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How Much A Small Wedding Cost

How To Plan A Frugal Wedding For Less Than $4000

How to plan for a wedding with small budget how much our wedding cost

The average wedding and reception in 2019 was $28,000, according to The Knot Real Weddings Study. Given that the median American household income charts in around $69,000, , that means the average wedding devours nearly half a years worth of income.

Many people dream of a beautiful, unforgettable wedding, but not many long for the financial aftermath. The best solution is to take a serious look at all of the expenses involved with a wedding and find realistic, frugal ways to cut back on the expense without tinkering with the magic or the memories. The strategies below can collectively shave away 10s of thousands of dollars from the budget of an average wedding.

According to our calculations, a typical American wedding comes to about $28.5k, which we detail below. By paring down here and there, we got it down to $3,950, if you go with a guest list of 50. If you follow all of our ideas, youll reach under $4k in your final tally.

Different people look for different things in their wedding, so go through the list below and choose the ideas that work for you.

In this article

What Does The Bride Pay For

Traditionally, the bride and her family are responsible for paying for all wedding planning expenses, the brides attire, all floral arrangements, transportation on the wedding day, photo and video fees, travel and lodgings for the officiant if he comes from out of town, lodging for the bridesmaids (if you have offered

How Do You Want To Provide Them

  • Wine: My sister got a great case price on Rex Goliath wines. 4 cases x 12 bottles per case x $5 each = $240
  • Beer: A combination of six packs and twelve packs equaling 96 bottles and cans of various types for a total of about $150
  • Non-Alcoholic Drinks: Soda, seltzer, and water, about 60 items total: $30
  • Champagne for the toast: $70
  • Ice : $10

Our drinks total came to about $500, or about $17 per head. If an open bar is included with your catering, you might pay less if you’re serving mixed drinks, you might pay more.

How Much For the Photography?

We did all the photography ourselves, with cameras we already owned. Including prints, the cost will be about $100. Hiring a photographer can cost $300 to $2,000 or more.

Recommended Reading: Wedding Planning Spreadsheet

Track Every Wedding Expense & Prioritize Whats Important To You

Perhaps I should have listed this first?

Just like with personal finance, you need to track all of your expenses if youre not going to break the bank. Here is everything that we spend on our wedding including special notes on how we were able to keep costs down with each:


  • Opera House : $500
  • Décor: $100


  • Catering: $350
  • Catering Fee : $50
  • Drinks: Free
  • Cakes: $80


  • Flowers: $100
  • GE Outfit: $150
  • Wife Outfit: $100
  • Videographer: Free


  • Master of Ceremony: $300
  • Flute Player: $75
  • Postage for Invitations/Thank-Yous: $20
  • Best Man/Maid of Honor Gifts: $60

Total Expenses: $2,563

Hiring Your Wedding Florist

How Much Does A Small Intimate Wedding Cost

With so much to organize and plan, it can be a huge relief to hire a florist with an innate sense of your style and what to recommend based on your budget. Know your budget going in it will help the florist know what to show and suggest.

Also hire your florist at least eight months before the date to ensure availability and so your florist will be able to give you ideas well in advance that will use flowers in season.

  • Look at the florists portfolios from past weddings and check the businesss online reviews.
  • Do a consultation session with your top three to see which one will be the best fit.
  • Let the florist know of any flowers or colors you particularly dislike.
  • Ask about any additional fees or if the setup and cleanup are included in the proposal.
  • Visit the florists shop on a week day, if he/she has one, to see if the flowers and arrangements look fresh and the florist seems organized.
  • Know the guest count and number in wedding party to get an accurate proposal.

Read Also: How Long To Plan A Wedding

Average Cost Of A Wedding Photographer Or Wedding Videographer

More than 90% of couples hired a photographer in 2019, according to The Knot. This didn’t come cheap at an average price of $2,400.

However, as this data from Wedding Forward shows, the cost depends on the skill level of the person taking the pictures. Here’s what you can expect to spend if you hire photographers with varying levels of experience:

  • Student: $500 to $1,500
  • Professional: $2,500 to $10,000
  • Grandmaster: $6,000 and up

For couples who want to capture their magical moments on video, rather than just on film, the average videographer comes at a price of $1,799 according to Wedding Wire.

However, most couples spend anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500 with the cost determined in large part by the amount of time your videographer spends at your event as well as the level of editing requested.

# 9 Buy Used Decorations Or Borrow From A Friend

Wedding decorations can be extremely costly even if you are decorating for a small-scale wedding. Try to save on the cost of decorations by doing the following:

  • Try to look for cheaper decorations from second-hand or thrift shops.
  • If you have someone with artistic talent in the family, ask them to help make your decorations!
  • Ask friends who have already had their wedding if you would be able to borrow some of their wedding decorations if they still have them.
  • You could even split the cost of decorations with someone who you know is also getting married.

Also Check: Places To Get Invitations Printed

What Questions Should You Ask Your Wedding Venue Before Booking

Choosing a venue is one of the first decisions youll makeat least a year before your wedding date. Youll want to start by figuring out if you want to host a destination wedding or a hometown wedding. Once youve selected the area where youd like to wed, read online reviews of wedding venues and narrow down the list to a few youd like to visit. When touring venues, be sure to ask the following questions:

  • Is your venue available on my target date?
  • Whats the capacity?
  • For outdoor wedding venues: What is your Plan B in case of bad weather?
  • Do you have climate control?
  • Can I see the restrooms?
  • How big is the dance floor?
  • Whats the parking situation?
  • Whats included in the contract?
  • Who is my main contact? Will he or she be present on my wedding day?
  • Are you accessible to guests with special needs?
  • What are your rules and regulations?
  • How much time do my vendors have to set up and clean up at the end of the night?
  • Do you have an approved vendor list or can I hire whomever I want?
  • Can I host my ceremony here as well?

Search vendors

Average Cost Of Destination Planning

How Much Should A Wedding Cost?

No doubt a marriage ceremony by the ocean sounds romantic and memorable. Still, making the whole thing work may not be that simple and cheap. Estimates show that the average beach wedding cost is about $5,000 for a local public beach and an abbreviated guest list. However, an exotic destination celebration might exceed $25,000.

Although experts safely conclude that beach destinations are way cheaper than traditional ones, be aware of the traps. For instance, the average cost of a Disney wedding exceeds $7,000, but the price significantly varies. Couples must consider what the offered package includes, for what period, and for how many guests.

When doing the math for the occasion, its advisable to calculate the gifts you expect to receive. The average wedding gift cost of a close friend is approximately $100, while family members gifts can reach $150. Bear this valuable information in mind to offset the initial wedding projections.

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Average Wedding Costs By Type Of Wedding

Where you live isn’t the only factor that affects how much you’re likely to spend when you celebrate the start of your life with your beloved. The type of wedding also makes a difference:

  • Destination weddings average $32,000, while hometown weddings average $27,000.
  • First marriages weddings average $30,000, while second weddings average $14,000.
  • Millennials typically spend $30,000, while members of Gen Xers spend $20,000.

Hometown weddings come at a lower average cost than destination weddings for obvious reasons — it’s cheaper to stay local than to incur the costs of travel.

However, some of the extra wedding costs of a destination ceremony may be offset by a lower price tag for the honeymoon, assuming the couple celebrates in the location where the wedding was held.

It’s surprising, though, that millennials — who have faced unprecedented financial struggles — tend to spend more on their nuptials than their older counterparts. This discrepancy could be explained by the fact that social media has played an increasingly important role in driving the price of weddings up. More than half of all couples set up their own wedding hashtag in 2019.

Sexual orientation made almost no difference at all in average wedding costs. Opposite-sex couples spent an average of $28,000 while same-sex couples spent just $500 more.

Wedding Venue Cost Guide

Costs displayed in graph are based on spend from thousands of couples who recently reported pricing for this service within their WeddingWire review. Pricing varies based on factors including, but not limited to, vendors experience, level of expertise, event guest count, date, and geographic region.

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Average Cost Of Wedding Photography & Videography

The memories of your special day may last a lifetime, but youll still want to remember every detail with great photos and/or video. The first thing you should consider is whether you want photos, video, or both. Many companies offer both services, which could help keep your costs down.

In the Midwest, the average wedding photographer cost ranges from $3,000 to $4,000. Many wedding photographers offer package pricing, so this price may include your engagement photo shoot, a second photographer, photo editing, and an online photo gallery. When it comes to video, the average cost of wedding videographer will likely be between $1,000 and $5,000. A wedding videographer package typically offers up to 10 hours of coverage and a five-minute highlight film.

Your wedding photography is a big investment, but youve only got one chance to make sure its done right. Its worth making sure you hire a pro.

The Average Costs Of A Wedding

How Much Does A Small Wedding Cost

Here are the average price tags for common wedding expenses, according to a 2019 survey by The Knot and WeddingWire’s Wedding Cost Guide:

At the very least, youll need a marriage license. Application fees vary by state, county, city or other conditions. The standard license fee is $27.50 in New Orleans, $50 in Boston and $100 in Santa Barbara, California.

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Understand Needs Vs Wants

Once you and your partner understand each other’s values and goals, it’s time to differentiate between wants and needs. A lot of the details of the wedding will include choices that highlight this difference.

For example, is it necessary to have a band, or do you have a friend who could play songs from their laptop? Do you have to have fresh flowers, or will fake ones do the job? Are favors that cost $3 each worth the price tag, or can you think of something that costs less?

Now is the time to consider what you want to get out of your wedding, the experience you want your guests to have, and what you need to spend to make that happen.

Traditional Wedding Cost Splits

Wedding traditions, at least from a financial point of view, haven’t changed much over the years.

Exhibit “A” is having the bride’s family pay the most for the wedding. According to The Knot, the bride’s family pays 45% of all wedding costs. Right behind the bride’s mom and dad are the actual newlyweds, who contribute 41% of wedding costs. The groom’s family pitches in, too, paying 13% of total wedding costs.

While traditions remain strong, figuring out who pays for a wedding can be somewhat complicated, given that so many people are getting married later in life.

Historically, here’s a list of who pays for what in a traditional wedding. It’s an important piece of knowledge, considering that you’ll need to set up a wedding budget beforehand, and you’ll want to know who’s paying for individual wedding costs.

Read Also: Wedding Planning Google Sheets

How Much Should A Bridal Shower Cost

Bridal shower.

According to the consumer information site, a typical bridal shower costs $15 to $40 per person.

Keeping this in consideration, Whats the difference between a wedding shower and a bridal shower?

Hopefully this will help: A wedding shower and a bridal shower are basically the same thing. A bridal shower is the more traditional term and typically includes an all-women guest list, while a wedding shower is for guests of all-genders. Couples generally choose to have one or the other, but not both.

Secondly What is the proper etiquette for a bridal shower? Since showers are intended for the brides nearest and dearest, every shower guest must already be on the wedding guest list. Because its understood that guests should bring a present to a shower, its not appropriate to invite people whom you dont plan to include in the wedding.

Who pays for the honeymoon?

In these more traditional settings, it is usually the groom or the grooms parents who pay for the honeymoon. The brides family usually handles the wedding costs, and the groom or his family would handle the honeymoon.

How Much Does A Small Wedding Cost

Wedding Budget – How much does a Wedding Cost?

Before 2020 a small wedding was 50 guests or less. Today thats a big wedding! If youre planning your wedding this year, be sure to check your local rules. Then decide how big you want your guest list to be. You could plan a small wedding with 50 guests, a very small wedding with 25 guests or a micro wedding with 10 guests.

Next, think about where you want to have it. Do you want your wedding at home or do you want to go out? Then, consider your budget. How much do you want to spend on your wedding? If youre not sure how much a small wedding will cost, check out the samples below:

Read Also: Addressing Wedding Invitations To Families

Dont Mention The W Word

We know this cant be avoided when youre buying your dress or booking the photographer but, countless sites tell you that as soon as you say the word wedding the quotes from suppliers can go up.

One school of thought is that if you do say wedding you might get a better service, as for example a venue might want to go all out to help make it as much of a special day as possible. Although, on the other hand, saying its only a party might just save you some £s.

Whether its a cake, flowers or a venue the supplier knows that they can charge more and get away with it, as its got that wedding tag attached to it.

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