Wedding Budget 101

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weddingbudget01Marrying the love of your life is a dream come true. But in all the fun of dreaming up the details of your big day, it’s easy to get caught up in the fantasy — and it’s easy to forget all those magical little elements really add up. That’s why it’s important to be realistic about your budget. What exactly does a wedding cost here in the Lowcountry? Here are some numbers that may bring you to reality.

The average cost of a wedding in Beaufort County is $28,280, with brides spending anywhere from $35,350 to $21,210 on receptions with 138 to 158 guests, according to the latest figures from The Wedding Report.

weddingbudget02The local average cost is a nudge above the national average of $26,444, although The Knot pushes the national figure to $31,213, based on nearly 16,000 surveys filled out by newlyweds in 2014.

Despite the cost, the Lowcountry is a popular setting for weddings. Last year, 1,667 weddings were held in Beaufort County, putting it in the top 10 percent of the nearly 3,000 counties nationwide. And sure, some of those have been over the top, ranging from $200,000 to $500,000 and featuring lavish elements like pumpkin-shaped, horse-drawn carriages Cinderella would envy and Swarovski crystal- studded gowns. But with help from the area’s wedding professionals and a little careful planning, you can have the wedding of your dreams, no matter your budget.

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Here are a few tips that can help keep your spending down:

  • Invite fewer guests.
  • Provide a buffet, not a plated dinner.
  • Hire a venue that offers chairs, flatware and table linens so you don’t have to rent them.
  • Serve a menu heavy on vegetarian dishes.

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If you’ve got the room in your budget, consider these extra elements that will add to your big day — and, of course, to your bottom line:

  • Extravagant lighting with dimmers and colors will create a graceful ambiance for your reception. Decorative hanging lamps or crystal chandeliers are show-worthy.
  • Décor at the entryway to the reception can truly create a “wow” factor. Have your florist assemble a showpiece display at the escort card table, and make sure servers offer champagne or a special signature cocktail to guests as they enter.
  • Install a photo booth so your guests can create keepsake pictures, which then can be displayed over the dance floor for everyone to see.
  • Surprise your guests with short performances by a cellist, a jazz trio or belly dancers before the reception kicks into high gear. Something special and unexpected will be long remembered.
  • Liven up the party near its scheduled end by having a food truck roll onto the premise serving tacos, pancakes and late-night munchies. And don’t forget the hot coffee bar with special liqueurs, syrups and toppings.

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WIPING THE STARDUST AWAY

What you want and what you can afford is a gap that needs to be bridged from the beginning.

weddingbudget06Along with your families, it’s important to talk honestly and openly about whether you can afford a special ceremony on the beach with an overthe- top reception at a luxurious hotel here on Hilton Head Island, and whether to invite an aunt you haven’t seen or talked to in 10 years. Weighing your priorities and possible tradeoffs from the beginning of the planning process will save you time, money and heartache as you prepare to walk down the aisle.