How much do weddings cost?

I think this, or some variation of it, is one of the most common questions from couples just starting the wedding planning process. Whether it is how much should I budget for the entire wedding or how much does a wedding photographer cost, a lot of couples are at a loss as to how much money they should set aside or save to be able to plan their wedding. This is made even more difficult if they are not working with a professional planner who can give them cost estimates for everything. So, because I was curious, I popped this exact question into the Google machine to see what the internet had to say. And then I asked couples and wedding professionals if what I found was accurate. Now I am going to share it all with you!

First, I found some statistics that I thought were somewhat reasonable based on my own experience. I avoided any information from The Knot since, traditionally, they significantly undervalue the price for vendors and the overall cost for weddings which is neither helpful or realistic. I got the below data from Zola who seems to do a better job of estimating:

I then asked real couples who are or have planned real weddings what their thoughts were. I also asked wedding professionals what their thoughts were and this is what they told me…

  1. Everyone agreed that the 500+ guest size wedding cost was low.
  2. A lot of people mentioned that the average cost of a wedding for all of the guest counts was low if you want to have a classy wedding. Many people said you could do it for this price or less, but you would have to sacrifice a lot of quality.
  3. They said the wedding venue cost was more towards the $12,000 (or more) in reality. This was especially true if the venue offered more than just a space to be married in (ex. chairs, tables, linens, etc.).
  4. Wedding planners said the cost listed above is for coordination and not planning, which is something that a lot of people get confused. Full planning starts around $5000.
  5. Photography at $3500 was at the low end and most couples should plan to spend at least $5000 on a professional for full day coverage.
  6. Transportation is grossly underestimated. A party bus rental is $2000.
  7. Hair and makeup is a bit confusing. If you pay for just yourself then those numbers are accurate. If you are paying for your bridal party then those numbers are completely inaccurate.

Based on all the feedback I got I put together a budget guide as well as two examples. The great part about looking at this guide is you can see how much you should allocate for certain parts of your wedding and adjust for wedding size. Also, if you don’t need something you have the flexibility to put that money towards something else. For example, if you have the ceremony and reception in one location and don’t need transportation you can use that 2.5% for something else entirely.

So what do you think? Tell me in the comments!

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