Backing Up in Time - Our Full Wedding Buget Breakdown

Monday, September 2, 2013

I meant to post this a long time ago, since we were married in April, however, I know how much seeing posts like this helped me out when I first started wedding planning so here it goes.

I know that things can vary from area to area, so for reference, we were married in Ontario, Canada.

Our original budget was $12,000. Then it went to $15,000.. and finally, it settled at $20,882.68 (including everything - rings, honeymoon, food, dress - literally everything down to postage stamps) but I know we wouldn't have done anything differently (okay, maybe a few uninformed purchases, but you live and learn, right? Plus, our errors might help someone else!)

We splurged on the things that were important to us (photography!) and less on other things that we determined were less important to us (like the cake).

Before we begin to break things down further, you can view my wedding recap posts here, here and here.

CEREMONY - TOTAL: $1118.50
Hall Rental - $508.50 - This includes the rental for the reception as well, as our ceremony/reception were in the same location. The ceremony was supposed to be outside, but that didn't happen due to the weather.
Officiant - $360.00
Wedding Rings - $125.00 for BOTH! - They were handmade by an artist on Etsy and are sterling silver.
Marriage License - $125.00

Food - $3960.00 - Our venue was all inclusive, so this total actually includes all linens, rentals, glassware, setup and cleanup, etc. And for 73 meals (4 vendor meals, us, and 67 guests) which was buffet style with 2 entree options, 2 salads, 3 sides. This also included cocktail hour served hors d'oeuvres and a late night buffet.
House Wine - $400.00 - 2 bottles on each guest table
Gratuity - $654.00
Tax - $718.01
Taxes and Gratuities are included everywhere else except here - I wanted to make a note of it separately. Yes, we had a cash bar - it is the norm where we are located and neither one of us drink, so we didn't want to provide too much alcohol but we wanted our guests to have options - which is why we went with 2 bottles of wine on each table (1 red, 1 white).

Wedding Dress - $1013.00
Wedding Dress #2 - $426.88
Dress Sash - $75.90
Garter - $33.99
Shoes - $125.00
Veil - $50.00
Bridal Shawl - $30.00

BEAUTY - TOTAL: $275.00
Hair Trial - $70.00
Makeup Trial - $55.00
Hair and Makeup on the Day of - $150.00

Wedding Cake - $164.25 - We went with a basic cake design that was 2 tiers and would feed 80 people. It tasted delicious!
Cake Topper - $21.39

MUSIC - TOTAL: $1327.75
DJ for Ceremony/Cocktail Hour/Dinner/Reception - $1327.75 - They also supplied uplighting and were the MC's for the evening!

Original Photographer Deposit - $300 - We lost our original deposit as it wasn't until months later that I realized how important photography was to me. I don't regret this at all and our new photographer was amazing!
Photographer - $4985.00 - This included an engagement session, 8hrs with 2 photographers, all images edited on cd within 4 weeks, 20pg professional album

Invitations - $200.00
Postage - $55.00
Thank You Cards - $39.99

'In Case You Have Cold Feet' Socks - $35.61
Tuxedo Rental for Groom + Best Man - $467.78

DECOR - TOTAL: $898.29
Chalkboard Seating Chart - $111.29
Painted Mason Jars - $94.00
Guestbook and Pens - $76.00
Chalkboard Table Numbers - $76.00
Chalkboard Place Cards - $76.00
LED Lights - $122.50
Vase Filler - $82.50
72 Votive Candles and Candleholders - $100.00
Chalkboard Easel and Chalkboard Pens - $160.00

GIFTS - TOTAL: $547.34
3 Bridal Robes - $112.93
Favours - $125.90
2 Bridesmaid Dresses - $191.00
Bridesmaid Dress Bandeau - $47.51
Bridesmaid Shawl - $30.00
Makeup for 1 Bridesmaid - $40.00

FLOWERS - TOTAL: $700.00
Wholesale Flowers - $400.00 - included more then enough Roses, Carnations and Baby's breath to DIY the centrepieces
Wedding Party Flowers - $300.00 - included Bridal Bouquet, 2 Bridesmaid Bouquets, Groom's Boutonniere, 1 Groomsman Boutonniere, 2 Wrist Corsages and 3 Attendant/Father Boutonnieres
Silk Flowers - $260.00 - Yes, I originally went with silk flowers and changed my mind - this was my first regret and mistake during wedding planning!

$2000 - Included gas, fabulous hotel and 4 nights in Old Quebec City. I believe we actually ended up spending less than this, but this was my budget and I honestly didn't keep too close of track of this during our honeymoon last week!

OVERALL TOTAL:  $20,882.68

Now, as you can see there are a few oops and a few changing of minds that caused an increase in budget, as well our friends needed assistance in order to be in our wedding and we didn't feel right asking people who have children to splurge on a dress, tux, etc.. so we covered everything for our entire wedding party - 2 bridesmaids and 1 best man.

One other thing that might look odd is that - yes, we did not have an open bar. Open bars are not common, at all, in our area.. and if we were able to do it, it would have cost about $7000 - $8000 more. Canadian alcohol is not cheap! Luckily, it is not normal to have one here. Besides, neither one of us drink and Barry is about to be 5 years sober, we wouldn't feel right having an open bar like that. So, we did pay for 2 bottles of wine on each table, to try to be nice. :)

A few extra spending/oops moments during the process:
- As you can see, I purchased 2 wedding dresses. I was very weird with the whole wedding dress process - I never went wedding dress shopping and tried on dresses! That's right- never. Not once during the entire process. I found a dress on Etsy by Bridal Bliss Designs that I LOVED, spoke with Erin and decided to go with it. During the waiting period of 4 months, I started to panic - Did I make the right decision? What if it comes in and doesn't fit and it's too late to get something else? Blah, blah, blah. So what do I do? I purchase another dress online from a chinese reseller. It didn't cost too much, initially, but once I factored in the duty and taxes, it was quite expensive. This dress arrived first and it just wasn't perfect.. so I waited for my original handmade dress to come in -- and when it did, it was PERFECT. The most perfect dress I could have ever imagined. I loved it, and if I had stuck with my gut on this originally, I wouldn't have questioned things while I was waiting, and in turn, wouldn't have purchased the 2nd dress that is still hanging in my closet with the tags on!
- Second was the photography. We originally chose a local photographer very early on in the wedding planning process -- she was good, but after searching around online I started to doubt her style and how satisfied I would be with the results. I didn't know until halfway through the wedding planning process just how important photography was to me. So, we lost our $300 deposit with our original photographer to go with another one from Toronto - best decision! She was amazing, worth every penny and the photos we received of our day are truly special.
- Next was the flowers, I originally thought, who cares about flowers - they will just die soon after the wedding anyway? Why don't we go with silk flowers? So, I shelled out about $260.00 on silk flower bouquets and centrepieces.. then, decided I really wanted real flowers. 

After all the back and forth, changing my mind about certain aspects, etc.. I'm surprised Barry still wanted to marry me after the 9 months or so of planning! It was well worth it, and our day was amazing.. I wouldn't have truly changed anything about it (except for maybe the oops moments above!!).

That is really the only piece of advice I can give any new brides - decide what is truly important to you, not what you think right now is important to you. Really think about it, because if you change your mind later it could cost you thousands!


  1. as I am planning my wedding now, seeing other people's budgets is super helpful. I think my food/alcohol will be more but i'm hoping to save money in some other ways.
    -- jackie @ jade and oak

  2. I've never planned a wedding and I don't see myself planning any any time soon, but this is fascinating to me. Thank you for sharing.

    (And I followed you on Bloglovin - thought I was already but apparently not!)

    - Lix | A Classic Notion

  3. Thanks for sharing! So nice to see it all broken down like this.

  4. i love this breakdown!!! shows where money is going and where it can be saved!!!



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