all day Friday and host our rehearsal dinner there as well. Also allowed me to get there first thing Saturday morning to have our hair/MUA person there to assist. 

Food/drink/cake: $9k Determine what is a priority! Not everything is. For us, cake wasn’t important. We got a nice 2 tier cake from Publix and their service with everything was phenomenal!!! I think you have them up there still? They did 2 tiers of different flavors with an assortment of cupments and delivered and set-up everything. I want to say $250? For drinks- we got our own beer/wine from CostCo the day before (groomsmen handled) and our caterer gave us a way to determine how much to buy. Also- we guestimated which friends drank what. I think we paid $600-$700 in alcohol and Costo will let you return anything unused. We did however have to pay for the caterer to include bartending services but I think it was ~$200? I don’t remember. Food… ha! This sucks. Our caterer handled our rehearsal and wedding events so that helped bring down the total cost (combining events). Also, with our rehearsal they did a groom’s cake of sorts. Looks like it was around $5,550 for that. The total reception cost looks like $9k for setting & linen rentals, food, rehearsal, booze/bartenders, transport fees, etc. 

Dress/alterations/accessories: $1,435 I was REALLY lucky. Dream dress from local upscale salon was $440 (sample model that was being discontinued). $325 for my belt and $350 for my veil (custom). $80 earrings and $30 shoes. Alterations/cleaning (before the wedding since it was floor model) and bustles came out to around $320. 

DJ/Band: $600 + tip Was an old friend of my husband who gave us a family discount. I don’t remember what we tipped but he did fabulous. Since he couldn’t attend the rehearsal (originally he said he would help since we were outdoors with a long aisle and wanted help with timing) he gave us his ipod of our music to help us practice with her personal amp. Very blessed for this extra help. 

Ceremony music: We wanted a trio but just didn’t have the ~$1k I saw it usually was. Just had our DJ play appropriate music (Vitamin String Quartet) before and similar music during/after our ceremony.

Hair/makeup: $300 plus tip Got lucky with a great girl who did this on the side- former pageant girl. With being in the south I’d think you should be able to find a handful of these. $150 for the trial for hair and make-up, plus another $150 for day of hair and make-up. It was the same price for my bridesmaid with a weave, and my mom who has short hair. Otherwise closer to $200 was normal for onsite wedding fees per person. Plus the mani/pedi you get the week of. Make sure if you’re doing a different color than normal you may want to get a trial run of it- I got it for my shower and loved the color so I used it again.

Decor/floral: $600?? We bought hydrangeas in bulk from Publix (again they’re amazing) for maybe $250 to fill reception/ceremony/cocktail spaces. Otherwise I bought signs/created my own, painted what I could. Put family wedding photos in matching frames on gift table. Got tons of stuff from Hobby Lobby on weeks they had sales. Did my centerpieces for maybe $18 per table or less. Ikea lanterns with candles on half ($15 a table)- tripod of hobknob Mason jars with flowers and candles on half ($20). Table names were Dollar Store frames that were nice silver looking and I created the signage as I have some graphic art talent. 

Photography/videography: $2,400 No videographer but we got 2 photographers for 7 hours on our wedding day but both of them for a 1 hour engagement session with CDs of every single photo (over 2000 photos on wedding day that are all quality).

Rentals: $325 Depends on what you include. We had to rent outdoor chairs/some hightops for cocktail hour and a chandelier for the ceremony. Otherwise- reception rentals like for food/linen etc were included in above section.

Groom’s attire: $200ish Full tux rental from Men’s Warehouse. 

Bridesmaid/groomsmen gifts: $1,275?Wanted to kill my husband but he spent like $900 to pay for all 3 groomsmen’s suits plus my fathers. He also bought them custom card/wallet billfold (maybe $25 a piece?). I wanted to say I spent about $150ish per bridesmaid for 2 girls plus different gifts for a bridesmaid that couldn’t attend day of (pregnant). 

Officiant: $300ish? He was a childhood friend of the groom and an ordained minister. We covered his hotel for 1 night and gave him maybe $250 towards his church?

Rehearsal dinner: See catering above. Otherwise I maybe spent $100 or so on a few additional decorations/centerpieces for the tables we were sitting at and signage for the area. Maybe it was like $500?

Stationary:  $700? The biggest advice is factor in postage! Everyone knows what the cards cost but they forget the $250 in postage for the STD, invite, reply card…PLUS thank you notes! 🙂 We got the STD via Shutterfly with envelopes. Just wait until they go on sale- with the discount we splurged on foil prints. I custom designed out invite suite and got them printed locally through a business connection ($300 maybe ?). We ordered our thank you notes in bulk via Vista Print for showers/parties/wedding. 

Wedding bands: $1500. Yeah- you think plain bands are cheap but they aren’t! I think my pave band was about $1100ish (white gold) that he got when he got the Ering. We got his very plain 4mm band for roughly $400 I think (white gold). 

Honeymoon: The best advice on this is the more you can plan out the better off – or wait until the last minute. We planned our 1 week cruise abotu 14 months before and paid about $1,300 for a balcony suite with ~$200 on board credit through Royal Caribbean. I hear other friends hate other cruise lines. We really enjoyed our experience and are doign the same cruise for our anniversary in March and are spending more for a window room wit no credits because we booked ~7 months out. 

I help with planning meetings for my job and our rule of thumb is only ever budget for 90% of what you can spend. That 10% can cover last minute changes like needing heaters/covering travel costs for vendors, changes in any plans- without making you go over budget. We stuck to this and only spent ~$17,500 of the $18,500 for the wedding. That being said we went over board on the honeymoon with drinks/excursions/hotels, etc. But it all worked out. 

Post # 17
5360 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: October 2015

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ashleymarie843 :  We got married in a fairly expensive city (San Diego, CA). We rented a 3 bedroom house for the week surrounding it (so… I guess that would count as honeymoon expense?), hosted our own rehearsal dinner, and rented a car for the week. 

We had 165 guests with buffet lunch. 

Things that we didn’t pay for: 

Linens (cousin works at a rental place and provided them)

DJ (cousin and BIL- both professionals- switched off)

Officiant (another cousin)

Cake (gift from my aunt- a professional baker)

Cocktail snacks (gift from my godmother who was far more concerned about than I was lol)

I also made paper flowers for everything- bouquets, boutineers, centerpieces- so that was like $100 of materials for EVERYTHING. I also DIY’d the STDs, invitations, favors, programs, and some decor.

So… all that said, our grand total was $14,000ish. Definitely under our $15k limit but over what we originally hoped to spend ($10k). 

Keep in mind that “little things” can add up FAST. It was insane how much we spent on things like cocktail napkins and cups. And not included in the total are things like hosting my bridesmaid when she came out to visit for a week or buying dinner for people who came to help make stuff. Be sure you’re giving yourself a LOT of wiggle room because if you think “we can comfortable afford $X” you can’t spend all of that in your budget. I’d say at LEAST 10% of the wedding costs were shit I never even considered when planning. 

Post # 18
1065 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2015

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socalgirl1689 :  I assume you’re from southern Cali based on your username.  We had our wedding in the LA area and paid around $250 per person as well.  I know our venue was definitely pricier, but it didn’t include food stations at cocktail hour like the NJ/NY weddings that I have been to and en elaborate dessert spread.  I actually think tit for tat, NJ/NY weddings are cheaper than all the places we looked at in the LA area.  Our cocktail hour was some tray passed apps and one carving station and we paid around $60 (pre-tax) per person for that stuff.    

Post # 19
221 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2018

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anatheanalyst :  oh beautiful! I was debating on having mine there, but it wasnt the fiances taste.  Their spa is beautiful there as well!

Post # 20
40 posts
  • Wedding: May 2017

Haven’t figured out all of the costs yet, but I can let you know how much we’ve spent so far.  I had foolishly thought I could get it done in 13k but with the extra guests and features our parents want, the budget is now at 20k (not including honeymoon).  My parents are contributing for the food and venue, his parents are hosting rehearsal dinner. 130 people.

St. Louis, MO

Venue: 1500 reception, 500 ceremony (includes rentals)

– Train: 1800 (we are getting married at the Zoo and my mom is insisting on either renting the train or carousel, she’s paying for it)

Catering: 8000 (includes food, open bar, cake, gratuity)

Dress: 800

DJ: 800 (also includes ceremony music)

Hair/Makeup: (not yet booked but hoping 950 for me, bridesmaids and moms)

Flowers: 700 (just for bouquets, bouts, corsages)

Photographer: 3200

Officiant: free (my brother’s doing it)

Rehearsal Dinner: 1000

Save the Dates: 50 (Vistaprint + stamps)  (budgeted 150 for invites)

Rings: (not bought yet, hoping under 300)

Favors and Gifts: (not bought yet, hoping under 300)

Honeymoon: 5000 (Greece/Italy/Turkey Cruise)

Post # 21
40 posts

I feel like mine’s a cautionary tale! 

We’re getting married on the West Coast, but live on the East Coast. We’ll have about 40 guests. Not having any idea what weddings cost or why, we set a 10k budget. We’re less than a month out at this point, and closing in on a final total of 40k. 

To an extent, we let it get out of hand without worrying too much about it – we’re paying for it ourselves, and have plenty of money to pay for it out of pocket. That was probably the biggest lesson – it’s hard to stay on budget when you can afford more. 

Here are some other lessons learned: 

  • Actually spend money on what’s important to you, even if logically it feels too expensive. My finace thought spending $$$ on a wedding dress was a waste of money, and I did as well (logically). Turns out, there’s a ton of emotion attached to wedding dresses. I originally bought something cheap online ($600), then decided at the last minute to get a dress from a salon ($5500, including rush charges). I would have spent WAY less if I had just set a reasonable budget of $1-$2k at the start. 
  • Planning from a distance is really hard. We ended up paying for a full service planner, and getting an all-inclusive (and expensive) venue, because it was too much to plan from a distance with demanding full-time jobs. 
  • Travel expenses! We’re spending nearly a week in a hotel, have to board our dog, fly to our wedding, cover food while we’re there, etc. 
  • Some things (photographer, DJ) are fixed costs with no economy of scale. A mid-range photographer will cost the same no matter the number of guests. Same with a DJ. A smaller wedding will really only save you on food and beverage costs, because other things are fixed. 
  • All the little things! A robe to get ready in day of, new bra and spanx for the dress, clothes for rehearsal dinner, breakfast the day of, etc. all really add up. 

Anyways, those are some of my lessons learned. We’re thrilled to be having the wedding of our dreams, but frankly, we paid too much money for it, and I would have cut back if I were to do it over. 

Post # 22
682 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2017

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ashleymarie843 :  We sat down and used the Knot’s budget tool as a guide, there were a lot of things we didn’t think about (cake cutting fee, etc) and didn’t have originally without it. We’re in the $35-40K range in Kansas City for 250 people. We originally didn’t want to go over $25K. 

The sad part is that’s with me DIYing the flowers for less than $50, and making the invitations for about $200 and designing and using Vistaprint for the STD. We also originally had planned on family style dinner and have changed to BBQ. Our venues both include the typical rentals (chairs, tables, linens, etc.). We are we are paying for some stuff not always paid for (lodging for out of town family, officiant, and wedding party; bridesmaid and flower girl dresses; the suit for a member who’s from out of the country etc.).

We do plan on a honeymoon but aren’t in agreement as to where. I want to go to London and Paris. He wants to go to Ireland and Scotland. 

Post # 23
876 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2017

NYC area, but wedding will be in the Hudson Valley. Haven’t had the wedding yet, but the venue is going to run about 14k (including everything, even decor. and we aren’t doing a DJ) for ~30 guests. I’m hoping to negotiate some of the costs, but we won’t get it down below $10k.

So that leaves my dress: $200ish (going off the rack/bridesmaid one)

His suit: ?

Wedding bands: ?

Photographer: $1k

Hair/makeup: ?

Yeah…I have a LOT of planning still to do. 🙂

Post # 24
4577 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: November 2016

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ashleymarie843 :  We originally budgeted $30k for our Saturday night, ~150 guest wedding outside DC.  We are getting our final bills now and I would say we spent about $35k.  We are still searching for a Rehearsal Dinner venue and keeping costs down by only having immediate family and wedding party (plus SOs) and our honeymoon ended up being about $6k (not including spending money).  We actually did a pretty darn good job sticking to our budget; we only went over because I decided to pay for makeup for my 6 BMs, MOB, and MOG (close to $2k), our hotel suite the wedding weekend is not cheap ($1k for two nights), and a few other things that added up ie. we didn’t budget for tablecloth rentals ($500), favors ($100-150), etc. and tbh I had no idea FI’s suit was going to be so expensive and heavily underbudgeted there.

Post # 25
1409 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2015

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ashleymarie843 :  In total right around $55,000, not including honeymoon.  I was lucky in that my in-laws and my parents both contributed quite a bit so my husband and I ended up paying a bit more than half the cost?  My wedding was a year ago in Texas for ~100 guests. 

Venue – $3,200 ceremony venue, $500 reception venue, $3,500 guest cottages at the reception venue.  We used these on-site cottages to put up our officiant + family, grandparents, bridesmaids and groomsmen.

Food/drink/cake – $12,000/$5,000/$800

Dress/alterations/accessories – $3,000  

DJ/Band – $900 including tip

Ceremony music – $350

Hair/makeup – $3,500 including trial and HMU for my ladies.  

Decor/floral – $4,500

Photography/videography – $3,000.  Did not have videography.

Rentals – $500? Just for a photobooth.

Groom’s attire – $1,000

Bridesmaid/groomsmen gifts – $1,500

Officiant – Did not cost us as we asked for groom’s uncle, who is a pastor, to be our officiant. We did pay for lodging for him and his family

Rehearsal dinner – $2,500? Not sure as my in-laws paid for this and didn’t let us see the bill.  

Stationary – $2,500

Wedding bands – $1,500 (not counting my engagement ring)

Also had a partial-production wedding coordinator – $3,500

No idea how much honeymoon was, as husband planned that one all by himself and insisted on paying out of his separate account instead of our joint wedding account. 

Post # 26
299 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2016

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ashleymarie843 :  We were married in the PNW and the costs are below (I’m rounding them slightly). If you want an idea of what the money bought (i.e. what things looked like) you can see them in my recap http://boards.weddingbee.com/topic/82016-recap/. Our total guest count was 70 + 7 vendors (our venue didn’t differentiate between guest and vendor meals).

Venue: $1,200 venue fee (we had a $6,000 food/drink minimum which is on the line below). This included 2 getting ready rooms for bride/bridal party and groom/groomsmen, and a champagne toast during reception. They also provided a complimentary junior suite for the night of the wedding which we upgraded and stayed in the night before and the night of.

Food/drink: $5,500. Originally our bill was slightly under $9,000 with 20% gratity included. We had already paid a $1,240 deposit in April so the remaining charge was about $7,500. We fought the bill because the hotel AC broke, which caused a number of issues (80+ degree wine anyone?), and the open bar was serving shots which they were prohibited by law and hotel policy from doing. This resulted in several issues with one guest. They reduced our bill by just over $3,000. 

Cake: $510 for a cake sized for 100 guests

Dress/alterations/accessories: Dress- $1,250; Alterations- Free by MIL; Accessories: $1,000 including shoes, jewelry, dress undergarments, veil

DJ/Band: DJ was $800 for 6 hours. We got an excellent deal from our day-of coordinator and the DJ was perfect.

Ceremony music: $510 for pianio/cello duo to play for 1 hour ceremony and 1 hour cocktail hour; $500 baby grand piano rental

Hair/makeup: $175 trial, $325 day-of

Decor/floral: $1,300 for flowers and the vases

Photography/videography: Photo- $3,150; Video- $1,300

Rentals: Gold chiavari chairs- $460

Groom’s attire: $2,000 (custom suit)

Bridesmaid/groomsmen gifts: $400

Officiant: $500 ($400 day-of and $100 for rehearsal)

Rehearsal dinner: $1000 (for 31 people, 4 of whom were kids)

Stationary: N/A (I did buy thank you cards for about $20 at Micheals)

Wedding bands: $1,200 for DH ring. I only wanted my engagement ring so no wedding band costs for me.


Additional costs:

Bridesmaid/flower girl attire: $610. I bought all 5 dresses on sale, otherwise the total cost would have been about $800.

Groomsmen/ring bearer suits: $820 (Each groomsmen suit was $180 rental and we purchased the ring bearer’s suit because none of the rentals fit him properly even with tailoring). 

 Day-of Coordinator: $1,095

Getting ready breakfast: $84 (for me and bridesmaids/mom/aunt)

Dress/veil steaming day of: $45

Various Misc (table number holders, last minute items, etc.): $500

Dress cleaning/preservation $500. I originally bought the David’s Bridal kit for $99 but I wasn’t comfortable with never being able to check their work because they seal the box. So, I ended up going with Heritage Gown Preservation for $400.


Our honeymoon was pretty cheap. We used Costco and stayed at the Villa del Arco in Cabo. All inclusive was about $2,000. Our tickets were $800 and we used my reduced companion fair on Alaska.

Post # 27
2179 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2016

Venue $4,275

Food/drink/cake $4,100 (Not including alcohol don’t know cost on that yet) 

Dress/alterations/accessories $950 for dress $460 alterations Accessories like $50 probably and made a sash for $25 Got a reception dress for $78!!! On clearance fully beaded and AWESOME! 

DJ/Band DJ $600

Ceremony music Friend/Cousin playing piano Free.99 plus the cost of a gift 

Hair/makeup Me make up $75 and hair $60 but also maids and moms ended up being about $460 

Decor/floral Venue provided all non-floral center pieces and for corsages, bouquets, and an alter decoration $950 I DIY’d feather boutonnieres and saved about $200 spent around $60 

Photography/videography $1,700 included engagement photos didn’t get a videographer 🙁 

Rentals $0 

Groom’s attire Black suit, shirt, cufflinks and shoes, $360 + $76 in tailoring 

Bridesmaid/groomsmen gifts $144 on Ozarka mugs $10 on cricut vinyl to add their initials $36 on make up bags $60 on head bands. Also still looking for a few things from the groomsmen 

Officiant $free for cost of gift for friend

Rehearsal dinner Haven’t done it yet. We are doing breakfast day of since we only have the venue that day. And we are doing donuts, bagels, fruit and yogurts with granola. Maybe some mimosa’s. 

Stationary STD’s $72.64 Invites $183 Thank you small pack from target $10 ordering some from vista print after the wedding. 

Wedding bands Fi was $34 stand in (he wants some kind of ring that glows??? but I told him it needs to look good for photos so we got a plated band for the ceremony) Mine are $10 CZ rings that I am going to have coppied and made with gold and diamonds after the wedding. 

Post # 28
420 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: March 2017

We’re having around 100 guests.

Venue: Historic House: $1800

Food/Catering/Cake: $2300 for meal, $300 for cake. Dry wedding, as 95% of our guests don’t drink.

Decor/Flowers: Right over $1000 for flowers, $500 for decor

Dress: $1500, alterations probably $150 or so

Music: Not doing a band, instead having string trio for ceremony & reception, $900

Hair/makeup: $250 max

Photography: $1800, booked early & got a great photographer (film) who was just starting out so her prices were $500 cheaper than they are now! We were planning on spending around $3000 for photography because this was important to us.

Officiant: Family member who is a pastor will be officiating, so probbaly donate around $200

Invites: Hoping to stay under $200

Wedding bands: No idea! Hopefully around/under $1,000

Rehearsal dinner: Inlaws are taking care of this, so I have no idea.


Honeymoon to Banff NP will be about $3,500.

Post # 29
4964 posts
Honey bee

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breatheandrelax :  Yes, southern Cali bee here. Like I said, I just know the info from a few people I spoke with from your area (nyc?) and some from Brunswick, NJ area. That’s what I was told. Not sure what specific venue they were talking about either or if they chose the fanciest package either for reception & cocktail area. I just see too from NY/NJ brides have the biggest budgets from Four Weddings (like $50k to75k as their average while brides from Florida, Texas, Arizona for example have around $25,000 only for more or less the same number of guests but I know these areas don’t even compare to nyc standard of living) and assuming a bulk of those is reception expenses.

I haven’t seen any venue in my area $200 and over. I have seen a few waterfront resorts with about $185 per person tops. But $250 per person sounds a lot for here. What was your venue? A hotel? Or did you rent a place and added catering, bar, cocktail hours all together to get the pp price?

Post # 30
123 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: June 2017

Venue (All inclusive- food, ceremony area, reception area, decorations, drinks,Cupcake tower, DJ): $10.5k

Dress/alterations/accessories: $2k

Hair/makeup : Doing myself

Photography/videography: 6th Grade teacher gave me a discount so $900

No Rentals

Groom’s attire: Free with the groomsmen renting their attire

Bridesmaid/groomsmen gifts : 400

Officiant : 250

Rehearsal dinner : not having one

Stationary : 250

Wedding bands : $500

Honeymoon to Couples Resort in Jamaica : $5k

<div style=”overflow: hidden; color: #000000; background-color: #ffffff; text-align: left; text-decoration: none;”>**100 Guests


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