We’re talking about the B word today – yes, Budget, with wedding designer Molly McKinley of Molly McKinley Designs. We’re so thrilled to have Molly break down a “crash course” on wedding budgets for brides below. It can be the most daunting part of planning your wedding, but Molly helps shed some light on what each cost really means for your overall budget.
The B Word is not anyone’s favorite word. However, setting your wedding budget appropriately is the best first step you can take in your planning process. Hiring a wedding planner who will navigate your priorities and help you set a realistic budget to match is one of the best decisions you’ll make. I can’t tell you the number of clients that come to us halfway through the planning process, stressed out and financially overcommitted. (When – guess what? Unfortunately, we could’ve already saved you thousands. Hire us first!)
Your wedding is the biggest party you’ll ever plan. It comes with a price tag to match… as it should. As a bride who spent under $10,000, I can tell you my fiance and I were both stressed out and completely exhausted the entire planning process. It wasn’t fun all of the time – it was difficult. It took a toll on my health, my relationship with my to-be husband, and my loved ones. I would have given an arm and a leg to have a team of professionals like I am able to give my clients. Instead, my family and friends made most of it happen. It was a sacrifice for them to give me my dream day. They were tired! I was tired! From working in the wedding industry, I also had vendor friends who were essential in any success of my wedding. (Thank you Brett’s Catering and Plainjane Designs!) Almost four years later, I still owe everything to the people who made it happen that day (and always will). If I could do it over again, though, guess what? I’d pay for all professionals. I’d be in debt for a couple years… but I’d have our families enjoy the whole weekend, instead of working. I’d let professionals handle it, hands down. (I’d still spend a lot of money on the entertainment though!!!)
Photo by Paige French Photography
While the national average is around $27,000 for 150 people, urban Atlanta weddings using professional vendors usually boast a $40,000 – 65,000 price tag. We always tell our clients it is all about expectations. We know a few tricks to do it for less – but where are you willing to sacrifice? Where are you not willing to sacrifice? Planning from the beginning will really ground you. A guest count and an estimated budget are very helpful as you start working with a planner and establishing a budget based on the how, when, where, and who. For couples paying for part or all of their own wedding, we also recommend hiring a financial planner, as well. They can help you figure out how to meet your goals while saving for the big day. We have several couples who are paying for part of the wedding themselves. We have many couples who have both sets of parents contributing. It’s an awkward conversation to start… we know. The important thing is to be gracious and thankful. An attitude of gratitude is everything! Oh – and show them this article – but don’t push. Say thank you for each and every dollar that is given to you. This is the biggest gift you’ll ever receive.
There’s an average amount spent on weddings, yes, but as far as per item, that should based on what is important to YOU! Do you want a band? Do you care about having amazing food or would you rather have a killer photographer? Are flowers your thing? I never use a percentage system. Every budget is custom when we start with a client. With that being said, I’ve put together a little “crash course” for brides on budgets! Remember that stepping outside of the city can likely bring your budget down.
Photo by Rustic White Photography
This is where several clients accidentally blow the big bucks since it is one of the first items they buy. We recommend you find your venue and start to budget each cost first before jumping into buying that white dress. Does a $4,500+ designer gown rate high on your list? If your budget can’t accommodate a designer dress and the popular Atlanta venue you have your eye set on, maybe you should choose a venue outside of the city or skip the band. It’s important to think through where you want to spend the most money before trying on wedding dresses. While some of our brides spend $500, others spend $5,000.
For a band, you can expect to spend at least $3,000. Average is around $4,000 to $4,500. For clients who really rate their band high priority, it could be up to $7,500+! An average DJ in Atlanta cost about $1,200 to $1,500.
You are going to spend around $26-85 per head. How important is great food to you? (Don’t forget to check for an added service charge and gratuity).
Has your dream always been exiting your wedding in a vintage Bentley? Are you planning on transporting all of your guests? Transportation can easily become a large ticket item. Depending on client needs, we budget from as low as $250 to as high as $4,000.
Paper costs THAT much money? Why yes, it does. For wedding paper goods, we budget around $500 to upwards of $3,000.
Depending on priorities, we budget cakes from Publix to some of the best cake artists and bakers in Atlanta (around $5.50 a slice).
Our average floral budget is around $2,500-$3,000. This does not get you a ton of flowers. Again, it is pretty average. This is generally a budget where we still reuse bouquets and have a limited number of larger centerpieces. If flowers are your top ticket item, you may spend around $8,000 and up. If flowers are absolutely low priority, opt for bouquets and very simple centerpieces instead. Florists generally have minimums, so make sure to do your research prior to meeting with someone.
For photography, we usually see a $3,000-5,000 budget. For clients who consider photography one of their most important items, we see them spend $6,500+.
We’d recommend setting aside $1,600 on the low side, and $5,000+ on the high side for videography. The videographers we recommend most often are in the $2,500-3,500 range.
Generally an Atlanta venue costs around $4,500 to $7,500 depending on stipulations and what’s included.
There are just a few of the items to consider while working through your budget. Don’t forget items like accommodations, rentals, lighting, draping, tenting, power needs, and more. We’d recommend finding the perfect wedding planner to help you save time and spend your money wisely.