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


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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