$30,000 isn’t enough for a “normal” wedding in Charlotte

Wedding budgets are a reality check for a lot of couples.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Axios) - Inflation has hit everything, including the wedding industry, and those costs are getting passed [on to] future brides and grooms.

“Every little thing has gone up,” Jackie Fogartie of Jackie Fogartie Events tells me. She says a $30,000 wedding budget in Charlotte simply won’t get you all the bells and whistles, or even close to it.

What’s happening: Wedding trends are back to normal after the pandemic forced the industry to pivot. In 2021, couples had an average of 105 guests and spent an average of $34,000 per wedding planning platform, The Knot.

  • Yes, but: That’s just not enough in Charlotte. It’s feasible, but if a 100-person guest list, live band, top-tier photographer, extravagant wedding cake and a particular venue are your heart’s desire, be prepared to compromise.

Why it matters: Wedding budgets are a reality check for a lot of couples. You’re going to have to spend a significant chunk of change to bring your dream day to life.

By the numbers: Venues cost an average of $15,800, including catering and alcohol, in 2021, per The Knot. If your budget is in the $10,000-$15,000 range, experts [suggest] you chop your guest list and have dinner at a nice restaurant.

Below is an idea of what a wedding in Charlotte will look like based on three different budget points, according to the experts.

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1. $30,000 is your do-it-yourself wedding, according to both planners

You probably have a friend who is a photographer who is cutting you a really great deal to shoot your wedding, and the rest of your family and friends are pitching in.

  • Your guest count is below 100 people. Ultimately that’s the best way to save money, both planners agreed, because your guest count impacts everything, including how many tables, chairs, linens, and centerpieces you need, plus, the food of course.
  • Your venue is pretty much all-inclusive. Food, drinks, and the venue are roughly 40-50% of your budget Charlotte wedding planner Lisa Pleasant of Lisa Pleasant Events told Axios.
  • You’re getting your cake from Publix because they deliver and you have no problem with a traditional buttercream cake. A cake from Publix is about a third of the cost of a wedding cake from a bakery, according to Fogartie.

2. $50,000 gets you the traditional bells and whistles

Yes, but: This still may not be enough.

  • You’ll have between 75-100 people, and you can afford a venue like the Mint Museum Uptown.
  • But you’re opting for a DJ instead of a live band.
  • A good band will cost between $6,500-$14,000, Pleasant told me. “People don’t realize how much how much things add up,” she added.

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3. $100,000 is your high-end Charlotte wedding

A budget like this, for example, will get you a seasoned photographer who may have higher rates. Charlotte wedding photographers typically range from $4,000-$10,000.

  • You’ll also be able to spring for higher-quality centerpieces and table cloths.
  • And you can hire a live band instead of a DJ. A good band in Charlotte will cost you between $6,500-$14,000.

The bottom line: Be prepared to spend more than you originally planned, and if you want to spare your budget, keep it intimate, and keep your guest list small.

My thought bubble: Excuse my eyes as they bulge out of my head at people spending the equivalent of buying a car or a downpayment on a house on a wedding. No judgment, but dang, that’s a lot of money.

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