According to The Knot, when you Google the average cost of a wedding in New York State, the number is roughly $48,600. The US average however, and this is BIG however, when you start planning your wedding, there is a good chance you aren’t dying to plan an average wedding. If you are like most couples I work with, you probably want to plan your DREAM wedding.
I have to be honest with you: while you are perusing Pinterest (or wherever you are searching for wedding inspiration), you probably aren’t looking at average. Wedding vendors showcase their best work on Pinterest. That’s why, when I have the dreaded “wedding budget” conversation with couples, it’s not uncommon to get hit with sticker shock.
Budgeting can be hard – don't forget to save this post for later!
Today, I’m breaking down the average cost of a wedding in New York, but before I dive into the details, I’m going to give you a little bit of context. As an Upstate NY wedding planner (frequently working in the Finger Lakes, Catskills, Hudson Valley, Rochester & Beyond), there are people spending a lot more (and a lot less!) than the numbers I have listed below. Setting your wedding budget is often one of the first steps in your wedding planning journey, but I also want to remind you that setting a budget is NOT a bad thing. Your wedding budget should be an expression of your priorities, so feel free to spend a little more on categories that are important to you, and a little less on what you could live without.
After you check out the below averages, you can also read more in this post about the 5 main factors that drive your wedding budget.
How much does a New York wedding venue cost?
For starters, consider your wedding venue location. Typically a wedding in NYC (or a metropolitan area) is going to be more expensive than a wedding farther away (like western New York). This isn’t ALWAYS the case though, because top wedding venues like Cedar Lakes Estate (2 hours from NYC) can be similar in price to what you pay in the city, but the experience you receive is almost unbelievable so I would argue your money goes a little farther.
If you are looking to save money on your wedding venue, you may consider some less expensive wedding venues like banquet centers, hotels, or a conference center. Although these types of venues are typically less expensive, keep in mind that they also may host more than one wedding a day and the experience will be comparable to the amount paid most of the time. If you want a wedding venue that will value your wedding day experience, potentially host you and your guests for the weekend, and have more amenities for you and your guests to enjoy, you may want to consider increasing your wedding venue budget.
On average, in New York State, you can find wedding venues between $2,500-$20,000 (a huge range, I know!). Or, if you want your wedding venue to include catering, you might be spending closer to $20,000-$100,000+ (depending on the venue and your guest count).
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New York Wedding Catering Cost
Catering has a huge range as well, and typically the better the caterer, the more expensive. I always like to compare the cost of catering to a good date night out. Typically, when you go out with your significant other, you will spend around $100/per person for a nice appetizer, maybe a couple hors d'oeuvres, a main course, and dessert.
When you budget wedding catering, you can expect to spend about the same! A plated dinner will often cost between $100-$150/per person and a buffet dinner will range from $85-$100/per person (a little more if you add food stations!). Keep in mind, this doesn’t include the cost for the tables, linens, cutlery, and everything else you might be dreaming up as you design your tablescapes.
Don’t forget – Service charge + tax is often billed separately!
How much does a New York photographer and videographer cost?
When it comes to choosing a wedding photographer or videographer, you need to find someone who makes you feel comfortable first and foremost. You need to love their style, and trust they will capture all of your must-have wedding day moments. If you don’t, your photos will reflect that. This is an area most couples (and wedding planners) agree, you don’t want to skimp.
In New York, wedding photography starts at about $3,500 for 6-8 hours of wedding photography coverage. On average, my couples spend around $7,000-$10,000 for 9-10 hours, including an engagement session. If you are looking for a popular wedding photographer in NYC, prices could be closer to $15,000-$20,000.
Wondering how many hours of wedding photography you need? Check out this post here!
For wedding videography, you can expect to spend between $3,500-$8000 depending on a few factors. Typically, you’ll need anywhere from 7-12 hours of coverage. Pricing also depends on whether or not you want a short highlight reel (5-7 minutes on average), a longer documentary style edit (20+ minutes), or something in between. If you're planning a wedding in New York City, a videographer there will be significantly more expensive.
Average Cost for Wedding Stationery
When you think about your wedding stationery, invitations are probably the first thing that comes to mind. Wedding stationery is so much more than that! I usually recommend working with a designer so that all of your wedding day pieces are cohesive, and typically my couples will spend between $6,000-$9,000 with their wedding stationer when all is said and done.
As far as invitations go, depending on the printing method, envelope liner, calligraphy, and the number of pieces you want to include (for example, do you want to add a separate details card?), you will typically spend between $3,000-$4,500 on wedding invitations alone. If you want to save a little money, choosing a service like Minted is a little less expensive but not by a lot when you include a reception card, details card, and a reply card. It will still cost you over $2,500 when all is said and done.
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If beautiful and custom day-of pieces are a priority for you, you are going to want to budget between $2,000-$3,000. This typically covers your wedding day signage (a welcome sign at the wedding ceremony, a seating chart, and other wedding reception table signage) as well as guest pieces like place cards, escort cards, ceremony programs, and more.
Like I said at the beginning, your budget should reflect YOUR priorities. Personally, I always love when couples splurge on stationery because these are the pieces your guests tend to interact most with!
Budgeting for Wedding Florals
For wedding florals, there is truly no “average”. I've heard of floral in excess of $100,000. The sky is the limit.
However, that's not the norm. Wedding Couples I work with typically spend between $10,000-$25,000 on wedding flowers. If you are looking for something simple for the ceremony altar, a couple of arrangements at cocktail hour, centerpieces, and a couple of arrangements for other reception tables (escort display, cake table, etc), you can probably keep your budget between $7,000-$8,000. If you are dreaming of a floral chandelier over the dance floor, a floral wall, or a floral arch at the ceremony, you may want to budget closer to $15,000-$20,000.
To break this down a little further, because so much of this part of your budget is dependent on your priorities, here is a quick range by item based on how much my couples typically spend:
- Bridal Bouquets: $250-$350
- Bridesmaid Bouquets: $100 each
- Boutonnières: $40 each
- Ceremony Arch: $1,800-$5,000
- Centerpieces: $125-$500/table
- Floral chandelier: $5,000+
Choosing a Band or DJ in New York
The average cost of a DJ in Upstate New York is between $1,700-$3,700 (not including extras like a photobooth, lighting, dance floor, and more). Some DJs are more in demand than others, and pricing does tend to vary with experience. You will almost always spend less on a DJ than you will with a band.
On the other hand, I do love a good wedding band! Depending on the size of band, you may be looking at around $5,000-$7,500 for a 10pc band, or if you are looking for a trendier NYC band, pricing could be closer to $15,000-$20,000. On top of that, as an Upstate NY wedding planner, I have to remind you to consider lodging costs! Accommodations for the band if they're from further away might start at $300/night and will almost always be an additional cost if you are planning a wedding outside of NYC and importing someone from the city.
Wedding Hair & Makeup
For the ladies in your wedding party, you can expect to budget about $85-$150 per person (per service). Some brides consider covering this cost for their wedding party, as it ensures everyone gets it done (and therefore, gives your wedding photos a more cohesive look). On the other hand, you should NOT feel obligated to cover the cost. Just know, if you don’t, you may find some of your party chooses to opt out!
For the bride(s), you will likely spend a little more on your wedding day hair and makeup services. On average, you can expect to spend closer to $350.00 for your wedding hair, makeup, and a trial before your wedding day!
Budgeting for your Destination Wedding Weekend in Upstate New York
Because I’m based in Upstate New York, most of the couples I work with are planning complete destination wedding weekends. Of course, with a destination wedding weekend, there are a few extra things to consider adding to your wedding budget! First, accommodations. Usually, couples don’t cover accommodations for their guests but if you do want to offer it to your wedding party and/or immediate family, accommodations in Upstate New York range from $125-$400/night. More high-end properties like the Inns of Aurora are closer to $900-$1,000 per night.
For example, if most of your guests are coming from the city, you are almost always going to want to include transportation for your guests to get to and from each of the wedding locations. For something like a school bus, the cost averages around $500. Alternatively, for a nicer coach bus, you are going to be closer to the $2,500 range. Obviously, this depends on the distance and how long you need them for, but in general I never recommend cutting costs on transportation. There are SO many headaches and timeline issues with choosing an inexperienced or unreliable company that it’s always worth the extra cost!
Another thing to include in your destination wedding budget is welcome bags! This is often one of the more “fun” wedding expenses. If you enjoy putting these together yourself, you can likely get away with budgeting for $15-$20/person. To give you an idea, that will usually get you a nice cookie from a local baker, custom water bottle, welcome card, pack of advil, and a bag! Or, if you want something a little extra (and simply don’t have the time), consider outsourcing to a company like Lavender and Pine. This might cost a little extra, but she always over delivers!
What you’ll forget in your initial wedding budget
When you create an initial wedding budget on your own, it can be easy to forget about all the extras. I’ve tried to be as thorough as possible in this post, but I haven’t even covered things like your wedding attire and/or additional events (like a farewell breakfast or welcome dinner!). On top of that, I’m a professional wedding planner, but I even budget a line for miscellaneous costs that might come up.
An easier way to calculate a “starting point” for your wedding budget
I’ve tried to come up with a quick way to budget your estimated wedding expenses, and I think one of the easiest ways to get a “starting point” is by looking at your guest count. From there, we can break down the total amount you want to spend further into categories that make sense for your priorities.
Okay ready? You need to have your guest count first. From there, you can expect to spend:
- $400/person for a modest Upstate New York wedding
- $700-$1,000/person for a luxurious wedding with lots of options
- $2,000/person for something completely extravagant
Tip: If you are looking at a stunning, luxurious wedding on Pinterest, it likely costs between $1,000-$2,000/person to make a reality. But no matter what your budget is, we can spend it in ways that reflect YOUR priorities and make your wedding day incredible for you.
Don’t forget to hire a New York wedding planner!!
Now that you can see how much goes into your wedding budget, I hope I don’t need to convince you that hiring a wedding planner to help you manage everything is an absolute necessity. Since this is a budget post, I will tell you to budget around 15% of your total wedding budget for a wedding planner but please know, this can range greatly depending on the level of experience your wedding planner has and what they include in their wedding planning packages.
If you are interested in working together, I would love to hear more about your wedding day vision and put together a customized quote. No two wedding days are the same and nothing would bring me more joy than helping you plan your heirloom occasion! Connect with me directly here.
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