How to Break Down Your Wedding Budget

Here’s how much to spend, and on what, according to an expert.

How to Break Down Your Wedding Budget

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We asked planner Susan Norcross of South Jersey’s Two Rings One Circus to show us how you can have a fabulous wedding on any budget.

BUDGET: $20,000

  • Venue/Catering >> $10,000: Get creative and pick a place where you can control the catering, like a park or Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens. Make it a cocktail party with hors d’oeuvres, mini desserts and a limited open bar.
  • Photography >> $2,000: Limit the number of hours your photog is there, or look into using an assistant or photography student. (Just be sure you get to see work examples first.)
  • Flowers & Decor >> $2,000: Carry a bouquet of simple baby’s breath or one single stem, like a lily. Order flowers from an online wholesaler and DIY your centerpieces—or forgo flowers altogether and use candles instead.
  • Invites >> $400 to $1,000: Compare and contrast online vendors; great deals are easily had.
  • Favors & Extras >> $400 to $1,000: Make a donation to a foundation that means something to you both in honor of your guests, or go for something simple and inexpensive, like custom-labeled matchbooks or CDs of your favorite music.

BUDGET: $50,000

  • Venue/Catering >> $25,000: Look at hotel ballrooms and manors and estates; try a dual entrée offering everyone both salmon and chicken.
  • Photography >> $5,000: Opt for a second shooter, to make sure every perspective of your Big Day is captured.
  • Flowers & Decor >> $5,000: Work with your florist to use in-season flowers to get the most bang for your buck, and for help steering clear of budget-eating blooms like peonies.
  • Invites >> $1,000 to $2,500: Look for customizable ready-made templates, and stick to digital printing or thermography, which will save you money over more expensive methods like letterpress or engraving.
  • Favors & Extras >> $1,000 to $2,500: Go for an edible favor or one that doubles as an escort card. Or do something fun for your guests, like a photo booth; they can keep their pictures as favors.

BUDGET: $80,000

  • Venue/Catering >> $40,000: Choose a raws pace,then have an event designer and lighting expert totally customize it for you. With food, add in extras where you can—a dessert and cordial lounge, a candy bar, a visit from a late-night cupcake or food truck.
  • Photography >> $8,000: Go for a full package that includes an engagement shoot and even a post-wedding session, which many couples do in full wedding-day regalia without the stress and time constraints of the actual day.
  • Flowers & Decor >> $8,000: Add pearls or crystals to your arrangements, use a real-flower aisle runner, and go all-out with something like floral centerpieces suspended from the ceilings.
  • Invites >> $1,600 to $4,000: Work with a custom stationer to design invitations from scratch, and ask about options like printing on Lucite, wood or laser-cut metal, or about presenting the invites in something like a silk box instead of an envelope.
  • Favors & Extras >> $1,600 to $4,000: Send each guest home with a miniature replica of your wedding cake.

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