Today, we’re talking wedding budget and finances. Your wedding budget is one of—if not the—biggest deciding factor in your celebration, so it’s essential that a clear and realistic budget is set early in your planning journey. But, if the idea of setting a wedding budget for your DC-area wedding scares you – ’cause we all know that the DC area is one of the most expensive places in the country to host a wedding – don’t despair we’ve got you covered!

Photo Credit: k. thompson photography from Kim + George’s Wedding

If you remember our previous post about the cost of an average wedding in the DC region, the average couple spends around $30,000 to $35,000 on their wedding ceremony and reception. We decided to dig a little deeper and give you some percentages because it is helpful to see how a total dollar amount could be allocated. (And, so you aren’t totally surprised when you discover that it really can cost that much to have a plated dinner at a DC hotel!) But, don’t think that I did this all on my own. Big, huge thanks to Terri at Bash and Jennifer at Elegantly Chic Events.

Here is a suggested wedding budget breakdown that you can use to start planning your wedding in the DC area. Whatever your total, you can take the percentages listed below and apply them to your total. It is worth noting that percentages vary greatly depending on the DC area wedding vendor that you are working with and your priorities. Once you inject priorities, it can throw all of the other percentages off – now you are starting to personalize your wedding! For example, perhaps you are skipping transportation and a cake, and allocating more of the total to your venue location. The following list is a suggestion and starting point for what you can except in the Washington, DC area.

Budget Breakdown for DC Area Wedding

Total: 5 percent
Includes: wedding dress, shoes, hairpiece, jewelry, tux

Total: 2 percent
Includes: officiant fees, marriage license, location fee

Photography + Videography
Total: 10 percent
Includes: coverage during ceremony and reception and album

Total: 8 percent
Includes: bouquets, boutonnieres, floral arrangements for ceremony and reception

Total: 5 percent
Includes: music for ceremony, cocktail hour music, DJ for reception

Paper Goods
Total: 5 percent
Includes: save the dates, invitations, programs, escort cards, signs, favors, thank you notes, postage, calligraphy, guest book

Total: 4 percent
Includes: couple and bridal party transportation, guest shuttle, parking attendants

Total: 10 percent
Includes: wedding location rental fee

Total: 35 percent
Includes: food, drink and rentals (chairs, plates, linens etc.)

Total: 2 percent
Includes: cake or other dessert, server or cutting at venue, knife, topper

Wedding Rings
Total: 3 percent

Wedding Planner or Coordinator
Total: 8 percent
Includes: planning and/or coordination services

Total: 3 percent
Includes: make-up, hair, welcome baskets, bridal party gifts, parent gifts


For more on how to save money on your DC-area wedding, check out more of our wedding planning and budget tips and advice!

If you are in the market for a Washington DC area wedding planner, please be sure to check out Terri from Bash and Jennifer from Elegantly Chic Events.

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