How much does a wedding cost?

Got the ring, check. Got engaged, check. Told the family, check.  Now the serious stuff begins.  You want to know what the wedding of your dreams will cost, and you want to make sure you are spending your money wisely.  Costs can spiral out of control if you don’t have a good understanding of each item.  

We have held hundreds of weddings, and have experience with helping couples choose what is best for them.  Here to help is a general guideline of what you will spend and what will help you stay within your budget, as well as determine your priorities for your wedding.


What do we need to decide before budgeting for a wedding?

The word most associated with weddings is “expensive.” The cost of a wedding in Northern Virginia is over $60,000 according to data from The Wedding Report, Inc. This doesn't include all the other costs attributed to your nuptials, we’re talking dresses, suits, cake, photographer, etc., so bear in mind your final cost will be higher. A few areas to consider are:

  • Budget - Before forming ideas, creating plans, and setting agendas, you absolutely must decide on your budget; otherwise, you will likely get overwhelmed with all the options, choices, and possibilities. It is imperative that you have a solid structure with definitive parameters where you and your partner agree on the final price. Then stick to it. 
  • Priorities - Make a list of your must-haves and would-like-to-haves. You might find that your 200-person guest list pushes your catering budget over the top, or the more affordable photographer works for you instead.  
  • Wedding planner - Couples hire an average of 14 vendors for their wedding day, so a wedding planner goes a long way to ensuring you stay within your budget. Some people see them as an additional expense that is not really necessary; however, they relieve so much pressure and angst from planning and decision-making,  that they are worth the extra cost. With their knowledge of the industry and connections with vendors, they invariably save you money.
  • All-inclusive or DIY - You can also choose an all-inclusive venue with a menu of options on a sliding scale for your budget. You might have an initial sticker shock, especially for the more upscale venues, but considering all the obvious costs, as well as all the hidden ones, all-inclusive venues can come in around the same price as the piecemeal option.

What is the cost breakdown for our wedding?

To get an idea of where and how much you will spend on your wedding, the data below shows the average costs that couples across Northern Virginia spend on each item. 

Category Item Average
Attire & Accessories Dress Accessories $383
Attire & Accessories Tuxedo/suit/other Accessories $171
Attire & Accessories Tuxedo/suit/other Rent/purchase $407
Attire & Accessories Wedding Dress $2,298
Bakery Wedding Cake/dessert $742
Beauty & Spa Hair Service $126
Beauty & Spa Makeup Service $104
Beauty & Spa Manicure & Pedicure $80
Entertainment DJ/MC $1,400
Entertainment Entertainment lighting $598
Entertainment Live Band $3,562
Entertainment Musician/s Soloist or Ensemble $1,238
Event Venue Wedding Venue Bar Service $3,911
Event Venue Wedding Venue Food Service $7,600
Event Venue Wedding Venue Location $8,437
Event Venue Wedding Venue Rentals $2,797
Flowers & Decorations Bouquets $625
Flowers & Decorations Boutonnieres Corsages $279
Flowers & Decorations Wedding Venue Accessories $511
Flowers & Decorations Wedding Venue Decorations $810
Flowers & Decorations Wedding Venue Flowers & Arrangements $933
Flowers & Decorations Wedding Venue Table Centerpieces $572
Gifts & Favors Gift/s for Attendants $162
Gifts & Favors Gift/s for Parents $206
Gifts & Favors Tips (for all services) $642
Gifts & Favors Wedding Favors $325
Hotel Bridal Suite $620
Invitations Ceremony Programs $183
Invitations Engagement Announcements $159
Invitations Guest Book $86
Invitations Invitations & Reply Cards $301
Invitations Postage $143
Invitations Reception Menus $178
Invitations Save the Date Cards $162
Invitations Table Name and Escort/place Cards $123
Invitations Thank You Cards $130
Jewelry Bracelet $287
Jewelry Earrings $269
Jewelry Engagement Ring $5,808
Jewelry Necklace $356
Jewelry Wedding ring/band for Partner 1 $1,320
Jewelry Wedding ring/band for Partner 2 $786
Officiant Officiant $385
Other Events Rehearsal Dinner $1,097
Photography & Video Digital or Photo dvd $430
Photography & Video Engagement Session $573
Photography & Video Photo Booth $613
Photography & Video Prints and/or Enlargements $456
Photography & Video Wedding Photographer $3,145
Photography & Video Wedding Videographer $2,247
Photography & Video Wedding album or photo book $796
Planner/Coordinator Wedding Coordinator $2,377
Planner/Coordinator Wedding Planner $4,739
Transportation Limo Rental $764
Transportation Other Transportation $1,279

How much does a wedding venue cost?

The average cost in Northern Virginia is $8,700 for the wedding venue, with an additional $2,892 for rentals

This is likely your most significant cost. So things to consider are:

  • A more intimate venue will likely be more expensive, as will a culturally historic site
  • If there isn’t a designated structure, you want to consider renting a tent
  • A destination wedding will add more expenses as you incorporate flights, airport transportation, and meals among the various costs
  • If your wedding ceremony is beyond walking distance to the reception, you need transportation
  • Wedding insurance covers anything from cancellations to property damages to theft.

How much is it per wedding guest?

The average cost in Northern Virginia is $75 per person.

Guest numbers have a significant impact on your budget items, such as catering, whereas others are less so, such as the wedding dress. While most couples tend to hover around the 120-guest limit, the cost varies greatly and is not necessarily exponential as you add or subtract more people. 

The guest list might be the first place to start adjusting your numbers to fit within your budget. The average budget per number of guests:

200+: $40,000 and up

150–200: $36,000

100–150: $31,000

75–100: $22,000

50–75: $18,000

Less than 50: $15,000 and down

What will I spend on wedding venders?

  • Wedding planner $2,377 - 4,739
  • Hair and make-up $310
  • Florist $3,730
  • Photographer $2,600 
  • Videographer $2,247

Listen to your vendors as they usually have excellent ideas on how to be cost-effective with your decisions. Working with a wedding planner can mitigate unnecessary expenses, as they have established business connections with their preferred vendors and can offer more reasonable prices. 

For example, a florist might suggest you choose from a selection of flowers that are in season if you are not absolutely insistent on that spectacular blooms-once-every-ten-years orchid from the jungles of deepest Africa.  Or a photographer might guide you to a beautiful and cost-effective field of wildflowers instead of the beautiful and expensive private gardens for your formal portraits. 


    To help you budget your wedding, consider using our Wedding Budget template to help you keep track of your costs.

    How does the time of the year and day of the week affect the costs of my wedding?

    Most weddings occur between May and October, so you can expect that demand for venues increases the prices.   You might consider an off-season wedding if you are looking to save money.

    • Summer is the most popular, and prices are accordingly higher
    • Spring, fall, and winter are more cost-effective, but weather can be an issue
    • Saturdays are by far the most traditional wedding day; some couples are opting for a Friday evening or even mid-week

    Navigating Wedding Costs: A Comprehensive Guide

    You may have felt unsure of how much to spend on your wedding and how much everything will cost.

    Throughout this article, we've explored various aspects of wedding budgeting, including understanding typical cost breakdowns and offering practical tips for optimizing spending without compromising on your vision. At Zion Springs, we have witnessed numerous love stories, each with unique budgetary considerations and creative solutions. Education is central to our passion, as we believe that by empowering couples with knowledge, they can approach their wedding planning journey with confidence and joy.

    As you continue on your wedding planning adventure, we invite you to explore the wealth of knowledge available on our website. Visit our Answers and Advice page to delve deeper into specific topics such as planning your wedding and mistakes to look out for. Let Zion Springs be your trusted partner as you embark on this remarkable chapter of your lives.

    Resources:  Wedding Report