Its time for another wedding budget breakdown! We talked a $30,000 sample DC wedding budget, then a $60,000 DC wedding budget and now we are going top of the line with a $100,000 budget. We turned to Janice, owner of Bellwether Events, who was able to give us an amazing sample budget breakdown, showing that even a $100,000 wedding must prioritize. You might be thinking we are crazy for doing breakdown of this budget size (What does a couple with $100,000 have to worry about, right!?), but I’ll give you a few reasons. First, it is very easy to spend this kind of money on a wedding in the Washington, DC area, and if you aren’t careful, you can put yourself into debt quickly. Second, wedding planning comes down to education, education, education. Knowing what things costs in the DC area is an important part of your wedding planning process. You have to know what the top costs before you can formulate any size budget, set expectations and begin to prioritize. Take it away, Janice…


Photo Credit: Matt Mendelsohn Photography from Karli + Kevin’s wedding

When I was asked to write a budget post for United With Love, I jumped at the opportunity. I know that United With Love readers are greatly interested in learning more about making a Washington DC wedding budget and what things cost in the Washington DC area. I truly believe that an educated couple is a happy couple. Hopefully, if you know what things cost, then you will have a more successful experience planning your wedding.

I volunteered to write out the top tier wedding budget thinking that it would be the easiest, but in all honesty, without a real client to write for, it is challenging to write up any wedding budget. A real client has priorities and opinions, and those two things are crucial when designing a budget for a wedding. It is so important to make sure that you spend as much as you can on the elements that are important to you, and scale back on the other aspects of the wedding. The following sample budget is for 150 wedding guests.


Hair & make up (for bride including trials) – $750
Bride (wedding dress + alterations, shoes, head piece/veil, garter, undergarments) – $4,500
Groom (tux + alternations, socks, bowties, cufflinks) – $750


Church/Officiant (may/may not include organist/musicians) – $1,500
Wedding Planner (partial or full planning) – $6,500
Event insurance – $500
Marriage license (at most in DC area) – $55
Guest transportation (2 buses for 8 hours) – $2,500


Photo Credit: Matt Mendelsohn Photography from Karli + Kevin’s wedding

Since I didn’t have a couple to write the budget for, I wrote wedding budget based on my personal priorities, which by no means should necessarily be your priorities. The budget is based on a hypothetical church ceremony and a reception at a special events venue. I placed high value on photography and a live band, as well as having a cool venue and great catering. I eliminated favors, because I personally don’t think they are necessary. Yes, even with a $100,000 budget, I was looking for places to cut a few hundred dollars here and there! While my budget is not based on the reception being
in a hotel, combining the catering and the venue rental will give you a healthy budget for a premium Washington DC hotel. And, using a hotel may cut down on transportation costs.


Venue Rental (museum, art gallery or historic home like Meridian House or Decatur House) – $12,000
Lighting (uplights, pinspots on 15 tables + cake & dance floor wash) – $4,500
Dance floor rental (24′ by 24′) – $1,500
Catering (passed hors d’oeuvres, 2 course plated dinner & staff) – $15,530
Rentals (chargers, tables, china/silver/glass, upgraded linens & chairs + delivery & taxes) – $9,470
Full Bar for 5 hours (signature cocktail, mid level brands, wine with dinner) – $3,750
Wedding cake (simple design with fondant, no topper included) – $1,200
Flowers (bouquets, boutonierres, 2 ceremony arrangements, table centerpieces & an escort card arrangement) – $8,500

Photography + Entertainment

Photography (2 premium photographers for 9 hours, engagement session, & album) – $8,000
Videography (2 filmmakers, 8 hours of coverage, feature film, mini clips, Blu-ray DVDs) – $3,500
Music (premium band with 6-8 band members for 4 hours) – $7,000
String quartet (ceremony and cocktail hour for 2 hours) – $1,250

Paper Goods

Invitation suite (125 sets of letterpress invitations) – $3,125
Postage (vintage stamps for 100 envelopes) – $300
Calligraphy (100 envelopes) – $750
Wedding day stationery (basic ceremony programs, escort cards, menu cards) – $750
Welcome bags (50 bags filled with a Champagne split, gourmet cupcake, welcome note & MORE!) – $650
Miscellaneous (guest book, cake set, toasting flutes, card box, cake topper) – $1,000


Photo Credit: Matt Mendelsohn Photography from Karli + Kevin’s wedding

I have worked with budgets from $20,000 – $250,000. And, here is the little secret that I have learned over the years – no matter what the budget is, the couple always wants to provide the best experience possible to their guests while working with trusted wedding professionals to design an event that is reflective of them. So while the large majority of us do not host $100,000 weddings, the ones who do feel many of the same pressures of those spending smaller amounts.


Thank you so much, Janice! I hope that you are as educated as I am on what a premium wedding in the Washington DC area will cost. If you are looking for a wedding planning in the Washington DC area, please check out Bellwether Events, we know you’ll prioritize and stay on budget!

If you need help searching for any local wedding vendors, please be sure to browse around our comprehensive Washington DC wedding vendor guide. In all categories, there are so many great, local vendors to choose from!

*Bellwether Events is one of our fabulous sponsors, but didn’t pay for this feature. For more info, please review our editorial policies or consider becoming a sponsor.

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