What Weddings Cost: Plains & Pacific Northwest

Generally speaking, the higher the cost of living in your area, the higher the price you'll probably pay for everything from the reception site to the cake.

A wedding means throwing an amazing soiree for your nearest and
dearest -- hundreds of 'em, in some cases. But you may not quite realize how complicated things can get until you hammer out the guest list, start shopping around for vendors -- and realize how much this party could potentially cost you.
Like all major purchases, a wedding can vary wildly in cost, depending on an array of factors including what style celebration you want, how many guests you'll have, and where you live. Generally speaking, the higher the cost of living in your area, the higher the price you'll probably pay for everything from the reception site to the cake. But to reduce sticker-shock and give you a ballpark idea of what you can expect to pay for wedding services, we asked top bridal consultants to fill us in on what couples in their area can expect. This is part three of our series; check out part one (on the South and Southwest) and part two (on the Northeast and Midwest), and watch for future installments!

The Plains:
Judy Lehmbeck of Judy Lehmbeck Bridal and Parties in Oklahoma City
-- Low: Free (church basement) to $200 (reception hall).
-- Medium: $250 to $500 to rent a mansion, small country club, or botanical garden.
-- High: $500 to $1,500 for a hotel ballroom, country club, or private club.

-- Low: $5 to $8 per person for a buffet of basic hors d'oeuvres (sliced beef, vegetable trays, dips); add $60 for a gallon of champagne punch that serves 50.
-- Medium: $8 to $12 per person for heavy hors d'oeuvres (including tenderloin of beef and fancy crudites), or $16 to $20 per person for a seated dinner of chicken or prime rib (add $10 per person for wine and champagne).
-- High: $25 to $50 for a seated dinner of surf and turf (tenderloin with shrimp scampi or lobster tail). Add $15 to $25 per person for an open bar.

--Low: $500 for simple bouquets and boutonnieres and minimal reception decorations (lots of greenery in a centerpiece that would be the focal point of a buffet table).
-- Medium: $1,500 to $3,000 for higher-end flowers in bouquets and decorations for the ceremony and reception. More flowers everywhere.
-- High: $3,000-plus. The sky's the limit here. The greater the number of flowers and the more exotic the variety, the more you'll pay. In this price range, you'll be able to have tons of exotic blooms (forget the mums or carnations!) in bouquets and centerpieces.

-- Low: $300 for three hours of coverage (standard) and a small album.
-- Medium: $500 to $700 for an album with 75 pictures.
-- High: $1,000 to $1,500 for a bridal portrait and leather-bound album containing up to 150 photos.

-- Low: $500 for an edited video of the ceremony and reception (one camera only). Three hours of coverage.
-- Medium: $750 for an edited video of the ceremony and reception (two cameras). Four hours of coverage.
-- High: $850 to $1,000 for an edited video of everything (two cameras). Five hours of coverage. Video will be set to music and will include childhood pictures of the bride and groom.

-- Low: $250 for a pianist; $395 for a string quartet; $500 for a DJ.
-- Medium: $850 to $900 for a four-piece variety band.
-- High: $1,500 to $4,000 for a local band or orchestra. The cost could climb to $6,500 or more if you flew in a "name" band from New York City or Dallas.

-- Low: $1 to $1.50 per slice for a grocery-store bakery's wedding cake. It's simple -- vanilla with buttercream frosting -- but nice.
-- Medium: $1.50 to $2 per slice for a cake by a local pastry chef who specializes in creating intricate wedding confections. It will feature gum-paste flowers; the flavor will most likely be vanilla, with a lemon, raspberry, or caramel filling.
-- High: $2.50 to $3 per slice for a one-of-a-kind cake. It will include lots of flowers and different flavors of fillings.

The Pacific Northwest:
Karen Cook of a Beautiful Wedding, Seattle (for low- and medium-end weddings) and Jamie Fisher, of RSVP Weddings in Issaquah, Washington (for high-end weddings)
-- Low: Under $500 to rent a multi-purpose room at a community center, library, or retirement home.
-- Medium: $750 to $1,750 to rent a "higher-end" meeting space on the Puget Sound or Lake Union (where "Sleepless in Seattle" was filmed).
-- High: $1,500 to $3,000 to rent a mansion or picturesque bed-and-breakfast; $5,000 to rent Union Station, a renovated train station in Seattle.

-- Low: $15 per person for heavy hors d'oeuvres (including mini quiches) and a self-service pasta station; no liquor.
-- Medium: $45 to $60 per person for elaborate passed hors d'oeuvres (prime rib, salmon, and make-your-own omelets) or a seated dinner of chicken or fish (halibut, sole, or whitefish). No liquor.
-- High: $100 per person for a four-course meal; entree would be crab, stuffed lobster, or chateaubriand; a cocktail hour, featuring gourmet passed hors d'oeuvres (including crab-stuffed mushrooms and a pasta station) would run $25 to $45 per person extra. Open bar can be $20 per person, but opting for wines from the Pacific Northwest and local microbrewed beers would add only about $10 per person.

-- Low: $400 to $800 for simple bouquets and table decorations.
-- Medium: $1,500 to $2,000 for more elaborate in-season flowers, larger bouquets, and more centerpieces.
-- High: $5,000 to $12,000 for an abundance of exotic and out-of-season flowers (imported blooms, roses, tropicals) in Martha Stewart-style bouquets, candelabras, and enormous centerpieces at the reception. (The higher the price, the less greenery in the arrangements.)

-- Low: $500 for four to six hours of coverage at the reception. Couple will receive about $250 worth of photos; additional pictures must be ordered on a per-picture basis.
-- Medium: $800 to $1,000 for a more experienced photographer who uses more high-tech equipment. Again, the price covers a small number of pictures; others will be ordered as a package at an additional cost.
-- High: $3,000 to $10,000, depending on the package, which may include a leather-bound album, bridal portrait and enlargements.

-- Low: $300 for an unedited video (one camera) or $400 for an edited video (two cameras).
-- Medium: $1,000 to $1500 for a video that tells the "story" of the wedding. It would include a music track and stills of pictures from the couples' childhood and courtship.
-- High: $1,500 to $5,000 for a top-of-the-line video that covers the entire wedding experience. The tape would be heavily edited; it also would include music and montages.

-- Low: $300 to $450 for a DJ (six to eight hours, from set-up to break-down).
-- Medium: $750 to $3,000 for a six-piece ensemble and singer. $800 for a DJ who uses strobe lights, props, and karaoke.
-- High: $2,500-plus for a seven-piece variety band and singer.

-- Low: $1 per slice for a generic wedding cake from a grocery-store bakery. Or $1.50 to $2 for a basic cake (vanilla or chocolate) with buttercream frosting and jam between the layers.
-- Medium: $2.50 to $3 per slice for a cake with fancy decorations, exotic fillings, and unusual designs.
-- High: $10 per slice for a masterpiece four-layer cake, adorned with hand-crafted sugar flowers.


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