For this budget breakdown, I decided to think about a couple planning a wedding on the average budget for Colorado, which is just about $30,000. I kept their wedding budget distributed fairly evenly without adding in any big extras. This budget is for a wedding with about 100 guests, with five bridesmaids and five groomsmen. I’ll walk you through each category and talk a little bit more about the budget breakdown.
For these budget breakdowns, I try to include any major budget items that have to do with the wedding day itself. I don’t include engagement parties or travel costs or a honeymoon, because those items vary so much from person to person.
For this wedding, I selected venue that is a traditional event space, but doesn’t require in house catering or any other specific vendors. The nice thing about this type of venue is that they will often provide tables and chairs, as well as sound systems, so you don’t have to add the cost of renting those items into your overall budget. Additionally, not having to use a specific caterer, gives you a lot more flexible budget when it comes to food and your bar package.
The venue provided chairs and a table for the ceremony, which eliminated a need to rent them. I also decided to forgo a specific ceremony musician and just use the DJ for the ceremony music as well. Depending on your DJ, this may be included in your package, or may be added on for an additional fee. By far the largest cost for their ceremony was the flowers. Although the ceremony flowers themselves were fairly minimal, the cost of the 6 bouquets and 6 boutonnieres was a larger expense.
The wedding fashion budget was one of the last aspects of the budget I put together. I knew approximately how much I wanted to allot to this category, but once I had figured out the rest of my budget, I was able to get more specific with my numbers. One question that often gets asked is who is paying for what when it comes to bridesmaids and groomsmen. It really is up to personal preference, but typically bridesmaids do pay for their own dresses and groomsmen pay for their suits. For this wedding, I decided to allot budget for the bridal party’s hair, but would have the girls do their own makeup.
Food & Drinks
Food and your bar package tend to be the largest chunk of your overall wedding budget. For the venue I selected for this budget, the couple could select any caterer. This gives them a lot of flexibility when it comes to budget. They could do something super simple (like renting a food truck) or go with something more extravagant (like a multi-course plated dinner). I decided to go with something in the middle budget-wise and do a traditional buffet. My budget also includes displayed appetizers for cocktail hour. As far as the bar package, I went with pricing for a beer and wine bar. This couple also has a fairly moderately sized wedding (with about 100 guests), which helped us keep costs lower.
I also included a wedding cake in this category. For this price the couple should be able to get a fairly simple 2-3 tiered cake. Often with tiered cake pricing is done per serving, so this cake is about $3.50 per serving, which is on the lower end of pricing, but still reasonable for what they’re looking for. Another fun extra is a late night snack. It’s a fun way to thank guests for staying and enjoying their night. The budget here is for pizza and also includes some paper plates and napkins, so we don’t have to worry about renting additional plates.
This category is typically where I’d encourage couples to spend a little extra. Photos and videos are one of the only things you’ll have after your wedding day is over. There are a ton of videographers and photographers out there to fit any budget, but I think it definitely worth it to find one whose style and personality you enjoy.
The other two people I included in this category were a DJ and a planner. A DJ is largely responsible for creating the atmosphere for your reception and can be key part of making those big moments special. Again, you can find a DJ at almost any budget, and just because they have a big price tag, doesn’t mean they will be a great fit for you. Make sure to meet with a few DJs and check references. For a wedding planner, I included my pricing for full service planning. While I certainly think you can plan a wedding yourself, hiring a planner can make your life significantly easier and will save you a lot of time. It is also important to have someone to run your wedding day itself, so you can enjoy it and your guests can just be guests.
Invitations can be a pretty substantial expense and can sometimes be overlooked in the budgeting process. While I labeled this category “invitations” I also included things like postage and thank-you cards. For a wedding with a guest count of around 100, I would anticipate needing about 75 invitations, since many of the people you’re inviting will probably come as a pair and only need 1 invitation. Make sure to consider both postage for your invitation and for your RSVP card. All of that considered, you’re looking at a budget of about $3 to $4 an invitation, which is about the price you are looking at if you go with an online invitation creator like minted.
Two other items I included were the rehearsal dinner and hotels stays. While traditionally the groom’s parents pay for the rehearsal dinner, I like to include this in the overall budget, especially if his parents are already contributing to the total wedding budget. This cost covers a private room in a restaurant and dinner for about 30 people. I also included hotel rooms for the night before the wedding and the night of the wedding. Often a bride and her bridesmaids will spend the night in a nearby hotel, which will also serve as her getting ready space.
Wedding budgets are as unique as the couples getting married. I truly believe you can have a beautiful wedding on any budget, as long as you are clear on your budget and your priorities.
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