It’s time to plan a 2023 wedding, but you need help setting a realistic budget. As you plan your costs, you’ll need expert advice, a good wedding calculator, and an understanding of what other couples are spending.
Ahead, we’ll answer your biggest budget questions and share simple ways to cut costs. Plus, we have a wedding cost calculator that will help you stay flexible yet on track throughout your engagement.
How Much Will Your Wedding Cost?
So now that we know that 2023 wedding budgets will land upward of $31,000, what does that mean for your big day and your wedding calculator?
Many things influence a wedding budget, from where you live, your personal style, and even your past relationships. Keep reading to learn more about these wedding expenses.
Size: The average guest count in 2021 was 105 people, so keep that in mind as you look at your wedding cost estimator.** The guest count will influence catering costs, location options, and overall vibe.
Location: Wedding budgets vary greatly by location. For example, a New York wedding averaged $42,000 in 2021, while Oklahoma saw an average cost of $16,000.
If you’re on a budget, you may want to see if it’s worth having an out-of-state wedding to trim expenses for you and your guests.
Style: While there are always ways to splurge and save, you should know that the vibe of your big day will influence your wedding calculator costs. Consider creating a mood board with budget-friendly inspiration before you become devoted to a high-cost wedding vision.
First vs. Second Weddings: The average budget is cut in half when it’s the second wedding for both partners. Of course, it doesn’t have to be that way for you, but it’s still helpful to understand spending patterns as you look toward your own wedding budget calculator.
Greatest Wedding Expenses - And Affordable Alternatives!
So where is that $30,000 going? A lot goes into weddings, but the top three wedding expenses are the venue, catering, and the band. In fact, these three components make up about 55% of the total wedding budget. So if you want to cut costs, look at these expenses first.
#1 Venue - The Greatest Expense for a Wedding Calculator
On average, a venue rental comprises 26% of a wedding budget planner. So if you’re planning a $30,000 wedding, a venue rental could run about $7,700.
Common venues include hotels, farms, renovated warehouses, restaurants, botanical gardens, and golf clubs. If you want to cut your budget, consider these alternative locations:
- State or National Parks - Many parks have scenic locations for small ceremonies and lodges for bigger receptions.
- Backyards - Keep in mind that rentals quickly add up, so look at the overall costs on a wedding calculator before choosing this seemingly free option.
- Community Centers - They typically include seating and full catering kitchens at a super low cost, but they lack the sophistication of dedicated venues.
- Summer Camps and Nonprofit Centers - Many organizations have a location that can accommodate groups. This makes camps, gardens, and nonprofit centers a hidden gem for budget-minded weddings.
Catering typically accounts for 19% of wedding budgets. If you want to lower your food and beverage costs, look for a venue that allows outside catering and alcohol. This way, you can customize the menu, price, and service style to meet your unique vision.
Caterers can offer table service, buffets, or simple drop-off trays.
Rounding out “The Big Three” of wedding budgeting is the band. This is also an expense that’s easy to forego.
While you can’t beat the thrill of live music, opting for a DJ will save a lot of money. In 2021, couples spent an average of $4,300 on a live band, while DJs ran about $1,400.
Simple weddings could lower their budget even more by doing a DIY playlist with a Bluetooth Speaker.
Wedding Budget Examples With a Wedding Calculator
So how much do you want to spend on your wedding? If you’re still deciding what your ideal wedding will cost, we can help. Below we’ve used the national averages for wedding expenses, our easy wedding calculator, and our planning expertise to outline how much you could spend in 2023.
A couple budgeting $50,000 for their 2023 wedding could splurge for a luxe $12,000 venue, a $5,000 band, and a $90 per-plate meal for 105 guests.
We now know that ~$30,000 is the average cost for a 2023 wedding. If this is your budget, you’ll likely spend $7,700 on a venue and $5,600 on catering.
Some states view $20,000 as an above-average budget, while some areas cost over twice as much. For this amount, look for a $5,000 location and $3,800 catering. Cut your guest count to find a lower-cost venue and make your food budget go even further.
$15,000 is putting us closer to the low-cost wedding range, so you’ll have to find ways to save. Though you may end up spending nearly $4,000 on a venue, finding somewhere cheaper could allow you to include more elaborate decor and catering.
A $10,000 wedding is certainly possible in many markets, but you will have to reign in your vision. A $2,500 venue will keep your wedding budget spreadsheet in check, and a 50-person guest count will make a $3,800 catering allotment more reasonable.
You’ve decided on a $5,000 budget, and you’re sticking to it! You can still have a memorable celebration for this price, but you’ll have to eliminate a lot of typical wedding elements.
Opt for a DIY playlist instead of a DJ. A student-level photographer might capture the ceremony and some portraits for $300. Order trays of BBQ if you need to feed a lot of guests for $950, or take 10-20 people to a restaurant.
Some couples spend $1,000 or less on their wedding, even if that seems impossible. A state park or community center could run for $250 or less. Instead of offering a meal, serve trays of finger food, punch, and dessert.
And of course, you can always elope and treat yourselves to a nice dinner and some portraits for under $1,000.
Your Wedding, Your Budget
While it’s always helpful to know what other people are spending on weddings, at the end of the day, you should budget based on your own individual circumstance.
With compromise, thoughtfulness, and creativity (and a good wedding calculator!), you can have a wedding that is true to who you are as a couple AND true to your budget.