Recently engaged in NJ? Trying to find out how much your big, luxurious dream wedding will cost? Well, you may be looking at your NJ wedding costs all wrong. Hence, making you overwhelmed and not sure how to move forward on important decisions. When my clients first look at wedding costs, they do not know what to do about it. I candidly ask what they want to spend, and I usually get “Oh, we’re not sure.” I simply answer, “Great. So, should I start us out at a million dollars then?” I receive a quick laugh, but it helps to focus couples that there really is a cap on expenditure, no matter where your overall cost lands.
Getting married can simply cost you $30 – the filing fee at the county Clerk to make official that you will be paying taxes as a couple until forever. The rest of the cost of your wedding is basically celebrating this amazing new stage in your lives.
Usually, couples go into wedding planning knowing a total cost of catering and drinks without a thought about the rest. They put a deposit down and think “Oh, this is easy, we can afford this.” Then they start to research other wedding professionals and realize “Oh shit, I need help.”
If I had a dollar, for every time I had a phone call with potential clients saying they want to save money on their wedding, after agreeing to enormous costs before reaching out to me, I’d be long retired. It isn’t about saving money; it’s about spending in a smart way to what matters most to you as a couple.
Below, you will find new ways to analyze your wedding expenditure to make you focus on what’s important and not feeling guilty spending money for it.
CHANGE YOUR MINDSET
When couples get engaged, they want the best of the best for their wedding. The word luxury gets thrown around but can mean different things to many people. At the time of writing this article, it is a luxury for me to sip my coffee and have focused time to write as a Mom to my toddler. But, it’s also a luxury that I am able to offer my services to my clients during a pandemic. It’s all about perspective.
Weddings cost money. The end. But, if you are reading this, more than likely you are trying to find information on how much things cost. It’s all new to you and you are looking to learn about an entire industry in just a quick google search.
There is no simple answer. But, to start,
YOU NEED TO ASK YOURSELF THESE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS:
- What do I want to spend my money the most on?
- How much do I want to spend for what I care about?
- Am I willing to be flexible with my desires?
- Does my spending make sense to what I value?
- Is what I value most even attainable in my market?
The last two questions are the most important. Why would you spend money on something that you don’t really care about for the most important day of your life? And do you have the means to afford that luxury? If not, how do you change it?
If you change the way you think about how you are going to spend your money, it becomes very clear, very quickly how much you want to spend. It gives you focus on what matters. It also gives you the freedom to pivot your plans in a happy way. You release all the “Ugh, I really wish I could have that” to “Oh, I can have this now!”
This small change in positive thinking will release you of so much anxiety and you can begin to relax.
BEING ENGAGED IN NJ MEANS LEARNING YOUR SPEND FORECAST
The Knot wrote an article in 2019 (pre-Covid) called “The 25 Most Expensive Places to Get Married in America.” Out of the 25, eight were places in the NJ, NY, CT and PA areas. You are in the most expensive wedding market in the U.S. And 2022 and 2023 are only predicted to be higher due to economy recovery. Are you ready to take on the cost of your wedding?
The reason costs are so high are simple economics: cost of living, cost of housing and inflation, especially after this pandemic. Unfortunately, it takes time to learn about all wedding costs. It can also be overwhelming, and anxiety filled to begin searching and not knowing where to go.
LUXURY WEDDING STATISTICS & HOW MUCH MILLENNIALS SPEND ON WEDDINGS
Now, that we have established that you live in one of the most expensive wedding markets in the U.S., let’s break it down a bit more.
I’m a stats nerd and slightly obsessed with how Millennials are changing the world. (In this blog I reference Millennials as those born between 1978 and 2000.
I can go on for days about wedding economics, but I’ll keep the nerd chat to a minimum. Why are wedding statistics important? It will help you realize that you are not the only one dealing with these costs and it will help you focus how to spend appropriately for your wedding.
HOW MUCH DO PEOPLE JUST LIKE YOU SPEND ON THEIR WEDDING?
To reference different levels of spending expenditure, we will be using statistics provided by Splendid Insights from the 2020 Luxury Wedding Market Report and 2020 Premium Wedding Market Report, where 18, 216 couples were surveyed anonymously around different markets for the actual total spend (not including honeymoon) for their wedding.
- “Premium” weddings are defined as anywhere from $31,000 – $95,000.
- “Luxury” weddings are defined between $96,000 – $500,000.
Going back to the article referenced above, The 25 Most Expensive Places to Get Married in America, it is safe to say that your NJ wedding will fall between the premium or luxury definitions and is right on part with these statistics.
PREMIUM AND LUXURY WEDDINGS BY THE NUMBERS
Of all couples married in 2019 (pre-Covid stats are most accurate, as of right now, due to the pandemic the past couple of years – costs will ultimately rise for 2022 and 2023), 85% were Millennials.
Of those in the premium bracket:
- 45% spent between $46,000 – $95,000
- 67% paid for the wedding themselves
Of those in the luxury bracket:
- 93% spent between $96,000 – $250,000
- 47% paid for the wedding themselves
Bottom line, your wedding is going to be an investment. It’s time you spend wisely on the things that matter.
WHY MILLENNIALS HAVE THE SHORT END OF THE STICK?
Millennials lived through the 9/11 terrorist attacks and entered the work force in a recession. You tried to find a job or go to school when jobs weren’t happening. And, now you lived through 2 more recessions and a pandemic. We should celebrate that you are simply here and able to have a wedding!
Why does this matter?
Millennials, as a generation, are earning more than our predecessors, GenX and Boomers. But, it does not mean we are saving more. There is a profound Generational Wealth Gap that affects every single dollar we spend and make. Remember all those school loans that you are paying back? Remember how expensive your rent was and you had lived with your parents for a while? These are all realities of life that do not go away because you are engaged.
I know that’s depressing and you don’t want to hear about it. Fortunately, I am here to give you the realities of what is happening and how to still make your dream wedding happen. More than likely, you are paying for your own wedding, or your parents have enough wealth saved to be able to gift you this amazing wedding. It’s not your fault that you can’t pay for it. Millennials got the shit end of the stick.
THE TRUE COST-PER-PERSON SYSTEM
I can openly tell you that most of my couples spend between $65,000 to $250,000 for 100 to 300 guests inclusive of all the details. Big, luxurious weddings in NJ are my wheelhouse, but it does not mean that I cannot work with smaller budgets. What I work with on all budgets is a what I call a “True Cost Per-Person” price or TCPP for short.
Let me explain.
- A couple can spend $35,000 on 40 people or $175,000 on 200 people. These are two very drastically different budget numbers, correct? But, at closer look, they technically cost the same.
- How is that possible? If you take your total budget cost and divide by your total number of guests, you will have your true cost per person. This includes every single cost of your wedding: florals, décor, cinema, photography… everything.
- The true cost per-person for both referenced budgets above is $875.
Why does this matter? It matters because it will relay what you really want to spend and how to spend it. It will also tell you what level of service and product you want for your wedding. It also provides me a sure way to suggest all the wedding professionals to meet your needs. It also is a great way to have luxury at any scale.
If you think spending $875 per person is too much, let’s say $425 sounds better to you. Multiply that by 40 guests and you now have a $19,000 spend. Multiplied by 200 people you now have a $90,000 spend. The only thing changing here is number of guests, but not your wants, your needs, and everything else you want for your wedding.
If you look at your wedding spend amount as a true cost per-person (TCPP) number, you will be able to organize your spending in a way that fits most of your dream wedding. More than likely, the only thing that changes are the number of guests.
THE REALITY OF A LUXURY GUEST LIST
When we are in love, we want to shout it on the rooftops. We want everyone to bake in the divine warmth of what we feel. To be honest, not everyone should have the privilege to witness the celebration.
The reason I explain the true cost per-person system is to show you that you can still have all the amazing details that you have been dreaming about. Instead of a two-course meal in a big ballroom with a few hundred guests, you can now have a private chef serve a ten-course tasting for 40. It’s being able to recognize what is important to you and how to spend your money.
THE KARDASHIANS REALLY DON’T CARE IF YOU KEEP UP WITH THEM
The wedding statistics mentioned prior don’t lie. You are most likely paying for this wedding yourselves or your parents/in laws are involved too. What does this mean? Having to deal with a bunch of family politics you did not expect. Are you being coerced into inviting an entire group of people that you never met? Are your parents concerned they may offend people if they are not invited?
These are all things you are going to have to navigate through during the entire wedding process. As a reminder, you do not have to invite your co-workers. You do not have to invite your neighbors. You do not have to invite anyone if you don’t want to.
Keeping up with a certain façade is an absolute energy sucker. As a Millennial, you want to break free from all these old-fashioned norms . You don’t run your own business or medical practice to impress others. You are out there for the greater good. Keep that same balance when it comes to planning your wedding. Keep your values and boundaries clear.
STOP COMPARING YOURSELF, YOUR RELATIONSHIP AND YOUR WEDDING TO ANYONE ELSE
All of these “must dos” for weddings are non-existent. We sometimes get caught up in all the craziness and lose focus. Go back to the basics and center yourself on what you value. If you want to spend $20,000 on florals, do it. If you rather cut the guest list so you can have the band that you want, do it.
Ted from accounting isn’t going to care that he didn’t get invited. Those work people from your parents’ firm, they’ll get over it. What will matter is that in 20 years, you look back at your photos and you still get goosebumps looking at the décor that you didn’t have to compromise. You will also look back and be glad you kept your wedding exclusive to the people you love the most.
WHAT DO PREMIUM AND LUXURY WEDDING PROFESSIONALS ACTUALLY COST IN NJ?
They cost how much you want to pay. Let me explain.
I am way on the other side of just being engaged. Next year I will be celebrating my ten-year anniversary with my husband. Between my personal journey and my business journey, I’ve learned a thing or two.
I can work with any wedding spend if it’s reasonable for your market. There is a certain finesse to being in business for almost 8 years. There are countless relationships that have grown and flourished to make your business bloom. There is a certain level of expectation of service and what my clients expect as an end-product. They expect me to deliver wedding professionals that will make them cry when they see their wedding film. That will make them gasp when they walk into their fully detailed ballroom filled with romantic florals and candles.
All these moments above are brought to you by experience, refinement, and longevity. Sure, I can recommend a photographer who is new and only charging $1,500 for an entire wedding. Or, a photographer at the same price from a company that pushes out weddings like a factory, without any personal connection. But, what kind of experience would my clients be having then?
The wedding professionals I recommend go with my philosophy of having an experience from the first day. The cost of this experience does not change if you have 40 or 300 people at your wedding. The price is the price and for good reason.
If you are spending $65,000 on your venue for 100 people, it does not make sense to hire a professional that is not up to that caliber. Someone who does not know that venue. Does not know what to expect. Does not know what to deliver for your wedding.
No matter your wedding size, and I will say this until I’m blue in the face, if you are looking for a certain style, level of service, experience, or all the above, the price of your wedding professional will not be lowered due to the amount of your guests.
So, I pose my answer as a question now: What is the cost of how much you want to pay?
EXPENSIVE DOES NOT ALWAYS MEAN MORE LUXURY AND VICE VERSA
The cost of a wedding is not only the bottom line. It’s also what you value. Do you value an experienced photographer or someone new? Do you value an experienced planner to give sound advice, or just want someone to make sure transportation picks you up on the day of? Do you value an officiant who will tell your story and make all your guests cry or someone to simply make it official?
What you value is what matters in the end. For my clients, the majority value all the little details, beautiful florals, an easy no stress day with wedding professionals that will give the ultimate wedding experience.
These all fall into a range of premium and luxury pricing. Therefore, understanding your true cost per-person expenditure is important.
WHY AN “AVERAGE” WEDDING COST DOES NOT WORK FOR THE ENGAGED IN NJ WEDDING MARKET
Maybe it’s the caliber of wedding professionals that I work with and adore, but I have yet to still find vendors that fits this list of “average pricing” that you will find in various wedding blog articles. I don’t think it’s fair to categorize an average of pricing for your wedding professionals when these numbers are only based on price, but not based on value or number of guests.
STOP ASKING INTERNET STRANGERS FOR ADVICE
You may think it’s a good idea to ask for pricing in wedding Facebook groups (Are you surprised that your wedding planner knows this exists? ::insert evil grin here::) All this does is cause confusion and overwhelm. What Kelly in Philly spent on her 50-person wedding is not what you need for your 200 person wedding down the Jersey Shore.
EXAMPLES: PREMIUM & LUXURY NJ WEDDING BUDGET
I put together a few of graphics to help you visualize the cost of luxury wedding professionals in NJ. Samples are based on 75, 150 and 250 guests under the assumption the same style of wedding will occur.
BEFORE GIVING A DEPOSIT, EDUCATE YOURSELF
This may sound like a shameless plug, but for the money you are spending, you need someone that understands the wedding market that you are getting married. They need to understand what you envision along with what you value. Someone who understands all facets of your wedding.
Hire a wedding planner before you start looking for venues. Once you put the biggest deposit down, everything else trickles down from there. It will affect the entirety of your wedding.
Are you dreaming of being published in a wedding blog or magazine? If you agree to venue minimums before figuring out the total cost of everything, your level of spend for all the details will be non-existent.
ONLY FOOLS RUSH IN
Who ever said that once you are engaged, you must be married within a year or two? No one. I’m not sure how this has become a thing, but a long engagement could be a good thing.
Covid reigned a chaotic mess for so many couples who had to postpone, not once, but sometimes two or three times. Due to the re-scheduling, many venues are already booked up through 2022. If you are getting engaged in NJ at the end of this year or early next, you may be looking at a 2024 date.
This isn’t a bad thing. It gives you time to figure out your true wants and needs. Don’t feel forced to do things quickly. Take a breath and plan for yourselves.
IS HAVING A BIG, LUXURIOUS WEDDING WORTH IT?
Choices. We all have choices. The hard part is being confident enough to know that we made the right one. How do you know if you booked the right venue? How do you know the food will be great? How do you know that the $150,000 you are spending is going to be worth the memories? Just reading these sentences can make anyone’s heart start to race.
You don’t know. Everything will be a risk. This is where you need to begin to think with your head and not your heart. Is it worth spending more money on escalated cuisine as opposed to a 10-piece band? Is it worth having peonies instead of garden roses?
You may be thinking why is a wedding planner, who makes a living from weddings, trying to convince me not to spend money? I want you to spend wisely and make every penny count. No matter who is paying for it.
STAND YOUR GROUND
Yes, we all want to have this amazing, crazy epic wedding day. But it doesn’t have to be with 400 of your parents’ closest friends or without all the details you love. Cut down your guest list, stand your ground with your family and truly only invite your closest. If someone gets offended, show them this article. Wedding expenditure is far more complicated than it seems.