The Real Cost of a Wedding in 2011

Establishing a budget for your wedding is something that you must do, and it should happen early in your planning process. It may mean a few uncomfortable conversations with your parents, but it’s best to know where you stand. There are a number of websites out there that will assist you in creating a wedding budget. This should be the starting point of your budget, feel free to reallocate dollars to those things you care most about. For some it will be décor, others will want to place emphasis on the menu and some will want to buy a designer gown, no matter what sacrifices have to be made. Remember lovely brides, and grooms, for every expense you justify going “just a little over budget” you either need to reallocate those dollars, or add to your bottom line. This can add up quickly.

As an example we decided to look at a few online calculators and provide you some concrete examples of how pieces of a $25,000 budget (with 150 guess) can be allocated.

Bridal gown: Online calculators allocated an average of $1,500 to the complete cost of a bridal gown. We are going to automatically deduct $200 for alterations and foundation garments (this is a conservative estimate), This leaves us $1,300 to spend on the gown of your dreams.

  • With $1,300 you can afford almost any gown at an establishment like David’s Bridal (including Vera Wang’s new line)
  • In Bridal Gown Boutiques you will also find you can afford a gown by many of the designers you see in magazines, including Alfred Angelo, DaVinci, Watters and more.
  • If you are looking for something from a high-end designer, and are an “average” size in a wedding gown (Size 6 – 10 regularly), be sure to check out local trunk shows and sample sales. You may find your budget stretches a bit more there.


Designer wedding gowns at affordable prices
Affordable Designer Wedding Gowns

Invitations: Online calculators allocated an average of $750 for invitations, and all stationary needs. This is inclusive of invitations, postage, programs and any other “paper” needs.

  • With 150 guests I am going to estimate that you will need 100 invitations (some will be going to couples/families
  • The average wedding invitations costs $.61 to mail, so we immediately need to allocate $61 in postage
  • We will allocate $1/Thank You card, plus $.44 in postage per card for a total of $144 on Thank You Cards
  • That leaves $545 for all other stationary needs. Let’s allocate $4 per invitation and have $145 left for all misc. stationary
  • For $4 we found a wide range of options on, moderate selections (including some pocket folds) through Carlson Craft, or you may be able to work with a local shop to create a custom DIY (Do-It-Yourself) invitation

Floral & Décor: Online calculators allocated an average of $1,650 for flowers and decoration.

  • We had to make a few more assumptions in this budget, so we are budgeting for 4 attendants on each side and a sit down dinner reception that will require centerpieces.
  • There will be delivery and set-up fees so we are estimating that initial cost at $200
  • The average bridal bouquet is $175. This could be a large bouquet of wild seasonal flowers, an appropriately sized hand tied bouquet of roses, tulips, daisies, or an eloquent arrangement of orchids or calla lilies.
  • You should estimate $60 – $70 per female attendant for her bouquet. This is typically a smaller version of the brides bouquet, but may it may not be. It may be flowers in a similar color family, or just a single orchid stem.
  • The ceremony will most likely need one or two large arrangements, and that total cost can be estimated at $300. These will be modest arrangements (think Daisies, carnations, and some green and babies breathe between the flowers of your choice)
  • Assuming 15 dining tables at the reception this leaves approximately $55/centerpiece. For $55 you should anticipate a small floral arrangement, or possible a duo or trio of vases with submerged flowers and candles around it. Your florist should be able to work with this budget to incorporate your colors and flowers of choice.
Elegant Wedding Flowers Within Budget
Elegant Wedding Flowers Within Budget

Be sure to review the entirety of your budget before you start spending, and as always, take your time and enjoy the process!