Wedding budget part 2

In my last post we walked through the budgeting process. There were many great tips on wedding budgeting and links to my favorite wedding coordinators. I also listed the budget numbers for a real Maine wedding. In the interests of full disclosure, that example was my wedding in 2014, and represented a fairly basic, no frills wedding. In this post we are going to look at another wedding, more typical of my clients in many respects. I will point out some differences and some reasons why you may make different choices based on your wedding priorities.

The Wedding Budget

Wedding Service Actual
and/or ProductsBudgetPrice
Ceremony Site Fee (Courtyard) included in pkg
Officiant  $400.00
Marriage License $40
Music (incl in venue pkg)  
Catholic Church $600.00
catholic marriage prep $100.00
church tips & Music. Piano 175, singer 150, Fthr, dan 125, alter server 20  $470
Room Rental Fee  Included
Venu & Food & Beverage / Vista (F&B $13,000++)$10,000.00$13,250
Wedding Night Suite incl in pkg  Included in pkg
Cake included with venu  Included in pkg
Specialty Linens  Included in pkg
Flowers $1,072.92
Photography $2800
Videography $2,900
DJ/MC – Lighting Technician (delivery, setup, & strike) 4 Intelligent light fixtures, 10 LED lights, 2 truss pillars covered with spandex featuring pillar up-lights (4 Hr Pkg), Add’l Hr(s)(1) – $850.00 Star Maze(1) – $350.00 LED Light(s)(10) – $1,000.00 Video Screen & 3000 Lumens Projector w/ Dress Kit(1) – $1,000.00 (4 to 10 pm) $2,507.35 pkg price
Invitations & Save the dates DIY $525
Stamps $175
Guest Book/Cake Knife/Glasses  
Gown / Veil /  Accessories (not to include in budget) $1,083.00
Rings/bands $1975
Bridal party gifts/groom part gifts $175
Tuxedo Rental $175
Valet Parking   Included
Vendor Meals  Included
Limousine $600.00
Make-up  $500.00
Hair  Included w/makeup
Favors $183.00
Wedding planner $1,200.00
Dance Floor  Included
Cash Bar & Champagne Toast  Included
Honeymoon $2,687
wedding website $0
save the dates $0
GRAND TOTAL $33,418.27

Where did the Money go?

This was a bigger wedding, with about 175 guests and a budget of $30,000. It was also an off-season date wedding, so they were actually able to get some great deals. In fact, between the venue, DJ, Photographer, and Videographer, they were able to save nearly $8,000.00. All of their chosen wedding professionals, including the venue were well established professionals referred by friends. The only thing they went over budget on was the venue, and it was well over their budget, but in the brides words “Once we saw it, there was just nothing else that would do”. The best part for them is that the videographer was a gift from the parents, almost certainly made as a concession for having 2 wedding ceremonies. The rest of the overage was made up with wedding gift money.

What is Off-Season?

Off-season dates vary around the country, but November through April are generally considered off-season dates in Maine, as well as Fridays, Sundays, Holiday Mondays, and select dates such as the weekend prior to Christmas, or the weekend after Thanksgiving. This wedding was the week before Christmas at a resort hotel.

As I mentioned, the couple in this example were catholic with may non-religious friends, so they had 2 ceremonies. Beyond that, and the lighting effects they chose, there is very little that could be considered extravagant. They had a cash bar that was included in the hotel’s package with a minimum total tab, which was cleared easily. Champagne toast was also included in the package offered by the hotel. Check out my Money and Alcohol blog for more tips on saving at the bar while treating your guests right.

The venue costs how much?!?!

When pricing a venue, always ask what is included. This is what makes the comparison of this wedding with my own so illustrative. We paid $1,500 just for a location for our wedding to take place. Everything else was extra – the caterer, linens and associated rentals, decorating, everything. Our wedding had 100 guests with a total venue, catering, rentals, bar & champagne costs of over $9,000.00. This wedding had a space with everything included for 175 people for $4,000 more, and the majority of that cost is for feeding the extra 75 guests. Some of that fee my hinge upon food choices.

How many guests are you expecting?

The number of guests you invite is the biggest variable cost of your wedding. Double your guest count, and you will significantly increase the cost of your wedding.  It will double your invitation costs, your food costs, sometimes it affects facility cost. Doubling your guest count will double any costs presented to you as a per person cost. If you can DIY any of these, invitations, place cards, favors, seating charts, etc, you can save a nice bit of money that could be put to a static or fixed cost.

Fixed costs

We’ve discussed variable costs, the costs that rise and fall based on your guest count. but what about fixed or static costs? Your Videographer, Officiant, Photographer, DJ, Limo, wedding dress, photo booth, and so on. These are the same price no matter how many people are invited. There may be slight variations, but nothing like the variations that come with per person pricing. With these, choose based on quality, value, and priority.

More to come..

Now we have the middle and lower middle tiers covered. I will do my best to furnish examples of a $10,000 wedding, as well as a $60,000+ wedding to round out the topic. and even more if I can get them. Remember I am including the costs of Honeymoon, rings, formal wear and wedding gowns in these examples. These are ancillary and not necessarily part of the average couples core wedding budget. When possible I am including these figures to give you a full picture of what a wedding costs.  These figures are provided by the grace of my clients, so I can’t predict specifically when I will get the next in this series up, but hopefully soon. In the meantime, stay tuned, as there is so much else to talk about!

What are your experiences?

I would LOVE to hear your wedding budget stories! Please let me know what experiences you have had, and any similarities or differences you may have had. you can send me your thoughts by email at if you would like. As always, the more information we can share the better. I can’t wait to here your story!

Setting your Wedding Budget

I recently revamped a 2016 post entitled /wedding-client-meetings/in honor of the new year. This was one of my first posts and the title no longer fits the article as it has evolved over the past 2 – 3 years. It started as a primer for client meetings, and turned into a primer for what to do from the moment you recover from saying “Yes, I Will marry you”. In that post, I mentioned my next post would be about money, the container for this one of a kind celebration you are about to plan. I’ve adjusted my strategy to better serve you. Instead of a single blog post, this is the first of several showcasing real Maine wedding budgets. My aim here is to help you see how others do it, and how your tastes, preferences, and needs can best be served.

Your Budget is your container

If that container is a glass, think about it as a glass of beer. I specifically use beer for this example because of the foam at the top. You need to leave room for additions, subtractions, cost over runs, and the just plain unexpected. So you have the actual beer that represents your ideal wedding budget, and the foam/suds/head, what ever you want to call it that represents the unknowns. Everything should have a range you want to stay in. So when you set a budget, have a buffer. On a $30,000 wedding (just below the current average of $35000, but easier to work with) Your buffer should be between $3,000 – $6,000 so +/- %15

The fun part

Start with the fun part. Grab a couple adult beverages, and let your imagination run wild with all you can ever want for your wedding. Load it right up, this is your fantasy wedding day, make sure to include the total number of guests you would invite if you could. When you have this list built, pick out the musts, the priorities. Things that will absolutely make or break your wedding day. This will become your first draft of your lower range. Once you have that lower range, sleep on it, revisit it and prioritize what order all of these items on the wish list should be in for you. This will come in handy as you revisit the list and have to subtract, or have found a way to add something to your must haves. Now I am going to politely crush all of your dreams with this….

A Real Maine Wedding Budget

We’ll do this with a very basic $18,000 sample wedding. Initial budget was $15K, mom gifted the honeymoon, and the rest of the overage was made up through wedding gifts. While this is about half the average budget, it’s a real look at a couple who just wanted the basics, but wanted them done right.

Venue 1 (church) $500 + Flowers $350 = $850 total

Venue 2 Room With a View at Portland Company Complex $1,500

Catering for 100 ppl including Hors D’ Oeuvres and rentals $6,000.00

Bar – Drink tickets for guests $800

Photographer $2700

DJ $1500

Dress $750

Groom suit $200

Limo $500

Honeymoon $2,200.00 (not including pocket money)

Favors, Gifts, & Misc. $1000

Total: $18,000.00


Now of course cost and quality go hand in hand, and some people have different priorities than others. In the above example, the bride was not a huge fan of flowers, which gave her room to spend elsewhere. I’m sure this will apply to you as well. Book your priority pieces first, or at least make a significant effort to research the pieces you consider priorities to know how much of your budget that priority will consume.


Sometimes a relative will gift a vendor to you such as Videographer, DJ, Honeymoon, open bar, etc. Whatever you do, make sure you are part of the decision to hire the person you want for that role. Remind the relative that your piece of mind is paramount, and while you appreciate the gesture, you want to meet and get a comfort level with the wedding professional they have offered to pay for so you can relax knowing that it really is taken care of. 

First Base

You can use this as a basis for your budgeting. Do a little research, and don’t be afraid to inquire with people you feel may be out of your price range. Sometimes the difference in in customer service. In other cases the difference is in technical expertise. Quite often, there are personalities that just connect, or don’t, and the decision is made right there. If at the end of the day you are comfortable with the choice you have made, that is what matters. The whole point is for you to enjoy your wedding celebration without worrying about anything but having a great time with your friends and family.

Higher wedding budgets

More money gives you more venue options, allows for more guests, allows for options like photo booths or uplights, wedding bands, open bars, more flowers, you name it. I will be posting more Real Maine Wedding Budgets so you can get a sense of what is happening out in the marketplace. Feel free to share your experiences with me in the comments.

If all of this is overwhelming, reach out to a wedding planner such as

Meghan Torierri –

Catherine Fairbanks-Cliffe –

Lani Toascano –

Christina @ Pinch Me Planning –

Wendy Caron

Wedding Planners are not expensive, they are priceless. If you have a full time job, and your fiance has a full time job, hiring a planner can make your life so much easier. If you are from away and need a central contact who really knows the area and the offerings in that area, these planners are priceless. Please tell them I sent you!

Thanks for checking in, and I will see you in my next blog post