What My Wedding Cost Part 1

May 22, 2013

How Much My Wedding Cost & Why I Don’t Care I Went Over Budget

I’m Jessica and I’m a money expert, speaker, Accredited Financial Counsellor Canada®, host of the More Money Podcast, and am currently writing my first book with HarperCollins Canada (2025).
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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 the 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 about using coupons, getting married off-season, DIYing decorations, and making sure we got the best deal on everything we paid for.

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Still, weddings are damn expensive. And we had a very traditional wedding. We could have absolutely stayed on a 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 CostsTotals
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 counseling weekend$175.00
Marriage license$100.00
Bridesmaids gifts$119.94
Groomsmen gifts$140.00
Priest & church for the 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
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
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 well in finding deals and discounts!


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 for 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 which 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


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


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 was 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


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


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 centerpieces, we really didn’t need that many flowers for the wedding.

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


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 photo booth 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 photo booth 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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add a comment

  1. Holly@ClubThrifty says:

    I LOVE the picture! You guys look so happy and your dress is beautiful~

  2. Michelle says:

    I still think you guys did good! Cute picture too 🙂

  3. Mrs PoP @ PlantingOurPennies says:

    So glad you guys had a great wedding. You know where we stand when it comes to wedding spending, since I’m not sure there are many people out there who spent less than we did ($235). But I think the most important thing is that the wedding reflects the choices of the bride and groom, and it sounds like this one did for you, so that’s good. =)

  4. Liquid_Independence says:

    Nice pic and good job on staying frugal. It may have went over budget but it IS a special occasion, plus in the end it’s still $10,000 cheaper than the average wedding these days. Thanks for sharing your costs breakdown 😀

  5. Jordann says:

    Wow that’s a beautiful picture! I love your dress too, especially the belted part. I think our wedding spending is going to come in around $4,500 everything included. Hopefully a little less than that.

  6. Pauline @ MakeMoneyYourWay says:

    cool pic! My sister spent a similar amount for about 100 people, I remember her gown was around $600 and the church only $100, the rest was pretty similar.

  7. Sean @ One Smart Dollar says:

    I am not sure what our total cost was, but this number is roughly in line with the average wedding.

  8. I know nothing about what weddings cost so I can’t comment on that, but you look beautiful…and happy!

  9. livingrichonthecheap says:

    $16000 is still quite inexpensive for a wedding – well done!

  10. The Norwegian Girl says:

    you look so beautiful! can´t wait to see more pictures! Your dress is really lovely!!:-)

  11. MyCanuckBuck says:

    Mine was between 10-11 grand – but that was 10 years ago – and my photographer worked at cost! And I”m not sure I’m including wedding bands! I think your costs were reasonable. Lovely pic!

  12. Well Heeled Blog says:

    You look beautiful (and that bouquet!) Seriously, there are no prizes for spending above or below whatever number for a wedding. The important thing is to feel like you spent your money well and that you had a wonderful day. Which sounds like exactly what happened in your case. Congratulations and best wishes for a happy life together!

  13. alwayshungry4 says:

    You look beautiful and I love your dress! Thanks so much for posting the breakdown, too, I look forward to reading your cost savings methods.

  14. Michelle says:

    I LOVE this picture. You look lovely and Mr. Smiley Face is so dapper! A huge congratulations on your wedding. I just returned from London (was a bridesmaid !) I am sure that my friends paid a heck of a lot more than you did. At the end of the day the question is did you have the day that you wanted? I am pretty sure that you did.

  15. Cassie says:

    Oooh, you sure picked out a handsome Mr. Smiley Face didn’t you? Your picture is gorgeous (as are you!)

    This budget breakdown is absolutely awesome. Even if it was over your original budget (woo-hoo parents for chipping in), I don’t think this was unreasonable for 80 people at all, especially if allowances were being made for the family’s sake rather than because the two of you wanted something.

  16. Anne @ Unique Gifter says:

    All I can think about is the Jack n the Box commercials!! You seem to have a spouse with a very happy disposition 😉

    Weddings are stupid expensive, aren’t they! Ours was ~27K, but we included every dime we spent, like our plane tickets, taxi rides, etc. Plus we had a reception in Toronto and another one in Vancouver.

  17. Savvy Scot says:

    Can’t wait to see more photos – As you know I got married in Thailand and my costs are here – http://savvyscot.com/the-thailand-wedding-part-2-the-finances/

    I think you did a great job in keeping the expenses down… they could have been a heck of a lot worse. One of my friends at work is currently planning a wedding and they have already spent over $50K!!!!

  18. Girl Meets Debt says:

    Wow what a gorgeous bride you were lady! Can’t wait to see more photos! Thank you for the wedding cost breakdown. I can see this coming in handy in the future. 😉

  19. Savvy Financial Latina says:

    You look so beautiful!!!!!

  20. Congratulations!!! Hope you had a blast and love the photo! I want to marry a giant happy face!

  21. Morgann says:

    Did you find you recouped some of your cost via the wedding gifts, how much on average would you say people give?

    • On average it seemed like people gave $100-$200. I can’t remember the exact amount we received (and we asked for cash, not gifts, since we sold everything and moved to a new province right after), but we have about 70 guests. So did we recoup some costs? Sure, but that was never our goal. Our plan for those cash gifts was to help pay for our honeymoon and our move. I’d always suggest saving up and paying your own money for your wedding, then anything you get as gifts is a nice surprise you should use on something meaningful like a honeymoon. In other words, if I was a guest at a wedding, I wouldn’t like the idea of me essentially paying for my meal at the wedding with my gift. I’d want the couple to use the money I gave them on something special.

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