As you can imagine, we’ve never experienced planning a wedding in our entire 25 years of living. Everything we’re doing is for the first time ever so it’s definitely a crazy learning experience. Ricardo and I have heard the typical “everything adds up” and the “it goes by faster than you realize” advice, but no one tells us the little things. Like what exactly are the kinds of expenses that add up? How much does everything actually cost? What do we need to ask our wedding vendors? These are the kinds of things no one told us about planning a wedding. In this post, I’m going to share what we’ve learned so far on this insane journey of planning a huge outdoor wedding.
How Much Does It Really Cost?
- Chairs, tables, silverware, and ceramic plates aren’t always included in the site fee price.
- The site fee is the amount to rent the property usually without anything included. The site fees of the venues we saw and contacted averaged around $4000-$6000.
- Venues charge an EXTRA fee per guest (usually $10/person) on top of an extra $1000+ of the total site fee if your wedding is on a Saturday. Keep in mind that we’re expecting a guest count of around 250. WTF!
- Most venues require a day-of coordinator of their choice, which costs extra $$$.
- Outdoor venues require you to purchase liability insurance ($100+) and a security team if alcohol is being served.
- Caterers will charge you extra per person just to give your guests a choice for another dinner option and another additional charge if they actually choose that particular entrée.
- Lighting and dance floors do not always come included with outdoor wedding venues. The quotes we were getting for lighting were typically around $3000 and those for a dance floor were around $500.
- The average dinner & appetizer option we saw for a formal dinner ranged from $80-$100 per person, not including staffing fees.
Scared yet? Sorry to tell you, but it only gets worse!
Photographers & Videographers
Most wedding photographers and videographers require you to fill out a simple form with your info and email them just to find out how much their services cost. I searched high and low (through Google and Instagram) for the perfect wedding photographer. We contacted about 11 different ones before choosing Mary Costa Photography to shoot our engagement and wedding day pictures. Out of the 11 we contacted, the average cost for an hour-long engagement shoot was about $500 and the most popular wedding packages averaged around $5000. Keep in mind, the $5000 almost never included an actual wedding album, only a flash drive of your edited pictures.
Ricardo and I went back and forth on deciding if we were going to have a videographer because everything was adding up so fast. Ultimately we agreed that we (mostly I) would regret not having one in the future. We talked to about 6 videographers and decided to go with Theater 10 Films because we loved their vibe and their services were within our price range. As far as cost, there was quite a wide range in the quotes we received. Some cost $3000 and some went all the way up to $7000. It just depends on who you’re feeling and what you’re looking for in a wedding film.
All About The Dress
You Need To Make Dress Appointments A Week Or More In Advance
If you thought that you could wake up on Saturday morning, grab a coffee, and on a whim go to a bridal boutique to try on dresses; go back to bed because chances are they’re booked. No seriously, it’s extremely hard to get a last-minute dress appointment on a weekend at a boutique unless they had cancellations.
For the bigger chain bridal stores like David’s Bridal, Alfred Angelo’s, and Bonny Bridal you can most likely walk in without an appointment. These stores typically have more workers and a lot more dressing rooms so they’re able to help out more brides. The boutique bridal stores usually only have 2-3 dressing rooms and a couple consultants working. That’s why they require you to make an appointment to ensure you get the proper attention that you need and want.
Dresses Take 5-6 Months to Order
After watching seasons of Say Yes To The Dress, this one wasn’t too big of a shock to me as it was to Ricardo. He had no idea that dresses really take that long to order and it’s still kinda shocking to me too. The dress takes about half a year to order and another 2 months on average for alterations.
Wedding Veils & Belts Are Freaking Expensive
If you don’t feel bad enough paying thousands of dollars for one dress (that you’ll only wear for half a day), then ask how much those pretty little accessories they put on you cost. The answer is A LOT! A veil and a bedazzled belt that “totally make the look” can cost you almost as much as your dress combined. I kidd you not, my jaw dropped when I saw their price tags. I just could not fathom the thought of paying $300-$500 dollars for a piece of tulle and another $400-$600 for a beaded belt.
So I looked around and tried to find more affordable accessory options. There’s a popular Etsy shop that produces great quality veils for a fraction of the cost of the ones sold in boutiques. I’m definitely going to order my veil from Blanca Veils once my dress comes in but I’m still on the hunt for affordable belt options.
A Bunch Of Random Stuff We Didn’t Know
What Kind of Questions Do We Need To Ask Our Vendors?
Ricardo and I are so lucky to have parents that are really involved in our wedding planning. They have been in our shoes before so they know a heck of a lot more than we do. Here are some of the questions they suggested we ask our vendors.
- What’s included in the price?
- Are we allowed to bring in our own alcohol, do you provide a bartender, and are there corking fees?
- What’s your photography/videography style?
- How long will you be at our event?
- What happens if you’re not able to make it to our wedding for whatever reason?
- How much is the deposit fee and what is your payment schedule?
- Do you have any recommendations for other vendors?
- Have you worked at our venue in the past/how familiar are you with the venue and staff?
- Are there any restrictions for live music and bands?
- Do you have a weather contingency plan?
- How many guests does the venue hold comfortably?
- What’s the parking situation?
- Can I hire my own vendors or do we have to choose from a list you provide?
Outdoor Venues Have A Strict Curfew
If you’re looking to have an outdoor reception, they probably have a strict 10PM music curfew. This is mostly due to their city rules and for noise complaint reasons. This is something to keep in mind when deciding if an outdoor wedding is something you want.
You Need To Feed The DJ, Photographers and Videographers?
This seems like common sense for a lot of people but is actually something that we didn’t think of. The bride and groom need to provide a meal for all your vendors working the event. You want to make sure the people who are making your wedding special are properly fed so they can do their job as best as they can.
7 Month Wedding Countdown Checklist
Checked Off To-Do’s
- Booked the venue
- Locked down a wedding date
- Set a budget
- Mock up a rough guest list
- Ordered a wedding dress
- Booked the engagement/wedding photographer, videographer, and DJ/MC
- Chose the wedding party
- Book an officiant
- Take engagement pictures
- Lock guest list down
- Send out save-the-dates
- Look for bridesmaid dresses
- Formally ask extended wedding party to be part of the wedding (flower girl, ring bearer, etc.)
- Start thinking of decor & theme
- Start researching cake and dessert places
There’s so much that goes into planning a wedding and we’re barely one-third through the process. We’re so appreciative for everyone that has been helping us along the way and it really does “take a village”. We still have a long way to go before we tie the knot and we will definitely do another update! Stay tuned for more wedding posts along the way.