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Questions Regarding Wedding Planning and Costs?

I'm trying to plan my wedding and I am shocked at how much everything costs and by how little I know about planning a wedding. I found a beautiful place that I fell in love with, but the ceremony and reception alone will cost $8,000 (min.) with only 50 guests (we want closer to 100). That is cutting it super close to our budget of $10,000. This doesn't include the officiant, photographer, florist, D.J, e.c.t. How much does each of these typically cost? I live in California if that helps.

Also, how much do women typically spend on a wedding dress? A friend recently told me that her friend spent $3,000. I was looking at the David's Bridal website and saw wedding dresses for $500. Is that super cheap and will people notice if I did not spend thousands of dollars?

How much do Bride's Maid's dresses usually cost? I'm guessing it's my responsibility to pay for them as well.

How do you find a "witness" to sign your marriage certificate? Can this be anyone or do you have to have someone who is licensed.

How much did you spend on your wedding? I feel like I am in over my head. I don't want a backyard wedding but it's looking like that's my only option. Any suggestions for cost cutting would be so appreciated.

8 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    I'd say 8,000 is about right depending on what they are offering. I live in NC and I did a wedding on 10,000. It required a LOT of work on my part to keep within that budget as we had 200 guests.

    Some people claim they got married for $30--they must have known some people. The marriage license alone was $60 in my state and an officiant would have been $200. So the most bare bones you could have possibly done would be $300.

    My church cost $550. My reception site was $1100 and it provided the tables and chairs. My caterer was about $5000 and my photographer was about $2500. I had to interview a lot of caterers and photographers and went with the 2nd cheapest I could find on both. I also locked them down on their previous year prices by booking a June wedding by November of the prior year.

    Your wedding dress completely depends on you. What style of wedding is it? It can truly be anything. Day weddings tend to be more casual and plain. I know just as many brides that do ornate ballgowns as do simple sleeker gowns. My gown was about $900 on sale, after alterations. My sister's was $40 for a beach wedding. No one will know if you did not spend thousands.

    Bridesmaids gowns are usually paid for by the maids themselves in the US but by the bride in the UK. They can run absolutely any amount. I'd say the average is about $200-250. It's really hard to stay under $150. If you want to go cheaper, I'd be looking right now after prom season at department stores. Often when they go on sale you can get them for about $80 but your girls have to act fast.

    Your witness is usually your parents. My dad and my FIL were the two that signed mine. For my sister's wedding, my dad and the groom's mother signed. Anyone can sign it but usually you pick someone close. In Vegas weddings, you can pay someone about $10 to do it.

    I have TONS of suggestions for cost cutting but I need to know more about your vision to help you out. First cut coupons. I cut Michael's coupons for 40% off any one item and bought only that item each week. I was having a summer wedding so I bought a lot of items when they went on clearance the year before. Do not spend much on favors. You'll end up with a ton leftover and to be honest no one really wants the favors anyway. I did candles from a clearance place that were about 50 cents each. I made a sticker with our names and date on it.

    Put off alcohol until last. You can always go cheaper or not buy as much. We decided to get one keg instead of getting 16 different 12 packs which was a huge cost savings. If they didn't like the beer I picked, that was just too bad.

    Brides usually overspend by changing their mind and having things they didn't use. If you decide to change your colors 3 times, you'll end up overspending.

    Find out what the place has that they will loan you or that you can get from other brides. My church had candle holders they used at Christmas. All I had to do was take the holly garland off the pew candle holders and they were perfect. After my wedding I had 20 glass vases and would have loved if a friend wanted to borrow them or buy them. I would have easily sold them for half off. As it was, I gave most of my family a vase for Christmas that year.

    Book the most expensive things first. The venue, the caterer and the photographer. That will tell you how much budget you have left. There are more places around that you can price shop with. If you start spending money on decorations you'll go way above your budget.

    Wait to book the cake and flowers until later (3-6 months out). They can help you price save as well by using seasonal flowers and flowers like glads that have multiple blooms per stem.

    I hope this helps. Search previous questions for cost saving tips. There are some long winded but very helpful answers posted in the past. Feel free to write me as well if you need any more tips. Good luck!

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  • 1 decade ago

    Hey, I hear ya on this wedding cost! :)

    Wow that seems like an extremely large price for just the building. I would definitely check out another place. I would suggest calling DJs and Photographers to get an average price. Some venues include an officiant and DJ and they set up and take down the tables.

    NO you do not have to spend thousands on a dress! I will probably purchase mine from David's Bridal! They have very nice ones! If you feel GREAT in the dress it doesn't matter how much it cost!

    As for paying for the BMs dresses that is up to you. Your BMs are expected to pay for there own etire (shoes included) You can get cheap dresses from David's Bridal as well! $99 - $150.

    The witness are usually your Maid of Honor and Best Man!

    I'm defiantly keeping it under $10,000.00. My FI and I want to go on an amazing honeymoon so the wedding is going to be small! Pick out what you really really really want to have and cut on eveything else. I think feeding my guest is going to be the most expensive. That is why we are planing an early wedding and only having snack food. There are so many ways to cut cost! You really should check out THEKNOT.COM it is AMAZING! Has a budget Calculator and ideas!!

    Source(s): planning my own wedding /
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  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    Again with the old rules: the host invited as many people to the church as the bride and groom wanted, filled the church to the rafters. Since the ceremony used to be the important part of the wedding day, and the cheaper part, that is where the guests were invited to. Only the chosen few got reception cards in their invitation. And with the old rules, people could go to the church without an invitation, church members often did that. New way: a handful of people go to the church for an intimate ceremony, and everybody goes to the reception, which costs a fortune. To me the new way is weird, how do you know that the bride at the reception got married? Did the guest see it? She is wearing a bridal dress? It is as if they are ashamed of the ceremony, or wanting to get it over quick to get to the reception. We are getting farther and farther away from having the reception mean anything. It is just another party these days. Some of the excuses to do this the new way are to me, well, lame. The groom is shy and afraid to stand up at the alter with a crowd watching. But he can go to the reception, get stinking drunk and act like a fool in front of a hundred people? We are not very religious. Well, what are you having a church ceremony for then, your mother? She can't be pleased that 5 people are in the church for the wedding. Tell your sister that the people attending the church part still gave presents, they were taken to the bride's parents house[since she still lived there] before the wedding day. the idea of the gift is to recognize the marriage, wish the bride and groom well, and buy them something to start their lives together. These days a present is the ticket to the reception, only those that are sure to bring a great expensive gift are invited.

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  • 1 decade ago

    You're definetly not going to be able to pull it off with your budget (sorry!) We live in NY and our reception/ceremony is going to cost around $6500....yet we're still over our $12,000 budget by almost $1500! We found the cheapest photographers ($800) and DJ ($700) that we could....and made a very tight strict budget and stuck to it. We're making our own bouquets ($250) which is saving us over $500....and our own invitations which is saving us at least a couple hundred. Oh, and we don't have any transportation other then our car.

    You will be amazed at how much everything else adds up. What you should do is make a list of every item you will want, and come up with a good price estimate on each. Then add like 10% to each item. We didn't add to each item, and that's why we're over budget. Subtract your total from your $10,000 budget, and that'll let you know how much you can spend on the ceremony/reception. You can then figure out ways to "cut" your budget from there (like, we cut out the florist and transportation, and did away with higher quality things we wanted).

    Not trying to discourage you, but it'll help you in the long run to see the expenses realistically.

    Good luck!

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  • Gidget
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    If I was you I would keep looking for a less expensive venue. Try to think outside the box for it.

    Personally I stay away from David's but I've heard others have gotten very nice dresses there. Typically you'll be looking at synthetic materials and mass produced gowns. Check out They have gowns from designers and stores donated that they sell for a huge discount and the proceeds go to a great cause.

    Bridesmaids usually buy their own dresses.

    A wedding can be done at 10k but it will take a lot of research and work on your part. Instead of a dj see about having a friend do your music, make your own invites and favors, find a friend who can bake to do your cake, ask people you know who is great at taking pics and have them instead of hiring a photographer...just a few ideas. Also consider having the wedding on a weekday instead of a weekend. You can save a lot of money that way.

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  • 1 decade ago

    our budget in Iowa is 15,000.

    I would go to They have a lot of helpful tools such as a budget. All you have to do is enter in how many guest you are planning on having and your budget and it calcuates about how much you should spend on each item. It helps a lot and shows were you can spend extra on and where it will be tight.

    For the bride's maids dresses, they usually pay for their own, but if you want their make up professionally done and hair maybe offer to pay for part of it.

    You 'witness' is usually the best man and the maid of honor.

    As for your officiant, photographer, florist, dj and so on, it will cost more than you think. My advice, look some where else for your venue. If you go to it has many FAQs and tools to help. The articles are so helpful and there is also an area for budget weddings. I would seriously recommend for you to go there. Def. if you feel that you dont' know much about planning. Also, think about getting a wedding planner notebook for yourself, that should also help keep you organized during your wedding planning. Don't forget to ask your bridesmaids and of course your groom to be to help with anything you need.

    Congrats on your engagement :)

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  • Fred F
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Any dress is fine. Find one that looks nice and fits good. They will remember you, not the dress.

    The brides maids usually by their own dresses, so keep it toned down for them.

    Any body can be a witness. Use the best man.

    D.J.'s are cheaper and better.

    Get friends and relatives to help out with the decorations.

    Factor in at least a 10% NO SHOW for the reception. The cater will always have extra food

    and charge extra if the count goes over.

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  • Blunt
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Any dress that fits properly would be nice, the $600 look just as good as the $3k ones. You do not walk down the aisle with the price tag attached to the gown, so go ahead and save in the gown, it will only be worn one day.

    Bridesmaids pay for their own attire. An average BM dress costs around $150.

    Typical costs of photographers, DJ etc. will depend of your area. I live in the north east , and a DJ will cost around the neighborhood for $1k 2k, phptographers $2k-4k, florist depends of flowers used and amount of flowers, over here a normal florist tab is around $1500+.

    We spent $30.000.

    Good luck

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