The wedding is done, the honeymoon is over, and finally I can reveal how much my wedding cost!

Originally, my now husband and I’s wedding budget was $10,000. An ambitious goal to be sure considering that average cost of a wedding is upwards of $26,000, but being the frugal, personal finance nerd that I am, I wanted to see if we could do it.

On the upside, we didn’t go so over budget that we started our new life as a married couple trying to dig ourselves out of debt. On the downside, we did still go over budget — by $6,000.

Here’s the thing, we really did try as best we could to do everything as cheaply as possible (without forfeiting quality obviously). I’m talking using coupons, getting married off-season, DIYing decorations, and making sure we got the best deal on everything we paid for.

Still, wedding’s are damn expensive. And we had a very traditional wedding. We could have absolutely stayed on budget or even halved our budget if we chose to do a small courthouse wedding with a simple cocktail hour celebration. But that’s not how we wanted to celebrate our marriage. Absolutely nothing wrong with going this route, and I honestly suggest eloping or doing something simple if a traditional wedding isn’t your thing, but for us it was something we wanted to do. That and I was the first one in my family to get married and my husband is an only child, so doing something big and special was sort of expected of us.

But all in all, I don’t regret spending a single dime. And to be fair, my husband and I did technically stay within our budget. Both our parents chipped in quite a bit (thank you!), so we actually only spent $9,895.09 of our own money. Just sayin’.

Breakdown of How Much My Wedding Cost

Here’s the full breakdown of how much my wedding cost. As you can plainly see, the biggest ticket item was the venue, food and liquor which is very common. Next would be wedding photography, then my dress. Everything else wasn’t super expensive, but lots of little things can add up quickly to a big amount.

Wedding Costs Totals
Invitations & envelopes $110.45
Bridal gown, veil & shoes $1,183.33
Reception dress & flat shoes $215.59
Groom’s tuxedo & shoes rental $229.98
Bride & groom wedding bands $218.60
Premarital counselling weekend $175.00
Marriage license $100.00
Bridesmaids gifts $119.94
Groomsmen gifts $140.00
Priest & church for ceremony $400.00
Wedding cake $212.39
Wedding favours $146.63
Hair & makeup for bride & 5 others $730.00
Reception venue, food & liquor $7,223.00
Reception décor $606.21
Reception chair & table mirror rentals $396.48
Guestbook $42.15
Engagement & wedding photography $1,963.00
Bouquets, boutonnieres, corsages & flowers for reception $580.00
Limo service for 4 hours plus ride to hotel at night $855.98
DJ $600.00
Grand Total $16,248.73

To get even more specific, here are some of the things we bought with our costs compared to average costs. We actually did pretty good in finding deals and discounts!

Invitations

For invitations, my dad designed the whole thing and we got them printed pretty cheaply at a printer in town.

Average cost: $255.00 / Our cost: $110.45

Bridal Attire

My mom bought my dress which was super amazing of her, and believe me, but even though I wasn’t footing the bill I still made sure to keep an eye out on the price tag. To make sure I didn’t fall in love with a dress that was really expensive, I avoided going to any designer wedding dress store and went to a place called Bryan’s that had beautiful non-designer dresses that were more affordable. Also, I know some of you think it might have been a bit crazy to get a reception dress, but I’m telling you, it was worth the extra cost. By the time dinner came around I was dying to get into something I could actually breathe in!

Average cost: $1,600.00 / Our cost: $1,398.92

Wedding Bands

My wedding band was super cheap as all I needed was a simple white gold band to go with my engagement ring. My HB on the other hand didn’t buy need to buy a ring at all, but instead opted to wear his late father’s wedding band and only had to spend $45 to have it cleaned.

Average cost: $1,862.00 / Our cost: $218.16

Cake

My cake was amazing, even though my HB and I were so busy talking to people at our reception that we forgot to eat any of it! It was a beautiful three tiered (and three flavour) cake that was made by a friend of mine so we only had to pay for the ingredients. I did however splurge on our high-fiving couple wedding topper that cost us $60 but I just couldn’t resist its cuteness!

Average cost: $386.00 / Our cost: $212.39

Favours

Instead of making cake pops from scratch like I originally planned, I decided on giving out tarts instead. Luckily there’s a bakery right near my work that specializes in tarts and since they are a new business the cost was very reasonable. Not only that, they packaged all of the tarts for us for only $20 extra.

Average cost: $262.00 / Our cost: $146.43

Venue, Food, Liquor & Other Rentals

If you want to have a great wedding, my biggest suggestion is to not skimp on the venue, food, or liquor. Our venue was at the SFU Diamond Alumni Centre which overlooks the forest and the ocean, and besides the beautiful view, I got an alumni discount on the venue! The food was also amazing, the staff were super helpful, and because we did a subsidized bar, we gave the illusion to all of our guests of an open bar without having to go broke at the end of the night (which we would have, our guests can drink!).

Average cost: $10,806.00 / Our cost: $7,619.48

Photography

This was something I knew would be pricey. but also something I knew I did not want to cheap out on. Fortunately I have an amazing photographer friend who gave us her family & friends discount saving us a ton of money while still giving us 8 hours of coverage with two photographers.

Average cost: $2,408.00 / Our cost: $1,963.00

Flowers

I didn’t want to spend that much money on flowers because honestly they just weren’t that important to me. We got all the basics and because we just did orchids submerged in water for the centrepieces, we really didn’t need that many flowers for the wedding.

Average cost: $1,454.00 / Our cost: $580.00

DJ

Before we booked a DJ, we were thinking of just doing it ourselves with a laptop and iTunes. Then we started talking to people and realized it would actually be a lot of work for us to do it ourselves. My HB asked around and we found a DJ through a friend who was awesome and very reasonably priced. We also had a string quartet play at our ceremony which was free because my HB’s friend is a violinist and he took care of everything as a wedding gift for us.

Average cost: $1,307.00 / Our cost: $600.00

One last thing I want to mention. We decided to build a photobooth ourselves one week before the wedding so there would be another fun activity for our guests to enjoy at the reception. My HB and I both had some equipment connections and we borrowed a camera and iPad from a friend so it was put together for absolutely free. it was a lot of work but man was it a hit! If you are considering doing a photobooth for your wedding, I’m telling you that going through all of the funny photos of everyone after your wedding is well worth it.

(FYI all the average costs I grabbed from this wedding cost statistics site).

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That's right, my wedding cost half that national average because I was smart with my money. It's ridiculous the idea of going in debt for one day. Sure, it's a special day, but with a budget, a plan, and some glitter, you can have a beautiful wedding for a fraction of what most people spend too!

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