How Much Should Your Wedding Cost?

by Ryan Guina

This past Christmas my sister called me to let me know that her boyfriend of several years proposed to her. They have been dating for a long time and everyone in our family likes him, so we were all excited for them. They are planning on having their wedding next summer because my sister just graduated from college and he has one year left. The long engagement should give them plenty of time to find and book a good venue, finalize the invitation list, and make all the necessary plans that come with a wedding. There is a lot to do, but with over a year to plan, they should have plenty of time to pull it off.

how much should a wedding cost?

how much should a wedding cost?

Wedding planning is a lot of work, but it can be fun too – my mom and sister have already started looking at dresses, pricing venues, looking at invitations, and doing lots of other fun things. I’m sure that with this much time to plan, they will be able to have a beautiful wedding without breaking the bank.

My mom is visiting us this week and naturally, the topic of weddings came up. My mom asked my wife and I how much certain parts of our wedding cost (we were married almost six years ago, so we have fairly recent experience with the topic). Truth be told, my wife and I don’t remember how much everything cost, because her parents paid a large part of it, and I don’t think we listed everything out once it was all said and done.

How Much Should a Wedding Cost?

There is no one size-fits-all wedding — they come in all shapes and sizes, with large black tie events, and small casual affairs. The recently released a report on 2011 weddings, which listed the average wedding cost at $27,000. While I’m not sure exactly how much our wedding cost, I know it was somewhere in that ballpark, and maybe a little lower.

Weddings are such a personal event that you can’t really use one person’s wedding budget as a guide for your wedding. Each person values certain aspects of the wedding differently, making each wedding and its associated costs as unique as the couple being wed. In my opinion, the best way to go is to spend money on those things which are most important to you, and find ways to save on the areas which aren’t as important. You can also save a lot of money by involving friends and family, booking in advance, using coupons, and a being creative with scheduling, substituting more expensive options for less expensive options, etc.

My biggest piece of advice would be not to go into debt for a wedding. I understand that weddings are one of the most important days you will have, but starting a married life in debt is an added pressure newlyweds don’t need. It’s more important to have a day where you can relax and have fun, and enjoy the moment without having to worry about having the debt hanging over you for months, or years to come.

What are your thoughts – how much should a wedding cost?

Photo credit: Caucas’

Published or updated May 24, 2012.
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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Josh @ Live Well Simply

I would venture to say that $10k is a good ball park figure for a wedding. The ‘average’ is in the 20’s I believe, which seems extravagant to me.


2 Ryan Guina

Josh, I think a lot of it depends on where you live and what kind of wedding and reception you have. The cost of renting a reception hall, for example, can vary widely by city, state, or region, as can the cost of wedding photographers, food, and even flowers. My wife and I had what I believe to be a simple wedding, which was by no means extravagant – but it cost in the $20k range. We had just over 60 guests, and were married on a Saturday morning, with an early afternoon reception (both of which helped keep costs down compared to an evening reception). Probably the largest expense was the wedding reception which we held at a hotel where we had to use their catering for food. We could have saved a lot of money there if we held the reception at someone’s home, or somewhere like a church or community center. But it also would have made for a different event. In the end, I think it’s best to settle into what feels best for you and spend on those things which are most important, and look for ways to save on those items which aren’t as important.


3 Randy

Some friends of mine got married for under a grand. They rented space in a park for about $200.00 They brought a laptop and nice speakers for the music. They got trays of food from COSTCO for about $200.00 There was no booze. The wedding gown was just a white dress and the groom wore a white tropical shirt over black pants. Everybody owns a camera so they just had friends send them whatever photos were taken. A friend volunteered to officiate for free.

I had a great time myself and congratulated them on doing it right for not so much money.


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