More than a few wedding cost tend to sneak up on us. Sometime there is a way around it, sometime we just have to budget the cost.
– Stationary: Invitations, reply cards, save-the-day for our wedding notices, programmes for reception and the ceremony, tabling seating cards, than-you notes. Reliable, neat versions of all these cost about $800.oo, more if you hand-engraving, thermography of something more fancy. You can cut costs somewhat by printing the seating cards and a few things yourself. It is possible to make quite a good ceremony program this way. Invitations and reply cards tend to be professional. Many people will save these as a souvenir. When deciding, picture yourself framing the cards, invitations and other printed material latter on; this helps you decide which ones are most important. Put some money of effort into what will be kept, like invites, and only be cheap with seat-markers and disposables.
– Music: can go either way. An iPod through a sound system that’s already at the venue is dirt cheap. Hiring a sound system might cost $100-$200 if you just have a microphone with some music playback. If you want a DJ you can spend anything from $300 to $1000, and more if they are a minor celebrity. A band for the reception will cost about $3000 for an established act; make sure they know some of the songs that you want!
You might want classical musicians for the ceremony; these vary greatly, but finding a group of students from a local conservatory can be a good option; they will be eager to perform, but always audition them first. As they probably only play two or three songs for the ceremony, this is usually a simple matter.
– The Bar. People will inevitably drink at receptions, and take advantage of what is on offer. If you offer everything, some individuals’ will insist on trying it all, and running up quite a tab. A cash bar where the guests pay for their own drinks is pushing it a bit, but offering two or three beer and cider options and non-alcoholic drinks for free, and then charging for more elaborate variations is probably a reasonable compromise.
– The Food. We know about this, but the total cost will sneak up on us. $50 per head with 80 guests is four thousand dollars to start with. There’s also cake, drinks and other factors on top of that. Venues will probably charge for serving the cake fee even as it is supplied by someone else. Remember, caterers charge per head, but there may be a minimum headcount, and children might best be served something different.