Break it down now: sample wedding budgets for all kinds of offbeat weddings

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Sample wedding budgets from @offbeatbride
Kim & Cole's barn and bonfire wedding. Photo by Kym Ventola

Newly engaged and totally clueless as to how much your wedding will cost? You're not alone. Pretty much everyone goes into wedding planning like a big ol' noob and is quickly boggled by all the hidden costs. (It's called an industrial complex for a reason.) We've got your back. Here are a few sample wedding budgets to get you started. With a simple wedding budget breakdown, you can at least have some idea how to allocate your hard-earned dough to the right buckets.

We can't stress this hard enough: any wedding budget you find online won't be totally inclusive of all your own needs and won't always be totally accurate to your area. Use these wedding budget examples just as a general overview.

City hall wedding budget from @offbeatbride
North Carolina courthouse wedding. Photo by Red Bridge Photography

Sample wedding budget for a $2,000 wedding

What kind of wedding this might be:
DIY wedding in a backyard or city hall with a tiny restaurant reception.

What could the wedding budget breakdown look like?

  • Venue/officiant: $100
  • Attire you already own: $0
  • Catering, homemade desserts, and other hospitality: $750
  • Alcohol and drinks catering: $375
  • DIY emailed invitations: $0
  • Lower-cost photographer or skilled friend: $400
  • iPod or Spotify DJ: $0
  • DIY flowers from a grocery store: $50
  • Simple table decor: $50
  • Makeup and hair by a skilled friend: $0
  • Other umbrella expenses: $250

Total: $1,975

Sample wedding budgets from @offbeatbride
Jen & David's laid-back Tennessee barbecue wedding. Photo by Marvylous Photography

Sample wedding budget for a $5,000 wedding

What kind of wedding this might be:
A smaller, backyard wedding with food truck catering and karaoke, or a larger guest list at home with a punch and pie wedding.

What could the wedding budget breakdown look like?

  • Venue/officiant: $100
  • Attire: $275
  • Catering, dessert table, and other hospitality: $2,000
  • Alcohol and drinks catering: $500
  • DIYed invitations: $175
  • Lower-cost photographer or skilled friend/student: $500
  • Aspiring/first time DJ or an enthusiastic friend and sound system rental: $250
  • Bouquet and boutonniere only: $250
  • Decor/rentals: $550
  • Makeup and hair by a skilled friend: $0
  • Other umbrella expenses: $400

Total: $5,000

Sample wedding budgets from @offbeatbride
Jamie & Jon's three-day summer camp wedding. Photo by Justine Johnson Photography

Sample wedding budget for a $10,000 wedding

What kind of wedding this might be:
A buffet-style meal at a more affordable venue for fewer than 100 guests, a small wedding at a chic restaurant in a large city, a midday or non-Saturday wedding with some cost-saving methods, or a huge, festival-style blow-out at an inexpensive camp site with a guest jam session.

What could the wedding budget breakdown look like?

  • Venue/officiant: $3,000
  • Attire: $450
  • Catering, cake, and other hospitality: $2,500
  • Alcohol and drinks catering: $750
  • Download and print invitations: $175
  • Mid-priced photographer: $1,150
  • DJ: $850
  • Flowers from a local grocery store: $50
  • Decor/rentals: $500
  • Makeup and hair by a skilled friend: $0
  • Other umbrella expenses: $550

Total: $9,975

Sample destination wedding budgets from @offbeatbride
Kelley & Michael's beachside Hawai'ian elopement. Photo by A Hawaii Wedding
Sample wedding budgets from @offbeatbride
Erin & Samantha's candlelight in the woods wedding. Photo by Pritchard Photography

Sample wedding budget for a $20,000 wedding

What kind of wedding this might be:
Chic venue in a bigger city with a smaller guest list, destination wedding with honeymoon after, trendy rustic barn venue for a mid-sized guest list.

What could the wedding budget breakdown look like?

  • Venue/officiant: $7,000
  • Attire: $1,000
  • Sit-down meal catering, cake, and other hospitality: $3,800
  • Alcohol and drinks catering: $850
  • Invitations via Etsy: $200
  • Photographer: $2,250
  • DJ: $1,650
  • Day-of coordinator: $1,000
  • Flowers: $750
  • Decor/rentals: $500
  • DIY makeup and professional hairstyle: $150
  • Other umbrella expenses: $800

Total: $19,860

Sample vineyard wedding budget via @offbeatbride
Jeff and Brandon's California vineyard wedding. Photo by Karenscape Photography

Sample wedding budget for a $35,000 wedding

What kind of wedding this might be:
A hotel venue wedding in a mid- to larger-sized city, a large guest list at a summer camp venue, an all-inclusive resort wedding.

What could the wedding budget breakdown look like?

  • Venue including catering, rentals, alcohol and drinks, cake, and staff: $14,000
  • Attire: $1,200
  • Professional invitations: $400
  • Photographer and videographer: $4,000
  • Live band: $2,900
  • Wedding planner: $2,250
  • Flowers and decor: $2,250
  • Professional hair and makeup for three people: $400
  • Small, morning-after brunch: $1,450
  • Other umbrella expenses: $1,000

Total: $29,850

Want to see MORE wedding budget examples? Share your OWN budget breakdown in the comments — do it anonymously, if you want!

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  1. I've found that many budgets tend to break down in the following broad categories:
    – 50% venue and catering
    – 10% attire (dress, accessories, hair and makeup, groom's attire, etc.)
    – 10% photography and/or videography
    – 10% music
    – 10% flowers and decor
    – 10% everything else

    As a simple rule of thumb, I found this to be very helpful when I was setting my budget.

    12 agree
  2. My actual budget, when all was said and done, looked something like this:

    $26,500 budget — 185 guests at a lower-end reception hall in a big Canadian city

    – Reception: $15,200 (57%) — included hors d'oeuvres, 3-course meal, unlimited wine and beer, hard alcohol as consumed, and fruit platters (cake was made by a family member)
    – Attire and beauty: $2,700 (10%)
    – Photographer: $2,800 (11%)
    – DJ and MC: $2,725 (10%)
    – Flowers and Decoration: $670 (3%) — non-floral centrepieces, bride's bouquet, boutonnieres and corsages for everyone else
    – Ceremony: $585 (2%) — held at the same reception hall
    – Wedding Rings: $230 (1%)
    – Invitations and Other Paper Products: $515 (2%)
    – Gifts and Accessories: $520 (2%)
    – Misc Others: $580 (2%)

    Members of the Offbeat Bride Tribe can see a much more detailed breakdown here: http://tribe.offbeatbride.com/journals/2014/11/wedding-retrospective-10-the-budget-26500-for-185-guests

    1 agrees
  3. I don't expect ours to be far from what Julie noted above. Our food and bev are still a wild card…I have hopefully overestimated, but until we have the final headcount in early August, and the final pricing from our venue, I won't know for sure. And the open bar is charged on a per drink basis, so that's really up in the air until the end of the night!

    We've also included our mini honeymoon in our wedding budget…I know a lot of people probably separate it, but to us, it's part of the whole package and we need to make sure we have enough money for it! We are funding 99% of our wedding ourselves, so have to be very careful with our budget.

    Our breakdown:
    –53% venue/food/beverage
    –9.5% honeymoon
    –9% looks (dress, tux, accessories, shoes, hair and makeup)
    –7% entertainment/decorations (including DJ)
    –6% photography
    –6% gifts and tips
    –4.5% ceremony (officiant fees, ceremony programs, light refreshments afterward)
    –2.5% save the dates and invitations
    –2.5% favors and other miscellaneous (OBB membership, cat care)

  4. These are pretty realistic from my experience, as well. I'm actually realizing what a good deal we did get on or wedding (I've felt it was too expensive since I was aiming for a 12k tops, backyard wedding). After taking all the needs and wants into account (and after my father enthusiastically pitching in for a formal event), we ended up with:

    190 guests, SoCal Country Club Wedding, my best guesstimates on budget since I don't have the sheet in front of me.

    Food and Venue with coordinator: $13,000
    Alcohol, and beverages and extras: $1,500
    Attire: $750
    Hair by a professional friend: $150
    Makeup by me: $0
    Mid-price photographer: $1,800 (included engagement sesh)
    DJ: $600 (included up lighting, gobo, and ceremony sound)
    String quartet: $450 (cellist friend arranged the music and gave her talents as a wedding gift)
    Flowers by a florist friend (LA flower mart, and used a mix of silk and real flowers): $1075
    Decor: est. $350-500 (hard to keep track of, as various family members pitched in)
    Guest book: $20 (scrap book from michaels)
    Invitations made by an awesome friend, and place cards and programs : $350-400 (We initially invited nearly 300 guests)

    Only things missing here are save the dates (postcards from local print shop – $60), and postage. I feel like we spent a fortune on postage, since i completely left it out of the initial budgeting. Probably $200 or more? Yikes.

  5. I just want to throw what I did out as an option. We were looking at at least 10,000 for a super pared down wedding for 75 people in a major city without a honeymoon. We ended up doing a destination wedding in Cancun for about $4000. This covered the flights, photographer, 7 days at the hotel which was all inclusive so all the meals and drinks as well, the wedding, and reception for about 20 people. This might not work for everyone especially if you want a more intense wedding with a lot of people but it was great for us because we got to throw out all the stuff that wasn't important to us like flowers and a dj and get a simple ceremony and a nice dinner for everyone. I feel like people think destination weddings are super expensive but we got to do it for way less than a stuffy 5 hour ceremony/reception in a hall and we got an awesome honeymoon out of it as well as lots of extra time with our guests who stayed for a couple days each.

    • Last summer I was bridesmaid in such a wedding! Dominican Republic instead of Cancun, and 16 people instead of 20, but same general principle. The final budget was somewhere around $10k, I believe, which included a ceremony on the beach, a beautiful reception with delicious food and signature cocktails, a great Spanish hairdresser (Buff did her own makeup and I did her nails), a fabulous French photographer, swimming with dolphins, rehearsal dinner at a fancy restaurant, wedding breakfast, and even the rooms for all the bridal party for the full weekend at this gorgeous resort. Bonus? Family and friends you feel obligated to invite but don't really want there probably won't come. My FH and I probably won't go that route, but man, sometimes I deeply wish we would

  6. I noticed that these budgets didn't include rehearsal dinner or honeymoon. Are we just assuming those things would be cut for a budget friendly wedding? I think it's important to keep those costs in mind as part of the whole wedding budget.

    3 agree
    • Good point.

      For us, we didn't have a rehearsal — according to all parents involved, a rehearsal was "not something that Jews do." We did have a honeymoon, but I didn't count that as part of the wedding budget. Thanks to the generosity of our guests, we were able to pay for all honeymoon costs using the wedding gifts we received, which was wonderful.

      In terms of other events around the wedding, we had our wedding party over for a small chocolate fondue party two days before the event. I think we spent about $30 on groceries for that. There were two dinners the night before the wedding (one hosted by husband's family, one by my dad) which they respective parents paid for. Ditto for two after-wedding brunches (one hosted by husband's aunt, one by my mom).

      My bridal shower was a gift by husband's aunt and mom; my bachelorette party was everyone pays for themselves; and husband's bachelor party was a weekend in the woods with minimal costs.

      I think you're right in that it's definitely important to keep in mind that these are all additional expenses that have the potential to eat into the wedding budget. Definitely worth thinking about.

    • I agree that's a good point. Our budget does include our mini-honeymoon…we preferred just to stay on for a few days at the lodge where we're getting married rather than rush off to catch a plane (we figure we'll take a big trip in a couple of years), and we chose not to have a rehearsal dinner because our ceremony itself is very small and we don't have a bridal party. My fiance thought it was odd that I had the honeymoon in our wedding budget, and even said "I bet most people don't include it". My comment was "Well, we still have to come up with the money, don't we? So in it goes." 🙂

      • I agree! We are paying for a trip that starts just a couple days after our wedding (I didn't want to rush back to work after the wedding, but I knew I wouldn't have the vacation time to take a few days off AND a trip later on in the year). My fiancee's parents are paying for the rehearsal; they have all out of town family and wanted to do something for the people traveling.
        Even though they are paying for that part, I'm still including it in my total wedding budget, so we have one place where we can see all the costs, whether they are the things we are paying for or not. Just for reference, our wedding / honeymoon / all costs is on track to be about $16,000. We are paying for about 3/4 of the wedding on our own. This is actually a pretty low budget for a fairly large wedding where we live (approx. 130 people just outside Boston).

        Just a tip for people planning, I am obsessed with keeping a meticulous wedding spreadsheet in Google Drive. I can update it from my phone / laptop / etc, and it was easy to share with my fiancee so we can both make edits.
        I have 4 helpful columns, Total cost for item, amount we have paid for that item, amount we owe for that item, and the day final payment for that part is due.

        4 agree
  7. We're still planning, but this is what I've put together for my $40,000 budget:
    $4,600 – Attire (dress, alterations, accessories, salon, tux & rings – the last of which we're splurging on because they're forever)
    $950 – Stationary (Invitations, RSVPs, stds, Thank you cards, postage, programs, escort cards)
    $200 – Ceremony accessories (officiant is a friend and the venue is the location)
    $23,000 – Venue (ours includes ceremony site, reception site, cocktail hour, open bar, cake & flower centerpieces), DJ & all gratuities
    $2,350 – Other flowers & decorations
    $3,900 – Photography (no videography)
    $1,000 – Favors & gifts
    $1,000 – Other events (dinner parents families to meet, dinner party for wedding party, etc.)
    $3,000 – Contingency

    I'm in the NYC metro area, so things tend to cost a tad bit more than in most places.

    1 agrees
  8. Divorcee' here (happily in another relationship). If I remember correctly (my wedding was in 2010), it went something like this:

    Officiant (with pre-marital counseling): $125
    Church for ceremony: $100 (we weren't members)
    Reception hall rental (chairs, linens and tables included): $300
    Catering: $4000ish (included bartender)
    Photography: $3500
    Alcohol: $1000 (we paid for it ourselves over time)
    Invitations: $100
    Dress: $1000
    Tux rental: for everyone? I had bridesmen as well. Uhh…probably around $500ish
    Flowers: I honestly don't remember.
    Cake: $200
    Hair: $100
    Makeup: $150 (covered me and my bridesmaids)
    DJ: $500 (we also paid for her and her wife's lodging, as they traveled from OOT)

    So a little over $12K. Fortunately, my former FIL fit most of the bill. He and my partner's stepmom also paid for our honeymoon in Vegas, which, including lodging, food, and airfare, was probably another $2K. So… as you can see, food, pics, and alc were our main priority.

    The next (and last!) time I get married, I definitely will not be going this route lol!

  9. Lawds a mercy. I know these are reasonable, practical numbers, but… I guess I hadn't really thought about how much different wedding elements would cost. Since my dude and I aren't going to get much financial help from our parents — which is fine, we're both almost 30 and our parents are nearly retirement age — seems it'll be quite a lot longer before we can afford any kind of wedding that isn't courthouse/dinner-at-home based. Bummer.

    2 agree
    • Oh, don't feel that way! My first wedding we put together on $290. We used a state park which charged a $50 reservation fee they refunded because we cleaned up after ourselves. We made a ton of BBQ chicken for sandwiches in the crock pot, made our own cake, bought chips and soda, brought our sound system from home, and a friend officiated. We only invited around 30 people, but it turned out great!

      3 agree
    • I am in the planning stages and one reason why I am really enjoying it is reading about how much variety there is! One thing that differs wildly between couples is how much they spend. I have seen lavish weddings, some that didn't look very fun and others that did, and some weddings that cost $200 that looked just as wonderful! I think the key here is making it personal and remembering that the most important thing is that you're marrying your love. I personally think that the love in the room is the most important decoration. No amount of tulle and chair covers are going to make that any more special than it is.

      2 agree
    • Same here….we were hoping for a 5000€ budget but looking at these (reasonable but still somehow shocking??) numbers, we are going to have to dial things down *a bit*. I´m 19 finishing up nursing school, he´s 26 and doing his bar exam. My dress cost 800€ already and our parents aren´t contributing financially so our Game of Thrones fantasy castle wedding sounds like it´ll be turning into a backyard ceremony with drinks at the pub 😀

  10. I appreciate that this includes higher cost weddings as well. I've read so much about relatively inexpensive weddings on this site that I was starting to feel ashamed for wanting the venue we picked instead of doing something DIY in my backyard (which I could never handle doing anyways, I would get far too stressed out. Props to the people who can do it!)

    3 agree
    • I know what you mean. There's a good post on OBB called "Why are so many offbeat weddings low-budget?" It does a good job of breaking down the whole offbeat / low budget wedding correlation that seems to happen a lot.

      That said, I think there's a large but silent minority of us on the site who were able to have larger-budget weddings that still fall into the "offbeat" or "offbeat lite" categories. My husband and I had our wedding in a full-service reception hall and it was definitely the right decision for us. (With many, many thanks to generous parents who helped us foot the bill…)

      1 agrees
      • Oh I hadn't seen that article; thanks for the link. I don't think I've been reading here long enough to have seen it when it was written. I bet there's a large portion of people who spend a lot and don't want to mention their budget because they want to share their "fame" by linking their featured wedding to their friends and family.

  11. We had a budget of $10,000, and we have it down to about $5500. This is for under 100 people in a large metro city. (We got very lucky with the venue)

    Venue/officiant: $1000
    Attire: $650
    Catering, cake, and other hospitality: $800
    Alcohol and drinks catering: $500
    Stationary from Vistaprint: $250
    Photographer Friend: $500
    Ipod PA System w/ emcee: $280
    'Real Touch' Flowers for bouquets and centerpieces: $600
    Decor/rentals: $300
    Hair/Makeup: $200
    Day Of Coordinator: $1000
    Other umbrella expenses (postage, attendant gifts, favors, etc): $1000

    • This is really helpful, I'm working with a similar budget, in Boston. I don't think I'll be as lucky with the venue.

  12. We're in the process of starting to firm down our wedding budget. Ideally we want to keep it around £4,000. Looking at a lot of other budgets that seems to be very low unless we were getting married in our backyard or at the town hall (which we aren't). But for us it's very possibly achievable –

    I'm part of a polyamorous vee, so me and my two partners have made the decision that we won't be getting legally married. That coupled with the fact we won't need any registration/registrar fees should help. Our friend who used to be a thai monk is 'officiating' as his present. We are also cutting some of the traditional elements such as flowers, wedding transport (plan to have one location), and can hopefully if we find open minded venues, can barter packages to swap what we don't need for stuff we do (i.e., adjoining 'bridal suites' for the weekend so we have privacy.

    My brother and a close friend are also photographers, so have opportunities to save money this way, and are contemplating baking the wedding cupcakes ourselves rather than using external caterers.

    Either way, the overall cost will depend on the quotes we get from the venues we approach. so depending on their prices, deals, open mindedness and availability, will determine, a, if we go for a hotel or rent out a small cluster of cottages for the weekend, and b, the overall budget.

    On the plus side there is three of us, but we aren't planning on having any outside financial assistance.

  13. Our actual budget for our on-the-beach backyard wedding for 25 was $4,700, which was over our original budget of $2,030. We had originally envisioned an even simpler wedding, without the flowers or special dress, but decided that our wedding was a larger priority than we had originally aknowledged. With engagement and wedding rings, the total budget came to $6,400.

    Food total: $650
    Catered BBQ: $270
    Three tiered chocolate tort with flowers, made by my mom: $110
    Other desserts: $140
    Wine, champaign, and local craft beer: $130

    Plates and servewear: $260

    Location prep and decorations: $1,110
    40×10 tent: $170
    Table and chair rental: $130
    Flowers and landscaping (after a neighbor mowed over 60 sq ft of flower beds): $610
    Balloons: $20
    Music: $40
    Box for cards (flowers were used for decorating): $10
    Decorations: flowers everywhere, and otherwise minimal.
    Fireworks: already purchased
    Bonfire to cap off the night: free
    Farewell send off: petals set aside from our alter petal order

    Paper goods: $230
    Save the dates and stamps: $150
    Emailed invites (paperlesspost): $30
    Honeyfund: $20
    Thank you notes and stamps: $30

    Basics: $840
    License: $40
    Pastor honorarium: $350
    Wills: $200
    Travel costs: $250
    Flight for grandmother: gifted

    Rings (fine jewelry on etsy and amazon): $1,680

    Appearance: $1,100
    Hairstyle with trial: $210
    Hairpiece and veil (amazon): $40
    Dress less resale, BHLDN: $180
    Dress alterations: $140
    Makeup, purchased: $110
    Undergarments: $120
    Jewelry of $160 will be resold: $0
    Groom's shirt and alterations: $170
    Groom's pants: $60
    Boutanierre: $10

    Memories: $550
    Photographer: $500
    Prints and frame: $30
    Guests wish stones, in place of a guest book: $20

    1 agrees
  14. We did not have a set budget but we were aiming to spend as little as possible while still having everything we really valued. The biggest deterrent against having a larger wedding was that neither of us wanted to plan one. It came out to $1150 and about four hours of planning. The actual event was perfect.

    $500 – food, drink and desert for 11 people at a mid range restaurant
    $230 – wedding rings off of Etsy
    $170 -clothing and jewelry
    $80 – wedding license
    $30 – grocery store flowers
    $30 – lunch fixings for ourselves, my brother (the officiant) and his girlfriend
    $70 – trial visit to the restaurant
    $60 – a visit to a spa for both of us the night before
    $20 – incidentals

  15. I have said it before, and I will say it again. WEDDING FILM! I am glad however that you did wait until you were able to afford $4000 for a video and that this list dosnt say a video will be cheap since you do get whay you pay for. However, no matter what the budget, make sure you think about hiring someone you can afford to film this day. Once it's done, you will immediately start forgetting the speeches, the ceremony, you will never see how you moved in your dress or the looks your loved one gave you behind your back, the little things that can not be captured in a photograph are quite often the most special and important ones. Make sure you take that into account as it was the 2016 brides #1 regret.

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