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 West

The Venue: 10%
With water on one side and mountains on the other, West Coast couples enjoy a diverse array of vibrant sites for their wedding, including lush vineyards, ranches and beachfront resorts with endless ocean views. Before visiting any potential venue, Melissa Barrad, owner of San Diego-based I Do…Weddings & Events, recommends that you thoroughly research it online. "Doing so will save time as well as provide key insights on what budget items can be reduced because of the site’s existing characteristics as well as what expenses, such as décor or floral, might need to increase."

country wedding
Photo Credit: SuthiPicotte

Food and Beverage: 50% 
Food and, particularly, beverage can quickly consume much of your budget. Barrad suggests investigating venues that will allow you to bring in your own wine and liquor, either as a part of the rental agreement or through corkage fees. With that go-ahead, couples could then bring in local favorites, such as craft beer from one of the region’s many breweries — Portland, for instance, has more breweries than any city in the world — or wine from Sonoma and Napa Valleys.

Photography and Video: 10%
Barrad says couples on a tight budget might consider hiring a photographer for a "shoot only" package that provides high-resolution images. Then, later, when the bank account bounces back, you can make an album.

Entertainment: 10% 
Barrad suggests looking for multi-faceted musical professionals who can play live music for the ceremony and cocktails — and perhaps even dinner and the first dance — before switching to recorded music for the evening.

Rentals: 10%
"Ask caterers and venue hosts for a comprehensive and itemized quote covering all the necessary materials, such as flatware, glassware, portable restrooms and lighting," Barrad says. In some cases, you might be able to forego or reduce certain items; in others, you might secure items from a different vendor — or even provide them yourself — at a lower cost.

Flowers: 10% 
While flowers contribute to the bride’s vision and the overall wedding-day vibe, Barrad urges couples to embrace novel approaches that can reduce costs. "Hire a florist who is flexible and will even allow you to either provide your own containers or rent his or hers," Barrad says. Find out which flowers are in season for your wedding ►