Timeline & Budget

How Much Does A Wedding Cost?

Four couples were willing to share their budgets to help you make your own smart money-spending decisions. The key? Splurging on what's important to you (and downgrading on the sly).

Photos: Jose Reyes Photography

Priority: Food
Brittany & Craig, Mount Gulian Historic Site, Beacon, NY, 100 guests

"Craig and I are both caterers, and we have a passion for great cuisine," says Brittany. "So we wanted delicious food to be the main focus of our wedding."

The Budget


$1,500 - 9% of total budget

"We own our own catering company, Top Knotch Catering. Had we not been in the industry, the bill would have been $19,000—the actual retail cost of our order—and we would have had to adjust what we spent on other aspects of the wedding to make it happen. But, fortunately, we were able to buy all our food wholesale. We decided on a cocktail-style reception with 36 different passed hors d'oeuvres. Our friends cooked everything for us the day of the wedding, and we hired staff to serve the food."

Ceremony/reception site fee

$2,500 - Mount Gulian Historic Site




$5,000 - Jose Reyes Photography; eight hours of coverage by two photographers, 11" x 17" magazine-style album, 1,500 prints, engagement session with 700 4" x 6" prints, three 8" x 10" prints, and disc of high-resolution images.

"After food, photography was our next biggest priority."



"The amount I spent on my dress is something Craig still can't understand; but when my mom and I saw the Priscilla of Boston gown we fell in love with it immediately. It was expensive, but I loved wearing it and don't regret the cost."




$40 - Birdcage veil from Etsy

Hair and makeup


"I had my hair done professionally but did my own makeup."

Groom's attire


"Craig wore a light-colored linen suit from H&M that coordinated with my dress. We also bought a blazer and had a friend turn it into a vest so Craig's attire would stand out from that of the groomsmen."



"We originally wanted wedding bands from Tiffany & Co. to match my engagement ring, but decided to go with something more practical from Kay Jewelers, since the rings will likely get banged up when we work in the kitchen. Craig's ring is tungsten, which doesn't scratch, and mine is white gold with diamonds."


$300 - Invitation created by the best man, a graphic designer; paper and supplies from Paper Source



"Before we got engaged, we lived in an 18th-century farmhouse with other culinary students. It was there that we learned how to garden, so when we began planning our wedding, I thought it would be fun to grow our own flowers. We went for a look inspired by autumn sunflowers; two days before the wedding, I cut and prepared the flowers, then friends and family arranged them into bouquets, boutonnieres, and centerpieces that morning."


$0 - iPod


$2,200 - Tables, chairs, glassware, china, linens, furniture, tent, sound system, outdoor toilet, and cooking equipment


$0 - Baked by a friend



NEXT: Elizabeth & Chris's wedding budget

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