Wedding Dollars and $ense

Setting – and sticking to! – your wedding budget is the key to pulling off the perfect party without losing your shirt.

Marrying the love of your life is a dream come true. But in all the fun of dreaming up the details of your big day, it’s easy to get caught up in the fantasy — and forget all those magical little elements really add up. That’s why it’s important to be realistic about your budget.

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What exactly does a wedding cost in the Lowcountry? Here are some numbers that might help get your feet planted firmly on the ground, while your head is in the clouds.

Wedding Dollars3According to The Wedding Report, couples spend between $24,641 and $41,069 for a wedding on Hilton Head Island. That includes an average of just over $15,000 on the venue, catering and rentals. The local average cost is a nudge above the national average of $26,645, although The Knot pushes the national figure to $31,213, based on nearly 16,000 surveys filled out by newlyweds in 2014.

Despite the cost, the Lowcountry is a super popular setting for weddings. Last year, 1,984 weddings were held in Beaufort County, an increase over the previous year that cements it in the top 10 percent of the nearly 3,000 counties nationwide. And sure, some of those have been over the top, ranging from $200,000 to $500,000 and featuring lavish elements like pumpkin-shaped, horse-drawn carriages Cinderella would envy and Swarovski crystal-studded gowns. But with the help from the area’s wedding professionals and a little careful planning, you can have the wedding of your dreams, no matter your budget.

Wedding Dollars4Here are a few tips that can help keep your spending down: 

  • Invite fewer guests.
  • Provide a buffet, not a plated dinner.
  • Have your wedding earlier in the day, serving a light brunch or appetizers instead of a full dinner.
  • Skip videography.
  • Hire a venue that offers chairs, flatware and table linens so you don’t have to rent them.



On the flip side, if you have room in your budget, consider these extra elements that will add to your big day:

  • Use extravagant lighting with dimmers and colors to create a graceful ambiance for your reception. Decorative hanging lamps or crystal chandeliers are show-worthy.
  • Create a “wow” factor with décor at the entryway to the reception. Have your florist assemble a showpiece display at the escort card table, and make sure servers offer champagne or a special signature cocktail to guests as they enter.

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  • Install a photo booth so your guests can create keepsake pictures, which then can be displayed over the dance floor for everyone to see.
  • Surprise your guests with short performances by a cellist, a jazz trio or belly dancers before the reception kicks into high gear. Something special and unexpected will be long remembered.
  • Liven up the party near its scheduled end by having a food truck roll onto the premises serving tacos, pancakes or late-night munchies. Or provide a hot coffee bar with special liqueurs, syrups and toppings.

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There may be a gap between what you want and what you can afford that needs to be bridged from the beginning. Along with your families, it’s important to talk honestly and openly about what kind of reception you can afford, and how many people you can invite. Weighing your priorities and possible tradeoffs from the beginning of the planning process will save you time, money and heartache as you prepare to walk down the aisle. Just remember – you already found your perfect match, which is the most important, and priceless, detail of all.