center stage

This is a sponsored article for our friends at Center Stage. If you are planning a wedding or banquet, you don’t want to do so without comparing their food, prices, and extras to everywhere else!

This time every year, is the start of a new season. For some of us, that’s baseball, others allergy, and then there are those who are getting married, aka wedding season! And if you are planning the big “I Do’s,” then this article is for you!

I recently sat down with Anne Becker, Wedding and Banquet Manager at Center Stage, to talk about some important aspects of wedding planning. Anne has 23 years of experience wedding and event planning, so her expertise is unmatched. We went over a number of things to think about when planning a wedding, but for the first topic in this series of posts, I figured we should start with the most important. And Anne says that that is budget!

She says, “Budgets are a huge part of anything, let alone a wedding. Putting all of the finances down on paper is critical as it can sometimes be shocking to see what the figures come out to, no matter who is paying the bill.”


I asked Anne to outline what the major elements of a wedding cost. Here are some estimates:

  1. Reception Venue: Most people agree that this will be the most expensive portion of the wedding, but it usually only comprises about 50% of the cost. Make sure you are getting a bottom line cost from the reception venue to make sure there will be no added or surprise costs at the end. Also, getting everything in writing is crucial to make sure that no increases will be passed along when the wedding actually takes place, and to ensure everything promised in the contract is delivered upon.
  1. Ceremony Venue: Surprisingly, even churches have fees of $250 or more and outside venues like parks and private farms or residences’ can be much higher.
  1. DJ or Band: Any DJ or wedding band that is reliable and entertaining will be booked far in advance and will be costly, so budget $600-$1200 for a DJ and $1200 – $5000 for a band. Some venues include the DJ in the package and that can be a substantial savings.
  1. Photographer/Videographer: Again, the best are booked far in advance, and the budget here is wide: $1200 to $6000.
  1. Limo or Limo Bus: These are all based on time, and many have a minimum amount of time you have to rent the vehicle and driver. Budget around $600-$1500. And additionally, don’t forget about a tip for the driver on the day of the wedding!
  1. Gowns and Tuxedos: These can range from $200-$20,000 (thank you Vera Wang), so try a few different stores to see what your tastes are and formulate a budget from there.


  1. Decorations for the Wedding and Reception Venue: Live florals, chair covers, table linens, overlays, centerpieces, lighting, and favors can all get really expensive, especially if you are addicted to Pinterest! Ask the reception venue if some of these items are included.
  1. Flowers for Family and Bridal Party: These can be simple and sparse and cost around $400, or look like something out of the Phipps Conservatory and top over $1,000.
  1. Cake, Cookies, and Candy – Many times cookies are lovingly donated by family members but if your family lacks bakers, budget cookies in with the cake. Budget around $500-$1000.
  1. Invitations, Save the Date Cards, etc.: Budget around $500 for the invites. Add in the guestbook and place cards and make that $800.
  1. Bridal Party Gifts, Hair, Nails and Make-up: This really depends on how big or small of a gift you want to give your bridal party, and how many people you have walking down the aisle with you is going to determine how many gifts you need to buy. Hair, nails, and make-up might not seem like much, but they sure do add up when grouped together. Budget $350 for the beautification process.
  1. Miscellaneous: This category can be for the little things you forgot or for cost over-runs in other categories. For example, say 250 guests RSVP’ed “Yes” and you had only planned for 225. This category will make up for those extra 25 people. Realistically, 20% of your budget should be dedicated to this category.


Finally, a tip Anne gives her brides when they begin their wedding journey is:

“Add up all budgeted costs and divide by the number of months until the big day. If it is just the couple paying for the wedding, then the amount should not be more than a car payment or it will be a real struggle to save the money in time. If the couple is fortunate enough to have parents or loved ones footing the bill, then they need to give them a big hug and a thank you, but more importantly, give them a realistic budget.”

Anne says that that is the secret to making the wedding planning experience a pleasant one!

Stay tuned for our next topic: Choosing the Right Venue!

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