Things you should know: Wedding Budgets

Photo by Kayleigh McCullum

Photo by Kayleigh McCullum

Wedding Budgets.... Where people go wrong

Most of the potential clients bring this up on our first call. They say, "Should we expect to spend 20% more than we tell you we want to spend?" My answer is simply, "That is up to you". The first thing to check in with yourself is your expectations. If you are expecting a $150K look but have $70K to spend, or maybe insist on having a band without knowing what they cost, OF COURSE you will go over budget. Part of my role as a planner is to help you navigate the wedding world and stay as close to that number as possible. Unfortunately we often take the blame for the budget being over the initial amount. I personally ALWAYS offer options for you to stay within budget, but that is not always the direction my clients go.

Photo by  Shot With Love

Location, Location, Location.

Depending on the location of your wedding, you may have to add hefty travel and delivery fees to your budget. Sure, getting married at some ranch in the middle of nowhere might be lovely, but you will probably need to pay for hotels, gas, and any other travel fees companies might charge to actually come make your wedding happen out there. Before you start getting excited about specific design elements, it is really important to check out local rental company inventory so you know things like what types of chairs you have to chose from, if farm tables exist in that part of the state, if gold flatware is even an option, etc. 

When to use Pinterest, and when not to use Pinterest.

Honestly, I would recommend using pinterest SPARINGLY. Seeing too many things that are beyond what you can afford might leave you feeling disappointed with the end result. You also don't want your guests saying  "I saw that on Pinterest!" when they walk into your wedding. It will immediately be less personal. Ideally, you might use Pinterest to find a wedding dress designer you really like, maybe a piece of art that has colors that appeal to you, and frankly I find it extremely helpful to communicate with florists about your bouquet and centerpieces. I even like to use images that illustrate scope so they know my expectation for how large or small (but let's be real, it's usually how large) the arrangement should be on the table. Invitation inspiration is another great thing to search for. 

Photo by  Jenna McElroy

Photo by Jenna McElroy

People don't think about ALL the elements of the wedding.

Caleb, my husband, told me one night that if he wasn't married to me he would literally think "I need to feed the guests, have flowers on the tables, hire a photographer to capture the day... and maybe a cake?" I would imagine my sweet husband is not the only one that thinks like that. To make things worse, when people seek out all the things to actually include in the budget, places like, their pricing calculator might be accurate for some parts of the country, but NOT for the Bay Area. Again, I circle back to expectations. I might give you a long list of every single possible thing you could ever want on the budget, but you may not want some of those things. Wanting a custom bar built for your reception, but I might not put that in the initial expected budget because thats not a typical item people will spend money on. It is tricky, and best to hire a planner to process what your vision is for the day, and allow them to help you navigate what the expected cost will be for everything. 

As an example, let's use one single item - a chair. Let's use the average wedding guest number of 150 guests for this example. 


 Approximately $2.75-$4.00 on average (depending on the company you rent from)   x 150 guests= $412.50 to $600.00 plus tax, delivery, and sometimes set up/strike ($1-$2 per chair)

courtesy of Standard Party Rentals

courtesy of Standard Party Rentals


Approximately $8.00-$11.00 per chair on average (depending on the rental company) x 150 guests = $1200.00 to $1800.00 plus tax, delivery, and sometimes set up/strike ($1-$2 per chair)


Approximately $15.00-$35.00 per chair on average depending on style.

The cross back style typically goes for $15.00-$17.00 per chair x 150 guests = $2250.00 to $2550.00 (sometimes pads are added for $3-$4.00 per pad)


French Dining Chairs typically cost between $25 and $35 per chair on average x 150 guests = $3750.00 to $5250.00 plus tax and delivery.


So based on this example, you can spend anywhere between $412.50 and $5250.00 plus tax and delivery on just the chairs for 150 guests. Can you see why it's difficult for planners to just throw out a number without knowing what your design expectations are? 

I hope this article was helpful for you all! Keep all that I mentioned above in mind when you are planning your wedding, or maybe consider a consultation to go over the expected budget with a professional (or me!).