Post-It Notes – 18th November 2011: Just How Much is This Wedding Going to Cost Us?

Photography Credit: Andy Gaines Creative (full wedding on the blog soon)

I’ve been wanting to put this post together for some time to give you an idea of what you might expect to pay for certain areas of your wedding.

Now before I get you all hating on me, saying “But we can’t afford to spend XYZ on my dress/our photos/the food” I want to make it clear that I’m certainly not writing this to show you what you should be spending. No no no, I want this post to give you a basic idea of what you might get initially quoted to save you from the mini-heart attack I had when I first realised how much wedding dresses were.

You are then of course at full liberty to completely ignore these prices and spend as much or as little as you wish on your wedding. However knowledge is what you need when stepping into the somewhat daunting wedding world, and I’m here to give you just that.

Anyway, I hope this little list helps to give you an idea of how much things are. I’m not going to go into too much detail here or try and justify the suppliers corner as to why their prices are what they are or why some people charge more/less than others (if you’re concerned, then hell, just ask, I’m sure they’ll explain). I just want to save my lovely readers form having early embolisms when they’re faced with THE BILL.

My research showed that in the UK, the average cost of the main areas of wedding expense were as follows:

♥ Photography £1200 – £2000

♥ Videographer £1000 – £2000

♥ Flowers £1000

♥ Stationery £1000

♥ Wedding Dress £1000 – £2000

♥ Engagement Ring £2500 (woah lucky ladies!)

♥ Wedding Ring £400 – £1000

♥ Band/Entertainment £600-£1500 (depending of numbers of band members)

♥ Catering £25-£50 per person

♥ Make Up £200 (bride only + pre-wedding trial) +£50 extra per bridesmaid/Mother of the bride

♥ Hair £150 (bride only + pre-wedding trial) +£50 extra per bridesmaid/Mother of the bride

♥ Cake £350

♥ Wedding Planner – Approx 10% of your budget (full coordination) £650 – £1000 (on the day styling/coordination)

The good news is that many areas are really easy to make your budget go further. Would you like me to go through some of these money saving ideas in future editions of Post It Notes? I discovered through my research that catering costs for example can vary vastly depending on what kind of food you want and if you need to hire extras like linen, crockery, cutlery, kitchen equipment etc. Hit me up in the comments and let me know which areas you’re struggling to budget for and I’ll see if I can help y’all…

I came up with the figures in this article by asking around a number of my wedding supplier friends within each area and taking the midpoint from what they felt would be an average spend (not necessarily their prices). Thanks to everyone that helped me out.

77 comments

  1. I got married four years ago so not so relevant now (but would take another ring if offered one!) but find it surprising somehow that make-up costs more than hair does. Just remember being sat in that hairdresser chain itching to get married and it seemed to take forever!

  2. Hi Abbey – Tattybojangles.

    If you are concerned about your flowers being thrown away the day after ask your florist if they will repackage them the following day.

    If they are coming to collect glassware etc it shouldn’t be a problem.

    You can then give them to guests, friends and family as a further memento of your day. You have paid for them after all and they will easily last 1-2 weeks if cared for.

  3. Kate

    Great post! I’ve found all the average prices in wedding magazines a bit low compared to what we seem to be spending, maybe because I’m in London? I don’t know much about rings so the guide for the wedding rings is useful.

    I’d rather not know how much my engagement ring cost as I’ve a feeling it’s a lot more than I’d want to be worried about having on my finger everyday – ignorance is bliss (and I’m a very lucky girl!)

  4. Lucky ladies indeed ! My engagement ring cost £65 !! ( It was nearly 20 years ago I suppose, we were only 17 & my now husband had a saturday job at Somerfields ! … so I was probably lucky it wasn’t made out a Ferreo Roche wrapper !! )

  5. Lauren

    Also in response to Julia who asked about pricing just for bouquet, posies and buttonholes:

    We met with a florist yesterday (the second we have met) and she quoted approx £75 for bouquet, £50 for bridesmaid posies, and £5 per buttonhole. This is in Cambridgeshire, a well respected village florist shop, and would be using seasonal summer flowers. Her prices were pretty similar to the other quote we received.

  6. Useful info i think for every bride out there believing what the wedding magazines tell them!

    The only point I’d make is that you can (with nice florists) spend less than £1000 if the florist will source your flowers and you (or your wedding stylist), arrange them on the day. I do this a lot with my clients to help them save money and as long as you don’t want elaborate displays, it works pretty well.

  7. This is a really helpful post – its good to see where, as a supplier, you fall in terms of national average. It can be difficult to decide your own worth at times, however, and I completely agree with Susan when she says that the price tends to reflect the quality of the service – not to say that I haven’t encountered suppliers who I feel are drastically overcharging for what I feel is a substandard service, but by and large price tends to indicate the quality of a product or service. I think when (and if!) I eventually do get married (and based on the experience of my bridal clients) if budget is limited, its a case of prioritising what is the most important part of a wedding to you – everyone should have a few key details which are exactly what they always wanted, even if other details might have to be a compromise.

  8. Post author

    Ha thanks philosophy flowers – ill be honest I was kinda guessing with those prices of bouquets and button holes and I think that’s about what we paid but agreed that you can defo get them cheaper if you want.depends a lot on size and types of flowers I guess.

  9. Thank you for the post! I appreciate the comment about normal entertainment prices at weddings. As a professional belly dancer, I often get calls from prospective clients seeking my services, and the majority more often than not are surprised to hear that my minimum rate for performing is US$200 (US$350 and up for weddings). This is because they get so many wildly varying rates from eager amateurs who undercut the professionals, but lack the skills, experience and equipment (costumes, props, sound system, etc.) to provide an elegant and classy performance that they don’t realize quality entertainment costs some decent money.

  10. I’m actually writing a blog post on my budget as I’ve been trying to trim the ‘fat’ off stuff to make our budget work and still get that dream day that I’d like.
    My budget is £4,000 and that has to include our honeymoon. We don’t want a big wedding so looking at about 20-30 guests and our honeymoon we just want to go camping in the UK for a week or two as a couple so nothing overly expensive. I’m just finding it hard to keep to my budget and stressing I won’t be able to do it.
    Would love to see more info on making a great looking wedding on a low budget (ie: below £5,000).

  11. Just realised, I said to my husband not to bother with an engagement ring as they were just too expensive and I wasn’t that bothered! I’m so pleased that we didn’t as about 7 years after we were married my Granny gave my Mum a ring which she made into 2 rings and we now both wear the same one. So much more personal as my Grandpa had given it to Granny when all her jewellery had been stolen. I feel very very lucky!

  12. Post author

    geek bride – just prioritise whats important to you. you can totally do a wedding for under £4000, spend as much as you can on the things that really matter to you and diy/forget the rest. you can do it!

  13. Lisa

    Would love some advice on catering on a budget. We have a beautiful village hall so are lucky to be able to have a choice of caterers but can’t afford to spend the £35 a head most have quoted. We have 120 guests as we both have huge families, so doing it ourselves is not really an option – unless we are awake all night the night before making sandwiches! We have looked at using Waitrose catering or similar for a buffet. Anyone else done similar? xx

  14. clairewinners

    This is really interesting we r diying alot and have talented family members helping with flowers,cake,bunting etc!however we initially budgeted £900for photography thinking we could at least get a digital package… turns out not so much!we now have 10 months till wday and still no decision on a photographer…something which i think is uber important! Now have no idea where to turn! x

  15. You know what, I think if I’d discovered this blog before I booked my venue my wedding would have been very different and probably a whole lot cheaper.

    I was always the girl that nearly threw up when I thought about spending SO MUCH money on one day, thinking I would be shrewd and low key and I would be happy with that. But, you know what, when it came down to it we spent around 12k and I LOVED that day and will treasure the memories and photographs for the rest of my life. But, despite the fact that on paper we spent a lot of money, we did our own flowers, dresses, had a cream tea wedding breakfast and everything we could DIY we did. So basically I suppose what I’m saying is WTF did we spend all that money on?

    The one thing I did find your blog in time for was the photographer, Emma Case, and despite the fact that I never in a million years thought I’d spend x amount of money of photographs, it was the best decision we made and I’d pay that ten times over knowing what I know now.

    Wow, rambling much.

  16. Samantha

    Lisa -we are having a ‘posh’ bbq at £19 a head. This is at our venue which they are providing though. Maybe try local suppliers who do this type of thing?

    I think the entry is a great idea! Although i do hate those average spend cost things in all the bridal mags.
    At the end of the day do it within your means. Nobody wants to start married life in debt.
    One of the best weddings ive seen was on a YAYW forum (i think it may have been posted here too) She did the whole thing on 3K. It was lovely.

  17. That is a really useful post, I find a lot of brides see gorgeous (but really huge) flower arrangements in magazines and they are shocked when they find out the prices are so far out of their budget.
    The only price that surprised me was the stationary costs, maybe because I always thought I would design my own and just get it printed.
    I wouldn’t scrimp on photography costs, my friend said she wasn’t bothering with a photographer as she has family who are good at taking photos, but there is no comparison with professional images and they are still on a hard drive, not printed a year later.

  18. Natalie J

    Fab post Kat! It’s really helpful, both for engaged couples and wedding suppliers, to see what the average costs are. I’m particularly glad to see reading through the comments how important people note photography. Yes, photos are the ONE THING (other than your better half and ring) that will last forever and be the main memory of your special day. I always stress for people to not scrimp on photography. It’s worrying when photographers charge so little – you definitely get what you pay for!!

  19. Rachel

    Wow – I’m quite suprised by these prices being as high as they are as everything we paid for was way under this aside from the catering and dress costs. Having said that, we shopped around A LOT, are very fortunate to have talented friends and family members who helped us out, and I DIY’d a considerable amount with my lovely Mum.

    My top tip: we used our Tesco clubcard vouchers to convert them into Goldsmiths vouchers at 4 times their value so both our rings were kind of free!

  20. Emily

    These prices seem to hit the nail on the head, Kat. We are currently planning our wedding which is in April 2012. Most of our prices are falling dead in the middle of your estimates, which is good to see we’re not being ripped off or going too cheap (which would then concern me WHY it’s too cheap!)
    Our budget started as £10,000 and looks like it will come in nearer £12,000 but on the whole we’ve gone for all the things we wanted – photographer, plenty of flowers, lovely catering, big marquee, 1940s trio for our band, custom designed/made dress etc. We’ve just really reigned in on pre-made, expensive decorations – I’m a big crafter, so it’s all being hand done by myself along with friends and family. If it’s not your forte then it may feel time consuming, but as I love it, it’s just adding to the enjoyment of our ‘wedding season’. It’s amazing what miles of ‘doily bunting’ and festoons of strung lights can do for a place!

  21. Roo

    Definitely more cost-saving ideas please Kat!

    We had a long discussion about costs this very evening – mostly catering this time. Our plan to save money by self-catering (with help from friends and family) for 80-100 people may be a *bit* overambitious but we both like (a) cooking and (b) a challenge!

    I don’t know where to start on stationery – any tips on how to cut costs there would be hugely appreciated!

  22. We are doing a fantastic amazing wedding for around $20k AUD. I do disagree with Susan (first poster) in that a cheaper service will be worse. We’re paying more for our photographer as they are one of the best in Sydney in our opinion, but I spent $500 on the dress on ebay. it is an original by the designer but because it’s used it’s cheap. Only had to spend $100 to take it up and the rest of the dress fit like a dream (which is of course because I checked the measurements with the seller before buying).

    Also, one thing I really disagree with in general about weddings is the emphasis put on flowers. Why do we have to decorate with flowers?? We’re decorating with six Chinese lanterns hanging from the ceiling (unlit, and only six because that’s the number of hooks they have). That’s all. The package we booked include table decorations of tea candles and rose petals, so I just went with that and saved myself $300 on potential table decorations. I figure no-one is going to care that their table is only decorated with candles! Why would they?

    And the ceremony is outdoors on the restaurant’s terrace area, with a beautiful big tree hanging over it. The site is providing two vases full of lilies for the altar area, but other than that, I have no decoration whatsoever for the ceremony. None. Savings: potentially heaps!

    My advice to brides is: when someone says, this is what this will cost, ask yourself, what would my wedding look like *without that option at all*? I took out flowers, expensive new dress, veil (which are shockingly expensive), white shoes (mine are red and $200 less for that), an MC (my DJ is doing it), videography (don’t judge me, it’s just not us) and centrepieces. And my day is going to be gorgeous to me :D

  23. As of my recent engagement ( a whole 5 days ago!) I have done nothing but think about how we can’t afford a wedding. And seeing the prices quoted above just confirms this! Do people really go and spend that much money, and do guests/bridesmaids/mothers expect all their hair and make up done for them?! I hope my darling mummy will excuse me if I don’t pay for hers! A big massive eeeek from here on in I think, if anyone has any useful, budget pinching advice I’d be so grateful!

  24. SarahF

    Thanks for the budget – it just frustrates me when people say ‘oooh I wouldn’t pay that for that’ because ‘my wonderful wedding cost just x because my mum/nan/neighbour did this and dad/brother/uncle did that so people playing the average are foolish’ – just count yourself lucky to have so much support. I’m sick of being criticised for my budgeting decisions when I don’t have that network to rely on.

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