What Weddings Cost: South & Southwest

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.

Time to plan the ultimate celebration of love: your wedding. While you may want to think that the big day is only about you, your soul mate, and "'til death do you part," think again. It's also about throwing a fab soiree for your nearest and dearest -- hundreds of 'em, in some cases. As you start to shop for all things nuptial, you'll realize that this primo party comes with a pretty hefty price tag. To reduce sticker shock -- and give you fair warning about some of the "average" prices of wedding goods and services -- we talked to bridal consultants around the country. The first part of our cost comparison looks at what couples in the South and Southwest can expect to pay. Watch for future installments of "The Money Trail," where we'll investigate wedding expenses in other areas of the United States.

The South:
Fran Landau, of "A Bride's Best Friend" in Atlanta:
-- Low: Price of the food (at a hotel or restaurant or catering hall).
-- Medium: $750 for a fancy room at a city or state-owned building.
-- High: $4,500 for a historical site or museum

-- Low: $50 per person for brunch with wine or a light cocktail reception with hors d'oeuvres.
-- Medium: $80 per person for a cocktail hour and dinner.
-- High: $125 per person for an elaborate cocktail buffet or a seated dinner with a high-end entree (like roast beef or steak) and open bar.

-- Low: $1,000 for a small cascading bouquet for the bride and simple bouquets for the attendants. Minimal flower arrangements for the ceremony and on the reception tables.
-- Medium: $2,000 for higher priced blooms -- and more of them everywhere.
-- High: $7,500 for an elaborate backdrop of flowers at the ceremony, plus a backdrop of flowers for the band. Flowers, candles and trees around the outer area of the ballroom.

-- Low: $750 for a photographer who works by the hour (four-hour minimum), develops pictures into 4 X 5s and gives you the negatives so that you can enlarge the pictures.
-- Medium: $1,500 for a full-service photographer who stays for the entire evening and produces an album.
-- High: $4,500 for a photographer who works the entire wedding weekend, producing an album of color and black-and-white shots that tell the "story" of your wedding.

-- Low: $350 for an unedited video of the wedding.
-- Medium: $1,000 for an edited video.
-- High: $1,750 for an edited video of the entire weekend, beginning with the rehearsal dinner and continuing until the last rose petal is thrown at the end of the reception. This video will include baby pictures of the bride and groom.

-- Low: $500 for a DJ.
-- Medium: $1,400 for a four-piece band to play for both the ceremony and reception.
-- High: $3,000 for a 10-piece band to play for four hours.

-- Low: $200 for a nice, simple bakery cake.
-- Medium: $500 for a cake by a local pastry chef who specializes in creating one-of-a-kind wedding confections.
-- High: $1,500 for a cake that's designed to match the lace on the bride's dress. It might feature sculpted flowers and several different flavors of filling.

The Southwest:
Tricia Thomas, of Thomas & Thomas Wedding Consultants in Houston:
-- Low: $250
-- Medium: $800 to $1,600 for a catering hall
-- High: $3,200 to $3,500 for a unique location, such as a renovated movie theater that's now used as a ballroom.

-- Low: $6 to $8 per person for light hors d'oeuvres, finger sandwiches, fruit and cheese trays, and punch.
-- Medium: $14 to $22 per person for light hors d'oeuvres, fruit and cheese display and pasta station. (Add $6 to $9 per person for modest-grade beer, wine and champagne.)
-- High: $70 to $100 per person for a cocktail hour featuring an open bar, heavy passed hors d'oeuvres and a four-course, sit-down dinner of beef tenderloin medallions and chili-roasted shrimp.

-- Low: $800 to $1,000 for bride'' bouquet, arrangements for three attendants, simple flowers for the ceremony and bud vases on tables at the reception.
-- Medium: $2,500 to $3,500 for bride''s bouquet, arrangements for six attendants, elaborate decorations (featuring candelabras and greenery) at the ceremony and reception.
-- High: $5,000 to $14,000 for top-of-the-line flowers in every bouquet, decoration and centerpiece. The average high-end centerpiece may cost between $200 and $300; multiply that by the number of tables at the reception, and you'll see how quickly the cost adds up.

-- Low: $500 to $800 for three hours of coverage, 85 prints and a small album.
-- Medium: $2,500 to $3,000 for six hours of coverage, an 11 X 14 bridal portrait and a leather album with about 150 photographs.
-- High: $3,200 to $5,000 for eight hours of coverage, engagement and bridal portraits, 200 preview pictures, an upgraded album and extra 8 X 10 photos.

-- Low: $750 to $800 for video of ceremony and reception (videographer will use one camera).
-- Medium: $900 to $1500 for three edited copies of the ceremony and reception video (videographer will use two cameras).
-- High: $3,500 for five copies that will be edited to flow like a movie. The video, shot with three cameras, will tell the couple's "love story," complete with pictures from their childhoods and courtship.

-- Low: $450 to $850 for a DJ (price depends on the quality of the equipment, including lights and fog machine); $550 to $750 for a jazz trio.
-- Medium: $850 to $2,000 for a four-to-six piece variety band.
-- High: $3,200 to $6,000 for an eight-piece band or orchestra.

-- Low: $1.50 per person for a simple, three-tier cake with butter-cream icing and minimal decorations.
-- Medium: $3 to $4 per person for a four-tier cake featuring elaborate flowers made out of icing.
-- High: $900 to $3,000 for a masterpiece cake with mousse and liqueur fillings and icing flowers dipped in 24-karat edible gold.


More Good Stuff


Weddings are our specialty

Corporate Events

We can help to make your corporate event the moral booster and "thank you" that you want.

Kid Parties

Your kids grow up so fast. Let them have fun while they are young.