How much does a wedding cost?

By Terry Meadows

5 minute read

Got the ring, check. Got engaged, check. Told the family, check.  Now the serious stuff begins.  You want to know what the wedding of your dreams will cost, and you want to make sure you are spending your money wisely.  Costs can spiral out of control if you don’t have a good understanding of each item.  

We have held hundreds of weddings, and have experience with helping couples choose what is best for them.  Here to help is a general guideline of what you will spend and what will help you stay within your budget, as well as determine your priorities for your wedding.

Distribution of costs for weddings


What do we need to decide before budgeting for a wedding?

The word most associated with weddings is “expensive.” The cost of a wedding in Northern Virginia is over $60,000 according to data from The Wedding Report, Inc. This doesn't include all the other costs attributed to your nuptials, we’re talking dresses, suits, cake, photographer, etc., so bear in mind your final cost will be higher. A few areas to consider are:

  • Budget - Before forming ideas, creating plans, and setting agendas, you absolutely must decide on your budget; otherwise, you will likely get overwhelmed with all the options, choices, and possibilities. It is imperative that you have a solid structure with definitive parameters where you and your partner agree on the final price. Then stick to it. 
  • Priorities - Make a list of your must-haves and would-like-to-haves. You might find that your 200-person guest list pushes your catering budget over the top, or the more affordable photographer works for you instead.  
  • Wedding planner - Couples hire an average of 14 vendors for their wedding day, so a wedding planner goes a long way to ensuring you stay within your budget. Some people see them as an additional expense that is not really necessary; however, they relieve so much pressure and angst from planning and decision-making,  that they are worth the extra cost. With their knowledge of the industry and connections with vendors, they invariably save you money.
  • All-inclusive or DIY - You can also choose an all-inclusive venue with a menu of options on a sliding scale for your budget. You might have an initial sticker shock, especially for the more upscale venues, but considering all the obvious costs, as well as all the hidden ones, all-inclusive venues can come in around the same price as the piecemeal option.

What is the cost breakdown for our wedding?

To get an idea of where and how much you will spend on your wedding, the data below shows the average costs that couples across Northern Virginia spend on each item. 

Category Name

Item name


Attire & Accessories

Dress Accessories


Attire & Accessories

Tuxedo/suit/other Accessories


Attire & Accessories

Tuxedo/suit/other Rent/purchase


Attire & Accessories

Wedding Dress



Wedding Cake/dessert


Beauty & Spa

Hair Service


Beauty & Spa

Makeup Service


Beauty & Spa

Manicure & Pedicure






Entertainment lighting



Live Band



Musician/s Soloist or Ensemble


Event Venue

Wedding Venue Bar Service


Event Venue

Wedding Venue Food Service


Event Venue

Wedding Venue Location


Event Venue

Wedding Venue Rentals


Flowers & Decorations



Flowers & Decorations

Boutonnieres Corsages


Flowers & Decorations

Wedding Venue Accessories


Flowers & Decorations

Wedding Venue Decorations


Flowers & Decorations

Wedding Venue Flowers & Arrangements


Flowers & Decorations

Wedding Venue Table Centerpieces


Gifts & Favors

Gift/s for Attendants


Gifts & Favors

Gift/s for Parents


Gifts & Favors

Tips (for all services)


Gifts & Favors

Wedding Favors



Ceremony Programs



Engagement Announcements



Guest Book



Invitations & Reply Cards






Reception Menus



Save the Date Cards



Table Name and Escort/place Cards



Thank You Cards









Engagement Ring






Wedding ring/band for Partner 1



Wedding ring/band for Partner 2


Market Totals

Market Summary





Other Events

Rehearsal Dinner


Other Items

Hotel Room for After Reception


Photography & Video

Digital or Photo cd/dvd


Photography & Video

Engagement Session


Photography & Video

Photo Booth


Photography & Video

Prints and/or Enlargements


Photography & Video

Wedding Photographer


Photography & Video

Wedding Videographer


Photography & Video

Wedding album/s or photo book/s



Hourly Services



Wedding Coordinator



Wedding Planner



Limo Rental



Other Transportation



How much does a wedding venue cost?

The average cost in Northern Virginia is $8,700 for the wedding venue, with an additional $2,892 for rentals

This is likely your most significant cost. So things to consider are:

  • A more intimate venue will likely be more expensive, as will a culturally historic site
  • If there isn’t a designated structure, you want to consider renting a tent
  • A destination wedding will add more expenses as you incorporate flights, airport transportation, and meals among the various costs
  • If your wedding ceremony is beyond walking distance to the reception, you need transportation
  • Wedding insurance covers anything from cancellations to property damages to theft.

How much is it per wedding guest?

The average cost in Northern Virginia is $75 per person.

Guest numbers have a significant impact on your budget items, such as catering, whereas others are less so, such as the wedding dress. While most couples tend to hover around the 120-guest limit, the cost varies greatly and is not necessarily exponential as you add or subtract more people. 

The guest list might be the first place to start adjusting your numbers to fit within your budget. The average budget per number of guests:

200+: $40,000 and up

150–200: $36,000

100–150: $31,000

75–100: $22,000

50–75: $18,000

Less than 50: $15,000 and down

What will I spend on wedding venders?

  • Wedding planner $2,377 - 4,739
  • Hair and make-up $310
  • Florist $3,730
  • Photographer $2,600 
  • Videographer $2,247

Listen to your vendors as they usually have excellent ideas on how to be cost-effective with your decisions. Working with a wedding planner can mitigate unnecessary expenses, as they have established business connections with their preferred vendors and can offer more reasonable prices. 

For example, a florist might suggest you choose from a selection of flowers that are in season if you are not absolutely insistent on that spectacular blooms-once-every-ten-years orchid from the jungles of deepest Africa.  Or a photographer might guide you to a beautiful and cost-effective field of wildflowers instead of the beautiful and expensive private gardens for your formal portraits. 


How does the time of the year and day of the week affect the costs of my wedding?

Most weddings occur between May and October, so you can expect that demand for venues increases the prices.   You might consider an off-season wedding if you are looking to save money.

  • Summer is the most popular, and prices are accordingly higher
  • Spring, fall, and winter are more cost-effective, but weather can be an issue
  • Saturdays are by far the most traditional wedding day; some couples are opting for a Friday evening or even mid-week

How do I  keep track of how much I spend on my wedding?

Your final budget relies on your prioritizing your needs and wants. You are not obligated to choose every single shiny object presented to you.  Don’t be scared of eliminating traditions that don’t have any meaning for you.

Tip: Consider using a budget app or software program to monitor your budget. You can use a pricing calculator to enter your maximum budget and the cost for each item. 

List your priorities; do you want to spend more on a beautiful setting, thus reducing the need for decoration or flowers, or do you want to have a banging party at the reception with an outstanding DJ? 

Once you have the list of must-haves and would-like-to-have, you can narrow the field where you can economize or splurge. If you want to reduce the stress of time-consuming detailed planning and have your costs determined up-front, you may be wondering what is all included in an all-inclusive wedding package. 

Contact us at Zion Springs for a truly all-inclusive wedding.  Our website has prices and packages ready for viewing, and you can reach our team online for an immediate response.

Further reading:

Why choose an all-inclusive venue for your wedding?

(Note: no compensation was received for mentions and links)