One of the most asked questions we receive about planning a wedding is, "What is considered the average cost for a wedding in Austin?" We wish we could give you a straight answer, but it varies quite a bit since every wedding is a custom event. Some people might want to splurge, while others want to cut costs. The cost of a wedding can change drastically based on different factors. The guest count, the day, the place, the vendors, are all examples of factors that can make quite the difference. It's your big day and your budget, so we polled all the most successful vendors in the Austin wedding industry to compile the averages for you.
To help you decide how to spend your money, we have included explanations behind each price to illustrate how much behind-the-scenes work is actually put into the creation of a beautiful wedding. If you were to have a fully staffed wedding, with every possible vendor, your Austin wedding could cost you close to $45K, and here's why.
BAND AVERAGE COST: $7,500 FOR A 8-10 PERSON BAND Bands know how to get the crowd going. No matter the demographic, rain or shine, when the band starts to play, the party gets started. Highly talented musicians and their team of technically advanced staff provide the perfect soundtrack for your celebration. But most people don't know what all goes into running a professional musical ensemble. Factors you probably don't consider include but are not limited to insurance, gas, tour bus or trailer storage and upkeep, marketing and advertising, website management, promotional photoshoots, performance videos, etc. The talent of each individual comes at a cost as well. They likely attend weekly rehearsals, monthly meetings, spend hours learning and memorizing new songs, and need to pay their agent fees. Additionally, technology is constantly advancing and increasing in price. To stay up to date with the latest looks and sounds, bands must regularly update their audio and electrical equipment. Not just instruments but lights and other performance accessories are incorporated to create the all-encompassing musical experience. Depending on the location of the wedding, the band may also need to afford the traveling costs. Food, lodging, outfits, hair, makeup, the list goes on. There’s no doubt that musicians love their job - it shows, and you can feel the passion when they get on stage. So it’s crucial to understand the costs associated with their ticketed price.
CAKE AVERAGE COST: $1,500 OR STARTING AT $7 PER PERSON I'm not sure about you, but I have tried to bake a cake on several occasions. To accomplish having it come out tasting decent, well decorated, and standing in one complete piece, is no easy feat. On the off chance that I am successful at even one of these elements, I would call it a good day. But all three? Not likely. It goes without saying that bakers are incredibly talented, patient, and artistic. The cost of a wedding cake can catch many first-time brides off guard. That's why we must consider what goes into creating the perfect cake, beyond talent and skill. Bakers spend a lot of time and consideration seeing that the client's vision is something they can make a reality. When it comes to the cake itself, they must plan, shop, prep, bake, design, decorate, deliver, set up, and clean up. And when it comes to running their business, they must perform admin duties such as communication, emailing, overseeing contracts, bookkeeping, managing inventory, etc. Wedding cakes are typically done by one person or a very small team. And just like anything else, the quality can vary depending on ingredients used and tools and machinery acquired. Kitchen equipment, prep space, refrigeration, ovens, and storage containers, all of these things can easily alter the price. Most bakeries will offer a complimentary cake tasting. The cost of the cake helps to offset the free tasting gesture. Once the cake has been baked and designed to perfection, transportation, and movement of the cake to the reception space is a careful process. Sometimes there will be an additional delivery fee, and sometimes it is included in the cake’s overall price. The cake stand is another component that might come with a cost. There are so many moving parts that go into creating this perfect dessert. A wedding cake is a staple, a tradition, and a symbol of celebration. It is a photo opportunity and a delicious memory. It is a labor of love, and while it does come at a cost, many would say it is priceless.
CATERING AVERAGE COST: $75-100 PER PERSON FOR FULL-SERVICE CATERING Food is one of the most significant expenses at every wedding. For some brides, it could seem like a considerable expense that you’d rather not have to pay for. It’s tempting to go with a cheaper caterer, but in turn, this decision could lead to additional rentals, additional time, stress, and more work for you, your family, and your bridal party. If you decide to go with a full-service caterer, not only will you be in great hands knowing you’ve selected excellent food, but you can breathe easier knowing that the logistics will be taken care of for you. Catering sales managers and the talented culinary team spend a lot of time researching, strategizing, cooking, tasting, selecting ingredients, and writing menus. Because of the variety of food services to choose from (plated, buffet, family-style, stations, grazing tables, hors d’oeuvres, desserts, etc.), there are usually multiple menus that must be written. A full-service caterer will offer menus they’ve spent countless hours on, but they also specialize in customizing the perfect menu for the happy couple. There is a lot of trial and error that goes into creating a dish, all for that perfect bite! A culinary team includes chefs, sous chefs, line cooks, pastry chefs, dishwashers, and everyone in between. They often work 6 or 7 days a week, all hours of the day, prepping and preparing hundreds of dishes for events. Once the event arrives, transporting food for hundreds of people is quite the task. Besides the food, they must transport plates, utensils, serving utensils, serving trays, linens, heaters, platters, hot boxes, glassware, coolers, ice, trash cans, etc. Truckload after truckload, unloading, and reloading, the work never stops. Full-service catering teams provide all of the food, chinaware, glassware, etc. but also often set up the tables, chairs, and table settings. They set up the bar, the hors d’oeuvres, the beverage stations, dessert stations, the tables for the gifts, party favors, in addition to ceremony chairs. And with weddings, sticking to the timeline is everything. From beginning to end, food and beverage details must be executed on a schedule to smoothly execute and service the event. Once the event is over, the team must pack their supplies, tear down the setup, and take everything base to the base so all of the dishes can be cleaned and put away for the next event. Avoid additional rentals by having a full-service catering team who will provide everything you need. Hiring a trustworthy team of professionals will also alleviate the burden of having your closest friends and family setting up and taking down tables and chairs. Oh, and let’s not forget dealing with the trash. At the end of the night, that’s reason alone to make it worth the price!
DAY OF PLANNING + COORDINATION AVERAGE COST: $1,900-$3,000 Here’s the truth - a “day of planner” works much longer hours than just a “day.” Most first-time brides can have a tendency to underestimate the value of a planner. There is a lot of time, passion, and behind-the-scenes work that takes place so miracles can happen. Before you commit to a planner, it’s very important to meet with them to see if you mesh, see if they understand your love story, and see if they can bring your particular vision to life. The relationship between you must be a trusting, cohesive one because they will be your right-hand man throughout the entire process. You will spend a lot of time with your planner, maybe not always in person, but certainly over the phone, through text messages, and emails. A planner spends countless hours answering emails, taking and making phone calls, conducting meetings, site visits, tastings, connecting with your vendors, putting together paperwork, navigating timelines, floor plans, and acting as a liaison between your family, friends, and guests. They will coordinate your rehearsal, assist the officiant with their speech, bustle your dress, plate up your dinner, keep you on your timeline, conduct your grand exit, pack up your belongings, and ensure your gifts make it home safely. After the end of your wedding, they have spent close to 100 hours just on your wedding alone even though you only have spent 15 hours with them personally.
As a bride, it is important to recognize the value your planner brings and be willing to compensate them fairly for everything they do. Your coordinator is your safety net, the person who troubleshoots on the fly, and can act as the "bad guy" if someone upsets you on wedding day, If there are hiccups along the way, you will never know. A planner is always prepared with emergency kits, a car full of the most random items that you’d never think of yourself but probably will end up needing and using. Your planner is the voice, the reason, and the calm in the storm. If you ask them for a safety pin, Tylenol, or a hair tie they will have it to you within seconds. Your planner is the point of contact for you, your guests, and all your vendors. They are passionate, perfectionists, professional, and personable. You can’t put a price tag on that!
DESSERTS AVERAGE COST: $5 PER PERSON, OR PER PIECE Quite similar to the cake scenario, a lot of labor and material costs go into individual gourmet desserts. One popular wedding dessert is the decorated sugar cookie. Did you know that one cookie can take between ten and fifteen minutes to decorate? Just ONE cookie! That’s only 4-6 cookies per hour, and most cookie orders are multiple dozens. That is a whole lot of time and labor that is put into meticulously decorating your wedding cookies. It will be well worth it when your guests see your dessert table. Whether or not you want to choose between a dessert station, just a cake, or both is definitely something to think about. Either way, don’t forget to thank your bakery for all the hard work and talent they put into creating your miniature, tasty masterpiece!
DJ AVERAGE COST: $1,500 Contrary to what most people believe, the DJ does more than just play music. They are the emcee at your reception. They set the mood for every special moment, get people up on the dance floor, and keep the crowd entertained. They are responsible for making special announcements and keeping the party on a scheduled timeline. They also set up, test, and tear down their equipment, all while maintaining a level of professionalism that allows you to ease your mind so you can actually enjoy your reception. DJ’s invest several hours into the months, weeks, and days leading up to your wedding, customizing playlists to your requests and creating fun mixes. Behind the scenes, they are advertising, marketing, responding to leads, setting up appointments, contracts, deposits, bookkeeping, adding any final music requests, and updating a loosely scripted time-sheet for announcements. All of the equipment set up, testing (mic check 1, 2, 3), and then teardown is almost always done alone, as one DJ.
FLORALS AVERAGE COST: $5,000 As soon as I got engaged, I jumped on Pinterest to look for all the most eye-catching flower decorations for my big day. I didn’t have a clue how much flowers cost, much less how many bouquets, corsages, and centerpieces I’d realistically need. Florals play a considerable part in your wedding day and should be one of the first things you factor into your budget because the cost can be quite the realization that’s better to face sooner rather than later. Florists are artists, and art is always changing and advancing. Because flowers are living plants with a timeline, there can be a lot of pressure to create the perfect design and get the timing just right so they will look their best. Florists spend hours designing looks, ordering flowers, processing flowers, assembling arrangements, transporting arrangements, and setting up and breaking down at each wedding. They make your vision a reality by creating the recipe for your dream design, calling wholesalers to check the availability of the flowers you are hoping for, and sourcing and securing additional decor. On many occasions, florists find themselves working 20+ hours leading up to your wedding day. Florals are more than just flowers; there are also various supplies and to-do’s needed that add to the business costs. That can include vases, refrigeration, advertising, marketing, responding to inquiries, and setting up design appointments. Florals include everything from bouquets, corsages, boutonnières, centerpieces, greenery (a very hot commodity right now), flowers for the ceremony site, additional flowers for the reception site, ice sculptures, buffet, bar, welcome tables, bouquet toss, etc. Florists are remarkable and can take that nervous, unsettled bride across the finish line with a dream she never knew she had - all for a picture-perfect wedding day! HAIR & MAKEUP AVERAGE COST: $250 FOR BRIDE, $175 FOR BRIDESMAID/MOTHER Whether you are someone who wears makeup on a daily basis, or just for special occasions, it’s no secret that makeup and hair products and tools are expensive. Every item, every color, every brush, every spray, it all adds up quicker than imaginable. Now take a look at your makeup bag and imagine how many colors and tools you would need to accommodate multiple bridesmaids, mothers, and flower girls. A professional makeup kit is around $3,000, and a hair kit is $1,000. Wow! And the costs don’t stop there. There are business expenses just like every other business listed above. Insurance, gas, travel, licensing, continued education, general business expenses, etc. If you’ve ever gotten your hair and makeup professionally done, you know how much time goes into the look. Hours are spent blending the perfect colors, styling, applying lashes, clip-in hair extensions, veils, headpieces, all to create that picture-perfect wedding look, not just for your bride but the entire bridal party. Some may assume that the more girls you have in your party, the cheaper the price per person, but actually, it’s more work, more artists are required, and the pressure grows to complete everyone’s look within a certain timeframe. Keep in mind that these rates vary depending on the headcount, location, and how much staff is needed. Most brides want to see their wedding look before their big day, and a bridal trial is a request that can also add to the cost. But it is worth it to ensure that the perfect look will be created on the day of the wedding. Be mindful that there is a huge difference between an artist starting out in the industry and one that is tenured. It is a decision you definitely don’t want to cheap out on.
ICE SCULPTURES AVERAGE COST: $500 No two ice sculptures will ever be the same. Each hand-carved sculpture is unique. There is a wide range of designs to choose from, including personalization and monograms. Some come with lights for a display feature, some can hold flowers, and some can serve (yes, serve) food items and booze. Not only are the sculpture artists dealing with and designing the ice, they are masters of their display equipment, packaging supplies, delivery, and setup. The ice must be set up and displayed in such a way that it won’t melt all over the table, floor and must last the entirety of your reception.
LIVE MUSICIANS AVERAGE COST: $1,000 FOR 2 HOURS INCLUDING CEREMONY AND/OR COCKTAIL HOUR Live music is a romantic and elegant touch to any wedding day. Whether it be for the ceremony, cocktail hour, or both, they know how to set a mood. Of course, there is the talent you are paying for, and more often than not, you want someone with a remarkable following. There are one-person bands, duos, and trios. Smaller groups have an easier time bringing their own equipment without the need for a trailer or tour bus. But they do still have equipment considered the best of the best, take time to travel, time to set up, tear down, and similar to live bands, put a lot of time and effort into honing their skill and personalizing the song list to the songs that are most important to the couple.
OFFICIANTS AVERAGE COST: $500 The cost of an officiant depends a lot on location and day. Mainly because they are just one person and there are only so many weddings an officiant can do in a day or on a weekend. Every ceremony is different and can vary from a quick elopement, a micro wedding with no wedding party, to a full-blown wedding ceremony with traditions, religions, and unique family customs. Like other vendors, officiants have dedicated their time that is usually spent on having a personal life to other people’s big days. Besides time spent doing administrative tasks, hours are spent investing entirely into the couple, learning about them, their story, their love, dreams of the future, traditions, vows, and any other extra customs specific to their ceremony. Officiants typically participate in the ceremony rehearsal the day before the wedding and act as the ringleader on the actual wedding day. Time, mileage, knowledge, research, experience - it all plays a part in the cost of an officiant. They even make sure your marriage license is safe and mail it back to the county clerk for you.
PHOTOGRAPHER AVERAGE COST: $5,000 FOR 8 HOURS A picture is worth a thousand words. And your photographer is worth a few thousand as well. Everyone wants that picture-perfect day. And photos are priceless. They are works of art that tell a story, capture emotions, and bring people together. They are here for today and can be passed on in the future. With technology these days, it’s easy to think that a friend or someone with the newest iPhone could simply capture your wedding day. But there is so much more that goes into photography to create a beautiful end result. Running a photography business is more than just an expensive hobby. Purchasing the newest gear and editing software is a high ticket price, but it’s one that a high-quality photographer isn’t going to go cheap with. The cost of the photographer is not just for the wedding day, it’s all of the hours of work that goes into before and after the “I Do’s.” Administrative labor, continued education, location scouting at the venue for those picture-perfect locations, all tasks that take time and effort. They work closely with the wedding planner and other vendors to make sure they don’t miss a beat, a speech, a cake fight, a special moment. They are chasing sunlight for those romantic sunset pictures. And photographers don’t just arrive with one camera; they have several. Not to mention a variety of lenses, lights, flashes, battery packs, and probably even a step-stool. They may even come with a second photographer. There is a lot of action on a wedding day and oftentimes, assistance is needed to set up lights between scenes, capture a wide range of reactions, and because one person can’t be two places at once, two photographers can. After your grand exit, it’s time for the photographer to pack up their belongings and gear, and that’s where the real work begins. It can often take a photographer over 40 hours to edit the photos from your wedding. That’s an entire week of full time hours just to produce your final product. Photographers purchase high-end hard drives to back up their work because of the importance of your photos. When shopping for your wedding photographer, it’s important to keep a few things in mind, besides just the price. Find a photographer who you like to be around and are comfortable with. They will be getting up close and personal with you and your fiance to get intimate shots, so you want to make sure you are comfortable with whomever you choose. You will also want to make sure you like their portfolio of work from an artistic point of view. After all, it’s a vision of what your wedding photos could look like. Look at the work of multiple photographers to make sure you find the right one who fits your style. And once you find a photographer you like and who is available on your date, book them! Good photographers go fast. Go with your gut and feel confident that they will produce an amazing end result. The only thing left at the end of your wedding day is the photographs, so make sure you find the right photographer, no matter the cost, to help capture those special moments for you to enjoy today, tomorrow, and for years to come.
PHOTO BOOTH AVERAGE COST: $1,000 A photo booth is more than a selfie station; it’s entertainment. It’s a place where friends and strangers come together to create fun and lasting memories. Portrait booths have become more and more popular. And because of the demand for the latest technology, it can be costly, but totally worth it. It’s all about creating a premium client experience beforehand and during the reception. There is a lot of high-end equipment that has to be purchased, taken care of, transported to and from reception venues, and let’s not forget the backup equipment just in case an accident strikes. There are also regular software updates and backups performed to protect files. A good quality photo booth company has dedicated staff on standby to set up, tear down, and troubleshoot as necessary. They can either set up your customized background in real life or as a backdrop on the camera. One of the fun things about photo booths is the pictures at the end. Whether they get printed right there for you or sent to your phone or email in moments, the delivery is almost instant. There are fun print designs to choose from, custom name and date options to select, and all of it is done to create memorable take-home party favors for your guests.
VENUE AVERAGE COST: $7,500 FOR A PRIME SATURDAY EVENING It’s no surprise that a weekend wedding is going to be more expensive than a weekday wedding. The season plays a significant role as well. A Saturday evening wedding is prime real estate. It’s the most popular day of the week and time frame, making it the priciest. Most venues can only accommodate one wedding per day and time frame. So for the best experience possible for the happy couple, some must-haves include a good venue. These encompass maximum venue usage time, rental items such as tables and chairs, rental space for both ceremony and reception, cleanliness, and adequate amenities. Every venue is so different. Some include everything from bridal and groom suites, ceremony and reception spaces, and a venue manager. On the flip side, some venues don’t include anything; they strictly unlock and open doors. There is a large amount of overhead that goes into running and maintaining a venue. There are property taxes, rent, utilities, internet, landscaping, maintenance, insurance premiums, administrative duties, all of which must be paid regardless of if there are six weddings in a weekend or none at all. When there are events, there are additional costs such as venue cleaning, staff to set up and tear down tables, chairs, linens, and an on-site venue manager for the duration of the wedding. Most venues require a trusted wedding planner or preferred caterers. They aren’t trying to be difficult, they are just doing their best to establish and maintain the dignity of the venue. A venue isn’t just a building, it’s an experience. The experience starts from the moment you drive into the parking lot and ends well after the last dance and grand exit. VIDEOGRAPHY AVERAGE COST: $4,000 Similar to photographers, videographers will capture your wedding day in a big way - with real life action shots that include voices, sounds, music, laughter, cries, and cheers. Here are some of the items wrapped into a videographer's costs - insurance, music licensing, gear, computer systems, payment processors, software updates, data storage, travel costs, editing assistants, web designers, graphic designers, and shipping and packaging. Most will want to pay for a second videographer to help capture every moment you will want to remember. Before the wedding day, a good quality videographer will spend time with you, getting to know the architecture of your story so they can reproduce your unique love story in the final product. Not only will a videographer follow you and your guests around on your big day, but there are many hours spent afterward creating the film with the perfect soundtrack. It is an art. Gear, cameras, tripods, lights, audio gear, microphones, audio recorders, even a drone are all packed up and brought with them to the event. Most videographers will also produce a highlight reel in addition to an Instagram edit. They approach their films with the same care and customization as a documentary film. They strategically piece together precious moments and memories that are personal, emotional, and raw to create a tailored film that is uniquely yours. Even though there is a lot of time and work and money that goes into the film, knowing that it will allow you to relive your wedding day is priceless.
WITH MUCH LOVE, A PART OF YOUR LOCAL WEDDING COMMUNITY
Vendor Credits: 2Tarts Bakery | Andie + Carrie Photography | Ashley Nicole Affair | Bambu Entertainment DJ | Carhart Photography | Christie Turner Floral Design | Film and Frame | Foxglove and Grace | Full Spectrum Ice | Huckleberry Wedding Films | Lone Star Oaks | Lyndsay Lyon Photography | Oh Happy Day Booth | PhotoHouse Films | Plush Party Band | Simply Delicious Custom Cakes | The Pictures Band | Two Souls Desire