How Much Does a Wedding Cost

How Much Do Weddings Cost

It doesn’t matter if your wedding has 50 or 500 guests — planning a wedding is a feat, and for about a year you’re inundated with an ever-growing to-do list. If you’ve never planned a wedding before, it’s impossible to know what costs might be costing you your head.

It’s easy to overlook the fine details or miss the fine print in contracts, and paying several unforeseen expenses can quickly explode your savings.

Wedding website The Knot polled several wedding experts on the most common forgotten expenses. We’ve compiled them here and included a few budget tips to make sure your big day doesn’t result in a big bill.


Unexpected wedding expenses

  1. Cake cutting fee

Price: $ 1 to $ 2 per slice


Wait, wait, really? Yes really. Cake cutting fee.

The average cost of a wedding cake is $ 450, and if that doesn’t already make your head spin, the venue may actually charge extra just to cut and serve it.

Many providers charge a fee per installment – typically $ 1 or $ 2.

If you have 150 guests, it’s $ 300. Ouch.


How to avoid paying it

Cake cutting fees are a way for establishments to push you to use their in-house baking team.

If you want to have a cake made by third-party bakers, consider setting up a self-service station.

Or bake cupcakes – a trendy alternative to large wedding cakes (and they don’t require cutting).


  1. Postage

Price: $ 1 or more per invitation


Invitations are already a huge wedding expense ($ 386!) – but remember, you need to send them as well.

You will need not only your own envelopes and stamps, but also return envelopes and stamps for your guests.

Keep in mind that heavier card stock, oddly shaped invitations, and additional items (like direction cards) are more expensive to send, meaning the 35 cents per standard stamp could quickly run into a few dollars.


How to avoid paying it

Digital invitations.

It’s time to face the music: We live in the age of social media, and the likelihood of your guests even returning your RSVPs to you is slim.

More than likely, you’ll end up harassing people over the phone to confirm if they’re coming, and your frilly, embossed ivory card stock will stay magnetized in a fridge until unceremoniously tossed in the trash.


Do you know what this means? Money and time wasted.

Websites like Greenvelope and Wix offer online wedding invitation services and customizable wedding websites for a fraction of the cost of paper invitations, and will save you from paying unnecessary postage.


  1. Electricity and utilities

Price: $ 300 to $ 500

Playing a DJ or a band requires a lot of specialized lighting and several sturdy audio equipment. Since the tunes will be played until the wee hours of the morning, a lot of electricity is spent – and when the party is over someone has to pay the electric bill.


Fun stuff, right?

What’s even more fun is that venues usually don’t even tell you until your marriage is over. They just send you the invoice with a few extra zeros added to the tab.

Forget the toasters and Sodastreams, here is your wedding gift.


How to avoid paying it

Be your own DJ.

All you need are a few speakers which are extremely inexpensive to rent (if they aren’t already provided by the venue). From there, create a Spotify playlist of your favorite songs and those of your fiancé.

You might want to get the premium membership so your guests don’t listen to commercials all night long, but that $ 10 is astronomically cheaper than the thousands of dollars spent on a DJ and a high electricity bill.


  1. Amendments

Price: $ 600 to $ 1,000 and more

Very rarely, a bride will be able to purchase an item from the rack and wear it down the aisle.

Since there are millions of brides of all shapes and sizes every year, wedding dress designers make dresses according to standardized sample sizes. This typically includes 12 inches of extra hem, larger cups, and wider proportions for the hips and shoulders.

This is where the changes come in, and they can cost a mind-boggling amount of money, depending on the amount of work to be done.


How to avoid paying it

Make sure you factor in the changes in your wedding dress budget.

Wedding dress alterations require specialized skills that you’ll want a professional to handle – not your cousin who’s an ace with a sewing machine.

As such, if your clothing budget is $ 5,000, your dress should not exceed $ 4,000.


  1. Hairdressing and makeup test

Price: $ 150 per trial

Hiring a professional makeup artist and hairstylist is an essential part of any bride’s wedding budget. What a lot of people don’t realize, however, is that a hairstyle and makeup essay is built into most wedding packages.

The essay is here because you may not always know what you want, or you will change your mind a few times.

Keep in mind that while the first try is included in the cost, additional trials will cost you around $ 150.


How to avoid paying it

Make sure you have your dress on before you go to your trial, so you’ll know if a bun or rash goes with the neckline.

Look around Pinterest for wedding hairstyle and makeup inspirations, and know what you’re comfortable with. Don’t feel like you have to do something drastically different just because it’s your wedding day.

Choosing hairstyle and makeup styles that suit you will save you the trouble of having to go back.


  1. Flowers

Price: $ 2,411

Most of us only bought flowers for birthdays or graduations, so the thought of paying a florist two thousand is enough to send you running for the courthouse.


So why is it so expensive?

To put it simply, not all flowers are created equal. While it may take 10 roses to make a bouquet or centerpiece, florists usually order double that amount to make sure there aren’t any soft petals or damaged stems.

Unfortunately, someone has to cover the cost of these materials.


How to avoid paying it

DIY where you can.

While having a bouquet is a bridal staple, these orchid centerpieces add unnecessary bulk to your budget.

There are plenty of tutorials on Pinterest and YouTube on how to make your own centerpieces, and they’ll be much more affordable than real flowers.


  1. Place, catering and alcohol

Price: $ 15,439, $ 2,564 and $ 70 / person, respectively

You’re having a big party, and naturally you’ll want to drink and dine with all of your guests.

What a lot of people don’t expect, however, is that venue, dining, and alcohol are all separate fees, and this tab can cost tens of thousands of dollars if you don’t exactly discuss. what you will pay. .

Keep in mind that not only are you renting the venue and paying for the food, you are also paying a bartender and waiters to serve your guests for the night.

That’s right, you are technically an employer running a mini-economy.


How to avoid paying it

Buy in advance.

There’s a reason a lot of people plan weddings two or three years in advance – it’s not because they’re control freaks.

By looking at the venues well in advance of your wedding date, you will benefit from a wider range of pricing options, allowing you to choose a venue more comfortable within your budget.

Ask to see catering brochures and wedding packages and compare everything.

Also, if you live in a large city, look for places within an hour’s drive – non-metro locations are generally more economical.


  1. Marriage officer and license

Price: $ 286 to $ 400 and $ 50 to $ 100, respectively

Getting married involves a lot of paperwork – who knew?

You must apply for a marriage license before you get married. Also, it goes without saying, but you need a government-approved religious officiant or official to get married legally.

Marriage license costs vary from state to state, typically averaging around $ 50.

It’s not that bad, but it can get tricky when trying to find an affordable officiant. They can cost up to hundreds of dollars, especially in large cities.


How to avoid paying it

Create a WeddingWire account.

Many officiants have public profiles where they give the event planner portfolio from previous clients and detailed price ranges.

As for the marriage license, sorry, you’ll just have to put it on a credit card.


  1. More time on site

Price: $ 1,000 to $ 2,000 per additional hour

While receptions typically last four to six hours, some venues have extremely strict time restrictions. This could be the result of noise laws, cleanup and teardown times, or company policy. If you need more time to organize your reception, you may need to purchase additional hours on site.

Or worse: you party all night only to find that the extra hour you spent there ended up costing you a few thousand dollars, and you only realized it after receiving the bill. . Talk about a hangover.


Phew, what to do?

How to avoid paying it

Read your venue contracts very carefully.

See the times they stipulate for the cocktail hour and reception. You want to have plenty of time to go downstairs and party with your guests, so don’t sign anything that gives you less than what you’re looking for.


  1. Photographer, videographer and associated costs

Price: $ 2,679 and $ 2,021 respectively

It makes sense that you want to capture your special memories on film forever, but most people are surprised when they see how much it costs to hire photography and video service for the day.

On top of that, you may have to pay for extra time not used to take photos.

Wedding photographers and videographers are sometimes booked into consecutive hourly time slots, so if there’s a one or two hour lunch or cocktail break on your wedding day, you could end up paying for it. time anyway.


How to avoid paying it

Again, shop ahead. Watch photographers who vibrate with your style and vision, but be realistic about your budget and what you can afford.

Be sure to ask them if they charge an hourly rate or a flat fee.

If you know of any photographers you like (maybe someone who did your friend’s wedding photography), ask if they’ll give you a sponsorship discount.

Alternatively, you can search local art schools to see if there are any photography students. If they are just starting out, they will likely be much cheaper.


  1. Wedding planner

Price: $ 2,002


If you’ve never planned as much as a party before, the thought of planning a wedding can take your anxiety to the extreme.

It’s tempting to call a professional and leave all phone calls, supplier tracking, and seating planning to a wedding planner services provider, but be aware that vouchers don’t come cheap.


How to avoid paying it

Ask for help.

Recruit friends and family to help you work out the little details and take on some of the to-do lists. Don’t forget to thank them as well.


  1. Liability and event insurance

Price: $ 100 to $ 500

The location of the wedding will probably be the biggest expense of your wedding. Indeed, there are a myriad of hidden costs associated with renting a venue, especially liability and event insurance.

If your wedding venue is in a location that is susceptible to flooding or near forest fires, you may need to take out insurance to recoup some of your losses if the venue closes. It also includes cancellation coverage.

Some sites may also require you to purchase your own insurance in case any of their property is damaged during the event.

Sites can even hold you accountable for issues that arise after your guests have left, so watch out for those sneaky clauses in site contracts.


How to avoid paying it

While paying for event insurance is inevitable, look for the most affordable insurance packages. Reddit user cassssandrea recommends WedSafe for insurance plans under $ 200.

Also, be sure to pay attention to the phrase that says the place is “indemnified and held harmless”.

This clause means that you are 100% responsible for any damage suffered before, during or after the event, and it could be used to rip you off.

Have a lawyer friend review the contract for you (if you have one) and refuse to sign anything before settling it with the venue.


  1. Transportation on the wedding day

Price: $ 856

If your ceremony and reception are at two different locations, you will need viable transportation.

Be careful, there are a lot of hidden costs associated with renting a fancy wheel set for the day.

For example, if the limo driver has to wait while you take portraits, you might be charged extra for the time.

In addition to this, you may also need to cover vehicle insurance.


How to avoid paying it

There are plenty of other ways to make a grand entrance without hurting your wallet.

Consider a party bus instead of a renovated school bus that you could utilize to transport your wedding party from A to B.

If your reception is nearby, consider walking.


  1. Bachelorette Party

Price: $ 1,400

Bachelorette parties have become an integral part of the wedding process – luxury vacations to places like Las Vegas or New York are now the norm.

While bridesmaids traditionally foot the tab, many brides now choose to pay their share of hotel and plane tickets to help shoulder some of the costs.

This can be a lot, especially if you are also planning a honeymoon.


How to avoid paying it

Discuss this with your bridesmaids beforehand. Duh.

Let them know, kindly but firmly, that you want your bachelorette party to stay local.


  1. Shoes and accessories

Price: $ 200 to $ 500

While the dress and rings are usually the first things couples choose, many people also forget to save room in their budget for additional fashion pieces.

Veil, earrings, shoes, shapewear, garters, clutch bags, cufflinks and buttonholes, it all adds up.


How to avoid paying it

This is where the old adage “something borrowed” comes in. (And that also includes the groom.)

You may borrow things like your shoes or jewelry for the event. For other items, you can shop on Etsy and BHLDN (pronounced like “beholden”) for second-hand or affordable bridal accessories.


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