Discussing money and budgeting can be tricky. Regardless of how much you have, this is always an awkward conversation, but it is one of the most important things you will discuss when planning your dream wedding. Being able to establish a strong foundational budget for your wedding day will be the deciding factor on when and where you get married, which vendors you choose and how many guests can come, among other things.
Unfortunately, there is not a great resource available to newly engaged couples for determining a realistic budget (sorry, but The Knot just doesn’t understand), so where do you start?
Even if you scour the internet for hours, days or weeks, you may end up empty-handed with conflicting opinions that leave you frustrated and tempted to skip the ever-so-important budget spreadsheet.
We are here to solve that for you. We are going to break down the actual costs and ideal budget for getting married here in North Carolina, but these same principles can be applied to several wedding destinations in the Southeast.
First, it’s important to understand that every budget starts with your guest count. Here at Sweet Oak Events, we recommend you start with a minimum of 500 per guest as a baseline and go up from there depending on your priorities. We find that most of our couples are spending around 1000 – 1500 per guest. It is impossible to just throw a number at your wedding planner without first understanding how many guests you are expecting. For example, a 50,000 budget for 250 people is not even close to realistic, but a 50,000 budget for 25 people would be considered a luxury event. Bottom line: Your guest count truly determines your budget.
Now that we understand how wedding planners think of budgets, let’s assume we are expecting 100 guests for our wedding in Spring 2024 at a popular venue in Raleigh, North Carolina. Our vision is a floral heavy design, plated dinner, a band with a stage buildout and custom details throughout the event that showcase personal touches. Photography and cinematography are equally important (as they should be), and the majority of our guests live out of town, so we need transportation provided. We are only budgeting for the wedding day itself because another family member has graciously agreed to cover the cost of the welcome party and day after brunch. Our wedding budget might look something like this:
These are the main areas that we as wedding planners will include in your wedding budget. Of course, there are some items not included such as your attire, hotel rooms and other accommodations, officiant, marriage license, alterations, wedding insurance, tips, etc. that will also play a factor in your overall budget, but cannot be estimated for this purpose since those will be highly customized for each event. Due to this, we will add 15,000 to the total budget for “Ancillary Items” to get us pretty close to an all in wedding budget.
Total Investment for a Luxury Wedding in Raleigh, NC for 100 Guests: 150,000 or 1500 per guest.
Of course, this budget is no guarantee that you will spend exactly this amount. You can host a beautiful wedding for much less than this number, and you can host a beautiful wedding for much more than this number. It all depends on you, your priorities and your planning & design team.
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