Finding your reception venue is just as important as tracking down a dress you love. It’s a bit like looking for a place to live – you have to walk in and imagine yourself standing there with your new husband, …
Planning Your Wedding Budget
The numbers are still being crunched for this year, but the average cost of a wedding in the US is $28,000, not including the honeymoon or engagement ring. Here is a breakdown of how that price is divided, and what to expect when you begin to plan your wedding budget.
Average wedding size: 149 guests
Engagement ring: Before you can plan a wedding, you have to get engaged. This customarily involves a serious piece of jewelry. That old “two months’ salary” adage certainly depends on your salary, but the average cost for a diamond engagement ring is $6,000. Wedding bands cost an average of $1,000 each.
Wedding stationery & postage: Save-the-date cards, wedding invitations, return postage for RSVP cards, thank-you notes and wedding programs… Weddings involve a lot of paper. Average cost: $650-850.
Wedding dress: The average bride spends $1,200 on her wedding gown. This does not include accessories, such as a veil, hair accessories, wedding shoes or jewelry, which can add up to another $500-$600.
Professional bridal hairstyle: This is another budget item that varies greatly by location, as well as depending on the complexity of the hairdo, but a bride can expect to spend between $150-400 on her wedding day hairstyle, not including tip.
Groom’s tux: If you’re just renting your tuxedo for the day, expect to pay around $150. If you want to invest in your own tuxedo, the average cost is $800, not including shirt, cufflinks, etc.
Ceremony venue: A church ceremony carries an average cost of $500. Venues such as outdoor pavilions or parks tend to cost less, while sites like a museum, winery, or hotel may cost upwards of $5,000.
Reception venue: Because today’s couples choose to host their receptions anywhere and everywhere, from banquet halls to amusement parks, the cost of your reception venue can vary quite a bit. An urban setting almost always costs more than a rural one, and many reception venues have their own on-site catering included; there are many variables. Having said all that, the average couple spends more than $12,000 on their reception venue. It is usually the largest expense of the wedding, because it’s where all the fun takes place!
Flowers: Pretty blooms sneak in everywhere at weddings. Bouquets for the bride and bridesmaids, boutonnieres for the groom and groomsmen, centerpieces for reception tables, and other floral decorations at the ceremony and reception venues add up to an average cost of $2,500. Though again, this varies quite a bit. Some people don’t like flowers at all and keep them to an absolute minimum, while some go all out.
Wedding music: If you want a DJ spinning your wedding music, the average cost is around $900. For a band, expect to pay upwards of $3,000. Musicians at your ceremony, such as violinists playing the wedding march, or a harpist playing as guests find their seats will add another couple hundred dollars to your tab.
Gifts for your wedding party: This was a hard figure to track down, because gifts can range from small tokens to extravagant, personalized items. Also, sometimes things like spa days, golf outings or nights out on the town with your bridesmaids or groomsmen can be considered part of your gift to the wedding party. We believe $50-100 each is plenty.
Open bar: If you come from a family of teetotalers, congratulations! You can allot this portion of your budget towards something else. However, if you want a champagne toast, wine, beer and hard liquor, expect to pay upwards of $3,000.
Food: According to TLC’s Wedding Guide, catering costs average around $63 per guest. Expect to pay more if you add on the latest trendy menu extras, such as a taco truck, chocolate fountain or candy buffet, and discuss the pros and cons of canapés during cocktail hour, sit-down dinners and buffet-style meals with your caterer.
Wedding cake: Your wedding cake can cost anywhere between $1 and $10 per slice, ($2.50 per slice is the average), depending on your baker, and the size and complexity of your cake. The average cost of a wedding cake in the U.S. is around $500. Here is a useful guide to planning wedding cake size and cost.
Wedding photography: This is a good place to splurge, because your wedding photos will last for generations. The average photographer charges nearly $2,500 for the day’s shoot, prints and other services. The average wedding videographer charges around $1,500.
Honeymoon: Popular honeymoon destinations like the Caribbean or Europe mean that the average honeymoon costs between $4,000-$5,000.
Other miscellaneous expenses to consider:
-Tips to caterers, the band, hairdressers – anyone you feel gave superlative service.
-Security deposits for your ceremony and reception venue.
-Transportation, whether it’s a vintage rental as your getaway car, limos for the wedding party, or coach buses to get your guests from the ceremony site to the reception venue.
-The next day. Gone are the days when couples leave straight from the reception to zip off to their honeymoon destination. Brunches, wedding gift-unwrapping parties, or final gatherings with out-of-town guests are fairly standard, though these are often hosted by the couples’ parents. Extend the fun times as long as you can!
And, remember: You can use some of your Zankyou cash wedding registry contributions to defray wedding costs. Learn more here.