$80,000 Wedding Budget Breakdown (Northern Virginia, 2024)

Just said “Yes”?! Congratulations! After you spend some time basking in your newly-engaged glow and drinking an unholy amount of champagne, one of the first conversations you’ll have is about your wedding budget. Budget breakdowns produced by nationwide publications are usually generic, not targeted to your area or budget, and frankly unhelpful. To help you out a bit, I’ve broken down an $80,000 budget into the costs you can expect in Northern Virginia in 2024.

First thing’s first: $80,000 is the new $50,000. I know that is tough to hear, but post-pandemic rates are high. Even at $80,000 you will be making some prioritization choices. We’ll touch on a few of those below, but the nature of priorities is that they are YOURS, so you should work with a wedding planner (hi, it’s me) to personalize these costs for your love story.

What’s Not Included: We do not include your attire, rings, honeymoon, rehearsal dinner/brunch, or your planner’s fees in this budget. These are personal preference and very hard to predict.

Here we go:

Venue: $20,000 (25%)

First things first, where’s the party at? Whether it’s a chic barn, a historic mansion with more stories than your mom’s boyfriend, or an elegant vineyard where the grapes may be as tipsy as your guests, you’re looking at dropping about 25% of your budget here.

Catering: $25,000 (31%)

Let’s face it, besides the “I do,” the food and drinks are what people look forward to. In Northern Virginia, think between $120 to $200 per person for a passed apps, a plated dinner (mid-tier package), alcohol service, one fun addition (stationary display or late night snack, for example) and a cutting cake. For around 100 guests, that’s about 31% of your budget. Another note: depending on your venue, catering may be bringing in all of your linens and table-top rentals. If you care for design and want to upgrade those pieces beyond the standard twill linens and white china with silverware, this cost will go up.

Photography & Videography: $8,000 (10%)

You’ll want to remember every detail, from grandma’s dance moves to the tears in your partner’s eyes. That’s where the camera wizards come in. We genuinely believe in over-investing in photo and video, and will encourage it EVEN MORE if your budget is tight, because a great photographer can work magic in any circumstance. Expect to invest about 10% of your budget here, unless we convince you otherwise.

Flowers & Decor: $12,000 (15%)

Your florists, lighting and draping companies, and signage vendors will be the ones to transform your wedding from a conference to a Pinterest dream, and we are all about saving room in your budget to spice up your vision. With an $80,000 budget, you will need to carefully pick and choose which parts of the day to invest in design-wise, and your guest list will play a big part in that decision. If you have 200 guests, for example, you are going to have many more centerpieces and may not have room in the budget for that stunning escort wall, or those customized favors. Lighting and draping may not be in the cards. Budget about 12% here.

Entertainment: $4,000 (5%)

DJ, live band, fire dancers? Okay, maybe not the last one. But setting aside around 5% of your budget here will cover a string quartet for your ceremony and cocktail hour and a DJ for your reception, which is the compromise that many couples in this budget range make. Remember to book a ceremony sound system through one of these vendors. IF you are huge music people and will die on the hill of a live band, plan to book a cheaper venue or do a more casual dinner.

Wedding Planner: $7,000 (9%)

We are biased here, but wedding planners function in the role of your wedding fairy godmother. They negotiate contracts, keep track of your budget, coordinate vendors, and generally prevent you from turning into a total puddle. With this budget, you have the option to choose between full-service planning from a mid-tier planner or partial planning from a luxury company. Either way, that expert guidance will be worth every penny of the 9% you’ll allocate here.

Invitations & Stationery: $2,000 (2.5%)

Northern Virginia couples in the $80,000 range often save money in this category by going with an online shop (Minted is our pick – save using code WEDPLEVERMOREOCC), or doing a virtual save the date card. If stationery is a priority, you can borrow from the flowers & decor section, and look at semi-custom suites.

Miscellaneous: $9,600 (12%)

The breakdown of your miscellaneous section will vary widely depending on your tastes, preferences, cultural traditions, and priorities. Here is an example of a breakdown:

  • Officiant and marriage license: $1,000
  • Transportation: $3,000
  • Hair and makeup: $2,500
  • Gifts for the wedding party: $1,000
  • Gratuities: $2,000
  • Contingency fund for weather items: $600

Remember, these are ballpark figures and can vary depending on your personal choices. The key is to prioritize what matters most to you. After all, it’s your day! Need help personalizing this budget or putting these numbers into practice? Let’s chat!

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