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Average Wedding Costs & How to Budget

On Location, Knoxville, TN

Sunday, March 4, 2007
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I ran into an interesting report online today about how much people are spending on weddings. It sounds a little unbelievable, but anyone planning a wedding can attest to how fast everything adds up. I thought that those of you planning a wedding might want to see how your budget compares to that of the average American wedding couple.

The average American wedding in 2006 cost almost $27,000 with the average for weddings around Knoxville closer to $23,000. The following numbers are a general breakdown and should be adjusted for inflation since 2006.

Wedding attire (dress, tux, hair, makeup, veil, accessories) = $1,800-1,900
Wedding Ceremony (location, decorations, officiate, rehearsal dinner) = $1,800-2,300
Favors & Gifts (for parents, attendants, and guests) = $800-1,100
Flowers (bouquets, decorations/centerpieces, bouts, corsages) = $1,400-1,700
Jewelry (his & her rings) = $1,500-1,700
Music (ceremony & reception) = $700-900
Photography = $2,700-4,000
Reception (wedding night hotel, beverages, food, venue, rentals, cake) = $10,000-13,000
Stationery = $600-800
Transportation = $300-500
Engagement ring = $3,100
Honeymoon = $2,600

It all sounds very expensive, but it is possible to have the wedding you want and still stick to a budget if you prioritize. My husband and I paid for our wedding ourselves and had to find creative ways to keep the price down. By finding ways to cut back in some areas, we were able to spend our money on the things that were most important to us.

I booked the venue I wanted - Whitestone Country Inn. I picked the rings I wanted (after all, I do plan on wearing them every day). My husband Marcus wanted a sit-down dinner so that is what we had.

So which areas did I save money on? Luckily, I had a wonderful friend to do the photography. I found Hallmark invitations on sale, and we printed the inserts and STD magnets ourselves. I bought flowers and did the bouquets myself. We ordered his wedding band online. I made my own veil, tiara, and jewelry. The centerpieces were bought on sale at Target after Easter. We had a sit-down dinner but did not serve alcohol (would have been a bad idea since our guests had to drive home in the dark). We kept the guestlist small. We had live music for the ceremony but used CDs for the reception. We did not have a rehearsal dinner (our rehearsal was the morning of the wedding). We did not give out favors to the guests (from experience, I know that they aren't missed). The ceremony and reception were in one location so there were no transportation costs and no rental fees. Happily, Marcus's parents gave us some money as a gift to use toward the honeymoon, and I had enough frequent flyer miles to cover the plane tickets so we were able to go to Italy like I wanted.

Also, we did not hire a videographer. We did, however, have a friend shoot some video throughout the day and put together a little video montage for us. The first time I watched it, I cried, but now we can't help but laugh at ourselves when we see it.

We had an amazing, beautiful wedding. By deciding what's most important to you and what areas you can cut back on, you too can have the wedding you dream of.

Edited 2008: This thread has received some renewed interest lately. Unfortunately, I don't have up-to-date numbers so keep in mind that these figures are a couple years old now. My current clients usually spend between $3,500 and $5,000 on their total photography coverage. My clients appreciate good photography and consider it an important part of their budget so they are willing to pay for the time and skill necessary to create beautiful imagery. However, I am not in a high-end market. Those living in large cities or different parts of the country can expect to pay considerably more for comparable work.

2/12/2008 8:36:17 AM
Hi! I'm not sure I can break down the costs for you but our wedding cost $7900.

My ring $2400 (he sold his motorcycle to pay for it!)
His ring: Free (his mother gave me his grandfather's band)
Dress: $1000
Flowers: $500
Cake: $30 (a friend of the family baked/decorated it for the cost of the ingredients, in exchange for help with her daughter's wedding)
I can't remember the exact cost of other items.
A friend made the flowergirl's basket.
Friends sang at the wedding, a DJ played the reception.
Flowers from the wedding were picked out specificily for their ability to be reused at the reception. (Pew bows decorated the corners of the head table, guest book table bouquet was put at the entrance, ect. Friends of my mom quickly took them down ad took them to the reception).

THere are many ways to keep the costs down, just think about the talents that freiends have and barter/barrow them.
2/12/2008 3:09:59 PM
My wedding was pretty inexpensive, and it was nice. Just what we wanted.

Dress- $500
Photography- $700
Invitations -$100 (ann's wedding stationery on-line)
wedding bands- $150 (mine was $30/his was $120 for the "comfort fit")
engagement ring- $3500 (I don't really count this since he bought it prior to the wedding)
Food - $300 (my wonderful mother made all the food-- it was hors' devours/little quiches, sausage balls, fruit, cheese, pate', etc).
Pastor- $75
Church- $250
Gifts for wedding party- $100 (and we had four bridesmaids/four groomsmen)
Decorations & boutineers/corsages- $30 (my sister-in-law did all of it)

Not including the engagement ring... it was $2425. We had 150 people there.
2/12/2008 3:35:11 PM
I don't remember the breakdown of costs, but I can tell you that my 07-07-07 wedding was $10K, and a BLAST. I put most of the money in the food, and the dress, since everyone remembers if the food is good (it was, and they did) and you'll have the pictures forever, (His brother in law did the photography.)so even though you'll only wear it once, the dress is a good investment. (I spent $600 on the dress, probably $100 more for accessories.)

We saved some money by using the venue and Disc Jockey for the ceremony and reception.

The main thing is we kept perspective on the fact that this was just a big celebration for our families. That seemed to keep us under control, and made it a really fun day.
Jenny Lee Ryan
2/12/2008 4:57:43 PM
I spent about $5,000-$6,000 on my wedding.

My dress was about $525, probably another $75 on accessories, I borrowed a crinoline from a friend who bought hers. My hair and my bridesmaids hair was done by a professional who is a friend of my mom's - in exchange for my mom's help at her daughter's wedding.

The wedding (and reception) site were about $200.

Decorations about $400. - My mom is a florist, so she bought a lot of flowers, but we didn't have to pay anyone to arrange them, and that was the wedding and the reception and both were perfect.

Food - $700. My dad made all the food and it was wonderful - fresh fruit and veggies, pasta salad, a bean salad, an artichoke sandwich, etc.

Cake - free, my step dad is a baker.

Photography - $900 we went to a semi-professional and we got to keep all our proofs and he spent the whole day with us, plus engagement photos. We were very happy with the results

I made my own invitations, program and guestbook.

Gifts for bridesmaids, groomsmen, wedding coordinator, pastor and musicians - $350.

His ring - $75

There were other miscellaneous costs in there, but that's about it. We had A LOT of help from friends with decorating/serving food, setting up and tearing down.
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