This is part of our ongoing series, Real Wedding Budgets, bringing you actual numbers from actual couples, along with an idea of what you can get for your money. See more Real Wedding Budgets here.
Want to make this series run longer? Submit your real wedding budget (anonymously) here.
Before you read, a note on vendors: We don’t provide vendor information because you never know what kind of discounts they may have given, or if their prices have changed since this wedding. And also because if the couple didn’t love them, we don’t want to be putting a bad review out there. That’s what Yelp and Wedding Wire are for.
However, there is one exception – photography. Because we want you to get a good idea of what the couple was able to do with their budget, we include photos when possible, and credit the photographers. So word of advice – if you like these photos, please do go check out the photographer’s website (linked at the end of the post), and then ask for their current rates. Do not expect that you will necessarily get the same package and pricing you see here.
$16,617: 40 Guests on a Saturday Evening in Boston in the Summer
|Photography/Video (including albums, prints, etc.)||$ 2,500|
|Food/Beverage (catering, alcohol, and cake)||$ 9,273|
|Entertainment (Band, DJ, Ceremony Musicians)||$ 205|
|Attire (including shoes, jewelry, etc.)||$ 1,312|
|Marriage License||$ 35|
|Wedding Planner/Day-of-Coordinator||$ 0|
|Invitations, Save-the-Dates, Programs||$ 150|
|Hair & Makeup||$ 150|
|Rehearsal Dinner||$ 0|
|Gifts & Favors||$ 380|
What They Got For the Money
Ceremony & Reception Venue ($220)
The ceremony was held in a chapel at the university where the couple met. They had the space for 3 1/2 hours, and it included chairs. It was large enough to accommodate 200 people.
The reception was held in the private dining room of a restaurant. There was no fee for use of the room beyond the cost of catering.
The couple had one photographer for an engagement session and full wedding day coverage. The package included high-resolution digital files with personal copyright permission.
The couple set up two video cameras to record the ceremony; they asked cousins to turn them on at the start of the ceremony.
The couple had a cocktail hour with five passed hors d’oeuvres and a seated dinner with appetizer, three entree choices, and dessert. They had an open bar throughout the evening, but capped the choice of beverages at $13 per drink. This amount included a $1,200 tip for exceptional service.
The couple had a two-tiered cake with different flavors in each layer. Guests consumed just one layer at the reception; the second layer was consumed the day after by guests who came to the couples’ house the day after to hang out and play video games.
One of the bridesmaids made all the bouquets and the bride arranged the centerpieces. This is the cost of the flowers they purchased, including stems for a dry run a few days before the wedding.
The venues were already lovely, so the couple only needed to create table numbers and a seating chart.
The couple hired an undergraduate student at the university where they wed to play Bach pieces on her cello for the ceremony. It was the first wedding she’d played. The couple spent $80 on reception entertainment.
The bride wore a silk wedding dress with a sweetheart neckline, ball gown skirt, and pockets. She purchased new shoes and borrowed jewelry from her family. She spent $220 on alterations. The groom purchased a suit, tie, and new shoes.
The bride and groom each wear plain gold wedding bands.
Marriage License ($35)
The officiant was a mentor of the couple, and they had a close personal relationship with him. The bride created and wrote the entire ceremony.
Wedding Planner/Coordinator ($0)
The couple designed and printed the invitations themselves; this is the cost of paper and postage. The bride notes that they had a lot of fun making them, they turned out really well, and it, along with coding the wedding website, was one of the best parts of wedding planning.
Hair and Makeup ($150)
A friend of the bride’s did her hair and makeup. This is the cost of purchasing new makeup.
The couple rented a shuttle bus to transport guests from the ceremony to the reception, and from the reception to the hotel where most of the guests were staying.
The couple gave gifts to the wedding party and other people who helped out with the wedding.
The couple ordered personalized fans from Etsy.
Rehearsal Dinner ($0)
The couples’ parents split the cost of the rehearsal dinner, the only expense not paid by the couple. The rehearsal dinner was fort he two families and wedding party in an upscale restaurant. They believe the cost was approximately $500.
The couple hosted a brunch on the day after the wedding ($414) and provided gift bags for out-of-town guests ($155).
What was your biggest financial splurge? Why did you choose it? Was it worth it?
Our biggest splurge was on food and alcohol at the reception. It was well worth it — all of our guests raved about the food and drinks afterwards! We also splurged on our honeymoon, which ended up costing the same amount as our wedding. It was an unbelievable trip, and it was definitely worth it!
Was there anything you regret spending your money on or anything you wish you’d spent less on?
I wish I didn’t panic and decide to assemble out-of-town bags at the last minute, but it wasn’t that big a deal, and it made me feel a little better.
I also wish the shuttle bus wasn’t quite so expensive, but we were happy to provide transportation for our guests (particularly since a lot of them weren’t used to public transportation).
What was the best thing you spent your money on?
The food and drink at the reception! And the honeymoon!
Anything else you’d like to say?
Our wedding honestly turned out exactly the way we wanted. Even if we had a lot more money, there isn’t anything we would want to spend more on.