Top Ten Biggest Wedding Expenses to Put a Hole in Your Pocket

When it comes to getting married, it’s way too easy to go overboard financially. The average wedding costs about $27,000 (and that doesn’t even include the honeymoon and the engagement ring). Brace yourself—here is a list of the top ten reasons why weddings can be so darn expensive.

1. The Ceremony and Reception Venue 

The wedding venue is one of the biggest expenses that you’ll face. To have your ceremony in a church, expect to spend close to $500 (granted it’s not a cathedral). This cost doesn’t include the fee for having an officiant there, nor does it include the cost to decorate the place.  For your reception, fancy hotels charge about $2,500 to $10,000 and up for rental of a ballroom or other large space — and many require the use of an on-site caterer who might charge between $125 and $350 or more per person.

2. The Catering

According to, “The average wedding caterer cost, including food and food service, drinks and drink service and cake and cake cutting fees is $12,790 for 150 guests.

An hors d’oeuvres reception or buffet with no cocktail hour and a limited bar can cost $30 to $70 per person. This might include a hearty spread of hot hors d’ oeuvres, and salads served either buffet-style or in stations, as well as a beer-and-wine-only bar.

A cocktail hour and sit-down dinner at a fancy hotel, country club or resort with an in-house caterer can cost $125 to $350 or more per person, including service and gratuity. This might include passed hors d’ oeuvres, a sit-down multi-course meal and an open bar.”

3. The Open Bar Cost

With a menu of house brand liquors, you might spend no more than $35 a person for drinks at your reception. However, that doesn’t include tax, tips, set up and bartenders’ fees. It’s not a good idea to ask your guests to pay for their own drinks (or tips to the bartender), so a cash bar is probably not what you want. If you’re looking to cut costs in this area, serve a signature cocktail and just a few types of beer and wine. Cheers to the newlyweds!

4. The WeddingDress

It’s so difficult to put a price on the perfect wedding dress because we know you’ll want to be a showstopper. On average, the bride might spend about $1,150 on the dress alone. For a designer dress or gowns with lace, beading, and complex hemlines, that number could increase by a couple thousand dollars! For the alterations on that gown, tag on an additional $250-$450. And after you pick out your favorite accessories (shoes, veil, headpiece, and lingerie), your looking at an additional $600.

5. The Photographer and Videographer 

The day will come and go so fast, you’ll want to capture the moment to look back on and show your future grandchildren. A budget wedding photographer will charge about $1,000 for services and prints. Moderate photographers average between $1,000 and $3,000, and upscale photographers average between $3,000 and $5,000. Luxury wedding photographers charge between $5,000 and $10,000. If you’re looking for an economical videographer, you can expect to pay about $1,500.

6. The Music for Reception

A wedding reception is the perfect excuse to party, and many of your guests will show up with every intention of doing so! So, you’ll want to find a quality DJ who will play all of the best party producing songs as well as some of your favorites. That could run you about $950 or much more if he or she is very well-established. If you want a live band to play at your reception, be prepared to roll out the dough at about $3,000 (depending on the size of the band and their level of popularity).

7. The Flowers

Here’s the general rule about wedding flowers: the more, the better! You can plan to spend no less than about $2,000 to cover the cost of all flower designs and arrangements (this includes the bouquets, boutonnières, floral décor for reception and ceremony etc.). Remember that this cost could increase in the off-season, as your desired flowers might not be as easily accessible.

8. The Wedding Rings

The exchange of wedding rings is such a longstanding tradition that many couples will splurge a bit in this area. A Tiffany & Co platinum wedding band could run you about $2,000, and one with diamonds or other stones will definitely cost a few thousand more.

9. Your Stationery Suite

Invitations, reply cards, save-the-dates, programs, place cards, thank-you notes. The list goes on with other stationery items that will add to your wedding expenses. On average, newly engaged couples spend nearly $650 on invitations and reply cards, and that might not include the cost of certain luxury details such as letterpress and calligraphy.

10. The Honeymoon Getaway

Ahh, now this is the best part! But it’s also a costly part. The average cost of a typical honeymoon varies from $3,400-$5,100 for a 6- to 8-day trip. For a longer, extravagant honeymoon, you could pay thousands more.

Our palms are sweaty just thinking about all of these expenses, so we know yours are too. However, if possible, reach out to your family members for help to lightened some of the weight. For more information, take a look at our explanation of who pays for what to get a better idea of how to divvy up the expenses. Happy wedding planning!{"url":"","count":0})