What to Expect When You’re Budgeting

He’s popped the question, you’ve said yes, and now you have a beautiful ring that lets the world know that you are officially off the market. Let the wedding planning and budgeting begin! Before you even think about budget details, get a planning notebook to specifically help you organize your wedding ideas and thoughts as you plan. First of all, consider your wedding budget as a whole, as in the grand total of what you want or would be able to spend. As far as average wedding costs go, you ought to plan on spending between $3,000 and a whopping $10,000 on your wedding, depending on how elaborate or simple you would like to keep the wedding. Next, create a list of everything you want for your wedding, today we will focus on reception expenses.

Photo courtesy of It’s Just Paper.

Reception expenses in general will include the venue, any catering you may need, the centerpieces, tablecloths or chair covers, general décor, and entertainment. Bundled together, you should expect to spend somewhere between $700 and $3,000. For those of you who find yourselves with a reception happily situated in a backyard or local church building, you’ll find that costs can stay in that lower range.


One way to save a bundle on your reception venue costs is to get married in the off-season. June through September tend to be the most popular wedding months and also tend to be more expensive. Weddings held November through May cost a lot less because the venues aren’t nearly as busy as they are during the summertime. For the Memorial House, summer rates range between $1000 and $2500, whereas winter rates range between $750 and $2000. Also, booking a venue Monday through Thursday will cost less than a Friday or Saturday reservation. The Joseph Smith Memorial Building rents their venue space from $950 to $1250 for Monday through Wednesday times compared to $1250 to $1550 for weekends and receptions on the higher floors. Time of day can also cut the cost down for a venue; most venues cost less if the event is held before 5pm. Wheeler Farm’s rates jump from $75 per hour before 4pm, to $100 per hour after that time. If you compare the cost for a Saturday night reception in June to a Tuesday afternoon reception in May, the cost difference is significant.

Photo courtesy of Temple Square Hospitality.

Photo courtesy of Kim Bullock Photography.

Photos courtesy of Temple Square Hospitality.

Wheeler Farm, Photo courtesy of Shea Drake Photography via Wed Charm.


Now that you’ve figured out the venue, it’s time to plan the menu. Many venues offer catering options, and bundling these together will give you a sizable discount. First of all, do you have your heart set on a sit-down dinner, or would you prefer hors d’oeuvres and desserts instead? If you’re trying to keep it more intimate, consider an early morning family brunch or even a luncheon. Culinary Crafts’ formally served dinners range between $42.95-$103.95 per person for their five star restaurant quality food, whereas their luncheon rates start at $14.95 per person and go up from there. The time of day will also influence the menu cost. As with reception centers, rates during the day cost less than night-time rates, especially if the event is during the week and not on a weekend. Should you really want a sit-down dinner but balk at the price per plate, consider a buffet-style dinner. Brown Brothers Catering charges by the food station, with their rates for one starting at $5.95 per person, and going up to five stations at $16.95 per person. If you choose not to have a dinner, consider the alternative of providing different appetizers or hors d’oeuvres for your guests, along with a few dessert options and beverage choices. Themed foods like a candy or ice cream bar for a carnival feel are often quite popular along with creative comfort foods in bite-size portions.

Photo courtesy of Anya Taggart.

Photo courtesy of Sleepy Ridge Weddings.


With the average cost of centerpieces coming to $500, you can see it’s easy to get a little carried away. If you are a fan of floral arrangements for the centerpieces, here are a few ways to keep tabs on your budget for reception flowers. First, try to avoid out-of season flowers. A way to get the most for your money is to do a bit of research before you go shopping to find out which flowers will be in bloom around your wedding date. If flowers are not the focal point of the reception decorations, DIY crafts are the newest and quickest way to save your money.  Incorporate your wedding personality with DIY centerpieces using ribbon, photographs, old books, picture frames, etc. There are many ways to have tastefully beautiful centerpieces without spending a fortune.

Photo courtesy of Candles Photos.

Photo courtesy of Elite Events.

Photo courtesy of Thoughtfully Simple.


There are many ways to have lively entertainment without spending an arm and a leg. First, what does the music situation look like? Are you having a full-on dance party, or are you and your fiancé simply providing background music for socializing? A simple solution for both is to sit down with your fiancé and make a wedding playlist, whether it is music to talk over or music to dance to. If you are set on having live entertainment, check out local performers and their going rates before looking at bigger agencies and their bigger entertainment price tags. The Keys on Main traveling pianos can charge up to $1200 for three hours of performance time, which increase on weekends and during the summer. Local performers can often charge around $55 to $75 per hour instead to keep your entertainment costs down.

Photo courtesy of Warble Entertainment.

As you can see, there are many ways to have a beautiful reception without breaking the bank simply by taking a look at these budget savvy tips. Stay tuned for more budget-friendly ways to have the wedding of your dreams!

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