Time to get real about wedding budgets and priorities in the DC area again! We went to real married couples who planned their wedding in the Washington, DC area and asked them what they splurged on and what they saved on. If you’ve never planned a wedding before, it can be tough to even know where to start with developing priorities. And, remember you must set priorities! Margo, owner of Bright Occasions, a wedding planning and coordination company in Washington, DC, checked in with some of her couples to find out their priorities and how they wrestled with the finances. This is a two part series, as we’ll be profiling two different couples who were married in the DC area. Take it away, Margo…


Photo Credit: Stephen Voss Photography

When planning a wedding in the DC area there are a lot of factors to consider, and almost every couple will have to determine a budget.  This can often be a stressful experience due to all of the areas you’ll have to think about, such as how much you can afford to put towards a wedding, area pricing, how many guests you will invite and when and where to host this special day.  There are many online tools out there to “create a budget,” but these tools do not typically account for your location or guest list.

It can be very beneficial to work with a wedding planner (See: Full list of DC area wedding planners.) to create a customized budget based on your situation. I like for couples to think about what is important to them as I am creating an itemized budget for their wedding. I start by having couples pick their “three must haves,” so I know what must be weighted higher than other areas. No matter how much money is available, I believe that having an itemized budget is important to keep you organized. And, it just makes planning a lot smoother.

Keeping this idea, to pick what is important to you while creating a budget, I thought it would be helpful for couples in the area to see where others have “Splurged” or “Saved” for their wedding. This is from a real couple of mine who were married at Dahlgren Chapel with a reception at the Metropolitan Club:

Where did you splurge on your wedding, what was the area/expense?

What I can say for sure is that the biggest expense was the venue, which also served as the caterer and bar.  It was approximately 75% of our total budget. (See: Full list of DC area venues and caterers in the DC area.)

Where did you save on your wedding, what was the area/expense? 

We saved in two main areas. My dad saved on alcohol by restricting the bartender to beer and wine only for the last hour. Alcohol is very expensive for most caterers, but we didn’t want to only go with beer and wine.  This allowed us to have a full bar for a good portion of the night, but still save on costs. We decided to go with a DJ instead of a band; that was one way we saved. A band would have cost at least $4,000 MORE than the $2,000 we spent on our DJ. (See: Full list of DC area wedding music vendors.)

How did you decide where you would splurge? Save?

The splurge was decided early on. The Met Club was the obvious choice–and the easiest choice because they were also the caterer. The reason we chose it is because my family has a personal connection to it and my husband Andrew liked the place too. My dad is a member and I had been going there since I was a teenager. (See: Full list of DC area venues)


Thank you so much, Margo and to your clients for sharing their wedding planning splurge/save stories with us! If you are looking for a wedding planner in the DC area, be sure to check out Bright Occasions. Be sure to come back next week for another one of Margo’s couples to find out how they splurged and saved.

From fashion and beauty to planning and budget, we’ve got it all covered, so take a look around the blog and read more tips and advice from local wedding pros in the DC area! And, you can find all of the best Washington DC wedding vendors in our guide!

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