There's a BIG difference between quaint and inexpensive. In fact, “quaint” can end up being rather pricey — your Pinterest board has been built from images of weddings ranging anywhere from $20,000 to $120,000. The picture perfect weddings you see on Pinterest can be quite costly, and were created by a team of professionals. So how much does your picture perfect Pinterest wedding actually cost? Let's crunch some numbers and find out.
Barns. Historic Hotels. Open Fields. Historic Gardens. Museums. At least one of these venues has popped into your wedding inspiration Pinterest board and it is a beaut. The pictures are stunning and the venue truly sets the scene, creating the perfect backdrop for the ceremony and reception. Venues are tricky, and something I advise every bride nailing down at least a year before the big day. Your budget will be affected greatly depending on the venue's base cost and amenities.
Let's say you go with the open field option; there are a few hidden fees to be aware of: the venue fee, a dance floor, you'll likely want a tent, or an alternative, if weather doesn't cooperate, cutting cake by moonlight won't cut it so add on some lights, if there are no bathrooms available on site you'll need to provide a portable option, and before you know it... you've tacked on about $5,000 to create a functional event space.
More budget-friendly venues normally include country clubs and hotels. Venues that offer catering services, tables, seating, staff and a venue fee are going to be the most affordable option. The more you are able to get out of your venue, the more affordable it will be due to the fact that you are relying on one vendor as opposed to 5 different vendors.
2. Cafe Lights
Cafe lights strung across a reception are beautiful and leave the space feeling as if fairies were involved in the decorating. If you're dreaming of a reception strung with cafe lights get ready to write a check for about $500-2,000 depending on the size of the reception space and your location. Those fairy bulbs need to be anchored properly, rented or purchased, and installed by people who know what they are doing. You don't want your first dance to be interrupted by a gust of wind blowing your string lights to the ground.
If you’re dead set on having cafe lights, try finding a venue that offers them in their rental package. This can cut down on set up and rental costs accrued from using an additional vendor. Consider lighting one small space with string lights that you can easily manage on your own. Maybe there is a gathering of trees by your cocktail hour that could easily hold a small grouping of lights that you are able to set up yourself.
3. A Band
Bands bring a sense of ambiance and entertainment to a wedding that you won't always get from a DJ. Bands interact with a crowd, play your favorite songs upon request, and can make you feel as if Mumford and Sons just decided to swing by your wedding. If you go with a band for wedding entertainment, plan on paying at least 4 people to play for about 6 hours, and which will bring your spend to about $1,500 - 3,000 depending on their equipment, travel, and popularity.
Aside from hiring a friend, I have had great luck finding bands, or solo performers, at local bars. Don’t be afraid to approach someone you see at an open mic night. Ask if they would consider doing weddings, and for their business card or email. I recently booked an incredible guitarist who I met at a small beer tasting event. His fee was $500 for 5hrs plus DJing services – for when the party wants to kick off their shoes and dance. Pretty great deal for essentially two services in one!
I envy all you calligraphy artists out there. You're able to take a common word such as "cake" and turn it into a work of art. Which is exactly why couples can plan on spending anywhere from $4 per escort card to $300 for a framed poster-sized program. How much would you expect to pay for a piece of art? These pieces are handmade especially for your needs, custom will always cost a little more.
There are so many pros to working with a calligraphy artist. You are getting a completely unique piece, and they will even work with you to develop a new font especially for you. The main con to going with a calligraphy artist is the price and it is often times outside a budget. Of course, there are plenty of digital fonts available that resemble calligraphy styles. Look into downloading a font and creating your own escort cards, envelopes, etc. My fiancé and I had a friend design a custom monogram for our invitations, bought a custom stamp through Etsy with all of our invitation information, and downloaded a font to create our rehearsal card. Grand total for 60 people came out to less than $200.
Yes, you may have a beautiful home garden, however, that bouquet you're dreaming of while in business meetings probably features peonies, dahlias, and garden roses. My job as a stylist is nearly impossible without the artistry of a florist. Flowers elevate everything, but can come in around $300 for a bridal bouquet. Factor in centerpieces, bridesmaid bouquets, boutonnieres, and flowers for the cake; you're looking at $2,000 on the low end.
If that is way outside your budget, get creative. Talk with your florist and see what flowers are in season and easily found. Also consider doing your own bridesmaid bouquets and boutonnieres, or centerpieces composed of bud vases and candles, while saving the big money for the bridal bouquet and the arbor. Spend your money on those wow factor moments.
6. Throwing a Party for 100 People
Here's the real kicker: we have all thrown successful house parties, however when was the last time you threw a party for 100 people that was catered, had live music, was professionally photographed, held enough seating for everyone, and featured a fully stocked bar? When you break the 20-person mark on your guest list you start to get into the thousands. Venues that fit your entire wedding party, accommodations for 100 people share a meal together, and being serenaded by your favorite local band isn't exactly "cheap". Big weddings typically require a team and a big budget.
When creating a dream Pinterest wedding for 100 guests, you can plan on your final budget coming in around at least $30,000 for the venue, rentals, music, florist, your attire, catering, an open bar, hair and make up, a wedding planner, invitations, favors, and a stylist. With less guests you can plan on lower costs for your rentals, florist, caterer, bar, invitations, photographer, and favors.
Am I saying that these things are not worth the money spent? On the contrary, weddings are incredibly special events and deserve the time, attention, and the personal details you are pinning on a daily basis to your dream board. Early on in the planning process create a budget your feel is reasonable and includes all of those details.
It is amazing how quickly the smallest things, like escort cards, add up in the end. One of my favorite parts of being a wedding planner is getting creative. No two weddings are alike and each presents new challenges and new dreams to bring to life. Believe me, you can send invitations to 100 people for $150, it is possible to find very affordable alternatives but you have to be willing to get your hands a little dirty, negotiate and research.
Jenny Preston grew up in Delray Beach, FL in a home filled with unique pieces from other eras and dreaming of wedding planning. She now owns her own wedding planning and vintage rental company, Jenny Does Weddings, with her fiancé, where she offers brides and grooms advice with a look into her own wedding planning and styling adventures. Follow Jenny Does Weddings on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.