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Wedding Budget
Old 10-04-2010, 10:39 AM   #1
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Wedding Budget

My oldest daughter has just gotten engaged and this is my first experience with weddings... Does any one know what a typical wedding costs? I live in Nashville but my daughter lives and will be getting married in Seattle. I would like to be able to give her a reasonable budget to work within without breaking the bank....
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Old 10-04-2010, 10:51 AM   #2
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Our daughter married in 1992. We gave her a $6,000 budget for a Houston wedding. We told her that she could have any money left over, but if she went over it was on her. I think they went a couple of hundred over and we covered it. It was a nice wedding with wine at the reception. She was happy with her choices and her wedding.

I have always thought of weddings as a send off. Being practical, I don't think you should ever spend more on the wedding than the bride and groom will receive in gifts. It seem, however, today the sky is the limit and it is more emphasis on the party.

You might try:
Average Wedding Cost $19,581 - Wedding Budget vs Real Wedding Cost

They say $22,000 for Seattle!
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Old 10-04-2010, 10:56 AM   #3
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I heard the average figure recently (for U.S. weddings). I think it was about $20k. This sounds like a job for google.
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Old 10-04-2010, 11:15 AM   #4
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I gave my daughter $12,000 plus I bought her dress and the bridesmaids dresses . Her Dad and the groom's parents also chipped in some money . It was a lovely wedding in upstate New York .
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Old 10-04-2010, 11:28 AM   #5
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Our daughter got married in May in Seattle. She told us that the average wedding cost for her generation was 30k+/-. Of course, cost is a function of size and "elegance". She did all the planning and sourcing herself and had an invite list of about 125 with 100 in attendance. Groom is from Midwest and wanted to put on a "show" for all his midwest kin who had never been to Seattle. She found a place in downtown Seattle operated by Tom Douglas which gave them the choice of all Tom Douglas's menus and a great venue at a very reasonable price. (we would highly recommend them as a vendor. Service, quality and execution was exceptional).
We followed our long standing policy of 50% contribution to her endeavors plus her dress which she got from a sample house and was 3k less than most of the other choices under consideration. She is an "only" so we did not do much "accounting".
There is another thread on the board on this topic which illustrate weddings are what you want them to be and need to be no more than what the participants consider necessary.
Our "kids" put on a GREAT event which they got multiple kudos from friends and family so we have to score it a success.
BTW, if you want to connect with DD on her vendor experiences, pm me and I will connect you.
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Old 10-04-2010, 11:40 AM   #6
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as DW owns a wedding service business (photography), my opinion based on helping her out is wedding budgets vary greatly. you can have a very nice wedding on a shoe string budget, or you can drop $100k. either way, the result is the same.

but...with that said, how big is the wedding going to be, how extravagant, how long will the honeymoon be? I would give her [insert amount you are thinking] and tell her, "no questions asked on how you spend it. if you're under, good for you. if you're over, good for you. either way, i don't want to hear about it." (let the groom handle all the ensuing drama).

but, i would expect to pay $25-$75/person for food. dress should run anywhere from $1k to $3k. photographer should be about $10k (just joking, $1k to $3k). flowers $500 to $1k. tuxes $400-$700. hair/makeup $200-$700. etc etc. these are just starting prices for what i would consider "nice" options of the more major items. I haven't even gotten into all the weird crap like shoes, dresses for bridesmaids, bridal showers, invitations etc. there are quirks about the industry (kickbacks, cheap dresses/expensive alterations) that i am more than happy to share via pm or here if more info is desired.

good luck and congrats. a piece of advice i have from my sister's wedding (who did it very cheap) is to pay money so the family can enjoy it, instead of being cheap and family ends up working all day so casual acquaintances can enjoy.
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Old 10-04-2010, 12:02 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ronocnikral View Post
... i would expect to pay $25-$75/person for food. dress should run anywhere from $1k to $3k. photographer should be about $10k (just joking, $1k to $3k). flowers $500 to $1k. tuxes $400-$700. hair/makeup $200-$700. etc etc. these are just starting prices for what i would consider "nice" options of the more major items. I haven't even gotten into all the weird crap like shoes, dresses for bridesmaids, bridal showers, invitations etc. there are quirks about the industry (kickbacks, cheap dresses/expensive alterations) that i am more than happy to share via pm or here if more info is desired.

good luck and congrats. a piece of advice i have from my sister's wedding (who did it very cheap) is to pay money so the family can enjoy it, instead of being cheap and family ends up working all day so casual acquaintances can enjoy.
Thanks, that helps a lot! I appreciate the info from people who have actually gone through it. I had heard that around 20K was typical... I am afraid myself and DW aren't going to be of much help other than financially since we live so far away. We plan on making one trip out to Seattle before the wedding to meet the groom's family and probably sending out the invitations ourselves. I dont know how many people will be invited, but judging from their Facebook friends and college buddies there could be quite a few. Again thanks for the info!
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Old 10-04-2010, 12:05 PM   #8
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Congratulations on your daughter’s engagement.

There is no such thing as a “typical” wedding and there is no limit to how much can be spent. There is no doubt, however, that a wedding can cost more than a new car or a down payment for a house.

Do the bride and groom have any debts or obligations? Are they working? Do they own a home or want to own one? How about cars – old, new, etc?

We told our kids that when they got married there was a fixed amount available. They could take it in cash, use it for a wedding, or any combination of those two, but that was it.So far one took the cash, the other spent it on the wedding, and the third says she will take the cash.
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Old 10-04-2010, 12:14 PM   #9
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No real debts or obligations, but both plan on going back to school, my daughter for an MBA and the groom for architecture. I plan on helping my daughter with the MBA but I'm sure that between the two of them they will be incurring some debt soon. Both currently have very good jobs but daughter has some scholarships she needs to use within the next couple of years and really does need the MBA to progress in her field.

I plan on giving her the fixed amount similar to what MichaelB has described, I wonder if that applies to the maximum allowable gift per year without tax law? Same question on helping with the MBA?
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Old 10-04-2010, 12:34 PM   #10
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I'm The Father of the Bride next Sunday. 2nd daughter so I know the ropes. Rules for FOB straight from dirty dozen "Just walk slow, act dumb and look stupid!"

DD #2 took the bar exam in July and is marrying a very nice Engineer. Both are practical and economical There will be 160 guests. I spent yesterday putting jordan almonds on cloth squares and tying bows on the squares. DW was making Burlap covers for the benches at the nature center. Couple printed all the invitations after engineer computer cut the woodblock print. The wedding budget is about $100 per person. Lots of food and drink and music

DD had been MOH for older one so she knew what was needed and was her own wedding planner. She also reused various table items form older sister weddings

Outside of 100 pp budget

Photographer/videographer is gift from grooms parents, no idea what is the cost.

I bought the Mother of the Bride dress at Macys, approved by both bride and MOH. $225 with alterations. Very nice, might be reusable . Bridal gown is $750 including alterations. Filenes Running of the brides. We are paying celebrant, and since I own a LBYM car I rented something nice for taking the Bride to the venue. We are also paying to shuttle some elderly relatives etc. so add another $2000 or so

$20,000

These are Baltimore Suburban prices. Below NY but similar to most suburban areas in USA. should be nice, with couple reducing costs wherever possible
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Old 10-04-2010, 12:35 PM   #11
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Why, back in the day when we got married, [cue the Four Yorkshiremen]...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Automatika View Post
My oldest daughter has just gotten engaged and this is my first experience with weddings... Does any one know what a typical wedding costs? I live in Nashville but my daughter lives and will be getting married in Seattle. I would like to be able to give her a reasonable budget to work within without breaking the bank....
The Dollar Stretcher has a whole collection of wedding topics:
The Dollar Stretcher
As you might imagine from a website like that, there's a keen competition to outdo the Four Yorkshhiremen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rustic23 View Post
Our daughter married in 1992. We gave her a $6,000 budget for a Houston wedding. We told her that she could have any money left over, but if she went over it was on her. I think they went a couple of hundred over and we covered it. It was a nice wedding with wine at the reception. She was happy with her choices and her wedding.
I have always thought of weddings as a send off. Being practical, I don't think you should ever spend more on the wedding than the bride and groom will receive in gifts. It seem, however, today the sky is the limit and it is more emphasis on the party.
I'm conflicted, but there has to be a way to align the recipient's priorities (max value for min cost) with yours. We tried to do this with our kid's choice of a college laptop-- she was given an unlimited budget but told that it would reduce the profit-sharing from her college fund. After months of research and debate (and a lot of hardware/software education from Dad), only a Macbook would do.

I can understand the marketing reality distortion field attraction, but she essentially spent $1100 for $500 of hardware, marginal performance, a closed OS, and a lack of software choices. I know I could have done a lot better with a PC laptop, but the "it just works" feature turned out to be exactly the right one for her. Psychologically she's thrilled, motivated, and committed to her choice instead of grumbling or angling for upgrades. Me, too-- I've never had to do a bit of Dad's Tech Support for her.

So if someday that blessed nuptial announcement comes from our kid, I guess we'd try to work up our own cost estimate that would match our values. We'd write a check to the happy couple and ask them to tell us where to show up when.

Maybe I'd find more value to the cost of the wedding if I was invited to the bachelor party. No, wait, that might send the wrong sort of message to the gorilla who's sleeping with my baby girl. Maybe spouse would apply that logic to the bachelorette party. Gosh, I can't imagine how her presence at that would affect the enthusiasm of the other participants.

Gee, I wonder if they'd be tempted to throw the affair here in Hawaii...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Automatika View Post
No real debts or obligations, but both plan on going back to school, my daughter for an MBA and the groom for architecture. I plan on helping my daughter with the MBA but I'm sure that between the two of them they will be incurring some debt soon. Both currently have very good jobs but daughter has some scholarships she needs to use within the next couple of years and really does need the MBA to progress in her field.
I plan on giving her the fixed amount similar to what MichaelB has described, I wonder if that applies to the maximum allowable gift per year without tax law? Same question on helping with the MBA?
I suspect that if you donate your money to a 529 and use that to pay for your daughter/SIL's educational expenses (which is a very broad category for 529s) then you'd be able to continue to gift each one of them $13K/year. But I'd check Fairmark or IRS.gov first.
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Old 10-04-2010, 12:45 PM   #12
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only a Macbook would do.

I can understand the marketing reality distortion field attraction, but she essentially spent $1100 for $500 of hardware, marginal performance, a closed OS, and a lack of software choices.
.
You can tell a Mac user, but not much .......

In my department exactly one half the engineering faculty are Mac and the other half are NOT. We have some incredibly funny compatibility fights.
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Old 10-04-2010, 12:55 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Automatika View Post
No real debts or obligations, but both plan on going back to school, my daughter for an MBA and the groom for architecture. I plan on helping my daughter with the MBA but I'm sure that between the two of them they will be incurring some debt soon. Both currently have very good jobs but daughter has some scholarships she needs to use within the next couple of years and really does need the MBA to progress in her field.

I plan on giving her the fixed amount similar to what MichaelB has described, I wonder if that applies to the maximum allowable gift per year without tax law? Same question on helping with the MBA?
If you give the money to your daughter and she uses it for college it is subject to gift tax, if you pay college directly it is not. I would imagine the same applies to wedding related expenses.
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Old 10-04-2010, 02:27 PM   #14
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From the little I know.... I think the $20K is what my sister paid for her step daughter a few years ago....


As for how high can they go Let's just say back when I did taxes (early 80s) there was one rich guy who spent $2 million on his daughter's wedding... and he wanted us to write it off as a business expense... the partner had a nice converstion with him about orinary and necessary business expenses...
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Old 10-04-2010, 02:45 PM   #15
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Congratulations to your daughter, Automatika! And you really got some great responses about Seattle weddings.

DD was married a few years ago and we got several estimates from each type of vendor. I feel people can save money on with the flowers--they are always pretty and most people won't notice or care what the flowers really look as long as you have some. Same for wedding cake; no need to pop for something super special--people who like cake will enjoy whatever you serve, people who don't, won't even eat it.

The groom's family offered to pay for the liquor, which we thought was very nice, so maybe your daughter's fiance will do the same.

We did pay for the bridesmaids' dresses, but they were all like daughters to us. That is not very common and not at all expected, so don't plan on that expense.

I think the economy has hurt the wedding business (duh) so there should be some serious negotiating room for the venue, dress, and other areas.
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Old 10-04-2010, 03:00 PM   #16
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My DD was married in August of 2001 in NY and it was 60K for 114 people. This included everything including the wedding dress that was bought a Kleinfelds. I must have been crazy but I only had one daughter so I let my DW go nuts.
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Old 10-04-2010, 03:03 PM   #17
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I must have been crazy but I only had one daughter so I let my DW go nuts.
I agree.
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Old 10-04-2010, 03:11 PM   #18
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My daughter's wedding took place in Portland, Oregon last October.

I gave her $10K and told her to spend it on either the wedding, or something else "big". I told her as long as she didn't fritter it away on iPods and such I would be happy.

She had a beautiful wedding, with about 50 guests, I suppose? I didn't count. It was outside in the "wedding grove" behind a brewhaus (none of us are religious), and the reception was there too in a historic building. She had a lavish catered dinner, an open bar with free drinks, and flowers, decorations, favors for the guests, two wedding cakes (different flavors), and all the trimmings. Dancing was to recorded music, though, not a band. And her dress, while very expensive looking with lots of hand sewn beads and lace, was one that she found on sale for almost nothing - - around $100 if my memory is correct.

I have NO idea what the total was, but I think it was well over $10K. She thanked me for "helping to pay for her dream wedding". I would imagine that means that her father or in-laws may have contributed some as well.

When I was researching how much a modest wedding cost (mostly by discussing with my coworkers at the time), most said $10K but some of my Italian friends went all out and spend $30K for a great big Italian wedding with all the relatives. I would double these prices for Seattle, though.
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Old 10-04-2010, 03:30 PM   #19
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Whatever you do talk her into buying favors if she must have them . There is nothing worse than the day before the wedding assembling 100 favors because the bride wanted something unique but never quite got to them . Another great idea which my daughter's florist did was take the flowers from the church and put them in vases for the reception.
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Old 10-04-2010, 03:37 PM   #20
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My DD was married in August of 2001 in NY and it was 60K for 114 people. This included everything including the wedding dress that was bought a Kleinfelds. I must have been crazy but I only had one daughter so I let my DW go nuts.
I think 60K is about par for that area . I bet her dress was gorgeous . That show is featured in a TV series "Say yes to the dress " .Which I will fess up and say I watch it sometimes . It reminds me of when my daughter & I shopped for her dress . I was in tears . It was one of the best & most emotional times of my life .
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