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Tying the Knot?

Find wedding vendor contracts and other legal resources for newlyweds.

Tying the Knot?

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How much can we expect to pay for our wedding?

Setting your priorities and being flexible can help when planning a wedding on a budget. On average, a couple can expect to spend $20,000 to $30,000 or more on their wedding. The cost, however, depends on several factors, including:

  • Ceremony and reception venues.
  • Number of guests.
  • Your wedding date.
  • Your choices for vendors.

Hiring a wedding planner is often a significant upfront cost as couples begin to plan their weddings. How much a couple spends on a wedding planner often depends on how much the couple wants them to help with the process. On average, full-service wedding planners may have a starting rate of $3,000, billed as a flat fee, an hourly rate, or a percentage of the total cost of the wedding. A Wedding Planner Agreement can help set both your expectations and payment terms.

The wedding planner is just the start, however. For example, the average cost of a bridal bouquet is $160 and a tux rental is $100, while musicians can charge an average of $500. The average price of a wedding photographer is $2,500.

As for the reception, couples can expect to pay between $27 and $40 or more per person for catering costs when serving a meal. As with most of your vendors, however, costs depend largely on the selections you make. For alcohol service, costs can vary widely as well. DJs charge an average of $1,000 and limousine service can cost between $250 and $500 or more depending on location, distance, and the types of cars selected.

If you plan to host a rehearsal dinner for the wedding party or out of town guests, you may want to budget separately for this on a per person basis.

What wedding costs can we expect to pay?

Of course, many costs depend on what you want at the wedding. Some costs, however, you may not be able to avoid. Things like your wedding license require fees, which vary depending on where you are getting married. Also, if you plan to have a ceremony, officiant fees are generally required, as well as a venue fee.

When planning a ceremony, in addition to the fees for your officiant and venue, common costs include:

  • Wedding planner.
  • Photographer and videographer.
  • Florist.
  • Printing and postage for wedding invitations, RSVP cards, signage, and programs.
  • Additional venue fees for décor or special additions.
  • Transportation costs.
  • Musicians for the ceremony.

Couples also may want to consider these more personal additional costs related to the ceremony:

  • Rings for the ceremony.
  • The wedding dress, and other wedding attire.
  • Hair and makeup service.
  • Thank you gifts for their wedding party.

 After the ceremony, planning a reception typically includes the following expenses:

  • Additional venue costs.
  • Catering and bartending.
  • Wedding cake and service of the cake.
  • Tables, chairs and linens rentals.
  • DJ fees.
  • Photo booth rental.
  • Party favors for guests.

While some fees may be fixed, like venue costs, others depend largely on the size of your wedding. 

How can we avoid overpaying?

The best way to avoid paying more than necessary is to be thorough and deliberate when hiring your vendors, and know exactly what you are paying for. Get quotes from more than one vendor and don’t be afraid to leverage a competitive quote when negotiating with your preferred vendor.

Many vendors have standard contracts they use. Read these contracts carefully to note fees, timelines, and other important details. Ask for itemized estimates so you know what the price does and does not include. After reading the contract, you may discover that the cheapest bid is no longer the cheapest after you add in extra fees to get what you want.

Keep in mind the old adage that you get what you pay for, and remember that the lowest price tag usually comes at a cost in the form of lower quality or reduced services. One of the reasons event vendors often charge more for their services for weddings is because couples often expect perfection.

How can we lower the cost of our wedding?

Given the long list of wedding vendors and optional add-ons, wedding costs can spiral out of control. Couples that set a budget and identify priorities for their wedding day are off to a good start. Strive to compromise with your partner on a handful of elements that matter most to the two of you for your dream wedding. Also, never underestimate your ability to negotiate with your wedding vendors. They may have alternatives to help bring costs down.

Even though a wedding planner may seem like a luxury, they can make a wedding cheaper due to their experience and contacts within the industry. They can also help make sure your big day is coordinated, so everything moves smoothly. 

Another way to bring down costs is by eliminating a second venue fee and holding the wedding and reception in the same location. This can also reduce transportation costs. You and your partner can do some things on your own, such as:

  • Print and mail your own invitations.
  • Make your own decorations for the venue.
  • Make your wedding favors. 

Friends and family members can help, but do not put too much of a burden on yourself and your guests. You want to celebrate your wedding day, not fold napkins.

Lastly, it is important to avoid carrying balances for wedding expenses on credit cards whenever possible, due to the interest payments.

If you have more questions about hiring your wedding vendors or getting married, reach out to a Rocket Lawyer network attorney for affordable legal advice.

This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.

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