How Much Does A Wedding Cost?
These friendly words of wisdom and insider secrets are “wedding gold” from our very own DreamGroup Founding Planner, Genève McNally. So How how much does a wedding cost?
After you’ve said “Yes!” and embarked into the world of wedding planning things can start to feel a little daunting. But they don’t have to!
The first thing a couple should do is talk to each other about what they really want.
Many couples excitedly dive in without contemplating or talking with each other about what they actually want.
Do you imagine a big dance party? An intimate dinner? Something elegant and dramatic or perhaps understated and chic is more your style. Do you want a wedding that is interactive and keeps guests moving? Or one that allows a lot of relaxed mingling and inspires great conversation? The options in the beginning are endless! Now is the time to think about what’s important and what you feel is worth investing in.
Next chat with parents (if they are supporting the budget) so that an overall budget can be established. Then comes the all important allocation of the money available. It’s important to start with a realistic budget plan, not a wishful thinking one! Weddings are not cheap. Incorporating all the products and services the average couple wants these days will often be as much as double or more what they initially thought they might want to spend.
“The average Vancouver Wedding for 120 people costs between $50,000.00 and $80,000.00 pending tastes, inclusions, and means.”
Create a detailed budget allocating ALL the potential wedding costs. Don’t guess — find out what the popular average is by contacting a few local vendors to inquire. Be upfront with the vendors about it and you will get the help you need. Once you know the average costs there’s nothing wrong with rethinking the plan if the sticker shock is higher than anticipated! You might consider hosting a Breakfast Wedding, a Lunch Wedding, a Late-night candle lit Champagne Dessert affair!
And of course the quickest way to reduce wedding costs is by reducing the number of guests as this is where the majority of a budget goes. Intimate weddings are a wonderful thing! And not just because of the budget benefits.
“Food & Drink costs typically make up 40-60% of an overall wedding budget.”
Once you’ve determined what the food and drink costs are — starting at $150.00-$250.00+ per person — it’s time to allocate the balance of the budget. From invitations, hair + makeup, dress, suit/tux, and photography to videography, music, transportation, flowers and décor. It’s important to understand where the money goes from the beginning and come up with a plan everyone is comfortable with.
Budget stress is one of the top two reasons couples end up being disheartened and unhappy with the planning (family dynamics is the other, but let’s save that for a different blog). And that’s so unfortunate because the 6-18 months in lead up to one of the most impactful days of your life should be fun and filled with exciting decisions and beautiful memories.
Once a couple has an understanding of what their ideal wedding might cost and determines that it’s doable then they can happily and confidently move through the process knowing what they have to spend and find the right people to help them do it!
As a professional planner, one of the first steps in the planning process is to establish a realistic budget that encompasses ALL the wedding costs. Even the ones that are often first overlooked and not yet understood. I’ve included below the most budget influencing categories of a wedding and the average Vancouver costs to give you a good idea of what to expect.
“Many couples say after the fact that they wish they had hired someone to handle the décor as managing all the moving parts was stressful and their time was worth more!”
These are not DIY costs as those will often be cheaper (and sometimes more expensive if you don’t do your homework – measure twice, cut once). They are the average costs one can expect to pay when hiring someone else to do the work for you. From a more modest investment through to the average top end (and yes, it’s always possible to spend more). There are always ways to save, but that almost always involves more work for the couple, their family and friends.
Remember, just because you are on a budget doesn’t mean every area of the wedding needs to be cut back. Decide on 3-4 Priority areas — food, flowers, photography, music, videography or the dress — and allocate a realistic amount to each of those areas and scale back or eliminate in other areas. It’s about being authentic and having a wedding that leaves you proud with happy memories that you will cherish forever.
“My go to saying to share with couples who continue to add more wants to an already stretched budget is — More is More. If you can’t afford more, be happy with less.”
Average Vancouver Wedding Budget Breakdown:
Ceremony Location: $500.00 – $5000.00
This will depend on whether you choose a separate venue for the ceremony, a church, or decide to take advantage of a beautiful reception venue ceremony option.
Ceremony Officiant: $150.00 – $2000.00
The options range from a government appointed marriage commissioner to independent celebrants catering to various religions and styles.
Reception Venue: $0.00 – $10,000.00
Some venues have a rental fee separate from the Food & Beverage minimum requirement and others will waive a rental fee with a minimum guarantee. Keep in mind things like a Liquor License and Venue Insurance are sometimes also needed depending on the venue.
Food & Drinks: $150.00 – $300.00+ per person
This is a big one usually making up 40-60% of an overall wedding budget. Things like the caliber of the venue, what you choose to offer, whether you are working with the venue’s in-house services or bringing in a caterer, and in what capacity all affect the cost. Cash Bar vs. host bar, welcome hors d’oeuvres, decadent plated meal, vs simplified buffet, late night snacks, etc. all play a part. Costs may or may not include service, setup, and cleanup so be sure to inquire into those costs ahead of time so there are no labor related surprises! Labor isn’t cheap.
“Don’t forget the tax and gratuity which in British Columbia add around 25% to the food and drink costs. Often, couples will look at the menu and drink prices and not take this into account and it tacks on quite a bit.”
Have you heard about The Original Bridal Swap? Are you on the hunt for your wedding treasures? Looking for creative ideas or even a dress at a steal of a deal? This is one wedding event you don’t want to miss!
Stationery (Invitations, Place Cards, & Menus): $1200.00 – $5000.00+
These costs will range quite a bit depending on what you choose to include and how detailed you decide to go. A major cost difference is between choosing to order pre-fab invitations online with self-assembly (some great options are available these days), mailing/addressing yourself vs. working with a professional stationer. They will often design, assemble, address, and mail them for you if you choose.
Menus can be a nice to have or a necessity depending on the style of menu and lineup of food offered. Hotels typically include a basic menu option personalized with name and date, but couples often choose to upgrade and have their stationer create a more custom, décorenhancing version along with printed place cards for that added extra.
Welcome/Seating Signage: $150.00 – $500.00
This can be as simple as a printed alphabetical seating chart or escort cards to something more Pinterest Popular along the lines of witty and welcoming messages and seating assignments displayed creatively on mirrors, chalkboards, and plexi walls enhanced with the help of a talented calligrapher.
Wedding Cake: $6.00 – $15.00 per person
Will vary depending on the intricacy of the design, labour involved and types of ingredients used, also doesn’t include the typical cake cutting fee charged by the venue/caterer which covers associated labor, plates, forks, and cleanup required.
Ceremony Music: $250.00 – $2500.00
Live music is often the preferred choice due to the flexibility it affords. It’s forgiving when managing too slow or fast aisle walkers and distracted children as they meander down the aisle. And then there’s the whole dreaded technical issues that can arise as a result of prerecorded DIY music efforts. Whether a solo guitarist or a classical string quartet live music is always a great idea!
Flowers & Décor: $2000.00 – $25,000.00+
This is one area where we see the largest range as it comes down to the size of event, the venue chosen, the money available, and of course the style and vision one has for the day. Since the pandemic flower costs have increased by 40-60% with no plans to come back down so keep this in mind when budgeting. For example, a centerpiece that used to cost $250.00 is now coming in at $350.00-$400.00. When you multiply that by 12 tables that’s as much as an extra $1800.00 affected by these increased costs.
Tent Weddings with ceiling draperies, lounge furniture, rented chairs, custom dance floors, linens, and tabletop accents like candles and charger plates will increase your décor budget.
“If budget is an issue than opt for a smaller guest list, smaller arrangements with seasonal flowers and tealight candles for a romantic minimalistlook!”
Wedding Planner: $1500.00 – $15,000.00+
Wedding Day Management/Coordination/Month of will cost far less than hiring a planner in a Full Planning and/or Design capacity. Think of it like the difference between an automated drive through car wash and a full-service detail! Planning fees are determined based on a planner’s reputation and experience as well as the complexity and caliber of the wedding plan.
As a wedding planner I am going to be a loud advocate for involving a professional planner in your wedding plan in some capacity, even if only for the day of! I’ve experienced many weddings with planners involved and weddings without. Not all of those without one were bad, but rather noticeably lacking in support with unexpected and unwelcome surprises arising as a result. There’s also a noticeable difference between reputable planners with experience and planners whose only experience is that of their own wedding and a couple friends who did not pay for their services. Be a savvy consumer and do your homework before hiring your planner.
“You will likely never spend more money on one day than on your wedding day so why leave its success to chance?”
It runs the gamut, but what I do know for sure is that a wedding plan with a great planner by your side will without a doubt be the best decision you make. We are the game changers and the joy makers! Our sole purpose is to make sure that every part of your wedding planning journey from the initial discussions to the wedding day is everything you deserve and imagine it to be. Sounds like a no-brainer to me.
Photography: $3000.00 – $10,000.00+
Most couples know what they like when they see it and are excited to hire their photographer without too much confusion or apprehension. There are a few things to keep in mind which will enhance the experience and help make you a savvier consumer. Discuss number of hours needed and if there are multiple locations therefore affecting number of shooters that may be required. Things like coffee table books, prints, rights to the images (not a given), working with the principal photographer or an associate will affectthe cost.
“Many couples choose to invest a little more in a great photographer because after all is said and done it’s the photos that will live on!”
Also, I can’t say with enough enthusiasm how important it is to not just like, but love your photographer! You’ll be spending more time with them than anyone else on your wedding day so feeling at ease around them is very important. Hiring a photographer you respect often ends up being one of the highlights of the wedding day experience. The energy and synergy created as a result of a good fit can make a magical day even more spectacular. On the flip side, choosing a photographer solely based on their price can leave you feeling very disappointed with the on-day level of interaction with you, family, and guests and the quality of the final product.
Wedding Dress: $1000.00 – $10,000.00
These days the styles, price points, and designer options available are endless. Be sure to allocate additional costs for alterations, steaming/cleaning, and accessories like the veil, jewelry, shoes, etc. And word to the wise… If a dress online is cheaper than the one in store don’t be fooled. Quality of material, professionalism of the sewing, etc. are often the things that have been compromised to keep costs down. If it sounds too good to be true it almost certainly is. I’ve had a couple experiences in my career where a client thought she was outsmarting the system, by ordering “the same dress” online only to find out that it was not the exact same dress and realized the hard way that you do get what you pay for.
Suit/Tux: $200.00 – $2500.00
With so many great options available for suit/tux rentals these days many gentlemen are happy to rent. The, the wedding can be a perfect opportunity to invest in a stylish suit that can be worn after the wedding. And remember, cheap usually means stiff and hot so make sure you aren’t sacrificing comfort for a couple hundred dollars. You’ll be wearing the suit for 8-12 Hours after all. Comfort is key, especially on a hot summer day!
Wedding Party Attire: $200.00 – $600.00 per person
Not everyone chooses to cover these costs, but if you can please do! Being in a wedding party is not inexpensive once you add up all the costs associated with celebrating YOU! From dress and suit rentals, to bachelorette parties, showers, wedding gifts and more — anything you can do to offset costs will be appreciated.
“It’s always a good idea to have a Contingency Fund of 10-15% of the overall budget. This allows for the little surprises and newfound wants that pop up along the way.”
Mobile Hair & Makeup: $150.00 – $600.00 per bridal party member or mom
Typically on the higher side of the range for the bride and less for the bridal party. May or may not include a trial which is highly recommended. This is not a time for guessing games. It’s important to make sure you love your look!
Wedding Rings: $600.00 – $3000.00 each
As good as it might sound right now to save on the rings, please don’t make this mistake. Couples might think this is a good area to save, but you’ll hopefully wear these rings for the rest of your life! They are worthy of a larger investment. You want it to be a quality, timeless design that you will love well into the future. And if you think you will buy cheap now and upgrade later, don’t count on it. Most people become quite sentimental about the ring they exchange on the wedding day. I know I did.
Reception Music: $1200.00 – $10,000.00
From independent DJs to well-known local cover bands… the choice is yours to make based on personal preference. Just make sure your venue permits live music before you sign on any dotted line! And here’s something to know… Dancing is not mandatory! If you or your family are not the dancing kind that is perfectly okay! Keep it authentic and opt instead for more mingle time, games, and live or recorded music that inspires great conversation.
Favors: $3.00 – $12.00 each
This is one area that has seen a bit of a change in recent years. Some couples are choosing to skip the mini candles and opting instead for custom wood or plexi placecards and flip-flops. Other ideas include a Photobooth with photos for guests to take, drink tickets, or a donation to your favorite charity.
Videography: $4000.00 – $12,000.00+
Just because I’ve put this one last doesn’t mean it’s not important! In fact, NOT hiring a videographer is very often at the top of the list of post wedding regrets. The day goes by so quickly and can feel like a blur after the fact.
Extra costs might also include:
- Gifts for the Wedding Party and Emcee
- Dance Lessons – check out our friends at JC Dance Studio
- Live Streaming
- Valet – Park Avenue Valets is one of our FAVS
- Tents (and related flooring, walls, heaters) – Top Picks: Elevation Tent Rentals, Phoenix Tents, Cascade Tents, Pacific Coast Tents
- Party Rentals including chairs, dishware, flatware, glassware for build your own venue scenarios – dg FAVS: A&B Party & Event Rentals, Pedersen’sRentals, Loungeworks,
- Washroom Trailers – Check out… Full Moon Washroom Trailers & Sunrise Washroom Rentals
- Drone Filming
- Guest Transportation
- Hotel Accommodations
- Vendor Travel Costs
- Luxury Car Rentals
- Pre-Post Events like Rehearsal/Welcome Dinners and Post Wedding Brunch. And don’t forget the flowers, stationary, and other costs associated with these additional events.