When it comes to wedding budgets, they seem to run the gamut on how much couples spend for their big day. While some couples may try to spend as little as possible, others may not flinch when it comes to the wedding tab. However, at the end of the day — or ceremony —
how much to spend on your wedding is a personal decision.
The Knot 2018 Real Weddings Study, the average cost of one was $33,931 in 2018. To find this out, The Knot surveyed more than 14,000 U.S. brides and grooms married in 2018 between the ages of 18 and 65+, and discovered that, on average, people spent $2,564 in libations, $70 in catering (per guest), and $1,631 on a wedding gown. While getting married in Manhattan was the most costly, $96,910, getting hitched in Idaho was the least expensive, $16,366.
As for how much to spend on your wedding,
Andrea Woroch, consumer and money-saving expert, tells Bustle that although it is your big day, it does not necessarily have to be big in cost. “Couples often get wrapped up in the excitement of planning their dream wedding and let their emotions dictate their spending,” she says. "Oftentimes, this means they spend more than they budgeted for and take on debt — which can put a strain on their relationship and future goals after the big day is over.”
Woroch says that
by shopping secondhand, you can save a lot of money — including on your wedding dress and accessories — without skimping on quality. She says that sites like OnceWed.com is a great place to look for secondhand dresses, jewelry, and shoes. “Remember, your wedding is a one-day affair, but debt will linger for years and can keep you from reaching other life goals.”
Below, 14 women share how much — or little — they spent on their weddings.
“We spent just under $25,000. This was spent on the wedding ceremony venue, the reception venue, reception catering, photographer, DJ, photo booth, day-of coordinator, and hotel for getting ready/wedding night.”
“For our wedding, we spent $15,000 and had over 130 people attend. When you arrived, the open bar was already serving drinks, music was playing, and apps were set out. Then our ceremony was about seven minutes long, followed by time for more drinks and apps and, ultimately, the Grilled Cheese Food Truck. We really
kept our wedding casual, with many wearing Converse. I think the main cost was the alcohol ($4.5k), followed by the food ($3k) and the venue ($2k), which was a great photo shoot space. We were lucky with the drinks, though, and purchased them at cost from our friend who owns a liquor store. All of the décor was done by us, including a day-before trip to the flower market.”
“Our wedding was actually one of the ‘Top 50 Weddings of the Year’ as chosen by
The Knot and was featured as the best Oregon wedding in 2016. We spent about $15k and saved money because we paid for everything ourselves. We had just had an extravagant wedding in India, had just custom-built our house (moved in three days before having the reception there), and I was paying off student loans a few months later to be debt-free. When there are so many options to save, like having friends who are already professionals who offer services for barter ( I’m a professional writer and rewrote the content on my stylist friend’s site), why not? Weddings are needlessly expensive a lot of the time."
Yasuyo, Late 30s: $3,000
“For a budget of about $3,000, we had a 50-person wedding ceremony in the Boston Public Garden (it’s basically free; we paid a $15 permit fee), followed by
a tea party-style reception at the nearby College Club of Boston ($2,700) with a cake from Finale ($100) and a pianist ($300). Considering that it was our first wedding to attend (and host), it was well received.” Phase4Studios/Shutterstock
“I blog at
PaperHeartFamily.com, and when I was getting married, I had a tight budget of $8,000. I didn’t want to spend a lot because I’m a frugal person at heart and also because we were paying for the wedding 100 percent by ourselves. At the same time, I didn’t want our wedding to APPEAR cheap. I wanted to still have good food and drink, and a nice reception hall. We ended up spending a little over $6,000 and I’m pretty proud of that. I saved a ton of money because of two main things: First, we got married on a Friday, which means we saved about 30 percent on reception costs. Second, I DIY’ed as much as I could — the centerpieces, the invitations, the seating chart, the favors, and EVEN the flowers (which I purchased in bulk from Colombia).”
Sarah, 24: £26,500 (about $35,400)
Petinov Sergey Mihilovich/Shutterstock
“I set a budget of £27k for my wedding and we managed to come just under this at £26,500. The majority of the budget, around £15k, went to the venue and food alone, never mind the church, the décor, the photography, etc. Everything I did, I tried to get as cheap as possible whilst still getting good quality suppliers, and I managed to DIY some bits myself, as well, all of which is detailed on
Dream of Home.” Andrii Kobryn/Shutterstock
“My total wedding budget was $543.20. Our marriage license cost $99 and my husband and I eloped at the courthouse in Nashville (where he lived at the time). I used Rapid Rewards miles to fly there from Chicago (where I was living), which cost $11.20 in fees. I wore a handmade upcycled sweater coat over a green dress from ModCloth, green yoga pants from Soul Flower, and my shoes were a pair of tall purple UGGs that I already owned. My husband wore a white dress shirt, dark blue dress pants, and a gray tie, all of which he previously owned. The total for clothes came to $215. I hired a photographer from Thumbtack for $158. After the ceremony, we went out to lunch for burgers and sweet potato fries for approximately $30.”
“Initially, in the process, I thought that we could
plan a wedding for $10,000. When all was said and done, our actual budget — taking into consideration the smallest of items that add up — is $25,000. We are receiving $10,000 from our family and paying for the rest ourselves. (This budget doesn’t include our honeymoon.) Adding up the costs and seeing how large the number is, it is entirely overwhelming and I feel like I’m at a mid-low range.” Mila Supinskaya Glashchenko/Shutterstock
“We spent roughly $60k for a 170-guest wedding in Boston, MA in 2016. The majority of the budget was spent on the venue, catering, and band that we hired. Everything else, we tried to keep pretty lean — I purchased
my wedding dress for $500! — and either DIYed (I was an event planner) or found deals.”
“After two weddings that were ‘unbudgeted’ — find the money for a cake and rings, and invite a few friends — I felt I’d matured with my third wedding, the one that has lasted ‘happily ever after.’ I set aside $400 and announced that as the budget. Commitments made by my beloved expanded expenses to $800, which should have warned me about challenges ahead! But it worked, was lovely, and we spent our big bucks on
the honeymoon trip we really wanted: Buying books in San Francisco. Heavenly!”
“I got married (legally) in September 2017, and then the real wedding with family and friends was September 2018. We wanted a small, intimate, and fun wedding, and spent $12,000 for EVERYTHING. We had 80 guests, an open bar, multiple tacos and guacamole stations, a photo booth ... everything you’d want in a wedding, even a day-of coordinator who set everything up and did the decorations. Getting an affordable venue (the Liriodendron Mansion in Bel Air, Maryland), buying our own alcohol from Costco, and keeping the catering costs down really helped. We didn’t have a videographer, but we never regretted that;
our photographer took plenty of photos, so we’re happy with those.” Bogdan Sonjachnyj/Shutterstock
“We knew we wanted a small, intimate wedding and decided on a $7,500 budget. Through renting florals from Something Borrowed Blooms and dwindling down our guest list to immediate family and close friends, we were able to stay under budget. Being a stationery designer for
InvitoBella.com, I was also able to create our own stationery. Our rule of thumb for guests — if we hadn’t talked in six or more months, they were nixed from the list. We also didn’t want to meet people for the first time at our wedding!” LovelyColorPhoto/Shutterstock
“We had an early afternoon brunch wedding with a minimal greenery theme in Lake Worth, Florida. With 80 guests, our original budget was about $20,000, but we ended up spending about $28,000 once it was all said and done. There are lots of little things that come up that you don’t initially think about or consider when budgeting — and they add up quickly! Even though we spent quite a bit more than anticipated, if I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t change anything about our special day. It was exactly what I envisioned; absolutely beautiful, memorable, and so much fun. My tip for future brides would be to splurge on the things that matter most to you (ours was the photographer!) and skimp on the less important parts.”
“My wedding cost $214 for both rings and about $50 for the court fees. He wore his uniform and I wore a summer dress I had. I’m now 51, and we have been married for over 33 years.”
As you can see from the women above, your wedding doesn’t have to cost a lot of money — no matter what the budget is, it can still be memorable, which is what it’s all about.