The Wedding Budget: All the dirty details.

Below are the promised details for my wedding budget that I posted on Tuesday:


  • Save the Dates: $0
    We plan to email a picture of us from our engagement shots holding a sign that says “Save the Date!” to all of our close friends and family.
  • Invitations: $300
    Our goal is to spend no more than $3 per invitation. We are planning to purchase 90 invitations for 150 guests. Recent Brides: How much did you spend per invitation?
  • Thank you cards: $85
    This budget actually may be free or significantly less because I have a lot of swagbucks Amazon giftcards I can use to buy thank you cards!
  • Stamps: $200
    We haven’t decided whether to do an invitation RSVP via letter, postcard or email, so that could factor the cost of stamps. We also aren’t sure how many gifts we will get, so this may be more or less than $200.  Recent Brides: How much did you spend on stamps?
  • Guest book: $15
    I have a clever idea for a guestbook, but I’m not ready to share this yet. :) Gotta keep some mystery!


  • Music: $0
    My cousin plays the violin and graciously has agreed to play during our ceremony. We will get him a gift, but that is included in the Gift category below.
  • Officiant: $0
    My uncle is a pastor and has graciously agreed to marry us. Same as above, we will get him a gift, but that’s included in the Gift category.
  • Decorations: $0
    The venue is so gorgeous that I don’t think we will need many ceremony decorations. However, these will be included in the decoration category below.
  • Rings: $350
    J and I agreed to buy each other’s wedding rings, so he has factored my ring into the groom’s budget using either his parent’s money or from his regular monthly paycheck.
  • Marriage License: $60
    Standard cost for NC, I think? I looked it up but haven’t done any more research.
  • Ceremony Location Fees; $0
    Don’t be fooled, this is not free, but included with the reception venue costs. Thankfully we chose a place where both ceremony and reception will be held! It will be a beautiful outdoor ceremony in a garden with an arbor.


  • Venue: $2825.50
    This cost includes: ceremony grounds, ceremony arbor, beautiful gardens, 200 chairs, 25 round tables, 6 rectangle tables, large party tent, use of groomsmen room and bridesmaid room before the wedding, and a kitchen. Recent Brides: I’ve been told this is a large amount, how much did you spend on your venue?
  • Food: $1,700
    This category may go up since food is sooo expensive. However, we have a family friend who has offered to gift us her catering skills and wait staff and we’d just pay for the price of the food: $1,600. The food will be just light hor’dourves since the wedding will be in the afternoon.
  • Drinks: $300
    Sadly, no alcohol will be served at our wedding. :( This is for a couple of reasons: the cost (so expensive!) and the venue requires a licensed bartender to serve it, which probably won’t happen. However, it is an afternoon wedding and all of my friends and family will understand so it isn’t a big deal.
  • Cake: $275
    I haven’t really looked into cakes yet; this category will go towards a fancy cake or just a table of delicious desserts.
  • Music: $0
    We are going to use our iPod to play songs, mostly old timey jazz. We aren’t sure whether we will have a “couple’s first dance” because we don’t want to mess up the music to play a song and don’t really want to put the money into a wedding DJ or a band. We will need to find some speakers, so there could be a cost in that.


  • Bouquets: $350
    Who knows who much flowers cost! I have yet to research good flowers for the season and cost.
  • *Reception Flowers: $500
    I really need to review the flowers and reception decoration costs. Our wedding will be in April and we have a gorgeous cherry blossom tree in our yard that we may use for a lot of the decorations.
  • Cake Table: $0
    We will put the bridesmaid bouquets around the cake.
  • Reception decorations: $50
    Ok this may be combined with the Reception Flowers section, but I also have some great DIY ideas up my sleeve for decorating. ;)


  • Engagement Photos: $0
    My sister will take these for free! However, I will probably give her a thank you gift using either the Gift category money or out of pocket.
  • Bridal Portraits: $0
    My sister will take these for free!
  • Wedding Photographer: 1,900
    This was the category that meant the very most to me, which is why it’s almost 20% of our wedding cost. However, I found a photographer who will cost $1,800 and she’s absolutely fabulous.
  • Videographer: $0
    We will see if we can borrow a video camera from a friend to film the wedding and reception.


  • Wedding Favors: $50
    I have a lovely little idea for the wedding favors but I’m not ready to share this yet. :)
  • Gifts for Bridesmaids: $250
    I have five bridesmaids, so $50 each is acceptable I think. My goal is to get them a $40 gift and then factor a few dollars for wrapping paper and cards.  Recent Brides: What did you give your bridesmaids as a gift? Did you give your Maid of Honor an extra gift?
  • Gifts for Groomsmen: $0
    J and his family are in charge of this!
  • Gifts for readers, shower hosts, etc.:  $200
    I already know of 10 friends and family members who are helping us in some way (hosting showers, in the ceremony, etc), so I think this category will have to increase as well. I will reevaluate in a little while. Recent Brides: How much did you end up spending on gifts for helpers/hosts?


  • Dress: $500
    I know what you girls are saying… but I am determined to find a dress for $500 or less!!!
  • Shoes: $50
    Since it’s an outdoor wedding, I’ll probably end up wearing flats or wedges.
  • Accessories: $50
    I am hoping to borrow a veil from a friend, so this category includes any make-up and jewelry.

Okay! That’s all. I promise not to talk about my wedding for a while. :) If you have planned a wedding or have any suggestions to any of my categories, please let me know!

*Instead of using a florist, consider delivered flowers from online.

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  • Grrr. WordPress ate my comment, so let me see if I can recreate it.

    We spent $94.95 on 100 invitations, and $33 on postage, plus another $26.78 on thank you cards. We cheaped out on the invitations at, and they were a bit flimsier than I expected, but they got the job done and no one said anything about it (and some people have already thrown them out, so I’m really glad I didn’t spend a lot here!). We didn’t send save the dates and had people RSVP online.

    Our ceremony/reception venue fee is $350 and includes an outdoor garden with chairs, indoor private room with as many chairs and tables as we need, all linens and place settings, preparation rooms, and servers and bartenders. Plus there’s no cake cutting fee!

    I’m not sure yet what I’m doing about gifts for the bridesmaid/maid of honor. I am paying for their mani-pedis the day before and they’re getting their hair done for free (so are the moms). No idea what Peanut will do for his groomsmen.

    I think your cake and flower estimates look low. My cake is $4.50 per slice (in the midwest!!) and flowers are $700 for three bouquets, three bouts, plus corsages or bouts for all the parents and grandparents. That’s with in-season flowers and lots of greenery — they’re just pricey.

    Good luck with your $500 dress search! They are out there, but I would recommend you NOT try on anything more expensive than that, since that’ll be the one you fall in love with (that was my experience anyway!). Does that include alterations for the dress?

  • I’m planning a wedding right now too. We are creating our own invitations on (you can also look into They are super cute and we can add a picture too for no additional cost. The cost is $65 for 200 invitations. Worth looking in to!

    We are having the wedding at my fiances home (they have beautiful gardens throughout their property.) The yard will mainly serve as the decor because it’s absolutely gorgeous. Anything extra we want to put up will be done by family the night before.

    We hired a catering company that will handle the tables, chairs, linens, food and drinks and a DJ to handle all the music. A DJ was important to me, so that I wouldn’t have to worry about assigning a friend or family member to stand at my Ipod and start the music for when I’m walking down the aisle.

    We’re not serving dinner- just dessert and it will be around $4 a person. DJ is $200. Reception venues around here range from $1500 to $2500 but that includes the food, music, tables, chairs, decor, and some places even include the cake and flowers.

    My bouquet will be around $75. Boutineers are around $5 a piece. Bridesmaid bouquets are around $20 a piece.

    Dress: no more than $500 for the whole shebang. Photo package that includes engagements, ceremony, reception & bridals is $1700.

    I don’t think my wedding will break the bank because we’re not doing anything too fancy. We want it to have the feeling of subtle elegance.

  • You can definitely get a dress for $500, I did. I found mine from a designer at a bridal show show was selling the dress for 75% off and it had a beaded corset, a train, and was pretty large. It was one small stain at the bottom that got cut off when it was hemmed. And if you did the math, I got a $2000 dress for $500! It can be done, but it takes a lot patience and a lot of looking, but it was totally worth as I loved my dress.

  • That all sounds so reasonable! It certainly helps knowing people eh?

    I hope when the time comes I can find a dress for a couple hundred, too.

    I love the idea of an afternoon, garden type wedding (dessert/high tea etc).

  • I would recommend not doing the mail RSVP cards to save on postage, but some people are just really technology-illiterate. For instance, we put an RSVP card in the envelope with the invitation, and once you opened it, it said, “RSVP by doing this…” But some people actually called me to say, “Uh, you messed up! My RSVP card is already sealed! How will I mail it back?” Dude, just open it first.

    Anyway, I created my own invitation in Publisher (very easy), bought some nice invitation sets from Target ($25 each) and was able to print them at my office. Total cost for 100 invitations was $50 or 50 cents an invitation, plus a stamp for about half of them. We hand delivered as many as we could.

    As far as venue costs, I don’t think yours is terrible considering you don’t have to rent anything. Our largest expense was rental equipment. We rented tables, two tents and 160 chairs for $1,225.02 including tax. But we didn’t have to also rent space, so I think your price is fairly reasonable.

    My “gift” to my maid of honor was simply paying for everything for her: hair, makeup, dress, alterations, and shoes. If she had paid for all of that, a big gift would have been in order! But when you have multiple bridesmaids, it’s cost prohibitive to cover all of their costs. And my helpers/hosts were my mom and my MOH, so we took my parents out to a nice dinner after the honeymoon. :) And they had help getting our yard ready in the month leading up to the wedding, so they threw a small BBQ for those people who lent a helping hand. I think that was much more special than anything they could have bought.

  • Your wedding is going to be lovely! I’m currently planning mine and our budget breakdown is:

    Venue fee: none. We went with a place that doesn’t charge a fee for the reception. There is a $250 fee to have the ceremony on the deck overlooking the bay. That includes chairs, and it is such a beautiful view that we don’t need to decorate.

    The cost for the meals will be $3600, and we’re doing a limit on the beer/wine bar of $3000. It’s a daytime wedding, so I think this will come in substantially under budget.

    Flowers: we’re going to the flower market and making the bride and bridesmaids, so are budgeting $150. We’re not doing boutineire’s (not sure how to spell that).

    We’re not doing flowers on the tables, either. We’re going to go to Ikea and buy a bunch of votive candleholders and cluster them on the tables, and put a different picture of us in the middle of each table…

    the DJ should be around $300.

    holy moly…this all adds up so fast :)

    Ceremony music: we have three great musicians in my family! yay!

  • Goodluck with the wedding! As a recent bride, may I recommend checking out the Michaels or Target print-your-own invitations (we were about to spend $700 to have 75 invitations printed at a fancy place and then in a moment of clarity, switched to Michaels and spent about $80 total).

    Also, do you have rentals in your budget yet? Renting eating utensils if they are not covered can be a pretty penny.

  • im the in the process of building our wedding budget (we’re doing everything together), our venue is looking like it’s going to be $2,000….I’d love to know where bridges got hitched that was just as beautiful but didn’t cost as much.

  • First off…CONGRATS!
    I just came across your blog today. I live just outside of Raleigh & just got married THIS April.
    I saved a ton on my stationary. I have been working part time for a local party store on and off since high school & the owner was awesome & did my invites for FREE! I also lucked out on Thank You’s. I found 4 boxes of 50 (plain white with silver lettering) marked down to $5 each. The only place I went way over was on postage. $28 roll post cards (save the dates); $62 to mail invites (mine were over the regular weight); $44 response cards; $44 thank yous.
    Good Luck!

  • I think this is an older post, but I thought I’d comment anyway. My parents paid for almost everything. I paid for my own dress (approx $1,500 including the alterations and storage fee) and I paid for our honeymoon (a trip up to Seattle in a beautiful hotel).

    I believe the photos and flowers were the most expensive thing my parents paid for. Photos were at least $1,200+ and flowers were roughly $1,200.

    We had a very small wedding, only about 30-something guests attended. We were married in a small 19th century chapel that was adorable and only cost around $300 to rent out for three hours. Then we had our reception at our favorite restaurant and the site of our first date (Macaroni Grill). We rented out a room and had it decorated with flowers used from the chapel, beautiful linens and candles. We created a custom menu for our guests and everyone got one free alcoholic beverage. Any other alcoholic beverages they wanted the guest had to pay for. I don’t know how much the dinner cost, but probably at least $500-$700.

    Our cake was approx $250-$300… it was cheaper considering we only needed a cake to feed around 40 people instead of those massive cakes some people need for 100+ guests.

    We didn’t rent a limo and opted to drive ourself to and from the chapel and reception venue since we have a nice car. My parents paid for wedding night hotel (an amazing bed and breakfast inn) and then the next morning we got up and drove 3 hours to Seattle and spent 4 days there. Our wedding was less than a week away from Thanksgiving and we didn’t want to miss Thanksgiving with our family, so we drove home from Seattle the morning of Thanksgiving and were home in time for the yummy food.

  • Wedding is the special occasion and it is important to do good planning for your wedding. You can hire a professional wedding planner who will organize the wedding events in budget.