Northern California Wedding Planner | Real Talk ~ Budget Breakdown

With the recent news of Style Me Pretty closing it had us thinking a lot about where couples find inspiration for planning their wedding.  If you are engaged and starting to dive into the rentals, decor and design aspects of your wedding you might feel unsure of pricing or how to even go about putting together the overall look.  We're going to break down the budget of a wedding reception and talk real numbers!

The 530 Bride _ Real Talk - Budget Breakdown.png

Let's take two side by side wedding tables for example and see if anything jumps out.  At first glance, they are both round guest tables with white linens.  But the full drop linen on the left is double the price of the linen on the right.  

Will your reception chairs be pre-set at the tables or are you using the same set of chairs for ceremony and moving them to reception?  Consider the cost of doubling the set of chairs vs upgrading to full drop linens and see which is a priority to you.  In some cases couples choose to use standard linens on the tables and only have one set of chairs so just make sure you have a plan for getting chairs moved over. 

Now, let's move on to your place settings and visualize what you would like to have on your tables.  The first question we would have is if your caterer will be providing china and flatware or if they use heavy chinette disposables.  If the caterer gives you the option or you are considering renting dishes just make sure to work out the numbers for rentals, and labor for bussing the dishes.

Image: Matthew Lim Photography 

Image: Matthew Lim Photography 

So let's ball park the numbers for a wedding reception of 150 guests assuming we are using round guest tables that seat 8 guests and basic polyester linens. *Keep in mind the pricing is based on average rental pricing in Northern California and it can vary quite a bit depending on the company* 

148 guests + the couple

1 48 inch round wood table (sweetheart table) 8.00 ea
1  108 inch round full drop polyester linen (sweetheart table) 10.95 ea
19 60 inch round wood tables  8.95 ea
19 120 inch full drop polyester linen 12.95 ea
150 White resin padded folding chairs 2.50 ea
150 China package (dinner plate, flatware, water goblet, wine glass and champagne glass) 2.60 ea

This would bring us to $27 per person and a subtotal of $3,996 for the guest tables and then $4,014.25 including the sweetheart table + linen before tax, delivery and maintenance/wear & tear fees (typically 10%) We would also want to add a welcome table, buffet tables, bar tables, dessert tables etc along with linens for all of your service tables. 

Depending on if you are renting through a full service rental company or your caterer, you will also want to factor in set-up and breakdown fees for ceremony and reception items.    

Image: Bloom Portraiture 

Image: Bloom Portraiture 

Choosing a caterer is a big decision not only because it is such a large portion of your wedding budget but because choosing the package can determine the service level for the event.  If you envision passed appetizers, staff going around to keep the beverage glasses full, having champagne poured at the tables and staff to handle cake cutting then you will want to look into a full service caterer.  {For more tips on choosing a caterer check out our recent blog post.}

If you are choosing a buffet and would like to keep costs down, consider using heavy chinette disposables to reduce the rental costs and labor for bussing tables.   You can also have stationary appetizers instead of passed as it will be less labor intensive. 

Hopefully this was helpful to see some line items but if you need some assistance with getting your overall budget together, feel free to reach out and we would be happy to chat!

~ Happy Planning ~ 


'Real' Wedding Budgets Two of the ladies here at The 530 Bride are having weddings this summer!

Kendall Arelleis and her hubby—after having initially eloped—have finally decided to have a reception celebration to share with loved ones; and newbie Christina Rafael is getting hitched in just two short months. Many details will follow on both upcoming local weddings and we thought we'd share their budget-savvy, meaning not $25k, expense breakdown to give you just a taste of how you can have a rockin' wedding at any price.

Up first is Christina's rustic-romantic backyard wedding, (a neutral color palette with hints of blush and burlap), on a Saturday in May. Her guest list is 80-90 people and she has been planning, off and on, since getting engaged in February 2012. She made her dream wedding possible with thrift and antique store shopping, DIY Projects, and discounted services from professional friends.

Below is a rough outline of her budget:

Ceremony & Reception Venues: Free. Family home. Wedding Dress:  $99. Accessories: $65. Hair/Makeup: $130. Tuxedo Rental: $214.98. Rings: $220. Stationary: $263. Cake: $160. Food Services: Gift from family. Catering estimated at $500, not sure on drinks. Photography: $1,000. Florist: $120. Music: $200. Decor: $400. Includes water dispensers, cake stands, fabric for DIY projects, 12 paper lanterns, etc. Rentals: $691.52. Tables, chairs and linens plus out of town delivery.

Cutting that budget and guest list in half, Kendall will be having an Art Deco, gold and pink, Thursday June wedding. Her guest list is around 40, she's been planning for 5 months, and she made her dream wedding possible with saving and recycling item like mason jars, shopping sales, and DIY projects galore; maybe she'll start an Etsy!

Below is a rough outline of her budget:

Ceremony & Reception Venues: $400 Wedding Coordinator: Gift from Veronica here at The 530 Bride! Wedding Dress: $300 + Alterations (pricing TBD) Accessories: $90 Hair/Makeup: TBD, but quoted a discount by Professional Stylist friend for $25/hr Tuxedo Rental: $200 Stationary: $125 Cake: $150 Food Services: $200 Photography: Gift from Professional Photographer friend! Florist: $200 Music: Gift from Professional cousin! Misc Decor: $640 (Includes centerpieces, cake stands, specialty cardstock, votives, ribbon, chalkboard paint, frames, and stencil embosser) Tablecloths & Napkins: $160 Rentals: Labor trade with local vendor!

A word of caution to those looking to cut corners: Weddings come in different shapes and sizes,and while no budget is right or wrong, not all choices made in the name of budget are a good deal. - Be wary of hiring students, craigslist posters, and inexperienced but well-meaning family. They are not "professionals", and while it may be kind of you to give them the experience to hone their skills, do you really want to risk food-poisoning, blurry pictures, or a coordinator who's even more overwhelmed than you? Make a point with every vendor to not settle on anyone until you've seen their portfolio of work and client testimonials. - If a vendor's price quote is going to make or break whether or not you hire them, be absolutely candid with them about your budget. Don't be afraid to ask if they are willing to make a customized package, a payment plan, or allow you to put their service on your wedding registry. - If you think it's going to be cheaper to buy than to rent, think again. Your purchase may not be of the same high quality that a vendor offers, or may have hidden costs. For example, you may think that buying linens and then selling them after the wedding makes more sense, but consider the that you need to have them ironed or they will be wrinkled on the tables, and if you don't dry clean them after the wedding, they will stain. Not to mention the increase in price for paying rather than renting, the risk of a low thread count or sloppy design, and the difficulty to resell, and at a loss.

As real Brides, we too have budget problems. If we had an unlimited budget, we would pick all the highly sought after vendors (and we know who they are!) Sadly, sacrifices must be made. A trick we learned while planning is to weigh out which aspects of your wedding are most important to you and which areas just aren't. Then you can decide how to allot your budget and which vendors are crucial to your vision.

We hope this gives our readers an idea of how to form a wedding budget with limited financial resources; and know that you CAN have your dream wedding, whatever your budget! Happy Planning!

Posted by Kendall Arelleis and Christina Rafael