As promised, we have more Washington DC wedding budget help! Last week we talked about a sample budget for a $30,000 wedding in the Washington, DC area. Today, we bumped up the budget and are going through at $60,000 wedding budget. To find out what this budget means for couples planning such an affair, we sought help from DC area wedding planner Kelley, owner of Kelley Cannon Events. Kelley did such a fabulous job of breaking it all down and providing an insane amount of advice, so I’ll let her do the talking. Take it away, Kelley:


Photo Credit: Michelle Lindsay Photography from Amira & William’s wedding

I’m so pleased to have been asked to be a part of United with Love’s sample wedding budget series. For so many couples, establishing and sticking to their wedding budget is one of the hardest things they’ll have to do throughout the planning process (besides creating the guest list, working on a seating chart and dealing with all the fun family dynamics!)

Part of my job as a couple’s planner is to listen to what is important to them and have their guests leave with the impression that their wedding day was a wonderful reflection of them as a couple. Are they foodies, are they in love with film photography, do they want a venue with a view that showcases our beautiful city skyline? I then work to translate those requests into a budget that will reflect their priorities, while still leaving room for the less exciting essentials, like postage, insurance and a marriage license.

Without specific feedback from a couple on their priorities, creating a sample budget can be challenging. I took the $60,000 budget, the assumption of 150 guests and tried to get as much as I could for the client who wants everything. I included all of the typical necessary vendors (caterer, florist, DJ, officiant, photographer) as well as some vendors that can be sometimes viewed as a luxury (calligrapher, videographer, live musicians). You can certainly have a beautiful wedding with proven DC area wedding vendors with a $60,000 budget.


Bridal Gown (including alterations) – $2,750
Bridal Accessories (shoes, veil, jewelry) – $500
Hair (includes trial and day-of services) – $350
Bride’s ring – $0
Groom’s Ring – $0
Groom’s Tuxedo – $200
Makeup (includes trial and day-of services) – $350
Wedding Planner (partial planning) – $3,600

My estimate includes partial planning, but this price will also range based on the experience of the planner and the offerings in each planner’s pricing package. Partial planning typically allows the client the assistance of a planner to build a framework for the planning process, make vendor recommendations, attend certain meetings and make the couple worry-free on the wedding day. The client is usually responsible for doing some of their own leg work as well, as opposed to a full planning package, which may be more inclusive and would typically include things like budget assistance.

Venue + Ceremony

Marriage License – $45
Ceremony & Reception Venue Rental – $6,300
Ceremony Officiant (including rehearsal) – $700
Event Insurance (cancellation and liability) – $400
Transportation (walk to in-city venue) – $0

I envisioned a venue like Carnegie Institution for Science for this budget with a total 9 hour rental, including access to portico for cocktail hour. My vision for this budget was that ceremony and reception were in the same venue so it would not be necessary to provide guest or bridal party transportation.


Photo Credit: Michelle Lindsay Photography from Amira & William’s wedding


Catering/Food/Beverages – $22,000
Wedding Cake (estimate of $6/per slice + design fee + delivery) – $1,200

For 150 guests, I budgeted catering at approximately $145/per person, which could include passed hos d’ oeuvres, a plated, 2-course dinner, standard open bar, upgraded linens and chairs, standard china, glassware and flatware. This budget would not likely include any additional rental upgrades such as chargers or upgraded china or glassware.

Photo + Video

Photographer – $5,500
Videographer – $2,500

Pricing can vary pretty greatly in this category, so I included a figure that, depending on the photographer, might get you coverage only for a specific number of hours (I typically recommend at least 8 hours) , or it might get you coverage plus an album, engagement session, or a second photographer on your wedding day. Once we have found a few photographers that work in their price point, I ask my clients to look at the work of the photographer first to see which images resonate with them, then look at package pricing and inclusions. If you fall in love with a photographer who can do coverage only in your budget range, some couples are now including wedding registries where family and friends can contribute to albums or prints. You can also always wait until after the wedding to re-evaluate your finances and see what you can afford. For videography, our budget figure will get you roughly 4-7 hours of coverage with one camera and DVD or Blu-Ray copies, depending on the vendor.


Ceremony & Cocktail hour music (string trio for 2 hours) – $800
DJ – $1,800

Instead of having a live band for the entire evening, which would increase our budget by a few thousand dollars, I decided to choose a great DJ in addition to a live music element in the form of a string trio for the ceremony and cocktail hour. Many clients see this as the best of both worlds!


Lighting – $1,300
Flowers – $5,000
Decorations, Favors & Accessories (fund for misc. supplies) – $500

Our sample allowed for a $5,000 floral budget ,which would include personal flowers, ceremony and reception flowers. In addition, we were able to include funds for lighting ,which depending on the vendor, could allow for some uplights and potentially a ceiling or dance floor wash. We also included a $500 “slush” fund for decorations/favors/accessories as there are always little things that will be purchased along the way, like bags, ribbon, guest book pens, card jar/box, table numbers, etc.

Paper + Gifts

Wedding Invitations – $1,500
Calligrapher – $500
Stationery & Printing (save the dates/programs/day-of signage) – $750
Postage – $250
Out of Town Welcome Bags (approx. 40) – $400
Wedding Party Gifts (estimating 5 attendants each x $75) – $750

What is not included: Wedding rings and honeymoons can really fluctuate in pricing based on the desires of the bride and groom. Therefore, I have opted to leave these items out of this budget as many clients choose to pay for this separately.

Final tips from Kelley:  Make your budget realistic and try your best to stick to it. If you absolutely must have a couture gown that throws you off budget, you will need to make the tough decision of cutting back in another category or find a way to come up with additional funds. (Eating Ramen noodles for a year is probably not a smart solution!) Being realistic about your expectations and open with your partner and planner will result in a more stress-free process and a fabulous wedding! 


Photo Credit: Michelle Lindsay Photography from Amira & William’s wedding


Wow! Thank you so much, Kelley! The point of these Washington DC wedding budget posts is so that you get a better sense of what a wedding can cost in this town. I hope you are learning as much as I am! If you are in need of a wedding planner for your wedding, please do check out Kelley Cannon Events. You can see that she’ll keep you right on budget!

If you need help searching for any of the vendors listed in this post, please be sure to browse around our comprehensive Washington DC wedding vendor guide. You won’t find a guide like this anywhere else! In all categories, there are so many great, local vendors to choose from!

*Michelle Lindsay Photography and Kelley Cannon Events are two of our fabulous sponsors. For more info, please review our editorial policies or consider becoming a sponsor.

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