According to CNN Money, the average cost for a wedding in the U.S. is $30,000. The average cost for a wedding in Washington, DC is over $37,000, coming in as the 13th most expensive area to get married behind New York City (and vicinity), Chicago, Northern New Jersey, and Los Angeles (and vicinity). Our wedding budget = $20,000 (see how we came up with our budget below).
This seemed like an enormous amount to us. But we soon found out how unimpressive it was to wedding vendors in the Washington, DC area. I will never forget the day we called a supposedly “budget friendly” caterer only to be told that the budget we had allotted for a seated dinner would only cover a heavy hor d’oeuvres reception (not including alcohol). This call was only one of many discouraging vendor quotes. With no possibility of increasing our budget and a commitment to not using credit cards to cover any of our wedding expenses, my wallet was begging for us to move our wedding to my much less expensive home state of North Carolina. However DC is our home; it’s where we we both grew into adulthood, built our support systems, and found love. We both work and live in DC. Currently buying our first home in DC, we are planning to build a future here. So we made a firm stand to hold our wedding in DC despite the cost.
How We Created Our Budget
During our initial planning meeting, we decided that we wanted to get married in 2014 (before it got to cold). We decided on a September/October wedding. This meant that we would only have eight months to save additional funds to supplement our then current savings ($4000).
We each committed to saving $1000 per month ( 2 X $1000 = $2000 per month).
$4000 + ($2000 X 8 months) = $20,000. And that’s how we came up with the Magic Number of $20,000.
How We've Managed Our Budget
Stretched to the limit with saving, we don’t have the option of going over our budget. There simply is no more money. So we have to be really deliberate about managing our money.
1) The first thing we did was get a joint checking account. We do automatic deposits each month for our designated amounts. With a joint account, he can see every deposit and charge I make and vice versa. This prevents us from hiding any out of budget expenditures.
2) We also do weekly check-in meetings, where we sit down and update our budget line-by-line with any purchases or reallocations.
These steps allow us to keep each other accountable and make us mutually responsible for managing our funds.
How We've Maximized Our Budget
We've maximized our budget in a number of ways.
1) The first thing we did was draft a resource list of all our friends & colleagues that had some type of expertise related to wedding expenses (i.e. make-up artists, pastry chefs, musicians, photographers, planners, decorators, etc.). You never know who is willing to gift you their services or connect you with their colleagues.
2) We chose a weekday wedding, which has allowed us to take advantage of weekday event discounts from our caterer and venue.
3) Three words: Do It Yourself. What kind of Budget Savvy Bride would I be without some DIY projects! Our major DIY projects are wedding stationery (save-the-dates, invites, programs, etc.), supplying our own alcohol, and some venue decor.
4) We've made several sacrifices
- I moved out of my apartment into a room in my friend’s house. Renting a room allows me to save an extra $600 each month. This is the only way I’m able to save $1000 per month.
- We are forgoing some traditional wedding events like the rehearsal dinner. Since the expense is not being picked up by either of our families, we have chosen not to assume the responsibility.
- We are not going on a honeymoon — closing on our house will be our honeymoon LOL.
We've made some sacrifices along the way, but I think it will all be worth it. See our wedding budget below!
|Catering & Alcohol||$7000|
|Wedding attire for Bride & groom (+grooming for entire wedding party)||$2000|
|Ceremony Musicians & DJ||$800|
|Stationary & Postage||$400|
=$19,930 (115 Guests)
Hope this is helpful to you! How did you come up with your budget? How are you saving?
Cheers to Epic Love,
Editor's note: Due to the pandemic, some of the general wedding planning advice we share may not be applicable or possible due to restrictions on events. Please adhere to all current regulations and stay safe and healthy! Get more resources for planning a pandemic wedding here.