Wedding Planning 101

“Hi, yes.. We would like to have 400 guests, and our budget is $10k.”

I get inquiries similar to this all the time.
If you are engaged and starting to plan your wedding, before you tell every person you know that they are on your guest list, a reality check is going to need to come into play.
Practical. Finances.

What is your budget? The best way to plan your wedding is to work backwards from your budget. You should plan for a minimum of $120/guest you want to invite; Only 75-80% of your invited list will make the final RSVP’d seating chart, with an additional 5% of that giving last-minute notice of being unable to come.

But what all should you consider when coming up with that magic, all-in-all, realistic amount you are willing to spend? And who all is pitching in? Do your future-in-laws have the down-south attitude of ‘the brides parents pay for the wedding, and the groom’s parents only have an obligation to the rehearsal dinner’? Or are you like the 12% of all engaged couples that carry the entire financial burden themselves?

Review the below statistics from the XO group – Owner of


2015 National Average Spend

2014 National Average Spend

Overall Wedding (excluding honeymoon)









Wedding/Event Planner



Reception Band



Reception DJ









    Top 2015 Wedding Statistics:
  • Average Wedding Cost (excludes honeymoon): $32,641 (up from $31,213 in 2014)
  • Most Expensive Place to Get Married: Manhattan, $82,299 average spend
  • Least Expensive Place to Get Married: Alaska, $17,361 average spend
  • Average Spent on a Wedding Dress: $1,469
  • Average Marrying Age: Bride, 29; Groom, 31
  • Average Number of Guests: 139 
  • Average Number of Bridesmaids: 5
  • Average Number of Groomsmen: 5
  • Most Popular Month to Get Engaged: December (16%)
  • Average Length of Engagement: 14.5 months
  • Most Popular Month to Get Married: October (17%) and September (15%)
  • Popular Wedding Colors: Ivory/White (47%), Blue (39%), Pink (30%), Metallics (34%), Purple (21%)
    • The popularity of metallic gold has more than tripled from 7% in 2012 to 22% in 2015
  • Percentage of Destination Weddings: 21% (down from 24% in 2014)

The main costs you should consider when coming up with your budget are:

  • Venue Rental
  • Catering
  • Alcohol/Beverage costs and surcharges from venue
  • Floral
  • Entertainment (DJ vs. Live Band)
  • Photography
  • Videography
  • Additional Décor
  • Linens/Table settings, etc.. charges
  • Rehearsal Dinner

Then there are additional costs to add in such as:

  • Staffing (waitstaff) Charges
  • Set-up/Break-down Charges
  • Coordination/Wedding Planner Charges
  • Hair Styling and Makeup
  • Engagement Ring and Wedding Bands
  • Wedding gown
  • Groom’s attire
  • Bridesmaids/Groomsmen attire
  • Flower Girl/Ring Bearer Attire
  • Wedding Cake
  • Accommodation
  • Transportation
  • Bridal Party/Guest gifts
  • Invitations/Menu’s/Paper-goods
  • Gratuities
  • Officiant
  • Ceremony Music
  • Additional Services (photo booth, candy bar, etc..)

As you can see, there are many factors that can end up being an exorbitant cost- such as catering and floral- those two can increase very quickly, very easily. You should be aware that many of the ‘Pinterest Perfect’ bouquets are a good $500 each, and the average national cost of catering $60/person.

If you are willing to get crafty, there are ways that you can stay within a small budget and still execute every detail with class, but with every service charge saved, there is going to be hard work and a lot of time involved from your part.
You can also look into a Friday night wedding, or a Sunday morning service with a brunch reception- many service providers and venues are willing to work with cost during non-prime booking times, including specific months such as December-January, and July and August.

Weddings are a fun and rewarding experience- but it is better to start your planning with a realistic expectation than to end with a broken heart and indebted pocketbook.

Comments? Suggestions? Let me know!

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