According to The Knot, in 2013 the average American wedding is just shy of $30,000. They even break down what the average you spent on each vendor as you can see below (thanks so much theknot.com for the graphic)
Men, if you're reading this, NO WOMAN IS GOING TO ASK YOU TO SPEND ALMOST $6,000 ON AN ENGAGEMENT RING. If you really love her and want to spend the rest of your life with her, buy what you can afford now and upgrade maybe for your five year anniversary. If you don't believe me, check out this post from Huffington Post about women who LOVE their small engagement rings.
When I look at this graphic all I can do is shake my head. I know that is this the average, but by no means should you be basing your wedding planning on this. When planning your overall budget here are some things to consider:
What kind of wedding do you want to have
Do you and your fiance want a big church wedding, a romantic elopement or a rustic barn wedding? There are many different kinds of weddings out there with tons of inspiration and ideas, that wedding planning can get overwhelming very quickly. Don't let it get frustrating, wedding planning should be fun and exciting. Think about the overall look, the people, and the emotion; these pieces together will make your wedding unique to you and your fiance.
This is something that I tell all my couples to do when they ask me about wedding planning, and I even did it myself. Sit down with your fiance and write a list of the three most important things for your wedding day. These could be just about anything: An amazing photographer, having an open (or cash) bar, the same church your parents were married in or any other detail you each feel strongly about. Having these lists of priorities helps you focus more on the things that are most important to the two of you.
DO's and DON'Ts of DIY and where you CAN and SHOULDN'T cut corners
Everyone loves Pinterest. I even love it, and can spend hours just looking up anything and everything. I has gave me some great ideas for my wedding. But as a bride you must remember if it looks too good to be DIY then it probably was done by a professional. I've also seen a trend on Youtube of people trying out Pintrest hacks and DIYs and most of them are pretty epic failures. With that being said, there are things that you can DIY to cut corners and there are things that you just really shouldn't.
Things that can be DIY are things like centerpieces, decorations and even flowers. I know a couple who found someone who made flowers out of old book pages. It was cheaper than buying real flowers and it fit their theme perfectly. I've also seen brides buy flowers from a local market and making their own arrangements compared to going to a florist. A big craze lately has been mason jars and wine bottles. These make great centerpieces and if they fit with your theme go for it. Just know that things that you see A TON of on Pintrest can feel a little overdone and not as unique and special to your wedding day.
Cutting corners to save money is a good theory but not always the best option. I'm going to be VERY honest with you, there are ways to cut corners that can be beneficial to your wedding, and there are some that you shouldn't ever do. You can cut corners by having your venue in a family members back yard, making a playlist on your ipod compared to hiring a DJ, having a potluck style dinner instead of a caterer, and even carpooling in a few vehicles instead of renting a limo or bus. It's your wedding, do what you want to do. I've even had a bride who had a later wedding and had family members bring deserts and had a desert bar instead of dinner. Another great option if you want a smaller wedding is eloping. Just take a few friends with you, and make that your honeymoon destination as well.
There are two vendors that you should NEVER cut corners with. These are your photographer and your videographer. At the end of the day, the food is all gone, the flowers die, your dress can rip and get dirty, all you have left is your images. I see brides posting on Craigslist and even Facebook wedding groups about getting an “affordable” or even saying cheap/student photographer. All I have to say is you get what you pay for. I'm not asking that an amazing photographer be in your list of three priorities, but it really should be. As a photographer, and as a bride I want to remember my wedding day for the rest of my life. I don't want the pictures my parents have (even back in 1990 they had a friend take pictures, and I know my mom still regrets it), and I don't want to have the pictures that I see of brides that tell me as a photographer I'm too expensive for them. I want to look good, I want to feel good, I want to remember the day I married the love of my life perfectly. I don't want regrets. If you decide on having a videographer, don't skim on them either. If you write beautiful vows to each other, but the videographer you hired doesn't have a good microphone, or even microphones on you to capture that moment, then what's the point? I'm not making fun of student or beginner photographers, everyone starts somewhere, but just remember at the end of the day these are your memories.
Putting it all together
You don't need a budget of $30,000+ to have an amazing wedding. Take your time figuring out what you want to spend overall, and what your priorities are. For me personally, my three priorities for my wedding were an amazing photographer, a venue that I've never photographed before, and the ceremony/reception venues to be within 30 minute of where most of our families live (for our grandparents) Something that is not important to us is having a band or a dj, our reception is small, about 100 people and only three hours long. The venue we choose has the option of using house music and you can plug in an ipod for the first dance songs. Take your priorities and research what the cost is going to be for what you want and work that into your budget. I would recommend using a spreadsheet on your computer or even printing one out online that lists the main items you'd need.