Engaged couples often scrimp, save, and plan meticulously to make their wedding everything they want it to be — while still keeping within a certain budget. But what should that budget be, and where does it all go?
The average wedding costs about $25,000. Of course, there are ways to get married for much less than that, but that usually involves a lot of DIY projects and even more luck.
Wedding Cost Breakdown
Assuming you have the average wedding budget of $25,000, it helps to know how and where to spend all that money. According to BridalGuide, the estimates below are for an average wedding in the Midwest.
Food and Drinks: 46% ($11,500)
The average wedding guest list size is about 150 people, and all of those people have to eat. Drinks, especially if you have an open bar, can go quicker than expected, so expect to pay to keep the bar well-stocked.
Entertainment: 15% ($3,750)
Depending on the feel of your wedding, a brass band might be more appropriate than a DJ. Weighing the pros and cons (including the costs) of all options is an important step in making your wedding a night to remember.
Photography and Video: 12% ($3,000)
Make sure the photographer you choose is experienced in wedding photography and look through their portfolio to make sure you like their style. Not all photography is the same and you’ll see all different styles and skill levels if you shop around.
The Venue: 10% ($2,500)
Outdoor venues in Chicago are an option for only a couple of months out of the year. Chicago also has some historic indoor venues that make for beautiful weddings, but renting them typically isn’t cheap. Be sure to shop around for the best prices.
Flowers: 9% ($2,250)
Flowers can be as big or as small a part as you want them to be. Decorating a venue doesn’t require loads of flowers, especially if it has a lot of charm on its own. Also consider some more unique or DIY centerpieces, which can serve as a nice flower alternative.
Rentals: 8% ($2,000)
Tables, chairs, and other furniture items can add up, but shouldn’t break your budget. When you’re deciding, remember that most people won’t notice the small details, so go for simple. It’s less expensive and often more elegant as well.
What About the Dress?
You may notice that this breakdown does not include the cost of the wedding dress. Brides put different values on their dresses, which cost anywhere from $100 to $10,000 (or more). There are many beautiful dresses for less than $1500. You just have to do some searching.
Ways to Save on Your Wedding
Your wedding doesn’t have to be $25,000. In fact, it can be half that if you make the right sacrifices. Here are a couple of ways to save for, and save on, your wedding.
Save in Your Daily Life
No matter what your wedding budget is, saving up beforehand requires buckling down. Make a budget and stick to it, even if it means skipping meals out for a while. Online budgeting tools like WeddingWire can help.
Like with buying a home or taking a vacation, planning a wedding provides many opportunities for you to spend money. The trick is to prioritize. If you are a foodie, you might insist on a five-course sit-down dinner, but then do you really need the live band? Before you start any serious planning, sit down with your partner and decide what’s most important to both of you — and what you can do without.
Cut the Guest List
Fewer people means less food, fewer rentals, fewer invitations to print, and less required space. Don’t feel bad about not inviting your third cousins you met once when you were five. They won’t be heartbroken over it.
Don’t Stress Over the Details
Having intricate invitations and beautifully detailed chairs is tempting — you want to make this day perfect, after all. But most people are not going to notice if you don’t have all the bells and whistles. The guests are there to have fun and celebrate, not admire the embroidered tablecloths.
Weddings take a lot of time, planning, and budgeting. But by cutting back on your daily expenses and prioritizing your spending, your wedding budget can be much more manageable.