This is What a $50,000 Wedding Budget Looks Like

wedding planner costOne of the most frustrating and confusing parts of wedding planning is trying to figure out how much everything costs. There are times when every detail seems to be shrouded in mystery, and before you know it you’re knee-deep in trying to guess what your budget should be, and what you’ll ultimately end up paying for everything from your wedding venue or catering to your wedding invitations and flowers.

Which is why we love hearing how much a wedding costs from the best source you can go to…the wedding planner! They are dealing with wedding vendors ALL DAY, EVERY DAY, which means they are the ultimate person to ask when it comes to figuring out how much you’re going to have to pay for what.

We recently spoke with a lovely and experienced wedding planner (who shall remain anonymous) about the prices she’s seeing everywhere from Los Angeles to Seattle. Keep in mind that the prices mentioned below are general ranges, only, and are targeted at budgets of around $50,000 and up (the budget you would typically have if you were hiring a wedding planner. Though I can vouch for these prices even for couples with a much lower budget). Couples in big cities (like Manhattan and San Francisco) can easily see catering costs well into the 200’s/pp in many cases ($100 more per person than is listed below), while wedding photographers can easily creep towards $8,000 for the creme-de-la-creme in cities like Los Angeles. This is simply meant to give you an average you can expect to pay. And even if your budget is $15,000 and not $50,000, remember that this information can definitely give you a leg up when it comes to figuring out WHERE you can save (IE: that you most likely can’t hire a wedding planner, or that you’ll need to skip the videographer, both of which I did).

Now to the good stuff! Below is a look at how much our wedding planner says you can expect to pay for the following:

Photographer:​

“I like to say about 10% of budget ($50,000 budget = $5,000 for photo). It’s a red flag if you are booking a photographer for 8 hours of coverage for under $2,500. I see the average cost of a “good” photographer for 8 hours between $3,500 – $5,500. Looking for ways to save? Always ask about including engagement shoots, a second shooter, and any prints, since those are typically add-ons.” ​

Videographer:​

“You can expect to pay the same percentage for video… about 8 – 10% of your budget. People are shocked to find that this is typically the same as the photographer. Plan to spend about $3,000 – $5,000 for a good videographer​.”

Flowers:​

“I am finding that a lot of the smaller, boutique florists (most of them only take one wedding a weekend or a day) have a minimum of between $3,500 – $5,000. I rarely have a client spend less than $5,000 on flowers and people are shocked to find how much this costs. The best way to break it down for people is for them to think about how much they spend when they order an arrangement – say for Mother’s Day. Think about if they spent $100 on ONE arrangement for their mom, then multiple that by how many tables they have (i.e. 100 person wedding, 10 guests per table = 10 tables). So, they have 10 tables x $100 per JUST for the reception. Add on bouquets, boutonnieres, altar flowers, chuppah rental, cocktail tables, cake flowers, escort card table, etc. It adds up quickly.”

Catering:​

“I like to say that the wedding venue and food/beverage costs should be about 40 – 50% of the entire budget. Some places are $100+ per person (and go up from there depending on the city you live in), and even though an outside caterer can come in for less, you might end up paying more for labor, gratuity, etc.”

Wedding planner:​

“If a wedding planner is important to you, I would plan on paying 10% of your budget.”

So overall, here’s how a $50,000 wedding budget would breakdown:

  • Photographer: $5,000
  • Videographer: $3,000
  • Flowers: $5,000
  • Catering/Venue: $25,000
  • Wedding Planner: $5,000
  • Entertainment (ceremony musicians, DJs, or band): $3,000
  • Misc (dress, invites, etc.): $4,000
  • TOTAL: $50,000

Looking for more breakdowns on how much things cost? Check out our features on Wedding Invitation CostWedding Flowers CostWedding Cakes Cost,  Wedding Tent Cost, and Wedding Photographer Cost!

So what do you think of this budget breakdown, brides? Where are you spending the most money? Let us know in the comments section, below!

 

23 Comments

  • event planners says:

    Really enjoyed this!

  • Anonymous says:

    50k? where the 5k budget at?

  • I TOTALLY agree with you, Priscilla!

  • Priscilla N. Dolce Vita Events says:

    Hello, established wedding planner here just wanting to add info to some of the comments regarding a wedding planner’s lack of value to brides planning a wedding – this is a complete mistruth when considering the overall picture. To say that a bride would be better off turning to her DJ or photographer for wedding advice is like saying a pregnant woman should turn to a daycare provider for birthing and delivery service/advice. :-/ While DJ’s and photogs at times book more weddings than a wedding planner, it’s only because they play a very small, niche role in the wedding process, whereas a wedding planner is responsible for planning and/or contributing to every aspect and detail of planning the entire wedding and all of the intricate elements the bride will need assistance with. Many of us choose to only take on a certain number of clients per year in order to be able to give each client the individual and detailed attention they require and deserve. (This also depends on whether the planner provides complete planning, partial planning, Day of Coordination, or a mix of all three).

    That being said, in addition to being an experienced wedding planner, I am also a floral designer and photographer so I am able to provide my clients vendor input from a multi faceted perspective on what they will need and how much all of the floral, design, photography, etc will truly cost. And when their style and/or budget is not a good fit for our in house services (event/floral design, photography, bridal beauty), I am able to direct them to specific vendors that will be a good match for them while ensuring those vendors give them the best value and service.

    What was stated by @jdub for the cost of flowers is only a fraction of what’s needed for a wedding. The title of this article is “a look at a $50,000 wedding”, not a DIY lower budget wedding. Brides with higher wedding budgets will have more specific taste and requirement for their overall design and wedding aesthetic – and that means more flowers and decor. The weddings we work on are, on average, spending $5K-10K for flowers because adding in ceremony decor (fresh petal aisle runners, aisle lined with pedestal floral arrangements, custom wedding arch or altar/gazebo decor, pew decor) and reception decor (centerpieces, complete tablescapes, cake table, gift table, sweetheart table floral and design, etc) to the minimal bridal party flowers that @jdub listed is only a fraction of the details. It all adds up quickly in the floral category because so much time and intricate labor is involved – something the commenting dj/photogs are clearly forgetting.

    So to make the statement ” To all the brides out there, if you need wedding advice talk to your photographer, your banquet manager, your DJ, and your officiant.” is completely misleading and a huge disservice in advice to brides who are already overwhelmed and need professional direction for the wedding planning process as a whole because the vendors you suggest taking wedding planning advice from are only experienced in their own small section of a weddings detail. Whereas a wedding planner (a good and experienced one) is the comparison of a large corporation’s COO vs. that same corporations mail room clerk.

  • To @jdub:

    Thanks for writing in. I appreciate your feedback but I happen to totally disagree with your comments. I am that frustrated bride that started this site, and having done it for 6 years now as well as helped plan a ton of weddings, I happen to think I’m able to have an educated opinion on both sides of the fence. 🙂 While I completely agree with you that you SHOULD absolutely talk to all your vendors, this series is called “Wedding Planner Secrets” and features advice from wedding planners, who we think have an extremely valuable insight into the wedding process. Most of the ones we work with do WAY more than 10 weddings a year, too. But that doesn’t mean you should definitely have one! I didn’t. I think it’s completely up to you and your budget. And of course $50,000 will absolutely get you WAY more in Indiana than LA or NYC. We know that all too well, and is something we always stress to brides (and is something we made a point of talking about in this intro).

    On a side note, it should be pointed out that your breakdown re: flower cost doesn’t include any flowers for the ceremony and reception, which are actually THE most expensive (and important) parts. And yes, you can spend way less than $5,000 on wedding flowers. You can spend $100 if you really want. It’s all about priorities and where you want to allocate your budget.

  • Hi!! You guys are all totally right about the entertainment!! We have no idea how this got left out. We have adjusted the budget accordingly. Thanks for your feedback! xo

  • JIm Beam says:

    Nothing about a DJ. Oh yeah, your hipster friend with an iPod can make you a playlist. This is all phooey and why those wedding planners can all take a hike.

  • Andy says:

    where’s the entertainment portion?! Outside of a photographer, it’s the 2nd most important thing (so studies have shown) and you don’t have a single dollar budgeted for it.

  • Nick says:

    I hope you like to sit in silence and not dance since you forgot entertainment…. lol

  • Nick Styles says:

    You totally forgot about one of THE most important aspects of ANY wedding…Entertainment! Their guests will NOT remember the flowers, the food, or what the venue looked like, but they WILL remember the Entertainment for that night. From the Ceremony to the Last Dance, your entertainer will be the one who is running the show, making sure everything goes smoothly, and depending on the planner you hired (hopefully it’s a good one because I’ve worked with many that didn’t know what they were doing and/or weren’t around when you needed them), the entertainer will be the one executing the moments in the timeline and being the MC for that evening. If you think that the Entertainment belongs in Misc. or Etc., think again, re-evaluate your event and put the entertainment at the forefront top 3 on your list, because without entertainment, your wedding is just another expensive dinner party and your guests would leave right after they ate all the free food you overpaid for.

  • DJ Tommy says:

    Well,well,well. So no dancing? No DJ or no band? Love how it’s written by a planner AND the wedding planner price is way up there. Guess the planner is going to sing? LOL

  • You’re forgetting the provider most responsible for the flow, emotional impact, and overall success of the event through the power of the microphone & music. Their portion of the budget should also be at least 10% for quality. This wedding planner clearly made a huge oversight if they forgot to factor entertainment.

  • Jim says:

    What about entertainment, either DJ or band?

  • Todd Moses says:

    Wow! I think you forgot a major part of any wedding I’ve ever attended. ENTERTAINMENT !!!

  • Josh says:

    So…what are these guests doing at the wedding since they certainly won’t be dancing without a DJ or a band. What is the videographer recording? People eating in silence? Entertainment is easily responsible for a huge portion of the success of the reception and it isn’t mentioned in the budget at all?

    I’ve never left a wedding saying “Wow, that was so much fun, those flowers really made the party!”

    Serious red flag about the experience and expertise of this wedding planner.

  • jdub says:

    If you are dumb enough to spend $5,000 on flowers, then your wedding planner is clearly not doing their job, nor is that person being at all practical.

    A bridal bouquet typically only costs around $200-250.
    Bouquets for the bridesmaids around $75-$100.
    Boutonnieres about $15-20.
    So if you have 5 ladies and 5 guys + corsages and boutonnieres for the parents + the bride and groom, you are looking at about $775-$1,000. Now obviously there will be some taxes and other fees so plan for $1200 to be uber safe.

    Also, prices vary from market to market. In L.A. or New York a photographer for $5000 is probably a pretty good deal. But here in Indiana, the average price is 1/2 of that at $2500 (if you include the prints).

    Articles like this are incredibly misleading.

    This is the problem:
    This website was created by a bride (who was frustrated). This website was not created by someone who works in the wedding industry.
    To all the brides out there, if you need wedding advice talk to your photographer, your banquet manager, your DJ, and your officiant.

    These are the people who do HUNDREDS of weddings. Having a wedding planner is nice, but is it necessary? Often times most wedding planners only do 6-10 weddings per year. But your photographer probably does 30+ per year. Your DJ? 40+ per year.
    If you want practical advice, those are the people to talk to.

  • Eric Perez says:

    That’s one really boring wedding with no entertainment, cake or keepsakes…

  • Anonymous says:

    Music not in a budget? Easiest way to save money? Eliminate $5000 for a wedding planner.

  • Bob says:

    DJ / Band…. That is a huge missing piece.

  • K says:

    What about music, linens, and a cake?!!! They were not mentioned in the budget at all!!!

  • Darcy says:

    Does the catering budget include alcohol, because I know myself, and so many brides spend huge amounts on an open bar!

  • Anonymous says:

    We are also spending a significant amount on our live entertainment and guest transportation!

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