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Laura
Beginner May 2021

My city is so expensive!

Laura, on October 22, 2020 at 11:22 AM Posted in Planning 0 27
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I don't know if it's just me and my idea of what my dream wedding is or DC is just outrageously expensive. Send help! Lol



My guest list is very small 25- 35ppl.I may raise the cap to 50 guests if I absolutely need to, but I doubt it.
The venue that I chose is $2500 and they have a catering companies that that partner with, which would run me about $3500. That's over 5 grand without a honeymoon, our clothes, accessories, decorations, etc...
My original budget was $10,000-$15,000 But that sounds so unreasonable for such a small number of people. Am I doing something wrong here?

27 Comments

Latest activity by Laura, on October 28, 2020 at 9:30 PM
  • Karla
    Super February 2020
    Karla ·
    • Flag
    Unfortunately, DC is a HCOL area so prices are a bit more expensive there. I also live and held our wedding in a HCOL area (Southern California) and food and alcohol (not including dessert/wedding cake) came in at $200/pp when you factor in tax. Yours looks like it’s coming in around $100/pp. Just remember to take into account any tax, service fees, and tips when looking at costs and figuring out your budget. Those will add up on you. Good luck!
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  • Melle
    Rockstar June 2019
    Melle Online ·
    • Flag

    One of the workarounds is having your reception at a restaurant - that way you don't have a separate venue cost. i live in socal and that's what i did to save me some money, that way i didn't have to rent separate things or pay for separate things other than the food and beverage

    • Reply
  • Yasmine
    Rockstar October 2020
    Yasmine ·
    • Flag

    DC is just an expensive area PERIOD. I would definitely check with some of your local hotels because it is doable to have a $15,000 50 guest max wedding even in DC

    • Reply
  • Chrysta
    Rockstar November 2021
    Chrysta ·
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    Very good advice! I remember adding up costs on my spreadsheet when we set our budget. Then, after reading through all the fine print on contracts, I realized there were additional taxes, administrative fees, service fees, etc. So what I thought was going to be $80/head turned out to be $120/head! Those hidden fees add up really quickly!
    • Reply
  • Laura
    Beginner May 2021
    Laura ·
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    View Quoted Comment
    Thank you for the tip. I'll keep that in mind.
    • Reply
  • Laura
    Beginner May 2021
    Laura ·
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    View Quoted Comment
    I'm thinking of having the wedding and reception at the same outdoor venue. The cost of tables, chairs, etc.. are included in the catering estimate.


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  • Laura
    Beginner May 2021
    Laura ·
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    These responses help me see that I'm not looney, but the industry is. I'll keep researching to bring the cost down.
    • Reply
  • Yasmine
    Rockstar October 2020
    Yasmine ·
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    View Quoted Comment

    You definitely have time!

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  • V
    Master July 2019
    Veronica ·
    • Flag
    DC is a very expensive area so working on a strict budget is going to be very difficult. Maybe consider non-traditional wedding venues or having your wedding at non-meal time and just serving cake and punch.
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  • Laura
    Beginner May 2021
    Laura ·
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    I'm in to dropping traditional fluff, because that will surely save a pretty penny. I've even considered doing a flash wedding or pop up wedding during the day, when everything is quiet.
    I'm just not sure how to include all our grandmas... I wouldn't want to embarrass them if we get a stern talking to by security lol or even worse, we get put out.
    • Reply
  • Destiny
    Savvy October 2020
    Destiny ·
    • Flag
    I’m from the DC/ MD area- have you considered going even a half hour or an hour out of DC more towards Maryland to find a more budget friendly venue and vendors? The costs drop dramatically once you cross out of the DC jurisdiction, and it wouldn’t be a far drive for you and your guests.
    • Reply
  • M
    Super October 2022
    Michele ·
    • Flag
    There are ways you can have a beautiful wedding without going broke. Outside of your venue and photographer, no one needs to know you're hosting a wedding. They mark up prices 10x for a wedding because most women will pay it without batting an eye.
    Sit down with fiance and make a list of your priorities and go from there. Focus on your top 3-5 and toss out the rest. Is there a restaurant you love? Ask if they cater. The food is exactly the same whether it's a wedding or family get together. Unlike a wedding caterer, they will not charge you for "required" extras that you don't want or can't afford. Do the same for the rest of your vendors.
    • Reply
  • C
    Master January 2019
    Cassidy ·
    • Flag
    I too live in a high cost of living area. I had to look out plaids of the city for everything.
    We got married the next county over, 30 minutes from our house. It saved us on everything (venue, caterer, photographer, alterations).
    • Reply
  • Laura
    Beginner May 2021
    Laura ·
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    I've been doing some research and found that if our marriage license is in DC, the ceremony has to be in DC as well....


    So with these limitations, I think we'll be going the pop up route, then allocate those venue funds towards the reception.
    I'll keep looking, but it seems highly unlikely to find an outdoor venue for a ceremony and mini reception, under $5000 anywhere in the DC limits.
    • Reply
  • Rebecca
    Rockstar August 2019
    Rebecca ·
    • Flag

    Big city = big cost. We got married in NYC. ...You do not want to know what our "cheap" and relatively small wedding cost. (Pro tip, I tend not to read the budget breakdowns of couples not in big cities. I get depressed when I realize they had a much bigger wedding for a lot less per head than I could find.)

    Use the "Venues" and "Vendors" tab above, and cross-reference with Google and the Knot for less pricey venues.

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  • Laura
    Beginner May 2021
    Laura ·
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    Great tips! Very true about the wedding mark up. A "big city" "wedding" is a double whammy.

    It's important to realize that I should be taking couple's budgeting and money saving advice with a grain of salt, when they got married in a large state, with plenty of small towns, and my wedding (ceremony, at least) will be in a historical, tourist attraction, HCOL, during a time where inflation means some of our money costs more to make, than it's worth....

    It's nauseating to think my simple, DIY style, 35 guest wedding will cost as much or more than someone else's elaborate 200 guest soiree....I guess that's just how the cookie crumbles.
    Talking to vendors would be a moment to have restraint on the excitement, and the toddler-like fit that I wanna throw, to win over as many companies that I get involved, and get some everyday low pricing 😅
    • Reply
  • Cristy
    Master May 2021
    Cristy ·
    • Flag
    Something else to remember that nobody has mentioned is that the venue and catering will be the largest portion of your budget. If you do your research and plan carefully, you can really save in other areas. But food, drink and the space is going to be your biggest expense. You might still be able to keep it at or under$15K. I'm in a HCOL area too. (SF Bay Area) So I feel you!
    One thing that saved a chunk of money was dessert. We were looking at $900+ for a traditional wedding cake. Instead we found a bakery that's doing a dessert bar, with about 10 different things for less than $300. Look for those kinds of changes from the traditional that can really save you money! Good luck and happy planning!
    • Reply
  • Laura
    Beginner May 2021
    Laura ·
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    View Quoted Comment
    That's a pretty cool idea.


    My mom is actually going to bake the cake, so that's one expense I don't have to bother with.
    • Reply
  • Laura
    Beginner May 2021
    Laura ·
    • Flag



    Update: I spoke with FH and ended up deciding that I'd rather spend under $5000 for the wedding and put the other $10k towards our honeymoon and paying off the house.
    He'd rather go the courthouse route anyway, sign the paperwork and be done. But all the grandmas want to be there, and I like throwing parties. So it's really just him going along with whatever my vision is.
    There's only 35 guests... and they're close friends and family. $15,000 is a ridiculous amount to spend to entertain 35 people. The people that wouldn't understand that we value life building over a one day event, aren't the kind of people we're inviting... hopefully.
    • Reply
  • Hanna
    Super June 2019
    Hanna Online ·
    • Flag

    I agree with Destiny--I would look into some more budget friendly options towards Maryland. You can get your marriage license in whatever city, county or state that you want to! Just because you live in DC does not mean that you have to get married in DC.

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