Depending which large body of water your wedding will be closest to, you’ll be spending plenty of money on your wedding day. A Manhattan wedding averages about $70K while a wedding in Santa Barbara averages about $36K. A San Antonio wedding is more in line with the national average costing about $26K. The average cost does not even factor in the engagement ring or the honeymoon. These “average” weddings will have four bridesmaids and four groomsmen and 149 guests. If the wedding will not be traditional in the sense that the bride’s parents will foot the bill, many couples save for years to plan for the big day. Even with careful planning, most end with busted budgets as they try to create the perfect day to start their lives together.
What on Earth are couples spending that much money on? The Santa Barbara average could cover the cost of a nice home in many areas of the country. My research may surprise you seeing how expensive certain elements of a wedding day are. Brace yourself!
The invitations are only one part of the stationery category. Also consider the cost of reply cards, save-the-date notices, programs for the ceremony and reception, seating cards and thank you notes. There’s also postage and return postage that is associated with these. On average, the invitations alone cost $650. You can also go crazy with wax melts, hand-engraving, or thermography printing. Would you like a professional calligrapher to address your invitations or a custom-designed wedding logo for your special day? All these options are gaining popularity and also adding expense to the stationery category by hundreds of dollars. Some couples are willing to spend the extra money because the invitation sets the mood for the entire event. However, many couples are still opting to cut corners in this category and print their invitations at home.
9: Rehearsal Dinner
The average rehearsal dinner costs the wedding couple $1,127. While the actual rehearsal is only reserved for the wedding party and parents, the dinner can be carried out in a number of ways. According to The Knot, it can be as simple as: (1) only the bride- and groom-to-be, (2) the immediate families, (3) the wedding party and their spouses/significant others. Or, (4) the dinner can be an event for all the out-of-town guests. It can be an excellent opportunity to maximize the time spent with a certain group of family/friends before the big wedding day.
8: The Dress
The average bride spends $1,134 on the dress alone. Even though the least expensive dresses only cost a few hundred dollars, designer dresses can easily escalate to tens of thousands of dollars. Since the dress plays the “best supporting actress” role, how do you put a price tag on the perfect one? During the ceremony, there will be three things in the spotlight: the bride, the dress and lastly, the groom and probably in just that order. You can guarantee another $600 will be spent on the accessories like the shoes, jewelry, veil, and lingerie. Don’t forget some brides opt to wear a separate less-cumbersome dress at the reception and even change into an additional, yet sensible getaway outfit for the official send off.
7: The Ceremony Site
If the ceremony site has not been rolled into an all-inclusive venue, couples can expect to spend an average of $1,394 on the ceremony site alone. If the ceremony site is separate from the reception site, consider the transportation. There may be some guests who have flown in and may not have rented a car.
6: The Flowers
Flowers make the list at an average of $2,000. Most importantly, you’ll need a bridal bouquet, bridesmaids corsages and boutonnieres for the groomsmen. You’ll also need corsages and boutonnieres for the parents, and anyone else participating in the ceremony (ushers, greeters, musicians, readers, etc). Since flowers photograph so beautifully, don’t forget about the petals for the flower girl to toss down the aisle, the decorative garlands and other floral arrangements for the ceremony. Then, there’s the reception site which will require larger, fuller arrangements for the buffet, entrance hall and table centerpieces. You can save some money by choosing your floral arrangements based on what is available to you locally. If you seek flowers from other regions, exotic blooms or hard-to-find flowers, expect to pay more.
5: The Music
You should expect to spend at least $900 for a DJ and nearly $3,300 for a band. If these vendors are well-established, expect to spend even more. After the emotional and memorable ceremony, you and your guests will want and expect to cut loose and have some fun. For many couples, this means the perfect music will be played to keep the guests partying into the night. Many couples choose to have a live band, but some opt for both.
Add another $503 for ceremony musicians. Musicians like pianists, harpists, or violinists may add that added sense of class and royalty to your wedding day ceremony.
4: The Bling Bling
With luck, stubbornness, forgiveness, determination and perseverance, the rings should remain on the couple’s fingers for the rest of their lives. The wedding bands will also serve as symbols for the couple’s love and commitment to each other. With such an important level of significance, it’s no wonder that the average couple spends more than $2,000 for just simple wedding bands. The price of the wedding bands can soar if they have diamonds or other precious stones in the setting. (Sidebar: The average cost of an engagement ring is $6,000.)
3. The Photography/Videography
Photography will cost an average of $2,500 and videography will be $1,481. Preserving all these memories is not cheap. There will be so much activity, excitement, and happiness happening on your wedding day and it will be over before you know it. It is extremely important to capture and document as much as possible for the many days ahead. Larger ceremonies may also require second shooters. Memories will fail and details will fade, but if you plan accordingly, you won’t miss a moment by preserving your wedding day with pictures and video. Most of the photography vendors offer inclusive packages which include make-up artists, engagement sessions, bridal portraits, large photo books, and even same day slide shows. Not uncommon, the videographer sometimes starts filming the day prior to the wedding to capture final preparations. Photo booths are also quickly gaining popularity!
2: Food & Drinks
Can you imagine taking 100 of your closest friends out to eat at your favorite high-end restaurant? A wedding caterer often averages $63 per guest; serving over 100 people will quickly add up to $10,000. It’s easy to understand how serving food to your guests will be one of the largest wedding day expenses. This number does not even include the wedding cake or groom’s cake. For those, you can easily add another $500 to $5,000 to your budget depending on the size and design of the cakes.
If you’re considering champagne, wine, beer and/or liquor… add an additional $3,000. Also consider the cost for liquor permits and bartenders. At first glance, it’s temping to offer a wide selection of adult beverages to your guests; however, the more of a variety you offer, the higher this expense will climb. According to Destination I Do, it is never acceptable to offer a cash bar to your guests. They also should NOT be tipping the bartenders. If cost is a concern, keep the variety to a minimum.
1: The Venue
The venue is the top priority for most couples, and it’s also usually the most expensive. It is no longer common to celebrate the nuptials being made in a church hall. The Four Seasons Hotel in New York City, Walt Disney World, and even foreign lands are all acceptable venues for a reception. But keep in mind, a fairy tale venue will come with a hefty price tag. The cost for a wedding day venue will also be higher during peak wedding season which is May to October. Costs vary dramatically, but the average couple forks over $12,000 for the reception venue. Keep in mind that some venues will have hidden costs like valet parking or decorations.
Tips & Gratuities:
Tipping your wedding planner, caterer and cake makers, food servers, musicians, photographer, videographer, bartenders, DJ and/or band, stylists, make-up artist, officiant and basically anyone who performed a service for you on your magical wedding day is optional, but many will expect a little something at the end of the night.
Almost 85% of couples enjoy a nice, romantic honeymoon after the wedding day. You can expect to be set back an additional $5,000 for a stay at a tropical resort. If you choose a longer stay at a luxurious spot, don’t be surprised if the price tag is tens of thousands of dollars. However, 10% of today’s couples are now combining the wedding and honeymoon into a single experience by having a destination wedding. Depending on the destination and the number of guests, this can actually save the couple money.
I am a San Antonio-based wedding and senior photographer who started Ata-Girl Photography Co., LLC in 2010. As one of the up-and-coming San Antonio wedding photographers, I am also available to shoot in Austin, Houston and Dallas and the surrounding areas. I am also available for destination weddings. Ata-Girl Photography Co. offers an amazing San Antonio wedding photography service that you won’t soon forget. As a San Antonio wedding photographer, my sole purpose is to treat your San Antonio wedding like a regal event.
In addition to wedding photography, I also specialize in San Antonio senior portraits and senior portraits for high school seniors in my local surrounding areas.
I am a professional photographer who enjoys documenting the important milestones and captivating moments in people’s lives. I firmly believe that the unique set of circumstances I have faced in life has prepared me to take a personal and genuine interest in my photography clients. When I’m not photographing a wedding, family or high school senior, I enjoy watching my daughter play softball, hiking, cycling and listening to Elvis!
This post first appeared on Ata-Girl Photography Co’s website and blog. Please enjoy this San Antonio senior photography provided by Tammy Blalock and Ata-Girl Photography Co. Ata-Girl Photography Co. also offers superb San Antonio wedding photography in the San Antonio metro and surrounding area and strives to be one of the finest San Antonio wedding photographers.