Real Breakdown of a $60,000 Wedding Weekend

We’re sharing a real life example of what it takes to host a wedding weekend in a big city for under 60k.


8/23/20234 min read

black calculator beside black pen on white printer paper
black calculator beside black pen on white printer paper

There are thousands of articles about the cost of a wedding, but have you noticed that guidance on the cost of a wedding isn’t straightforward? Some advice includes the cost of a honeymoon, attire, and wedding bands. Other advice only includes the cost of the day itself and doesn’t factor in accommodation, wedding party gifts, or hair and makeup costs. Some advice is also just unrealistic!

These days, you can spend anywhere from $5,000 to $500,000 on a wedding to meet your needs and dreams. You can have an intimate backyard gathering with your immediate family and a nice dinner. You can have a blowout ballroom wedding with days of events. But while The Knot reports that the average cost of a wedding in 2022 was $30,000, we know that there’s a collection of couples caught somewhere in the middle of having a decently sized guest list, family and friends traveling from out of town, and not wanting to spend a down-payment sized sum on their wedding.

For those couples, $30,000 might not cut it. Particularly with guests traveling out of town, there will be additional costs like a rehearsal dinner or transportation that will quickly push them over budget. Do you want to be able to spend time with guests who are traveling from out of town other than on the dance floor? Do you want to include time to honor cultural or religious traditions? It can be challenging to do this all in one afternoon, so recognizing and budgeting for a weekend of activities is important. If this resonates, this budget breakdown is for you.

How To Decide Your Budget and Options

Standard guidance will show a percentage of spending depending on your overall budget. However, it’s more complicated than that. If you’re trying to stick to a budget but want to have certain elements or activities in your wedding, you’ll have to pick and choose which ones to save on and where to splurge.

We recommend looking at location-based factors or things you can't control, such as weather and general city pricing, your wedding priorities, areas you can compromise, and what you will or will not include in your budget to help you understand how to set a budget that works for you.

Our real wedding example is based on a couple in Los Angeles, California. We've broken down their decision-making into those above factors to help illustrate how this wedding came together.

Note that this is just one of many ways to make your budget and location work for you!

Location-Based Factors

Certain factors influence how this couple spends and will be similar to other big cities.

  • They can count on good weather so take advantage of their family’s backyard.

  • The cost of their venue and food will be higher as a percentage than in smaller towns.

  • They have more options for certain vendors like accommodation or transportation so as a percentage, those costs will be lower than in other locations.

  • They might not need to reserve space for an after party if there are a plethora of bars in the area.

The Couple’s Priorities

This couple had a few priorities to work with that they discussed prior to selecting a venue and booking too many vendors. We highly recommend doing so; not only does it help you and your partner stay focused on what matters most throughout the planning process, but it also helps you stay decisive—something you’ll be grateful for later.

  • They had a lot of guests traveling in from out of town and wanted to thank them for coming by holding a welcome party and a day-after brunch.

  • They have decently sized family and friend groups, and as extroverts, they wanted to have a big party. They invited around 150 guests.

  • Food and drinks were important to the couple, so they wanted to make sure they were able to have a big menu.

Where This Couple Compromised

Based on these factors, they compromised in other areas to save. Focusing on their priorities helped them let go of other areas that couldn’t ran up their budget.

  • They picked a naturally pretty venue so they can cut back on decorations.

  • Their gorgeous venue also helped them get away with fewer flowers and are doing those themselves.

  • They held a casual brunch with just coffee and bagels as many guests were traveling the day after the wedding and couldn’t stick around.

  • They opted to just do beer and wine instead of a full bar.

  • They didn’t stress non-event meals, like breakfast and lunches, throughout the weekend. For these meals, they organized budget friendly options, like homemade sandwiches.

Costs That Weren’t Factored In

Many couples include or don’t include certain items in their budget for a number of reasons. Regardless of the reason, recognizing this up front also helps you understand why you might be over or under the average wedding cost for your city or from what you’re hearing from your friends about their wedding day. This couple decided not to include the cost of their honeymoon, wedding bands, attire, and gifts to the wedding party and family in their budget. Some couples do—you are spending money here after all! But this couple asked for honeymoon funds on their registry and felt the wedding bands, attire, and gifts expenditures shouldn’t take away from the weekend.

The Budget

After all was said and done, the couple went just over their budget goal and spent $62,023 on their weekend. Look at the breakdown below:

Was this budget example helpful? We’re gathering other example budgets at different price points to make wedding planning more transparent and realistic. Subscribe to our blog or follow us on social media to stay in the loop!