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What does the average wedding cost? How to plan your day

Planning your wedding and not sure where to start? Discover our guide for a breakdown of the average wedding cost to help you plan your special day.

5 min read

Getting married is all fun and romance—said no bride-to-be ever. Planning a wedding requires some serious discipline and great budgeting skills. Spending time realistically estimating costs ahead of time can save you from last-minute stress as you get closer to walking down the aisle. So, if you’re keen to find out what the average wedding cost really looks like, take a look at our cost breakdown and follow our simple tips for staying within your wedding budget. 

The average wedding cost breakdown

Twenty years ago, most weddings followed a standard template but these days the big day often ranges from sophisticated stately homes to festival-themed outdoor gatherings. Whether you’re ready to splash the cash or you’d prefer a budget-friendly, yet memorable ceremony, you’ll need to go through the same planning process. 

So, we know the average wedding cost will vary depending on where you get married. However, doing some quick research on what are traditionally the most expensive wedding elements should give you a rough idea of the biggest costs involved. 

The five priciest components of a wedding can make up the vast majority of total costs. So, regardless of the level of extravagance you’re going for, start by researching these expenses. Here are some examples of how these top 5 costs can be budgeted according to very different budgets:

CostTight BudgetBig Budget
Venue Banquet hall hire: €500Rural castle: €18000
Catering Cold buffet: €20ppSilver service 3-course meal: €150pp
Honeymoon 1 week European beach stay: €10002 week African safari: €6000
Photographer Limited editing and digital copies: €500Full editing and luxury printed album: €2500
Wedding outfits High street brands: €300 eachDesigner dress and suit: €2500 each

Once you have these covered off, consider other, smaller expenses:

  • Transportation
  • Event/wedding planner 
  • Videographer 
  • Officiant 
  • Wedding rings
  • Hair & makeup
  • Wedding cake 
  • Invitations 
  • Wedding website
  • Rehearsal dinner 

Now we’ve looked at the most common wedding costs, let’s review some in more detail.  

Location, location, location (and how to get there) 

What’s your wedding vibe? Before you even begin looking at venues, it’s best to map out your vision for the perfect day. Knowing whether you want to tie the knot on a tropical beach or in a candlelit barn in your hometown will help you narrow down your options and estimate the costs more accurately.  

Reception venue costs: Rather than a single lump-sum of money, the reception venue cost is usually a combination of various above-average expenses. So, unless you’re going for a package deal from your chosen venue, it’s a important to consider the following:

  • Catered food: expect to pay between €90 and €150 per person. This can sometimes include 2-3 hours of open bar.  
  • Bar bill: one of the most expensive parts of any wedding depending on your crowd. The bar bill could be agreed as a package costing anywhere from €30 to €80 per person depending on whether you intend to cover the first few drinks, or the entire party.
  • Venue rental: the average cost of a wedding venue is in the ballpark of €14,500, depending on where you want to utter the magical ‘I do’! The cost of some venues includes catering and drinks.
  • Equipment rentals: on top of the venue cost, you may need to rent additional chairs, tables, speakers, lights or other extras to accommodate all of your guests and your party plans. This typically equates to around €2,000.

Transportation costs: If you’re eyeing a local venue, the good news is that you may not have any transportation costs! But for those thinking about a destination wedding, it’s important to decide as soon as possible whether you plan on paying for your guests' flight costs. If you’re having an intimate affair with a party of 10, this could be doable, but if you’re inviting 80 friends and family to your beachfront wedding you’ll need to put thousands aside—if not tens of thousands.

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Party time: entertainment, food and extras

Once you lock in your primary expenses, there will still be plenty of important decisions to make about the smaller details. Think: DJ, wedding cake, flowers, invitations, favors and other extras that might add that wow factor to your party (hello personalised flip-flops). So, how much should you spend on those smaller ticket items? Let’s look how different budgets can cover these costs:

CostTight BudgetBig Budget
Invitations Online printing service: €0.50 eachBespoke design & luxury paper: €10
Wedding cake Local family baker: €2003-tier and handmade detailing: €1500
Wedding favors Homemade gift bags: €2Personalized macarons: €10
DJ 2–3 hours and simple equipment: €300All-day service and luxury lighting: €1000

The look of love: average wedding attire costs

It’s good to know that more than 50% of those who got married in the past 10 years think that splashing out on the bride’s dress, the wedding cake and photography were items worth spending on. Let’s estimate how much it will cost you to look your best on your wedding day…

  • A wedding dress typically costs around €2000
  • The groom’s attire typically costs €800
  • The bride’s hair & makeup will cost around €200, depending on the stylist’s experience

In total, the average cost of the wedding attire hovers around the €3,000 mark.  

3 tips to save money on your wedding

Feeling dizzy yet? Don’t worry—while the costs are adding up quickly, there are ways to save without compromising on your dreams. Here are some tips from experienced wedding planners. 

  1. Revisit the guest list. There, we said it. You can quickly drive your wedding costs down by trimming the guest list, as the headcount affects expenses across the board, from invitations, to food and drink, to venue costs. Cutting your guest list by 10–20 people could save you as much as $1000.
  2. Off-peak wedding, anyone? A warm summer wedding sounds lovely—but it costs handsomely. Opting for a less popular wedding season, such as winter, could help you save on ceremony venues, photographers, reception halls, and many other expenses.
  3. Ask a friend. A great way to save on wedding costs is by calling in favors from friends. Rather than hiring a professional at a premium rate, you could ask talented friends (or friends of friends) to help out with things like the invitation design, flower arrangements or your wedding website. Every little bit helps! 

Now you’re aware of how much things cost, arm yourself with the tools to track your budget. Read more on how spreadsheets can transform your wedding budgeting here. 

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Your money at N26

Let’s face it—saving for a wedding can be a big strain for most newly engaged couples. And while it may seem like a huge (and daunting) project, it really doesn’t have to be. With N26 Smart, you can take control of your spending and saving, keeping your wedding budget on track with free Spaces sub-accounts. With up to 10 Spaces, you could have a space for each of the big costs. 

Keep focused by setting savings goals for each space, and set Rules to automatically transfer funds from your main account instantly or at regular intervals. Better still, you can create Shared Spaces to save together with your spouse-to-be for the wedding or to buy a house and keep track of your progress.

How much does a small wedding cost?

Fewer guests equals lower costs. Managing headcount is one of the easiest ways to lower wedding expenses. To give you a rough idea, the average cost per guest varies from €90 to €250.

How much does a wedding planner cost?

The first consultation with a wedding planner is usually free or just a small fee , so it’s certainly worth reaching out to a local professional. On average, it costs around €1,000 to hire a wedding/event planner.

How much does a wedding DJ cost?

Having the right musical entertainment can make or break a party, and no one wants an empty dance floor. The good news is that the average cost of having a DJ rock your night is typically 70% cheaper than hiring a band and costs about €1,100 per night.

How much does a wedding photographer cost?

As one of the most important elements for many couples, photos are also one of the heftiest expenses on the list. The cost of having a wedding photographer is, on average, €2,200 per wedding. And that’s not including the cost of a videographer!

How much does a wedding officiant cost?

Many couples opt to have a friend perform their ceremony, which usually doesn’t cost anything. But if you want to hire a professional, expect to pay in the region of €600 for the night.

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