How Much Will My Wedding Cost?

We’ve been engaged less than a month and I’m already emotionally done with our wedding. Especially when it comes to the money. Based on initial back of the envelope calculations, our modest park wedding for 65 plus a casual second reception for 35 friends who don’t make the cut for the main event will cost around $5750.

A part of me thinks that’s just ridiculous. We could do a lot with that kind of money. We could travel internationally for a month. We could donate it to help 2000 people get malaria nets. We could invest it in our future-children’s college fund where, twenty years from now, it could pay about a semester of tuition, room, and board.

But on the other hand we want to have a nice outdoor gathering for our friends and family to celebrate this occasion with us (Fiancé welled up in tears when he saw the intended ceremony site). We want there to be music and good food and dancing and possibly a scavenger hunt if we can manage to plan that too. So the best I can do for the moment at least is project and cost management. At which, luckily, I’m decent.

Here’s the breakdown of our wedding budget (total of $5750):

  • Venue, furniture rental, decoration – $1000
  • Catering, beverages, cake, utensils – $2350
  • Clothing, makeup, rings – $925
  • Labor: officiant, photographer, attendant – $525
  • Music, ceremony only – $250
  • Stationery – $100
  • Flowers – $100
  • Casual second reception – $500

The biggest cost, by far, looks like it’ll be the catering. Who knew feeding a tiny village would be expensive? This number is based on food truck catering. It can go up if we use a real caterer and go down (slightly) if we self-cater. If we can get Fiancé’s father to grill up some burgers and bring crudites and other appetizers from a local mediterranean restaurant, we can probably cut that number by around $500-750.

After that, the biggest monetary gains would come if we nixed the park reception altogether and did a restaurant reception instead. We’d have no reception venue cost, no need for attendant, and it’d be much easier to coordinate food. But that would entirely change the feel of the occasion, which we want to be more activity-filled, outdoors, and family-oriented.

Sigh, this all seems like a lot of time, energy, and resources for an event nobody will remember a month afterward.

How much is too much to pay for a wedding? What was your budget for the big day?