$20,000 Real Wedding Budgets

Today’s Real Wedding Budgets all fall around $22,000.

– VC had 155 guests at her Los Angeles wedding.  She DIY’ed flowers, her father acted as videographer, and she spent a mere $70 on makeup.  Having budgeted in these areas, she was able to splurge on a $4k+ dress, and also spend a generous amount on gifts for her wedding party.

– BS is planning a wedding of 100-125 guests in Pawleys Island, South Carolina.  She’s saving money by skipping favors and having family and friends act as officiant, musicians, and day-of coordinator.

– NC’s wedding of 72 guests in LA was set in a beautiful gothic Catholic church.  She and her husband budgeted fair amounts of money for their flowers, stationery, and photography/videography.  In turn, they saved on music expenses by having their restaurant reception site play classical music through their satellite system!  You can see photos of her wedding below.


Submitted By: VC
City: Los Angeles
Budget: $20-30,000
# of Guests: 155

Wedding Day Expenses:

Ceremony/Reception Site Fees: $0
Caterer/Food/Drink: $5950 or $40/pp
Service Charge/Gratuities: $0 (included)
Bridal Gown/Alterations: $4995
Bridal Accessories: $100 (veil included; all family jewelry)
Groom’s Attire: $350
Stationery/Postage: $875
Photography: $1300
Videography: $0 (best friend and dad are cameramen)
Ceremony Music: $0 (included in DJ package)
Reception Music: $900 (DJ)
Flowers: $625, DIY’ed
Favors: $1600 (placeholders and photobooth as entertainment/favors)
Cake: $575
Officiant: $250 donation
Coordinator: $400
Hair/Makeup: $70 (in supplies)
Wedding Party Gifts: $840
Transportation: $140
Hotels: $250
Misc: $2750 (including rentals of dance floor, tables, chairs, and linens, as well as additional decorations)

Nonwedding Day Expenses:

Wedding bands: $1215
Rehearsal dinner: $1500
Honeymoon: $12,000

GRAND TOTAL: $36,685


Submitted By: BS
City: Pawleys Island, South Carolina
Budget: $10,000
# of Guests: 100-125

Wedding Day Expenses:

Ceremony/Reception Site Fees: $2650
Caterer/Food/Drink: $10,625 or $85/pp
Service Charge/Gratuities: $2000
Bridal Gown/Alterations: $650 (sale on David’s designer gown off the rack)
Bridal Accessories: $400
Groom’s Attire: $0 (free at After Hours Formal Wear with purchase of groomsmen’s tuxes)
Stationery/Postage: $250
Photography: $1200 (Gene Ho Photography: four hours of coverage with two photographers, 120 proofs, and 5×7 album with photos)
Videography: $0 (family member)
Ceremony Music: $0 (DJ from reception and two friends playing violin and guitar)
Reception Music: $995
Flowers: $500 (planning to spend this much by DIY’ing through Sam’s Club)
Favors: $0 (none)
Cake: $450 (four and a half tiers)
Officiant: n/a (family member officiating; travel expenses to be covered)
Coordinator: $0 (sister-in-law will coordinate day-of)
Hair/Makeup: $190
Wedding Party Gifts: $500
Transportation: $0
Hotels: $1450
Misc: $330

Nonwedding Day Expenses:

Wedding bands: $150
Rehearsal dinner: n/a
Honeymoon: $2800

GRAND TOTAL: $25,140


Submitted By: NC
City: Los Angeles, CA
Budget: $30,000
# of Guests: 72

Wedding Day Expenses:

Ceremony/Reception Site Fees: $2500. A beautiful gothic catholic church that charged us $2000 extra because we weren’t parishoners.  Worth every penny.



Caterer/Food/Drink: $4800 or $67/pp, including three passed hors d’oeuvres, three courses, and wine and beverage service (no hard liquor).

Service Charge/Gratuities:
$0 (included)

Bridal Gown/Alterations:
$1000.  Maggie Sottero Channing dress.


Bridal Accessories: $600.  I got 10% off my veil and undergarments by purchasing them together with my dress, and for my shoes, I wore a pair of Puma running shoes in white, with a touch of sage!



Groom’s Attire: $3000.  His parents custom ordered a suit for him and his brother (the best man); each suit was $1500.


Stationery/Postage: $1400.  Stationery was my big splurge.  I knew I wanted beautiful letterpress invitations and that it was something I would be able to keep to remember the day.


Photography: $2000.  I hired a friend of mine who does beautiful photos and was willing to provide us unlimited coverage, at three separate locations (ceremony, reception, and a post-reception shoot at the beach) and all the digital files.




Ceremony Music:
$300.  The church organist and a parishoner who served as our cantor.

Reception Music:
$0.  I had the restaurant use their satellite system and just had classical music playing in the background.  I would have loved a string quartet, but it wasn’t worth the $3000+ it would have cost for the five hours of coverage we would have needed.  It would have been a nice extra, but it wasn’t necessary.

$3200.  We had 12 centerpieces (8 tall, showy ones and 4 smaller, compact ones).  I booked my florist one year in advance, no questions asked, because she came highly recommended and she does beautiful work.  On our way to our honeymoon, my husband said, “If I were getting married again, I would hire Debbie to do the flowers!”




Favors: $310.  We had custom laser-imprinted chopsticks made as favors for our guests.  Everyone loved them and it brought just enough “Chinese” flair to our otherwise completely western ceremony and reception.


$0, included in church fee.

$150.  In addition to the church fee, we paid $150 for a church wedding coordinator who took care of all the paperwork and made sure everything ran smoothly the day of.

$700 ($350 for my hair and makeup, and $140 each for my MOH’s hair and makeup; $70 for hair for one of the grandmas).


Wedding Party Gifts: $300.

$200.  We rented an Audi A4 to zip around town in after the wedding and to take us to the airport the next day.

$0.  Groom’s family took care of our hotel costs.


Nonwedding Day Expenses:

Wedding bands: $2000. Half circle of prong-set diamonds for me, and plain platinum for my husband.
Rehearsal dinner: $1500

GRAND TOTAL: $26,260


Thanks to everyone who submitted their budgets!  If you’d like to see your budget featured on Weddingbee, see here for details.


Real Budgets

*Clapping Hands In Glee*
Disney Bridesmaids
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  1. Guest Icon Guest
    Cindy, Guest @ 2:53 pm

    is it possible to ask the LA weddings where they held their receptions? Their prices were pretty fair compared to what i’ve seen.

  2. Guest Icon Guest
    RD, Guest @ 3:46 pm

    I agree with Cindy. Can vendors be listed especially if they like them.

  3. Guest Icon Guest
    norcalbruin, Guest @ 3:50 pm

    I have always wondered what Saint Brendan looked like inside. Nice. :)

  4. Guest Icon Guest
    NC, Guest @ 3:58 pm

    I’m so excited my pictures were posted! I applied to be a weddingbee blogger many moons ago, but didn’t have the discipline of so many of the gals here to keep up with my blogging!

    Cindy – my reception was at Lawry’s the prime rib in Beverly Hills. They rent out the entire restaurant for lunch only and there’s no charge outside of what it costs for each person to eat and the gratuity which is automatically included.

  5. Guest Icon Guest
    tto, Guest @ 4:03 pm

    I would love to know what VC+husband did for their honeymoon!!! :)

  6. Guest Icon Guest
    Jess, Guest @ 4:24 pm

    NC, What a beautiful wedding! I love the Puma shoes!

  7. Guest Icon Guest
    Mrs. Vic, Guest @ 5:02 pm

    Hi Bees (forgive the long response please)

    VC here…
    We did the ceremony and reception in my mom’s yard, so paying for rentals and glassware probably worked out to what site fees are for many L.A. venues.

    My vendors were almost all friends at free/cut rates but here are my recommends below.

    My makeup artist is based in the Valley, Nicole Burg at Vanity Cosmetics and she did a fantastic job! She used an airbrush machine for my foundation which looked great and it felt like I wasn’t wearing anything.

    The dress is Carolina Herrera, and if any of you want impeccable service, an incredible dress and have the room in your budget, see Maradee Wahl at the Los Angeles boutique. She was a dream to work with and truly made my dress shopping experience worth every penny.

    Pico Party Rents near Culver City supplied tables, chairs, etc. I found their prices fair and their employees helpful.

    RedCheese photobooths. Throughout California. Comparable prices to any other event photobooth rentals, but I got a CD with everyone’s photos, and we could fit 4-6 people in there! I love looking at those pictures.

    Our honeymoon was a 12 day Mediterranean cruise on Celebrity. We started in Barcelona and ended in Venice. The number above includes flights, hotels on each end and all the money we spent on food and souvenirs while we were gone.

    Sorry there’s no pictures here. Mrs Lemon posted a few pictures in her blog here: http://www.weddingbee.com/2007/06/04/garden-party/

    Hope that covers it!

  8. Guest Icon Guest
    Mrs. Vic, Guest @ 5:03 pm

    Oh…and I highly highly recommend visiting L.A.’s Flower District in downtown. If you have a single flower arranging bone in your body, (or are only using one bloom like I was) you can save so much money doing arrangements on your own.

  9. Guest Icon Guest
    marc, Guest @ 1:22 pm

    My wedding: 301 people showed up.

    site: our church $0 dollars
    Cake: Mother made, $25 dollars (for mix and fondant)
    Flowers: bought at flea market, sister arranged. $35
    Decorations: all borrowed $0 (c’mon like you are ever going to use it again)
    Dress: had a friend make, as a wedding gift. $140 in material. No alterations required seems how it was made-to-fix just for my wife
    Food: Family served as caterers, and prepared the food. Spent $160 in food
    Music: singing by aunt and uncle who have preformed in carnagee hall, etc. And friends that are professional violinists $0
    we then took the money we saved and paid off our house, now we have no mortgage payment, and are 100% debt free. We can retire at the age of 30, just because of things like this. Who needs a 40,000 dollar debt of a wedding?

  10. Guest Icon Guest
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