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The Wedding-Spending Diaries

Four New York couples track all their major costs.

A recent statistic puts the average cost of a wedding in New York City at $41,465. Yikes! How does anyone afford to get hitched in this expensive town? To find out, we asked four newlyweds to dig through their receipts and break down their itemized wedding bills* (anonymously, of course, as it’s a touchy subject). Here, proof that it’s possible to have a relatively affordable wedding in New York—for $12,500—and that even those with ample budgets have to make compromises.

Illustrations by Omnivore  

The bride, 27, and groom, 36, set a $15,000 budget and came out spending less. “It was the thrill of the bargain,” the bride says. Booking their reception during the day, at a time when the restaurant they chose as their venue was normally closed, allowed them to negotiate down the cost. Plus: “During the day, people don’t drink as much, so we saved on the liquor costs.”

Venue: $6,500
Terrace in the Sky. Five and a half hours for 50 people ($110 a head, plus $1,000 deposit). Included outdoor rooftop space for ceremony, greenhouse for cocktail hour and reception, catering, cocktails, and open bar.

Wedding correspondence: $697
Save-the-dates, invitations, and “cheeky tabloid-inspired” DIY programs, from Staples.

Hair and makeup: $195
Juliet Campbell from Scott J. Aveda Salon styled the bride and a bridesmaid, and the price of the trial was included.

Wedding bands: $260
Jean Schlumberger band, Tiffany’s (hers; $225), and titanium ring, eBay (his; $35).

Bride’s attire: $1,759
Floor sample from Allure Couture at Jon’s Bridal, plus alterations ($1,600), shoes from ($119), and the bride’s “something blue”: a cocktail ring from Chelsea Flea Market ($40).

Groom’s attire: $199
Suit from Michael Kors at Century 21 in Paramus, New Jersey. (He already owned his shirt, shoes, and tie.) “There are better finds in New Jersey than in the city.”

Getaway-car rental: $150

Photography: $600
Aaron Almendral. “An excellent find on Craigslist. I posted on a whim and was overwhelmed with responses.” Included eight hours of photojournalism-style digital photography, 1,000 photos on CDs, and the retouching of 275 photos (no album).

Flowers: $800
Flower You. “Another Craigslist find.” Included a stargazer-lily bouquet, white-rose-and-crystal bridesmaid bouquets, three orchid-and-rose corsages, three white-rose-and-orchid boutonnieres, and ten orchid centerpieces for the reception.

Ceremony and reception music: $700
D.J. A. J. Hughes. “He was another awesome Craigslist find!” (

Cupcake tower: $250
From Sugar Sweet Sunshine. “Luckily, the venue didn’t charge a cake-cutting fee.”

Favors: $400
From Economy Candy. Included mini packages of hot cocoa, martini-recipe cards, and Jordan almonds in tulle.

Guest book and pen: $60
From Wedding Things.


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