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).
Priority: Venue and Photographer
Kathleen & Lucas, Metropolitan Building, Long Island City, NY, 70 guests
"We did have to do some juggling and take on some DIY projects to save money so we could book the space and photographer we really wanted," says Kathleen. "But these decisions also allowed us to afford things like my designer wedding dress and an open bar at the reception."
Ceremony/reception site fee
$6,000 - 16% of total budget; Metropolitan Building; booked from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m.
$6,000 - 10% of total budget; Elisabeth Millay Photography; 10 hours of coverage by two photographers, 4" x 6" proofs, and disc of high-resolution images
"Since I have a BFA in photography, and the photos would be one of the few tangible things that would remain after the wedding, the choice of photographer was very important. We booked Elisabeth Millay even before we had a date or venue. She was a little out of our budget, but worked with us on price. Since we weren't doing a grand exit, we opted for her to finish shooting before the end of the reception to save money; we also skipped the engagement session."
$0 - Kathleen's father, a judge
Catering and cake
$14,804 - Passed hors d'oeuvres and two-course plated dinner from Sage Events; Collette Foley wedding cake
"We had an open bar during cocktail hour, then switched to wine and beer during dinner."
"Our caterer let us purchase our own cava for toasting instead of adding an expensive Champagne service to our package."
Gown and alterations
"One thing I wasn't very practical about was my dress, a silk satin Priscilla of Boston gown from Kleinfeld. We're not a couple who get dressed up very often, so I wanted to go all-out."
$850 - Customized birdcage veil from CastleBride Couture
$300 - Bustier from Town Shop; shrug from Etsy; cocktail ring from a shop in Manhattan's Garment District
$204 - Silver peep-toe heels from J.Crew
Hair and makeup
$750 - For the bride and maid of honor
$700 - J.Crew and Thomas Pink
$150 - Caribbean Gems
$30 - Custom-made tie for the best man
"The maid of honor, my sister, understood our budget constraints and knew I'd get her something wonderful later."
$710 - Save-the-date postcards from Moo Inc.; invitations from Paper Source; escort cards created with supplies from Paper Presentation
Flowers and décor
$1,700 - Candles, vessels, materials to make signs and guest book; materials to create two silk bouquets, four boutonnieres, nine paper-flower centerpieces and assorted paper-flower decorations for reception tables and serving trays
"Instead of hiring a florist, we made flowers from paper and textiles—that way we could save money and tailor the décor to reflect our personalities."
$1,250 - DJ service for ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception
$2,112 - Reception chairs/cushions, coffee service equipment, glassware, tableware, linens, and tables for the cake/DJ equipment
$150 - Handmade Brazilian-style chocolates packaged in favor boxes trimmed with ribbon
$432 - Vehicle rental for four days
"We rented an SUV to haul all our wedding gear to and from the venue."