The Budget Question

The wedding budget is one of the hardest parts about planning a wedding, but also the most important.  I was thrilled to contribute to United With Love’s Budget Series; their blog [and this topic] is so helpful to brides in our area.  I think seeing real numbers and how to divide areas that make up the wedding budget, hopefully makes planning a little less stressful!

If you are engaged, you have probably seen varying budget information through wedding sources such as The Knot or Martha Stewart Weddings. While these articles are aiming to be helpful, general figures and estimations are just that – GENERAL – they often do not take your guest size, or pricing in the area, into consideration.  Chances are, you have also seen different sources indicating the national average for wedding costs (which changes each year) as around $30,000 [for 140-150 guests].  This either makes you feel stressed because your budget is way less than average, or confused since prices in the DC area can be much higher than that, or perhaps you feel really good with even more funds available.

Photo Credit: Owsianny Photography,

There is so much information out there, and that is great.  But it is hard to find information that applies to you, your wedding vision, guest list, location, etc.

My best advice is to figure out the monetary value that you have to work with first, then decide how many people you can invite, where it will be etc.  And create an itemized budget breakdown (yourself/with the help of a planner).  If you have a lot less to work with than the “average budget” needed, you may need to discard the traditional seated dinner idea and think outside the box.  Today more than ever, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to your wedding.  Make it personal, make it fun, and do what you can afford to do nicely!  Recently, one bride I worked with had a canoe filled with Beer!  Another couple served half-Indian and half-American “small plates” and entrees provided by Spilled Milk Catering.

Photo Credit: Mary Gardella Modern Life Portraits,

To see the full article, please go to United With Love  to read the article with comments and even more advice.

Here is the breakdown sample 30K budget for 150 guests:

When thinking about your budget, decide what areas are important to you and allow these to be higher items in the budget.  If you are working with tight numbers, consider Friday or Sunday to take advantage of lower venue fees.  These dates are becoming more popular each year, and it can allow you to have a weekend affair!   For example – Scenario #1) Thursday rehearsal dinner possibly just immediate family, Friday Wedding, Saturday hang out with friends in town, etc, Sunday wrap-up weekend and leave for your honeymoon (if applicable).

OR Scenario #2) Friday night family dinner, and/or hang out with Bridal Party, Saturday hang out with out of town guests, Saturday night rehearsal dinner possibly with extended guests and family, Sunday Wedding, Monday wrap-up weekend and leave for honeymoon (if applicable).

Some other ways you can save some money would be a lunch or day-time reception, appetizer or dessert reception, and looking for really good value in terms of products and services.  Take time to scout around for deals or higher a Wedding Planner, such as Bright Occasions to look for you!

Photo Credit: Kate Burke for Brian Ray Studios/Kate Fine Art,

Thanks, and happy planning!

Questions?  Email me anytime – –