Congratulations to any newly engaged couples! You both might not know what to expect, and you might feel overwhelmed. Friends and family will probably shower you with advice and ideas—much of which may be beyond your budget or ideal wedding plans.
The budget for wedding events vary for lots of reasons, and the average wedding can cost over $20,000, but some can cost under $1,000. It all depends on how large your wedding is, and if you follow all the formalities. There are many websites that offer free wedding costs estimators, and they are worth checking out.
Here’s a quick breakdown of just a few of the wedding arrangements.
Engagement Party Costs
Engagement parties are usually held within two to three months after your engagement. Traditionally, these events would be thrown by a parent, another relative, or a close friend. It can be held at someone’s home with a barbeque, cocktails, or just wine and hors d’oeuvres. Restaurants are another popular choice and a pot luck could be an inexpensive, but fun option. This is generally a small, intimate affair and attendees are usually family and close friends of the engaged couple (and their dates and spouses). This event offers future wedding guests a chance to get to know each other.
It’s at about this time that you might be wondering who among your friends and family can afford to help with upcoming preparations, and to determine what size and type of wedding you may prefer. The venue might be in Las Vegas, the beach, or a backyard garden, and it may be very big or a small, intimate affair. This is also a good time to consider whether to invite distant friends or relatives, dad’s coworkers, etc. so as not to hurt feelings later.
The cost of a rehearsal dinner will be based on how many people are in your wedding party, plus their spouse or date, and the cost of invitations, which can be minimal.
Here’s a very basic quick count: The couple (2), two sets of parents (4), four bridesmaids with dates (8), maid-of honor with date (2), four groomsmen with dates (8), best man with date (2) = 26 people. If you are planning a sit-down dinner at an average nice restaurant, expect to pay $50-100 per person, plus two drinks, which could be about $20 for each person. The total cost could be over $2,500.
However, some couples may choose to go to a good local pizzeria, which would slash that cost by over 50% or more, and that would include pitchers of beer or carafes of wine.
If you host your party at home, you could provide home-cooked food, wine, a dessert, and the costs would significantly lower. Some people even do well with a pot luck, providing the wine or other drinks, and dessert. Some even forgo the dinner completely.
In the old days, the rehearsal dinner was usually provided by the groom’s parents, as the bride’s family were paying for the wedding. However, traditions do not have to observed and budget concerns can be an issue. What was usual and customary for our parents do not have to be observed, as many cannot afford a large or formal dinner. You can get creative by finding less expensive ways to celebrate after the rehearsal, and the attendees are not everyone who is invited to the wedding.
Gifts for Your Bridal Party
The bride and groom gifting their maid of honor, bridesmaids, best man, and groomsmen shows appreciation for everything they’ve done for you. By the time you have the rehearsal party, they’ve most likely made sure you’ve had an enjoyable time at your bachelor or bachelorette party and much more, and you want to show how much they mean to you. This would be an ideal time to present gifts to these individuals and each set of parents as well.
There are many ideal gift ideas and they don’t need to be expensive. Find a gift that is either personal or an excellent quality useful item. There are many ideas on how much to spend, whom to gift, but it always depends on your budget. Also, it is not necessary, and many gifts can be small tokens of gratitude as well.
Other Pre-Wedding Parties
A bridal or wedding shower is often held in the home of the maid of honor, close friend or relative. It would include the cost of a brunch, lunch, or even an afternoon tea with refreshments and activities, such as games or quizzes, plus the invitations. The costs would vary based on how many guests are invited, but it could be very affordable. Guests would include your family, closest friends, fiancé’s mother, sister(s), and other very close family and friends. Gifts would be things that the couple would use at home, such as small kitchen appliances, kitchenware, etc.
Many couples opt to have a joined shower for both the bride and groom, which include the male guests as well. It could be a BBQ with cocktails and smores, a buffet, or a catered event. Just make sure this is clear in the invitation, so the gals won’t be bringing the naughty lingerie, when gifts are opened in front of guests. Gifts can include groom-friendly items, such as BBQ supplies or things he can use in the kitchen, unless he’s a good cook or willing to learn new culinary skills. Gifts can be his & her gifts, linens, barware, a coffee mug set, a corkscrew & bottle stopper set, and generally things that the couple will make their home more comfortable.
Bachelor and Bachelorette Parties
These parties are generally planned and given by the best man or maid of honor, but sometimes by a brother or sister. Grooms and brides are not expected to pay, but that would also depend if it will be local or out of town, as they pay for their own travel, hotel, and some meals out. Talk to your best man or maid of honor to let them know what you would enjoy doing. The host should also speak with attendees to see if there are any spending limitations, as these costs are shared. The number of guests could vary based on who they would like to invite and where it will be held, as a local event could be more the merrier, without the prohibitive costs of travel invovled.