What a $25,000 Wedding Budget Looks Like [Spreadsheet]

Last October, I decided to take the plunge and ask my girlfriend to marry me.

She said yes, and just two weeks ago, we threw a lavish (at least that's how I would describe it) wedding in New Jersey.

As if the day wasn't already filled with joy, PT and his lovely wife were able to attend (read about his frugal wedding)!

For those who haven't been married before, there's a lot that goes into planning a wedding.

There's even more that goes into planning a wedding 1,300 miles from where you live and I thought it would be cool to have everyone take a look at every penny we spent; to better prepare you for what you can expect.

Keep in mind this budget (spend report) was for 75 adult guests that included an open bar.

My Wedding Costs

Wedding Budget Screenshot

View Spreadsheet (make a copy and make it yours)

Allow me to break down a few wedding costs you may think are unnecessary or are just confused about.

  • Grooms Attire – I bough the ties, shirts, pocket silks and cufflinks for all three of my groomsmen. Originally I allowed Mens Warehouse to sell me on $60 ties and $50 shirts but I later returned them to find much more reasonable prices elsewhere. A purple tie is a purple tie, I really don't care what it's made of and neither did the bride.
  • Cake Topper – Yea yea, a $122 cake topper is ridiculous but you should have seen this thing. We had it custom made as a bobble head and was designed to look like a caricature my wife and I had done at Navy Pier while attending FinCon11. It's one of the few keepsakes we have of the wedding and we love it, so definitely worth the added cost.
  • Friends Travel – An expense we decided to take on was helping with the cost of travel for some of the wedding party. Many of our friends live in Miami and really couldn't afford to take a trip to New Jersey.  Very understandable, so we decided to give three couples $350 each. Only five of the six ended up attending, that's why you see one of the costs at $175.
  • Flower Girl and Ring Bearer Gifts – Didn't know this was part of the costs but I bought our five year old ring bearer (my cousin) a rapid fire Nerf gun fully loaded with refills. My Aunt and Uncle probably hate me now.
  • Our Travel – Since we drove from Miami, our expenses consisted of gas, gas and more gas. I tracked our mileage to the T and found our Kia Forte got 31 miles to the gallon (very thrilled with that). When we arrived in NJ, we had a lot of driving around to do in terms of meeting vendors so there was some added expense.

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The decision was made the day we were engaged to have a fairly expensive wedding and do it in New Jersey rather than Miami. Both of our families live in the northeast and while we're inconvenienced slightly, it really wasn't too bad.

Wedding Cake TopperOur expenses increased as a result of our “destination wedding” but our initial $20,000 budget only ended up being 25% off the mark, which as far as wedding budgets go isn't too bad.

So for those planning to get married soon, I advise you to take a hard long look at your budget and compare to our budget above. My wife and I saved for years to throw this wedding and even though I would say this event was 100% anti-frugal, we had an absolute blast.

Yes, saving money is important however I would argue that the biggest priority when it comes to your wedding is having a good time because if you're lucky, you'll only get to do it once.

One final editor's tip: We used TheKnot.com for almost everything. From planning the wedding to creating the seating charts and tracking the gifts received. 100% free, it's a must use for anyone getting married.

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About Michael Pruser

After spending a ton of money to go to the private University of Miami, Michael now enjoys spending time at home, writing personal finance articles for the world to read. His journey out of debt continues 500 words at a time.


  1. JoanPickett says:

    I also love the cake topper.. Hope I can see pictures of the wedding..

  2. Deirdre Kiely says:

    With a 55% divorce rate, better to elope or have a small party & save the $25k for a downpayment on a house.

  3. Deirdre Kiely says:

    With a 55% divorce rate, better to elope or have a small party & save the $25k for a downpayment on a house.

  4. Deirdre Kiely says:

    With a 55% divorce rate, better to elope or have a small party & save the $25k for a downpayment on a house.

  5. AverageJoeMoney says:

    My favorite line item: Bird Cages. I bet that’s an oft-forgotten item!

  6. Teresa Deckert Taylor says:

    good post. GREAT wedding!

  7. impulsesave says:

    Looks like a great wedding – and it’s so interesting to see where all the expenses really come from! You took great notes and I really appreciate you sharing everything $25,000 is quite a bit of money, but honestly most of your expenses were probably well-thought out costs that you decided mattered to you. For example, the cost of the dress, the cost of the photographer, and all the gas to travel up from Miami. Congratulations! I’m sure it was a beautiful day!

  8. Congrats!  Love the wedding topper – so creative.

  9. Congrats!  Love the wedding topper – so creative.

  10. Congrats!  Love the wedding topper – so creative.

  11. PPI Protection says:

    Congratulations! A wedding can be very stressful so it would be best to have the right people to help you with the planning and preparation. If one is running on a tight budget, taking the DIY route on food, decoration, favors, invitation, etc can help you save a lot. 

  12. Love the cake topper! Sorry I couldn’t make it, Mike! Two interesting observations: the bridesmaid had a more expensive bouquet than the bride, and the wedding dress cost more than your wife’s wedding band (although that doesn’t specify if there was a separate engagement ring, which for women is usually more expensive than the wedding band)! 🙂

    • Michael Pruser says:

      Sorry bout that Ryan … two good points to follow-up on.
      (1) There we’re three bridesmaids, and each bouquet was $65 so the total was $195.
      (2) The cost of the engagement ring was not included.  Had it been included … well that one I’m not telling you!

  13. practicallyfunctional says:

    Congrats! I think as long as you are aware of what you’re spending on your wedding and aren’t deluding yourself, it doesn’t matter what you spend! As long as it’s what you both want the price shouldn’t matter 🙂 We managed to stick to a $15k budget and come out about $2k under (which my parents were very happy about! We used weddingwire.com instead of the knot just because I liked their wedding website options better and their budget tool better, but they’re very similar and I agree, it’s a must since it’s free and easy!

  14. addvodka says:

    Congrats on your big day! There are a lot of things that go into planning a wedding. It’s scary! But you do have to have fun with it, and if that means a crazy expensive cake topper, then so be it.