by: Lauren

How much do weddings cost? It’s a common question, and we have the answers using information obtained directly from wedding vendors.

 

First, a little note: I’ve had this data about what weddings cost ready for quite a few months now, and delayed sharing it in order to focus on information regarding COVID-19. I’m releasing it now because wedding vendors have been affected tremendously due to the Coronavirus pandemic, and now more than ever it’s so very important to hire professionals for your wedding. I’ve also been hearing about misunderstandings and misinformation regarding wedding pros’ costs, so I decided it was time to share. And plus, having this knowledge of what to expect wedding vendors to cost is one of the most helpful pieces of information you can have when planning your wedding! Let’s get started, shall we? 

We talk a lot about what weddings cost here at Every Last Detail. It’s something that not many like to talk about it, but it’s also VERY important information to know so you can plan a wedding properly. And it’s no secret that our main focus in all we do at ELD is to educate YOU, engaged couples, about weddings. Because we’ve said it before, but we’ll gladly say it again… you can’t be expected to know everything about weddings when you’ve never planned one before!  

Typically, whenever you look into what weddings cost, you’re given data that has been obtained directly from couples and what they spent for their weddings. This info only gives a glimpse of the overall average wedding cost, and includes figures from a wide range of weddings- from those have budgets of $500, all the way to figures like $5,000,000. It’s great to know, BUT it’s SUPER broad, and not necessarily a good reflection of what you can expect wedding vendors to cost

Now, that’s great information to have, but in my 10 years in the wedding industry, I’ve noticed that there tends to be a little bit of a disconnect between what wedding vendors are actually charging, and what couples are expecting (or told to expect) to spend.

So, a few years ago, I started conducting surveys asking WEDDING VENDORS what their couples are typically spending with them. Because I’m all about information and using it to establish realistic expectations… and what better people to hear from than those who are providing the products and services for your wedding?!

Today I’m so excited to be sharing the latest data about what a wedding costs when you use professionals. This data is what surveyed wedding vendors across the US have reported that their couples typically spent with them in 2019.

It’s my hope that by providing you with this information, you will be able to have a better idea of what to expect when it comes to wedding vendor pricing so you can establish expectations for your wedding costs that are both accurate and right for you. 

How Much Do Weddings Cost? via TheELD.com

*Please note that these figures above are averages of what was reported by professional wedding vendors all over the United States.*

A few things to note regarding this data:

*The average guest count for these weddings= 143
*Data represents all of the United States.
*Catering and venues are often times one in the same.

Also, there were a few “categories” not included in the sampling, such as favors, gifts, and fashion. All of these categories are incredibly varied, most of which (except for fashion) are in price ranges of the low hundreds.


It’s important to note that pricing for wedding vendors definitely varies depending on location, level of experience, what you’re specifically getting, guest count, etc. This is also why I included the ranges of responses, to give an even better picture of what wedding professionals are charging. It’s also crucial to recognize that you don’t necessarily need to pay attention to the TOTAL AVERAGE here, as each and every wedding is different.

Over the next few weeks, my team and I will be addressing each vendor type and their associated costs to further expand upon this information, so be on the lookout for that!

 

Want more information on vendor pricing and wedding budget?

Click here for more insight!


PS: Are you a wedding professional who loves the educational content we share with couples? Please share this post with your couples and fellow vendors! 

Are you interested in supporting Every Last Detail so we can continue to share information like this? We would love to invite you join our Vetted + Verified vendor marketing service, The V List! Click here for information and to apply. <3 



by: Lauren

My 11 year wedding anniversary was this weekend, and while looking back on my wedding day, I of course also started reminiscing about planning my wedding. Now, if you don’t already know, here’s my story in a nutshell:

I was absolutely clueless about all things weddings when I was planning my own. I wasn’t in the wedding industry yet, and because my husband and I were married right out of college (high school sweethearts here!) I didn’t have any friends to tell me what to do or what not to do. Oh, and did I mention that wedding blogs were brand new, and Pinterest neither Instagram existed?! Needless to say, I had a really hard time finding information about planning a wedding! And this was one of the main reasons that I started a blog and got into weddings. I wanted to help other couples and prevent them from making the same mistakes that I did… mistakes that could have been easily prevented if I had only been better educated about weddings and what to expect.

So in honor of my anniversary, I’m reviving this post about ten things that I wish someone had told me about planning a wedding. I hope that some of these tidbits might help some of you in your own wedding planning journey- because after all, here at ELD, we exist to HELP you! :)

10 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Planning A Wedding via TheELD.com

1. Your vendors don’t all have to be based in the same location that your wedding takes place.

I got married in my small hometown, and for some strange reason, I thought that wedding professionals from the surrounding larger cities wouldn’t travel an hour to an hour and half for my wedding. So I limited myself to searching for vendors that were based in my small town, and as a result, my options were few and far between. Most cities have other cities/towns that surround them, right? It didn’t even occur to me that, since I actually *lived* in one of those larger cities, a lot of my meetings with vendors would have been a lot easier had I hired where I lived instead of where my wedding was occurring. Oh, and also… in most cities, it takes about an hour to get somewhere anyways right?! What was I thinking? DUH!

2. You want to hire vendors who feel like your friends.

You’re going to be spending a lot of time with your wedding vendors- so of course you want to be comfortable and have fun with them! I myself didn’t even consider this when hiring my vendors… BIG mistake. Now having been on the other side as a vendor, I totally understand this. You’re emailing them, calling them, texting them, and then, spending time with them on your actual wedding day. Planning a wedding is so much better when you’re having fun, and a big component of that is WHO you’re with! 

3. When researching vendors, you can’t compare “apples to oranges”.

All wedding vendors are different. Everyone has different levels of experience, different services, different packages. Yes, it makes it tough to make a decision, but if you end up trying to compare exactly, you’re doing yourself a disservice, because you’re most likely going to end up with the short end of the stick. Like me. I hired a photographer because they were the cheaper option out of everyone I met with. And guess what? By the time everything was said and done, I ended up paying an amount that most definitely was not cheap! Knowing what I know now, it kills me to know the quality of photography that I would have been able to get for the amount I spent. But I was comparing “apples to oranges”, and I didn’t look a little deeper into what should have mattered- quality and personality.  

4. Know your options! 

It’s totally fine to meet with a few different vendors- you need to know your options so you can make an informed decision! Don’t feel bad about it. But at the same time, don’t get too carried away with the options. A good rule of thumb: do your research first, and then schedule consultations with your top 3 options. (Oh, and then once you’ve made a decision, don’t forget to let the others know that you won’t be able to work with them!) 

5Having a huge bridal party isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. 

Oh yes, I’m going there. I had 9 bridesmaids… and I expected them all to help out with things. The more, the better, right? Well, needless to say, people have their own lives going on too, and sometimes they’re really not all that interested in wedding events. Plus, having to organize and deal with several girls was kind of nuts and stressful. If I could do it again, I would definitely have a small bridal party. 

6. Read your contracts! 

Yeah, I know- it’s kinda boring. But I didn’t do it, and I ended up not having a photographer for the last 2 hours of my wedding. Make sure what you’re expecting is what you’re actually getting. Which leads me to…

7. Communicate with your vendors. 

I don’t think this is as much of a problem today as it was when I was planning, but “back then”, email still wasn’t quite the norm that it is today. You still had to call vendors to get a hold of them. <<gasp, shocking, right?!.. Today, email is a beautiful thing. Utilize all the means of communication that we have today, and communicate with your vendors about everything. Share what your vision is for your wedding, what you are expecting out of them, and how you want your wedding day to be. There’s nothing wrong with communicating these things- but for some reason, I was NOT good at doing this. And you know what? If anything, it helps everyone involved in your wedding so they are on the same page. Because after all… no one can read minds! 

And on this note… it’s okay to ASK! Friends, you will never know anything if you don’t ask. This pertains to everything- vendor pricing, help, etiquette, opinions… just ASK! Lucky for you, we are here to help… but if you don’t want to ask us, definitely ask your vendors! They WANT to help you and educate you about weddings. You’ve never planned a wedding before, right?! No one expects you to know everything about planning a wedding.  

8. Don’t be afraid to do things differently. 

Do what you want- what reflects YOU. I was afraid to go outside of the “norm” for some of my details- like menus and favors. Even though I was afraid of doing something different, I still did them- and they’re still my favorite details from my wedding. They were my vision, and I knew that they were 100% reflective of ME. My only regret is that I didn’t apply that same concept to the rest of my wedding! 

9. Custom wedding invitations are the way to go. 

I know it’s an odd thing to bring up, but wedding invitations are a huge part of your wedding, and they don’t always get the attention that they deserve. In my instance, I didn’t even know that custom invitations were possible- nonetheless that they would be about the same cost as what “customizable” invitations were. The difference? Custom invitations are designed for your wedding and your wedding only- unique and one-of-a-kind. Unfortunately, by the time I found out about the amazingness of custom invitations, I didn’t have enough time to get them designed and printed- but I don’t want you to make the same mistake I did! 

10. First looks are GOOD things. 

Seriously. I know I say it all the time, but I SO wish I had done a first look! I can’t tell you how badly I wanted to hug and kiss and talk to my husband when I saw him- but alas, I was walking down the aisle to him, and then we had 45 minutes of a full Catholic mass to sit through! Oh and let’s not forget that I ugly cried allllllll the way down the aisle. And then, when it was time for our portraits, it rained- and as a result, we have about 3 decent photos of the two of us on our wedding day. I mean really- why didn’t anyone tell me these things?!


I think we all know that I could probably write a book about everything I wish I had known about planning a wedding. And who knows- maybe I will one day! But for the time being, these Tips & Advice posts will have to suffice! And don’t forget- if you have a question, please don’t hesitate to ask! You are welcome to message me over on Instagram and I will get an answer to you!

So have any of you learned anything so far in your planning that you wish someone had told you? Or maybe you’re already married and you have some of your own lessons to add about planning a wedding? Please share in the comments so you can help other couples! 



by: Lauren

What is a “small wedding” anyway?

Valerie Gernhauser, for Every Last Detail


[Editor’s Note: We recently talked about what weddings will look like post COVID-19, and one of the major aspects of events moving forward is going to be a lower guest count. This is where “small weddings” come into play, and I wanted to shed more light on this concept (and the different types of small weddings), so my friend Valerie Gernhauser of Small Wedding Society is here with us today to share her expertise!]

With so many changes on a daily basis in regard to social gatherings, engaged couples everywhere are weighing their options for alternative solutions for their original wedding plans that are affected by today’s current socially distanced climate.

If you are planning a wedding during the time of COVID-19, you are certainly not alone! Many couples are forced to make difficult choices about their wedding plans during this uncertain time, opting to cancel their plans altogether, postpone their original plans until a vaccine is in place and proven effective, or otherwise seek an alternative allowing for some version of their wedding to take place on schedule while postponing the “big” celebration to a later date. This is where small weddings are having a big impact.

Considering a Small Wedding? Heres What You Need To Know! via TheELD.com

Small weddings have certainly been around as long as folks have been getting married. Now more than ever, couples are turning to small weddings as a viable option where anticipated CDC regulations and government phasing out of stay-at-home orders keep gathering numbers extremely limited. It is a very real possibility that weddings of 100 people or more will not be able to take place in many locations until well into 2021. As a result, small weddings of 100 or fewer people provide an opportunity for couples to continue with their plans to marry this year, even if that means their original wedding day plans might look a bit different than before.

Did you know that there are different types of small weddings?

 

It’s important to understand the different classifications of small weddings, and the parameters that are in place for each.

Here are the key terms and specifics for identifying which kind of small wedding is a good fit for you:

 

Elopements


Elopements are generally limited to the couple and officiant only, and possibly two witnesses (if required). Elopements can be spur-of-the-moment endeavors, with details known only by the couple themselves and very few key players. The ceremony is the focus of the day, consisting of an exchange of vows and rings, without readings, songs, or a processional. Because there is no reception, typical traditions like toasts, cake cutting, and first dances usually do not take place at an elopement.

Friends and family members are not usually in attendance at the ceremony, as the couple announces their newlywed status after the fact to friends and family members by word-of-mouth. A photographer may or may not be present to document the moment. These kinds of small weddings take place at any location that may have particular meaning for the couple, like a special destination abroad, at home, or at the courthouse. Attire is simple, comfortable, and understated, and florals are kept to a minimal adornment for the couple (some combination of bouquet and boutonniere), if at all.

Elopements are also a great opportunity for couples looking to “do the damn thing” – get married, and get on with their lives, without having to further delay personal goals like purchasing a home together or starting their family, among others.

 

Micro weddings


Micro weddings bring the couple together with a limited number of friends and family members for a planned, abbreviated ceremony and reception celebration, usually with 30 or fewer guests in attendance. The formalities of a micro wedding typically take place any time of day, and any day of the week, usually in an hour or two. The micro wedding structure consists of a 10-15 minute ceremony with the couple in the presence of immediate family members and a few very close friends, then a quick champagne toast, a bite of cake, first dance and parent dances (with songs played on an iPod or mobile speaker) followed by a send-off.

Although there are generally no wedding party attendants or processional, photography, florals, and a dedicated venue spaces are key elements here that enhance the micro wedding experience. Couples are also enlisting the help of videography teams to capture their micro weddings, including a set up for live-streaming capabilities so those unable to attend the event can still watch the special day take place while toasting from afar. Other than possibly offering limited passed hors d’oeuvres, food and beverage is not a focal point of the micro wedding celebration at the venue, although couples and their group of VIP guests often opt to continue the celebration with a pub crawl or restaurant reservations after the send-off.

Micro weddings offer couples the opportunity to pool their financial resources with other couples getting married on the same day, allowing access to exclusive venues, stellar photographers, and beautifully designed ceremony floral décor that the couple might not otherwise be able to (or be interested in) investing on their own.

 

Mini weddings


Mini weddings are a more traditionally structured ceremony and reception, with a max of 50 guests (or fewer). The ceremony starts with a processional, including wedding party, family members and friends and family in attendance. After the couple recesses down the aisle in as newlyweds, the couple and their guests take in a meal at the venue, complete with all the courses one would expect for any larger event. Live entertainment is a cornerstone of a mini wedding just as it would be at a larger wedding, with a dance floor surrounded by tables and lounge seating areas as well. The duration of the celebration would take place over several hours throughout the late afternoon and evening, and would typically take place on a Saturday (though Friday and Sunday dates are also good candidates for mini weddings). After the reception is over, the group can move on to an after party and carry on the revelry until the wee hours or the morning!

Mini weddings are an excellent opportunity for couples to maximize their per person spend on each guest, personalizing the experience more than they’d ever be able to do with larger guest counts. Having fewer guests means any couple’s overall budget goes much farther, allowing engaged couples to invest in all the experiences they want for their big day – the live band, a great photographer, upgraded linens and elaborate florals, to start – without having to sacrifice because of budget limitations (which are driven by higher guest counts).

 

Although the climate for engaged couples right now is undoubtedly challenging, small weddings offer solutions to those seeking viable options to get married now under our current socially distanced circumstances. For many, small weddings offer opportunities that larger, more elaborate celebrations often prohibit.

 


 

Wedding planners around the country are pivoting their business models to support engaged couples looking for solutions to “marry now, party later.” Amy Nichols, Beth Bernstein, Gretchen Culver, Valerie Gernhauser, and Wendy Kay created their own independent small weddings brands to serve an immediate need for engaged couples in the wake of the coronavirus disruption in the wedding industry. As founding members of the Small Wedding Society, a collective of planners and wedding professionals alike, these five seasoned planners launched the group to provide a resource to engaged couples looking for creative teams ready and able to serve.

Coming together from markets around the country, including Chicago, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Dallas, and New Orleans, the founders of the Small Wedding Society believe it is imperative to bring awareness to small weddings as an option by creating a common narrative and a standard of practice for the benefit of engaged couples everywhere. We are offering support to other members of the wedding community that are interested in learning how to pivot their current offerings toward serving small weddings, and are interested in joining the Small Wedding Society of vetted professionals offering this service. To learn more, visit the website www.smallweddingsociety.com.

Considering a Small Wedding? Heres What You Need To Know! via TheELD.com


by: Lauren

“It’s a question that just about everyone is wondering- what will post-Coronavirus weddings be like?

 

Just as with everything surrounding COVID-19, there are way more unanswered questions than absolute knowns. But, as areas start to open up a bit more, you may want to know what your possibilities are for having a post-Coronavirus wedding.

This is definitely something that I myself am wondering too, not just because it’s my industry involved, but because my sister is set to have her wedding in November of this year. Now, sticking to the guidelines of many wedding professionals, she has been moving forward with her wedding plans- in fact, she just booked her wedding DJ last week!

But, it would irresponsible of us if we DIDN’T start to think about ways that her wedding- and others- might have to change from what was previously expected. So I turned to ELD’s network of wedding experts to get their insight and find out what they are thinking… here are the elements that may need to change for post-Coronavirus weddings:

What Will Post Coronavirus Weddings Be Like? via TheELD.com

Guest count

This is of course the big, obvious change that will likely need to happen. I would expect that as areas start to open up more, there will be limits on how many people can gather in one location together. Not to mention that your guests might not be very comfortable being with 100 people who they don’t know. A lot of these guidelines are going to be contingent on your venue, as Adair of Dairing Events mentions, “because some have a higher or lower capacity, some are restaurants that have liquor license, some are shells that you bring in all your vendors.”

In a nutshell, what I’m seeing thus far is if the venue has a “restaurant”, they can stick to the guidelines that are in place for those establishments. But if it just an empty space where you have to bring in the food, then you are going to be bound to the “group gathering” guidelines.

As Mandi of Beauty Brigade shared, “we’ll be seeing a lot more intimate, elopement style weddings with only close family present.” So, if a smaller guest count means your close family and friends who are already seeing each other, then so be it! Andreia of Events by The Flower Studio says, “Weddings will be more intimate, more like a family reunion/celebration,” and we love that thought! 

prepare now for an altered guest list”

 

Valerie Gernhauser of Sapphire Events shared some insight into what she is doing for her couples: “I’m advising my fall 2020 clients to prepare now for an altered guest list, should they decide to keep their original date and not postpone. I’ve been talking with each of them about weighing the options, which include a guest count of around 50 guests or fewer, in a mini wedding or micro wedding format, and also a guest list that contemplates 25% of the fire marshall capacity at their venue.”

Now, it’s a whole other thing to talk about whether or not you actually WANT a smaller guest count for your wedding. I can tell you this- I had 200 people at my own wedding, and I absolutely wish I had less than that. But I want to reassure you that you can still have an amazing wedding if you keep it small. In fact, it can be even more amazing, because you can spend more of your budget on decor and details! ;)

And we love the sentiment that Sarah of Kindred Wed Events, who specializes in intimate weddings, shared: “As guest count decreases, the time spent with each guest increases so the intimacy of a small wedding grows.”

 

Food

It’s no secret that weddings usually do revolve around food and beverage (as does so much of the cost of weddings). In a post-Coronavirus wedding, some of the typical food and drink aspects of a wedding will need to be altered. For example, a bar area will likely not be permitted, as it is potential place for gathering, so drinks would need to be provided by servers (either passed or by order). But, this would be a great opportunity for having a signature drink!

“It is also very likely that buffet and action station food service will not be a good idea until a vaccine is in place, so seated dinners for all (even in the South where they aren’t always the norm!) will be expected as we do phase into celebrations,” Valerie of Sapphire Events mentioned.

 

Layout

We now have the “6 feet apart” rule engrained into our minds, and with post-Coronavirus weddings, this is going to be a big factor. So, luckily, spreading tables out will be a little easier for now, since your guest count is likely reduced. This is where having a wedding planner is going to be, yet again, such a great benefit, because she or he can handle figuring all of this out for you!

Valerie of Sapphire Events shares that “Where a venue might have been considered too large for a small guest count wedding, we now need all the extra square footage to allow for people to move throughout a space with proper distancing. New floor plans that group households together at a table and have more service area margin around the tables bringing a six-door distance to seated tables.”

I could also see smaller tables being a good idea to help with the need for layout changes. Oh, and for your ceremony- this could be a great excuse to do something instead of chairs all in a row! Sofas that are setup in groupings, where family units can sit together, or maybe even on the ground on blankets or rugs. Don’t be afraid to do what isn’t the “norm”- get creative!

What Will Post Coronavirus Weddings Be Like? via TheELD.com

Michelle Garibay Events, Leaf Photography

 

Reception

With restrictions on how many people can gather in a location, this could be a little difficult for the typical reception activities, like cocktail hour and dancing, to occur. Sarah of Kindred Wed Events says, “I see weddings becoming smaller and shorter! We might also see more ceremony only weddings, where couples will be postponing the reception-type elements for a later date when guests can gather in larger groups and closer together!” We’re loving the idea of doing a dinner-party style wedding reception, and then throwing a party later on! They can be two totally different events- how fun would that be?! 

“Postpone the reception-type elements for a later date when guests can gather in larger groups and closer together.”

 

What Will Post Coronavirus Weddings Be Like? via TheELD.com

KMC Weddings & Events, photo by Kaleigh Turner Photography

 

And actually, I want to brainstorm that concept of a dinner-party style reception some more! This would mean that you would have “servers” (where they would also be taking your drink orders, as mentioned in the food and beverage section above) coming to tables, just like at a restaurant. You could have some softer, more instrumental music during dinner, still have your first dance and parent dances, and then have dessert. I’m sure there could even be a few other activities that you could do… like what about having a portrait station? Your photographer could take an elegant, posed photo with you and each of your guests, maintaining social distance when needed.

What else do you think could be incorporated for a more low-key reception for post-Coronavirus weddings?

 

Extras

There will likely be a few “extras” with post-Coronavirus weddings too. As Valerie of Sapphire Events mentions, “optional masks for guests but masks and gloves for all service providers, and possible temperature checks upon entry at venues,” may be a few of those extras. Things like sanitizing stations throughout your reception area will be needed as well. But you really could work with your professionals to make all of these extras a part of your wedding. Custom masks, sanitizing areas that are at high tops with matching linens and flowers, and even custom labels to match your wedding.

Christine of Quartz Photo Booth in Houston mentions that “there will be more technology involved, especially to allow elderly relatives to attend virtually.” I could definitely see multiple things like “streaming stations” happening, so people who can’t attend your wedding in person can still be there to see and hear what’s happening. This would be something that you would want to ask your videographer about, or even someone who has a photo booth. Technology is pretty great nowadays- use it to your advantage! 

And also, don’t be afraid to ask your vendors if you have an idea for something or if they have any suggestions for what you can do to make your guests and the people working at your wedding feel more comfortable.


I know this is such a hard time, and figuring out what to do (or not do)for post-Coronavirus weddings is definitely stressful. I still absolutely stand by my recommendation to hire a wedding planner, because again- it’s times like these that are the REASON why you hire a planner! You can find our vetted and verified planners here, or you can always reach out to me to ask for a direct recommendation too. 

 

See more of our Coronavirus Wedding Resources here.