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. Right, now I know how much to bite the OH for when I change my mind about not having had an engagement ring 😉

    Even working in the wedding industry, I was surprised at some of the costs there – particularly for hair and makeup, and as for stationery – wowzers!

  2. “Engagement Ring £2500” Wow, that’s what I call an expensive budget for a ring. I don’t think mine will cost so much 😉
    Having friends who are photographers and/or in a band helps to reduce the cost too, as doing many things (as decoration) ourselves, doesn’t it ? Nevertheless, I’d definitively love to see you go through some money savings ideas in your future Post-It Note !

  3. Julia

    Any idea how much it should cost just for the bouquet, posies and buttonholes? Rather than the full floristry shebang? Ta

  4. Post author

    Hey Julia I think maybe £150 for a bouquet and £20 for button holes? It depends what flowers you have of course tho.I might be way off.maybe some florists could help me out here?

  5. Susan

    What about the cost of the venue? I was told that this was the part of the wedding that cost the most.

  6. Ruth

    Every time I freak over the cost of the wedding I remind myself how much it would cost to feed and water 80 people in a restaurant or how much I would spend a on outfit for a big event and suddenly it doesn’t seem so bad.

  7. You need to be extra careful when booking a live band!! £600 – £1500
    The price quoted at the outset may only be for a very basic service. Check through some of the entertainment agency websites to get feel for the real costs!! Extras may often include :- setting up early, lighting, music between sets, the third set, waiting time, travelling time, extra musicians, learning your first dance, staying beyond midnight, food and drink. etc etc….

  8. I didn’t have a clue when I started planning my wedding! There are always areas that need prioritising, things you really shouldn’t DIY but equally, there are so many areas that you can let your creativity run wild and cut back on costs too (as the amazing weddings you feature Kat so often demonstrate!!).

  9. My now Husband thought that our wedding would cost half of what it did. It helps that I work in events, so I had an idea of most of the costs but ti was a total shock to him. It’s difficult to then explain to your partner/parents that £150 is usual for a bouquet for instance!

  10. Ju

    I’m having a similar problem to carla la, with my mum. Both our parents are very kindly paying for the wedding, but they have no idea how much weddings these days can cost. I’m trying my best to let her know how careful we’re being with the budget, but I think she thinks we’re being frivolous. It’s very difficult, and it’s making me feel incredibly guilty!

  11. Post author

    Hey Susan. I didnt cover venue mainly cos I don’t really know that many of them to ask. Plus the prices can vary so much. Hiring a restaurant or pub for example can be much cheaper than going for a more traditional venue like a hotel or country house.I’ve seen prices for the latter everything between £3000-£25000! Some of these include catering, chair hire and stuff some don’t.its a very broad area! I guess all I can advise is do your research and make sure you find out what’s included for the price!

  12. Post author

    Jen u was quite surprised at the average engagement ring spend too.I’m sure mine was nowhere near that price! Who cares what its costs tho? Its the reason behind the ring that counts 🙂

  13. Post author

    Yes nicki that’s correct – the £1000 for stationery would cover all paper goods from order if service menus table plans etc not just basic invites xx

  14. Sarah

    Susan yes a “venue” can be free (e.g. function room in golf club, etc) or up to & around £5-6k, some provide dining packages for wedding breakfast & eve meal others don’t.
    “Venue” could host the wedding & reception or either, you have to get stuck in and do your research based on what you “would like”. Only when you do this and find out exactly what things cost can you then rule out/include options.

    Wedding forums are very useful for ideas, such as wedding ideas, Brides Magazine, Confetti, Perfect Weddings, etc.
    I have a comprehensive spreadsheet of “to do’s” for a wedding which I cribbed from another Bride to be which will cover most things you need to include, my email is “smalljinx@msn.com” I’m happy to email a copy to you if you send your e-address to me.

  15. Alison

    Is the wedding ring price for both bride & groom? We are finding men’s rings cost a lot more: more metal for a bigger ring equals much higher price!

  16. Post author

    No each.we got our rings from a great online shop and they were very reasonable. I think under £500 each for platinum! The high st is quite over priced IMHO for wedding bands so look in more obscure places to save money 🙂

  17. Post author

    Alison, also using unusual metals can be cheaper esp for men’s rings.look at palladium, titanium and even moon rock! Very cool and not as $$$ as gold or platinum!

  18. I think these prices are realistic for a high end Wedding but so as not to freak people out you can have an amazing Wedding and spend a lot less than this. A bouquet can cost from £50 upwards and you can make your own stationary very cheaply if your budget is smaller. Most suppliers will be happy to work to your budget and planners can suggest great ways to save money without compromising on style.

  19. RE Stationery … The wedding I have done, where people are having about 90 guests thena further 40 guests for the evening typically means
    50-60 day invitations
    25-30 evening invitations
    50-60 order of service
    40 menus
    10 table names
    90 placecards
    1 table plan
    90 favour boxes
    sometimes people have a postbox, save the date and thank you cards too!

    All my stationery is handmade, the materials cost a fair bit, ink isn’t cheap for printing inserts and all of the above would be about 60 hours work (not including designing, travel, researching, buying supplies, meeting the couple etc which I never charge for)

    It certainly does add up!

    Engagement ring £2,500 ?! WOW!

  20. Suze

    Is it weird/wrong that I feel smug and proud that every single thing on my list cost less than that? 😉

  21. Nikki Ward

    I think this is a great basic list of what people should expect. So many guides just use ‘percentages’ of budget which doesn’t really give a realistic amount in your head.
    Would like to clarify when Belinda says ‘wowzers’ about £1000 for stationery .. this is almost certainly the price for all your invitations, order of service, place cards and all the rest of your reception stationery not just the invitations 🙂

  22. We have decided to go down a complete non-weddingy route so that we can afford to get married and celebrate with all our friends and family. I hope the plans work out, the only thing we would like to spend the money on is a photographer but even that will be a struggle. We spent a lot of time coming up with ideas for our wedding, including keeping it very small and in a registry office so it was affordable but ultimately we want everyone we love there. In the end the best thing we did was to strip it all back and realise we can’t please everyone else, we made a list of the things we love and have planned the day around that. I know that in the end our wedding won’t be what people would expect of a wedding but it will be very ‘us’.

  23. Marie-Claire

    I think this guide is excellent. Most are doing this wedding thing for the first time and half the time one does not know if what you are being quoted is reasonable or not. So keep them coming Kat 🙂

  24. Jill Hatton

    Weddings don’t have to cost so much ! It seems to me that weddings have become very much a matter of “keeping up with Joneses”.When my daughter got married recently ,with the help of family and friends ,we did everything we could ourselves, we embellished a plain dress ,made the cake and favours ,decorated the venue ,made hair accessories etc ,etc.The wedding and reception was wonderful as so many people had contributed their skills and love to make it a very special day. The total cost was £4000 and meant that my daughter and son in law had a wonderful memorable occasion which did not break the bank.

    This type of wedding would not suit everyone ,but I believe there are things brides and grooms can cut back on. I met a bride recently who bought her dress and shoes in the sales which saved her a considerable amount .

    Our business was formed from this occasion , as my daughter made her own hair band from recycled vintage family jewellery.We are very aware of the costs involved in a wedding and offer a wide range of hair accessories for all pockets are always conscious of keeping our prices as low as possible.

    Jill

  25. Sarah-Jane

    Wow! Our wedding is completely diy! Apart from the expensive side of things band, transport, catering etc etc. We are doing everything with the help of friends and family!! I would rather have the personal touches than spend unnecessary money! X

  26. £1000 each for stationery? We sent out printed handkerchiefs as invites and they only cost us just over £1 each. Even adding in order of service, table plans, menus, place settings, I find this high!
    But if brides have this level of money to spend – lucky girls!

  27. This is so useful for brides, I remember being totally shocked by prices when I got married and then majorly rebelled! I kind of made everyone work for it, Mum grew sweetpeas for the tables and I had a big fake poppy to hold which I still have. Luckily I could make my dresses and as for the engement ring, £90 at an antique shop and so beautiful, I then lost it and had to buy myself a replacement 1950s ring for £45. Imagine if I lost £2500! Our wedding rings were about £100 each too, it’s still on my finger and much lighter than everyone elses 🙂
    My Aunties and guests bought puddings for the buffet too which was such a lovely touch and my Mum made the wedding cake. The day was amazing! I think it came to around £7000 with the marquee, bands we found on myspace, an amazing local farm caterer, a bath tub bar, printing the invites and the lady to marry us.
    One thing I really wish though was hiring a professional wedding photographer and having a book printed, It would have been worth every penny. I still haven’t properly printed mine. If you have friends with skills get them to help out and value the things you are spending on, wedding stuff takes many hours of these skilled peoples hard work. x

  28. Hi Kat,

    My events experience tells me this list is about spot on for average spend but it’s important that brides-to-be realise that it is possible to economise further and still have a fabulous day (your blog is a great testimony to that).

    In my case we shopped around for a venue and have found a plain-ish room that can be dressed into something fabulous. We are making all decorations, stationery and possibly our own flower displays (depending on how fast I learn :-). For our rings we went to a small designer-maker and got something unique for less than half the average price and the same with my dress.

    Generally I’d tend to shop around for creative small businesses to work with, but don’t scrimp on things ike photography as the pictures will be with you forever.

    Claire.

  29. This is the first realistic cross section of average prices for weddingy things I have seen. Great and useful guideline! Thank you for a) mentioning videography (I know you don’t really ‘do’ video 🙂 and b) not having it in the £500 bracket.

    I can’t recall how many times ‘How-to-budget-for-your-wedding’ articles in renowned wedding magazines seem to float around the cloud-cuckoo delusion of quality wedding films for under £1000…

  30. Kat well done on this post – SO hard to average these costs but I think this is a fairly accurate and useful reflection. Scarily accurate for us brides to be (and I work in the industry)! There are of course these days so many suppliers that there is someone for everyone and their budgets but as you’ve said – this is what it COULD cost you, but that isn’t to say you should/have/want to spend this.

    As for the ring – I think that’s a very personal one. I know people who’ve spent £400 and I know people who’ve spent £6,000+. It’s all about working with your budget – so if the ring is a big thing, splurge on it – if flowers aren’t then you can limit this to just bouquet and a few displays. Some suppliers are more flexible than others as well so always worth letting them know what you have to work with as then they can give a more accurate price for what you can expect.

    Very useful to see REAL costs though and not those dictated in wedding magazines which can often be very out dated.

  31. Post author

    Yep Alexandre
    Agree that a pro photographer is the one thing over everything that you shouldn’t scrimp on.you’ll be looking at those photos forever!

  32. Post author

    Ines I saw one that said something like £134 for video! I was like ‘yeah on what planet!!?’ Those guides really give hard working suppliers a bad rep cos brides thing they’re massively over charging!

  33. This is interesting, I got married 2 years ago and looking down the list, I have spent BELOW the lower limit for all of them (this is NOT normal though, I think one has to be super resourceful and put lots of time & effort + willing to compromise to achieve that) apart from photography (ha! surprise much?) which I spent ABOVE the upper limit hehe…

    Ok I lied, can’t vouch for the engagement ring thing cos I didn’t buy it, but everything else is pretty accurate. But then again I didn’t have any flowers and made my own (non-floral) bouquet and button holes so that’s £0 for flowers… come to think of it I also did my own hair and made my own stationery etc… geez I just realised I was probably a wedding vendor nightmare (apart from photographers, of course ;-))!

  34. This is massively helpful and has made me feel better that I am paying about the right amount for things for my wedding! Happy to give you some cost-cutting ideas for bands / live music options if you want for a future post. x

  35. I would have LOVED this when I was getting married! I think a lot of people are right about the wedding mags, where do they get their figures from? It shocked me when looking for wedding photography and flowers and I had in my head that they were just charging a fortune for weddings but after seeing the hard work of the florists I completely understand! I also liked Ruth’s simple way of looking at it and loved the comparisons. I may use that to help friends jusitfy their costs!

    Any, like everyone else, all that on an egagement ring?! Is that a typo? haha. Lee picked mine from an antique shop for £250 when we were 18, my wedding ring was from my Mum’s shop and wholesale price was still twice as much as the engagement ring! 🙂

  36. Bran

    My advice would be to try and put a budget on each separate part of your wedding if you can, to get an idea of what you are likely to spend but always, always have a contingency because you are bound to find someone or something that you simply must have. Great blog Kat! xx

  37. Don’t kill me but when it came to my wedding budget my rule was if it’s likely to end up in the bin the next day it goes to the bottom of the list. So my stationery and flowers budget were minute. Where I spent money was on the things that would last like my accessories and photography.

    It’s totally up to personal taste though. Venues are a nightmare an you have to do your homework. I cannot stress that enough. We saved about £5000 on venue costs because we shopped around.

  38. As a wedding photographer based in the north east, sometimes I take up 40% of a brides budget, sometimes I take up 5% of a bride’s budget … it just depends how important photography is to the bride and groom

    Some have a budget of £4,000 to spend on a wedding, some spend £100,000 on a wedding .. everyone is different, and nowadays, most every wedding is different, personalised.

    It’s hard to get average figures for an article such as this, but I think you have done a decent job outlining some price ranges to help your readers

    Some of the nicest weddings I photograph have the smallest budgets, but, they realise how important it is to have creative professional images and set aside a large part of their budget so they have brilliant memories forever. Alternatively, I have missed out on £70,000+ budget weddings, because they thought a friend or two with cameras and collecting everyones Facebook photos ‘would do’

    Some brides get it, some brides want it, some brides can set aside the budget for it .. everyone is different

  39. Great post! Although I think £2.5k on a wedding ring is…erm, quite a lot, I am not that surprised that that amount of money is being spent. Lately the diamonds in the engagement rings I photograph on the wedding day seem to be getting bigger and BIGGER! Just out of curiosity I would be interested in seeing a bit more info on these averages. For example the £1200-£2000 quoted for a photographer…is that the range (i.e. min to max) that you’ve quoted for the sample you looked at? The same for videographer…in the grand scheme of things a range of £1000-£2000 is quite a wide range and I’d be interested to know what the true average is for some of these things.

    One other comment which is in a way related to all this is something I saw Jeff Ascough tweeting about. He said he would like to see the amounts spent on a wedding distributed more fairly between suppliers. I have to say I agree. I know I’m always going to fight my own corner (of wedding photography), but considering the huge number of hours that photographers put in before, during and especially after a wedding, the average cost is actually pretty low if you look at it on a per hour basis and take into account our significant equipment and album costs. I’m not dumbing down what other wedding suppliers do- I just wanted to highlight that it puts prices into a different perspective when you look at it from a workload point of view.

  40. Great post. If you want good photography by a photographer with insurance and lots of experience etc then these are realistic prices to budget for on your wedding images to avoid any disappointment after your big day. Thanks Kat. 🙂

  41. Alison

    Thanks for the great ring advice…will discuss with the Mr.

    My engagement ring is antique platinum so cost much less than brand new, but does mean I want a platinum wedding ring to match (also I think platinum will wear away a softer metal if side by side on yr finger?)

    As for the rest of the list, I am paying about average for photos but less for most of the rest…mother-in-law is doing flowers, lucky me!

  42. This is so useful! We’re on a tight budget for our little wedding and quite clueless about it all too, so this is a great way to help us budget and see where we can cut costs. Thank you 🙂

  43. Great Post and so refreshing to see a realistic list, unlike so many of those in the back of wedding magazines. And thanks for adding in planners, we often get missed off! xxx

  44. Susan

    What is it that most people don’t understand about business?

    Yes, weddings can be expensive. I agree completely… But… If you think about the costs involved to the suppliers and hourly rate for their time.

    They have bills to pay as well. If you don’t want the big fancy wedding, shiny ring, posh invites, live band, nice photographs done by a professionally insured photographer, video shot by professionally insured videographer, gorgeous wedding dress, gorgeous venue, memories that will last a lifetime created by HMRC registered TAX payers and insured suppliers yes… You can do this on a budget. But be prepared for a bad day, bad photos, bad video, bad cake, not pretty venue, not a gorgeous dress, rings, food, etc… Oh… It’s ok, my friend will do it. As we’re mates in’nit…. That’s all well and good until things go wrong….

    We got married for £3k all in. I mean EVERYTHING. I regret the day and hated it beyond belief.

    The only good thing about our wedding was when it was over. All because we asked family and friends to help. What a mistake that was!!

    In this industry of wedding, there are so many who are wanting in on the action they are pricing themselves out as cheap as possible, great stuff… But ask yourselves this: How are they so cheap compared to the others who charge more?? Ask yourself, are they insured, registered to pay tax, are they actually professional in their chosen field, what will happen if they don’t supply what you pay for?? What if something goes wrong??

    If they truely are “professional” they will know the answers and be able to provide proof of insurance and have a back up plan in case the worst happens. As such a professional price tag will be added.

    If you want a Ferrari don’t buy a robin reliant.

  45. Hi Kat, in regard to your floristry price we think £1000 is a spot on starting point for an average wedding. Bouquets, buttonholes, table displays etc.

    Obviously this can much more expensive or much more wallet friendly depending on what you require.

    Arrangements can look stunning with foliage and a selection of feature flowers which generally works out a little cheaper.

    Don’t want to pimp our prices here (doesn’t seem right) but in regard to Julia’s question about just a bouquet and buttonholes then Kat’s pricing could be a little lower. Once again, depending on what’s required and flowers chosen.

    Kat…tried to help without just advertising ourselves / pricing! x

  46. It is all very realistic, I’m so sick of seeing magazines that say £700, give or take is the average spend for photography!! Very frustrating if you’re experienced and the cheap ones are usually people doing it for a hobby at the weekend as they work during the week and this is some good money to take them on holiday!!! (Sorry, rant over!) As with anything you put your money towards what is important for you – different folks, different strokes!

  47. Hi Philiosophy Flowers

    I got married last year so mine is all done and dusted. We had a tiny budget for our wedding as we had no parental help and we had to pay for it out of what we could save in a year.

    The flowers we had were lovely but we couldn’t afford to go crazy anyway. We kept it simple and it worked for us as we got married in December and I wanted to keep it as seasonal as possible so we had lots of foilage etc.

    I wanted anemones too and by the end of dinner the bouquets were looking rather tired.

    But like I say it’s entirely up to personal taste and what you want from your day.

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