Often one of the most perplexing things about planning your wedding is your budget. You will probably be spending a pretty large sum of money and want to make sure how to spend it wisely, but it is difficult to know where to start. While this specific wedding is fictional, all numbers are based on either industry averages or past experiences with other wedding couples. Every wedding budget is completely unique (so this budget will probably bear little resemblance to your own budget), but we hope that taking a look inside a wedding budget will give you a good starting point.
This couple is planning a late spring (May) wedding in Denver. They are planning to invite approximately 150 guests. Their top priorities are food and floral.
One of the biggest areas that we saved substantially for this wedding was with the venue. We imagined this wedding taking place at Denver’s City Park, which has a gorgeous bandstand for the ceremony and a semi-enclosed pavilion for the reception. It’s a beautiful space, and because it is owned by the city, it is only $1,000 to rent for the day on a weekend. There is an additional $135 that we’ve included in the venue fee to cover the liquor license you would need to obtain (if alcohol is being served) since it is in a public park.
Another great thing about this particular space is it includes the basic furniture rentals, so as long as you’re okay with the basic table and chairs, you don’t need to rent additional furniture. The biggest cost for the ceremony for this couple was floral! They wanted to add some floral garland to the bandstand structure to bring in some spring textures. While the prices of these garlands can vary dramatically based on your florist, the flowers you select, and the density of your garland, the average price is about $15 per foot. There are also about $350 of other decor items including some tulle for draping and lanterns.
Reception décor can start to add up quickly simply because there is a lot of it! Let’s start with the tables. This venue has a mix of tables that can seat 8 and 10. We estimated that we’d probably need about 19 tables to accommodate all 150 guests (since you will rarely be able to completely fill a table). The centerpieces were very floral centric but on the smaller side. We estimated about $65 per centerpiece. Each table also had some votive candles, which is a great way to add something a little extra, for a minimal amount of money. For linens, we went higher-end tablecloths and runners. You can find tablecloth rentals for $8 per table, but they don’t always look or feel very luxurious. Since this wedding was going to be semi-outdoors with simple floral centerpieces, they went for something a little more luxurious (linen) at $32 per table.
They went simple for all the plates, glasses, and flatware and went for one of the cheaper white options their rental company had. Another little splurge was the woven chargers, which were simpler to purchase at $5 each than to find to rent. They also decided to go with an upgrade for their napkin, where they selected a floral print to add a bit more color to the table. They also added another sweet detail with their place cards, which were custom calligraphy from Etsy ($0.75 each) and pink ribbon details ($0.33 per plate)
One of my favorite details to imagine for this reception was the seating chart. If you follow my Pinterest, you’d know I love champagne walls. I just think they are so fun, but the logistics of actually keeping fresh champagne on the walls can be challenging. Instead, we’re using the champagne wall as a seating chart, where each of the guests seated at a table will be listed on the label of the bottle. This is certainly an expensive way to do a seating chart, but it’s a large statement piece that will be a focal point for the wedding.
Food & Drinks
Food was a top priority for this couple, so it is where a large chunk of their budget went. When you add up their food and drink packages (excluding lunch, cake, and late-night snack), it averages out to about $100 per person, which is a pretty standard rate for a traditional catering company including a mid-level buffet package, staff, tips, and full open bar.
For sweets, the only dessert option this couple is using their cake, which they spent a little extra on to get the marbled texture and to cover the cost of the additional floral. They also decided to provide a late-night snack for guests. In this case, donuts, which are great options, since you can get them incredibly affordably!
They went with a standard DJ package that included an audio set-up for their ceremony as well as their reception. The DJ package also included some lighting for the dance floor. Photographers and videographers prices and packages vary tremendously, I would say these are on the high end of average for packages. I also included my full-service planning fee.
I won’t spend too much time delving into this category, because my main focus for this budget breakdown was all the décor elements, but I do want to highlight a couple of things. The first is that gift and favors line includes everything from the actual wedding favors to bridesmaid proposal boxes to parent’s gifts. I think those can often be forgotten when budgeting and I always make sure to include them when creating a full budget for my clients.
The other important thing in this section is the emergency line. If you’ve heard me talk (or write) about budgets before you know that I think most couples should put aside 5 to 10% of their budget in case of emergency. This couple has less than that recommendation, but if you add everything up, you’ll notice there is still some room left in their $50,000 budget. This line actually covers the cost of reserving a tent and heater in case the weather is colder. Anytime there are any outdoor elements to a wedding, I think it is important to have a weather plan in place for any possible inclement weather. Here in Colorado in May that could mean rain, cold temperatures, and even snow.
That’s all I have for this budget breakdown. Let me know if you have any questions or if there is a specific budget you’d like me to work with on my next budget breakdown. If you are interested in using DFTC’s wedding planning and coordination services you can learn more here.