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Wedding Budget Breakdown : Average Wedding Costs

Planning for Average Wedding Costs in North Carolina

You’ve dreamed about all the fun aspects of your wedding, but now you need to figure out how much they’ll cost. The first step of wedding planning – before you can even select a venue or a planner – is to create a budget.

The average cost for a wedding is just over $30,000 in the Triangle Area of North Carolina. But whether your wallet is tightly constrained or an open checkbook, a bit of organization and know-how can help you plan a beautiful wedding without encountering unexpected expenses. Keeping in mind that you should adjust each line item based on your priorities, below a general wedding budget breakdown and some tips on the going rates of these services here in NC.

Core Reception Costs

Weddings at The Cookery in DurhamPhoto: Southern Love Studios at The Cookery

Your venue and catering will always account for the largest chunk of your budget – at least half of your spending.

  • Your guest count list is a necessary first priority. Plan for 80% attendance.
  • Venues vary greatly in cost and what’s included. Most are between $2,500-$25,000. Some are bare bones, some include tables and chairs, and some are all-inclusive, meaning they provide the food and everything needed to serve it.
  • Separate ceremony space or private chapel rental cost should be estimated at $2,000 or more, depending on whether or not the officiant, musician and ceremony director is included. There are more affordable outdoor alternates such as WRAL Azalea Gardens and city parks.
  • The officiant, if you’re hiring a private professional, costs approximately $500. Church ministers are given an offering that is a fair compensation for all hours spent in consultation and counseling.
  • Tent prices depend on many variables, such as location, size, weather, and décor. A full reception venue can be created inside a tent, and it can be fit with (roll-up) walls or windows, heating or cooling systems, special lighting, drapes and even chandeliers. Our local tent pros report that for average sized weddings (120-150 guests), couples are spending between $3,000-$5,000 and the most common tent size is 3,200 square feet or a 40’ x 80.’
  • Linens average a little over $20 each, or more for specialty pieces.
  • Chairs are also available from the rental stores. The two most common styles are folding chairs, which rent for $2-$3, and chiavari, which are around $8 each. Other specialty chairs and furniture could be more.
  • China, glassware and flatware rent for $0.40 -$0.50 per piece for standard settings.
  • Food packages with appetizers and a seated meal will be a minimum of $35 per person. That number will quickly jump when labor, gratuities and taxes are added in, so we recommended budgeting at least $50 per person. You may be able to shave off some dollars by having a buffet or cocktail style reception.
  • Alcohol is usually charged by consumption, so it depends on what you order (and how much your guests drink). The typical rule of thumb is to budget one drink per person, per hour.
Capturing the Moment

Romantic wedding photographyPhoto: Jamie Blow Photography

Professional wedding photographer fees in our area begin at $2,500-$3,000. Costs rise when you add in extra sessions, albums and prints.

Wedding videography falls into two categories. A straightforward recording of the big moments such as ceremony, first dance, and toasts, will cost about $2,000. An artistic film that is an edited piece of the entire wedding day into a story will start around $4,000.

Photo booths have become a wedding standard, and the average wedding cost is $800-$900.

The Cost of Looking Divine

Bridal gown wedding fashionPhoto: Amy Allen Photography

Wedding gown costs vary. Bridal salons with couture collections report that brides are spending $4,000 on average for their wedding dress. Designer gowns that are not made individually to fit the measurements are closer to the $1,200-$3,500 range. Include gown alterations as a separate line item – a safe budget for this would be $600.

Suits and tuxedo rentals range from $140-$210 based on the designer, but expect discounts for groups.

Wedding hair and makeup services at the spa or salon will typically cost between $65-$85 per person for bridesmaids and $150-$175 for the bride. Add on at least another $30 per person if you’d like the stylists to deliver their services onsite.

Planning, Flowers, Entertainment & More

Raleigh NC photography shoots classic white bouquetPhoto: Casey Rose Photography

Day of wedding coordination services, which are really more like “month-of, ” average around $1,500, but can go up to $2,200 or so based on the time of year you are getting married; for example, it would cost more during peak seasons.

Full service wedding planning is usually charged by a flat fee, but they typically like to interview you about your wedding before giving their quote. These fees will range between $5,000-8,000 depending on which consultant you book and the level of services you’ll need. Some wedding planners charge a smaller flat fee plus a percentage of your final wedding budget. The idea behind this structure is that the planner is compensated as the work increases.

Floral expenses for Triangle weddings average $2,200-$5,000, including bouquets, boutonnieres, ceremony arrangements and centerpieces.

Our SB&G florists can work with a smaller budget (within reason), and are able to create designs that have beautiful containers, votives and accents to supplement the florals. Simple bud vases should start at $22 and full table designs’ starting range is $150-$350.To give some perspective, the lush bouquets you see in SB&G and other wedding magazines would be between $225-$400, with bridesmaids bouquets from $90-$165.

Wedding cakes are priced out by how many guests will be served. You’ll probably find our local bakeries charging $5 per slice – or $6 if it’s an intricate design with fondant. Cupcakes run a little lower – usually around $3 each.Dancing during reception at Renaissance Raleigh North Hills HotelPhoto: In His Image Photography

Ceremony music should be in your budget. A live trio is typically around $650 and quartet around $800. A solo musician could be as little as $200-$500.

Professional DJs in the Raleigh area start at about $1,000, and up from there for extra hours and add-ons (such as doing the sound for your ceremony).

Live bands are an average of $2,500-$5,000.

Wedding invitations vary based on the type of print, components included, paper quality, number and more. For an average wedding guest count, reserve about $1,200 for 100 letterpress invitations or $600 for flat print. For day-of paper needs, including programs, place cards, and menus, budget for about $400 as a starting price for flat print.

Limousines and other specialty car rentals are stylish and part of the fun! Set aside $500 to rent a limousine for a four-hour period. For transportation of guests from the hotel to your wedding, or between the ceremony and the reception, a shuttle service is a great option. The cost for a five-hour time period is approximately $700.

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