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If you’ve ever been to a wedding, undoubtedly you’ve looked around the venue and wondered how much money the bride and groom dished out for the event. Truthfully, the average cost of a wedding reception is perhaps the highest it’s ever been.
Of course, there’s nothing like a well-planned wedding reception. After wiping away tears for the happy couple, the wedding reception is when the real celebration occurs — where family and friends can indulge in decadent food and dance the night away. Couples can anticipate a hefty bill when planning a wedding but are often left shocked once everything gets added up.
A Lavish Dream Wedding Is Costly
According to The Knot 2022 Real Weddings Study, couples spend about $30,000 to cover the ceremony and reception costs — this differs for various reasons, though. Often, location is a factor in the cost, while headcount, time of year and new trends could also result in different prices. For instance, 41% of couples change their plans to reduce costs, while 39% often reduce their guest list by 25.
Gen Z is also influencing wedding trends, including 83% focusing on photos and video — some of the pricier budget factors — for the ability to look back on happy memories. Their desire to make their day more sentimental is also apparent from their habit of providing a selfie station or photo booth at their wedding for guests to capture the fun.
Breaking Down the Average Cost of a Wedding Reception
Hopefully, you’ve set aside money for your wedding because they are usually expensive. You can avoid all financial surprises by breaking down each part of the wedding reception costs.
While some couples may choose to DIY a small wedding, others will likely hire a wedding planner to turn their dream into a reality. A wedding planner’s services may cost about $2,000, but this varies.
In addition to pulling off the event of a lifetime, wedding planners alleviate stress by coordinating vendors and helping you decide where to allocate your budget best. As prices surge amid inflation in the post-pandemic world, they act as a helpful sounding board to save you money wherever possible.
The venue is often a huge chunk of the wedding reception expenses. According to ValuePenguin.com, couples should expect to pay an average of $12,343 to $14,006 for the reception venue — or 45% of their budget — but it ultimately depends on the type of venue you book.
A hotel or resort may cost anywhere from $5,000 to $73,000, while banquet halls run about $2,300 to $22,600. Golf and country clubs are also popular venues for wedding receptions, costing roughly $2,300 to $17,000.
What guests remember most from a wedding is the food — and couples go above and beyond to serve only the best on their wedding day. The average cost of a wedding reception meal is $4,000 but could range between $1,800 and $7,000.
Sometimes the venue provides different catering packages at various price points. Other times you must look for a catering company to bring everything in. Usually, catering comprises meals, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, cooks, bartenders and servers. Rentals — tables, chairs, dinnerware, glassware and utensils — might also be included, or you’ll need to look for a rental company.
It’s worth noting that additional fees may apply to your catering contract, so always read through the agreement.
The wedding cake isn’t typically included in catering. Expect to pay an average of $540 — about $1.50 to $12 per slice.
Servings, ingredients, design and the number of tiers impact the price of wedding cakes. There is also a delivery fee, mainly because somebody must transport the cake at a particular temperature to ensure it stays intact.
Music and Entertainment
Live band or DJ is often the debate when selecting music and entertainment for your reception. A DJ is definitely more cost-effective at about $$780 to $1,495, but many would agree that you can’t beat the energy of a live band.
Live bands typically cost $2,850 to $6,488, depending on how many hours they’ll be performing, how many band members there are, additional equipment — like lighting and projectors — and travel and accommodations costs.
Photographer and Videographer
Wedding photographers capture intimate moments between the happy couple, breathtaking family shots and those candid moments you may have missed. Typically photographers cost about $3,000 to $4,000 or more.
Likewise, many couples hire videographers for a cinematic keepsake of their wedding. Videographers cost an average of $2,100, depending on their experience. Nearly 39% of newlyweds hired videographers for their wedding in 2022.
Flowers are a stunning decoration at any reception, but many couples are surprised at how costly they can be. The average cost of wedding flowers was $2,400 in 2022 — experts agree that florists account for about 10% of the budget.
You can ease your florist costs by opting for more greenery. Flowers tend to cost more per stem. Filling in the gaps with viburnum, leather leaf ferns and eucalyptus greens is far more affordable.
Only 3% of your wedding reception budget should go toward wedding favors. Guests don’t need a significant gift — just something small to take. That means you’d spend $450 on wedding favors for a reception that costs $15,000.
Ideas for favors could include mints in a sheer wedding favor bag with a drawstring — you can buy a pack of 100 bags for under $10. Likewise, you might consider a small candle, picture frames, keychains, burned CDs with custom labels and sugar cookies.
Parking and Transportation
Couples spend an average of $500 to $1,100 on transportation to and from the wedding reception. Most car services charge you for a stretch limousine or SUV limousine by the hour. Additionally, you’ll need to tip the driver 15% to 20%.
Parking may be another cost you have to consider. Hotels, restaurants and events centers may have an on-site planner coordinating parking arrangements, including valets. Otherwise, you can hire an independent service.
Couples have several options for parking and transportation. Their decision ultimately depends on the venue, the number of guests and the location.
Save Up for the Wedding of Your Dreams
With the average cost of a wedding reception as high as it is, you’ll want to ensure you have enough money saved up to afford your dream wedding. Wedding receptions, in particular, are expensive and several people must get paid for it to all come together seamlessly. Of course, there are always ways you can bring costs down, but it may require some sacrifices for your special day.
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