average cost of wedding

Wedding Expenses Lessons Learned

by Melissa on March 16, 2012

Well, I started to talk about this a bit last Thursday, but didn’t want to get too far ahead of myself. 

Am I ashamed that we went more than $8000 over our desired wedding budget?

I’m not sure.


Image Source

Yes, I think it reflects badly on me and hints at some overall irresponsibility with regard to spending that Ken and I have. After all, I set out to have a “budget” wedding! What did I end up spending? Close to the national average expense of a wedding.   Although definitely on the low end of what weddings cost where we live.  

I’m confused.

We self-deejayed. I bought two wedding dresses, both of which were less than $200 each. We had no videographer. No floral centerpieces. No fancy limo (or heck, even bus) transportation. We had no bridal party, which meant no bouquets and boutonnieres for them and no gifts to have to buy them to say thank you. I DIYed my own wedding day makeup.

I was doing everything I thought we could do right to save money. 

Allow me to throw a pity party for second and place blame everywhere but on myself.

Those “average” wedding expenses? I think are drastically UNDER ESTIMATED.  Maybe I’m just being a self-important brat here, but I think there are very few couples that have ever tracked every penny of their wedding-related expenses like thumbtacks for their escort card display, parking fees during their engagement session, and tin buckets for s’mores supplies. But, maybe they do track it. Who knows. Maybe those types of expenses are taken into account when determining the average wedding cost

When I read wedding submissions on wedding blogs, I find it very convenient that their wedding cost “total” is something like $12,000. Or $9000. Really? It came out that nice and evenly? Because our wedding expenses were $23,598.91. This doesn’t just include the “major” expenses.

Like here,

Or here.

Am I bitter that some folks can (or at least claim to) have a budget wedding of approximately $8000-ish, and I can’t even have one for $15,000? Heck, or even $20,000?


And here’s why. Despite about $1000 worth of “regrettable” expenses, there is nothing else, and I mean nothing, that I would’ve cut or changed from our wedding. So no, I do not regret our $760 dance lessons or our $87.25 (plus $10.95 shipping) lego ring bearer box. Or renting our wedding venue for three days instead of two or just one. Or spending $490.17 (plus shipping) on some really rockin’ wedding invitations.

Here’s what I really don’t regret. Basically inviting EVERYONE we knew. “They” say the easiest way to keep the cost down for a wedding is to lower your guest list. What fun is a wedding if ALL your friends and family (including their plus ones!) can’t celebrate with you? So, although inviting nearly 300 people was a bit stressful at times, I was so happy that about 150 could make it and celebrate with us. Plus, we were able to keep our costs low on the catering, which allowed us to invite that many people without REALLY breaking the bank. Anyway, we could’ve easily cut our budget without cutting our guest list anyway!

Everything about our wedding really, truly, was “us.” Because we didn’t allow any outside involvement, there was nothing in our wedding that was forced on us. We were cognizant of our expenses. We continued to track them even when we started to go WAY over our budget.

So, while it may seem ridiculous to go more than $8000 over budget on anything, I have zero regrets here!