Wedding Costs: Where Does All the Money Go?

We asked wedding planners around the country to give us the breakdown on how couples are spending — and saving.

Budget Breakdown in the Midwest 

The Venue: 10%
With a short window to accommodate outdoor weddings, most Midwest brides take the show indoors to places like historic hotels, country clubs or loft spaces that once hummed with machinery. When searching for a venue, Lauren Housley, owner of Chicago-based Ryan Alexander Events, says you shouldn’t neglect key details, such as lighting. "The more natural light a venue has, the better it is for pictures."

bride and groom
Photo Credit: Jai Girard Photography

Food and Beverage: 46% 
Housley calls food an oft-overlooked way to add personalization. "You can work with your caterer to recreate signature family dishes or to create twists on famed Chicago dishes, such as an Italian beef pizza with a giardiniera topping."

Photography and Video: 12%
Creating a detailed shot list is critical. Not only to ensure you get the photos you want, but also to streamline the photographer’s work and make efficient use of his or her time — and yours. (Why pay extra fees if the shots you want are already taken?) Browse 75 must-have photos with your groom ►

Entertainment: 15% 
While many guests love hearing the classics at weddings, you can add a touch of distinctiveness to your day by asking the band or DJ for some interesting songs that are not wedding-day staples. Chicagoans, for example, might request the beloved Chicago Bears fight song or Sinatra’s "Chicago" to add a spirited local flavor to the event. "Add in your favorite nontraditional songs to make your day more memorable for your guests," Housley says. Get wedding song recommendations here ►

Rentals: 8%
You can save on rental fees by asking the venue manager if they would be flexible with the post-reception pick-up time. By arranging a Monday pick-up, for instance, Housley says you can save $100 to $300. And in an effort to minimize delivery fees, "Consolidate tables, chairs and other rental orders from just one or two companies."

Flowers: 9% 
Need to slim down the floral budget? Look to the ceremony location and leverage its inherent beauty as the backdrop. The Chicago area, for instance, is home to some of the nation’s most ornate churches, locations featuring stained glass, murals and other elegant architectural hallmarks. "If you are already getting married at a stunning church, go for a really simple ceremony arrangement that can be repurposed at the reception," Housley says.

Next: Wedding budget breakdown in the Southwest ►