Wedding Budget

Drum roll please…. I present to you:

Draft Carrie & Lloyd Wedding Budget!

Disclaimer:  Most of these are estimates…but estimates I’ve researched.  I’ve estimated very high in most places.


Leave your thoughts, reactions, complaints, and/or praises in the comments.   I’ll explain in more detail in a later post.  (This is the cliffhanger version of a blog post; is it working?)


  • I’m getting married next weekend, so here’s my opinion of your budget:

    $1,000 for wedding party gifts?? How many bridesmaids/groomsmen do you have? My friends usually spend around $50-100 per person. $1,000 seems a bit high. I’m just getting my girls $50 gift cards.

    Good luck finding a decent $500 dress! Me and my friends have had pretty bad experiences with David’s Bridal.. I wouldn’t recommend them. I wanted a cheap dress, but ended up with a $1,000 dress from a local bridal shop. Parents paid so it wasn’t a big deal.

    Everything else seems reasonable. Flowers are way more expensive though..

    Don’t go cheap on wedding photos. $3,000 is ok, but really good photographers cost a bit more. Remember, the only thing you will have left after the wedding are the pictures! Think of it as an investment!

  • I think if you have plenty of time you can definitely swing this 🙂 Good luck!!

  • Are you doing any kind of decorating at the reception site? Table covers, centerpieces, favors?

    Also, are you printing your own invites and STDs (hee)? Or did you find someone cheap and awesome? I’m curious!

  • Ok here goes my age again. Now realize I am 48 so many things have changed. Back in the day, we did not have to pay for the flower girl dress, nor ring bearer clothes just the flowers and/or pillow etc…
    Now, I know this could be considered Wedding murder but are save the dates necessary? (like I said, I am old!!!LOL) If so fine, a local reporter here in NC who has a frugal blog reported on her wedding expenses. She bought quality stock paper and did the invites herself? Don’t know how but I’m sure with today’s technology that can be done. Most of her $$ went to the reception/food. I don’t know if any of her info would be helpful. Her name is Sue Stock, she works for the Raleigh News and Observer. Whatever you decide, I’m sure it will be very nice and most important, PAID FOR-which I’m willing to bet, is not the norm for these days.
    God Bless you as you continue with your planning, you will need it!!! Suddenly people who say they don’t have an opinion will have one.

  • Good luck with all the wedding planning! I just got married 8 months ago and it’s crazy how expensive even simple things can be.

    Couple of comments on the budget — don’t forget about postage on the Save the Dates and Invitations. With 350 guests, postage alone will eat up a lot of those budgets. Also, many tux places will give the groom a free rental with a certain number of groomsmen.

  • Man I can speak to this!

    Save the Dates – not necessary, really, unless you are having a destination wedding. Great way to save that $200.

    Invitations – if you have close to 300 people, I don’t see $200 being enough.

    It IS possible to get a dress for around $500. I spent $550 on mine, but another $100 on alterations. Just look around and if you’re a tiny girl, look for trunk sales!

    I spent $100 on my hair $80 + $20 tip.

    Wedding Party gifts – I ended up spending $200 on the girls, which included one gift each for 5 bridesmaids, and two extra gifts for my MOH. Look on Etsy.

    Marriage Licenses are usually in the $30 range.

    Looks like you’ve got it under control! I wish I’d had this spreadsheet when I planned my wedding!

  • I did find a dress for $500, $1000 is a LOT for bridal party favors, and I didn’t see favors for wedding guests listed. For invites $200 will be tough! I spent $189 with 1/2 the number of guests you have…but Vista Print is super cheap and you might be able to get away with it with them. I just didn’t like the quality. Our photog was only 1600 and that was a GREAT DEAL!! You can check out my sticker shock on the left side of my blog where all of my items so far are itemized. Good Luck!!!!!!!!

  • Isn’t it amazing how quickly everything adds up? I almost fainted the first time I created a budget!

    I see most of the comments are falling into the trap of commenting on specific items. “Any photographer under $10,000 will make your whole family look like they have acne!” “I didn’t have Save The Dates in 1883, and neither should you!” Ultimately, you know what you can afford, you know what kind of wedding you want & what you’re willing to accept with your budget. At the end of the day, you’ll be married, and isn’t that the most important thing?

    That said, my biggest sticker shock came from taxes & gratuities! (What, I’m paying $100 per peson (booze + food), and you’re going to charge me 20% for tips??)

  • Congratulations on your engagement! I got engaged about a month ago and so I am totally in wedding-budget-estimate mode as well.

    I definitely agree with the postage comments. Stamps for invitations, RSVP cards (if you’re doing those), save-the-dates, and thank you cards will add up quickly. For other paper goods, if you decide to have programs and place cards those will add up as well.

    Also, maybe your church hall includes all of this, but for many places you have to rent chairs, linens, chair covers, etc., which are shockingly expensive (think $2/chair plus $4/chair cover). If you end up not using a church hall, I would also consider corkage (generally $15/bottle where I live). Does your $1,500 include champagne for toasts? Also, for food, are you paying someone to serve the food? Even if you’re doing buffet you might want someone back there to help keep the area tidy and refill the food.

    I’m definitely not implying that you “have to” do any of these things (I’m not having programs or sending save-the-dates), but those are just a few common things that I’ve come across. Good luck!

  • I did not say that since I did not have them no one needs them, I simply asked if they are necessary? I’ve known several young people who did not use them. I used my age to show a reference to show just how much things have changed not to show I know what is best.

  • Save the dates aren’t necessary.

    Postage for the invitations we got were 66 cents a piece (heavier ones need even more postage), and we put postage on the return envelope inside the invites for 44 cents a piece. So that is $1.10 per invite.

  • Hey! Love your blog and I’m a first time commenter.

    Scanning the other comments, I know I’m repeating what’s been said, but think long and hard about your photo budget. It is the lasting tangible reminder of a really awesome day. It’s worth spending a bit of money on. If you find a photog you really like that’s out of your price range, ask them for recommendations of someone good who will fit your budget. They’re usually pretty free with recommendations. If they have packages, ask if you can swao out elements of a package for things you want. We swapped a bridal portrait session for an extra hour of coverage and decided not to get an album. Also, look for someone who will give reproduction rights for ALL the pics. My photog did this and I got all my pics on cd. I have them loaded on so I don’t have to pay photographer’s prices for prints or products!!

    Also, I would think about the dress budget too. I have shopped for my own dress and also shopped closely with several friends on tight budgets. If you find the right store you can get a dress that is incrementally cheaper than David’s (this is the $500 dress standard right), but leaps and bounds ahead in quality. I would strongly recommend budgeting a $1k for your dress is will give you more options! Look for shops that carry lines in your price range–just call them up and say hey, what do your dresses run? Try bridal consignment shops.

    Also, budget more for flowers. A bridal bouquet is typically $150-$200 dollars. A couple ways to save on that are 1) ask for a “bridesmaid” size bouquet (I did this), it was smaller and only $120. I then asked for the bridesmaids bouquets too be slightly smaller than mine so they were also cheaper ($70 instead of $200 or so) 2) request seasonal flowers–if you give the florist some latitude to use what’s available it can help with the price. My SIL did this. She got gorgeous spring flower bouquets, they were lovely–and I might add it kept everything from being matchy-matchy because all the arrangements were a little unique 3) for centerpieces used tealights and fruit. Lemons and limes in hurricanes are always popular. I used baskets of apples that we picked ourselves. And don’t underestimate the decorative power of 50 glass votives filled with tealights from Bed Bath & Beyond ($4.99 for 100 tealights). Oh and one more thing about decorations/flowers. Check the THRIFT STORE. You will be amazed at the vases and stuff you can find there. If Michael’s is charging $9.99 for a hurricane or $4.99 for a “fishbowl” I guarantee you it’s at the thrift store for 99 cents.

    I’d be happy to send you my wedding budget if you’d be interested!

    • Oh and one more. Try Vista Print for your Save the Dates! I did a postcard on Vista Print and it was $18 for 100 cards. I bought envelopes at Paper Source, printed the labels and work and paid for postage.

  • Dude! I thought the $2k was the total for everything. Ha! I was like, “No way!” Mostly, I was just going to be jealous that you did it for under $5k, which is what I really wanted. :-p I can’t wait to hear more details about your plans.

  • I think your budget seems very realistic and flexible. I would probably just save enough to where the complete total of cash you and Llyod have is 5,000 even though your budget isin’t 20,000. It gives you some wiggle room and additional flexibility.

  • It seems like several items are quite low, but I’m not sure if that’s just because of the US vs Canada difference? I think your hair and accessories (veil, tiara) is where you’ll likely end up spending much more. All that said – this is about you and what you want to spend, no one else! 🙂

    The stamp comment is key; that’s easy to forget.

    I don’t think save the dates are completely necessary. Personally when I get one for a “regular” (ie not destination) wedding I’m always a little surprised.

  • Don’t forget to budget for alterations to the dresses. Some stores don’t include that in the price of the dress and it can add up!

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