Real Wedding Budgets of Colorado Brides

Three Colorado brides dish on every single wedding expense.
by Alison Goldman

It sounds easy -- 10 percent to flowers, 50 percent to catering -- but let's be real: There's no way you can plan each purchase down to the last cent! Here's what three Colorado brides spent on their weddings and which pros they used to stick to their budgets.

Iris Nira & Jeff Smith

May 30 | Tabernash | 63 guests

Their Budget: $50,367

The Breakdown

ceremony and reception site $15,000 including the catering. "We didn't need any transportation since we had both the ceremony and reception in one venue." Devils Thumb Ranch, Tabernash, (800) 933-4339

photography $957 for two photographers for unlimited coverage and digital proofs. "They were family friends, so we just covered their travel expenses." Picture This Photography, Houston, TX, (713) 983-8678

consultant $4,000. "Our wedding planner knew how to get us the best vendors and keep us within budget." Debbie Orwat, Save the Date Events, Denver, (303) 550-9261

officiant $0. The couple took advantage of Colorado's law that lets anyone officiate your wedding. Their friend did the honors.

wedding gown $5,800 for a strapless, ivory, silk satin gown with a chapel-length train. Lazaro, Louise Blum Bridal Salon, Houston, TX, (713) 622-5571

wedding gown alterations $720 for alterations. "I wound up needing additional alterations after my final fitting at the dress salon." Weddings by Debbie, Houston, TX, (281) 531-6255/Louise Blum Bridal Salon, Houston, TX, (713) 622-5571

hair and makeup $400. "I swear that it wasn't over the top -- she accentuated my eyes and made me look flawless." Megan Halvorsen, Los Angeles, CA, (713) 979-6883

veil $1,200. "This purchase was definitely a splurge, but it was the perfect complement to my dress." Lazaro, Louise Blum Bridal Salon, Houston, TX, (713) 622-5571

shoes $60. Iris bought these from a friend.

wedding rings $450 for the groom's platinum ring. Iris didn't get one because she didn't want it to detract from her engagement ring. Donoho's Jewellers, The Woodlands, TX, (281) 367-9050

earrings $7,000 for the diamond earrings that were a gift to the bride from the groom. Roberto Coin's Cento Collection, Donoho's Jewellers, The Woodlands, TX, (281) 367-9050

bridal party gifts $360 for accommodations, airfare, shoes and jewelry for the bride's sister, who served as the maid of honor.

groom's formalwear $0 because all of the groomsmen ordered their tuxes there. Men's Wearhouse, Lakewood, (720) 963-1380

wedding stationery $3,000 for invitations, programs, place cards and menu cards. Forevermore Design Studio, Dallas-Fort Worth, TX, (469) 762-5080

flowers $5,800 for three bouquets, an orchid umbrella, five boutonnieres, two corsages, eight ceremony arrangements, aisle petals, four cocktail-hour centerpieces, seven reception centerpieces, candles for the reception site, and fresh lavender and orchids at place settings. Bella Fiori, Lakewood, (303) 233-5566

rental equipment $450 for about 60 chairs for the ceremony. Silver Spoon Party Rentals, Inc., Tabernash, (970) 887-9852

ceremony and cocktail hour music $950 for a string quartet to add an air of formality. Nobility Strings, Longmont, (303) 772-7856

reception music $1,400 for a DJ. "He kept the energy going and had a vibrant personality." Great Time DJs, Vail, (970) 845-8566

wedding cake $720 for a zucchini-lime cake. Intricate Icings, Erie, (303) 479-9922

hotel room $2,100 for a private cabin for the bride and groom. Devils Thumb Ranch, Tabernash, (800) 933-4339

Sarah Wood & John Williams

June 20 | Colorado Springs | 90 guests

Their Budget: $27,889

Their Breakdown

ceremony site $200 as a donation -- no fee required. Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Church, Colorado Springs, (719) 633-1457

ceremony accessories $100 for a ring pillow, a unity candle, a pomander for the flower girl, pew bows, and programs.

reception site $16,500 including catering, alcohol, the cake, a pastry table, linens and a hotel room. "The reception site included just about everything." Garden of the Gods Club, Colorado Springs, (719) 632-5541

photography $3,000 for a photographer for 10 hours, an engagement session and a disc with all the images. "She even gave us $1,000 off our album." Molly McGannon Photography, Broomfield, (303) 517-3505

videography $1,299 for two shooters for seven hours as well as five copies of the DVD. DV Fresh, Littleton, (720) 937-7269

consultant $650 for coordination on the day-of only. Something Classic Events, Colorado Springs, (719) 684-6401

officiant $0. "We gave a gift, but there was no required fee." Fr. Brad Noonan, St. Francis of Assisi Church, Castle Rock, (303) 688-3025

wedding gown $1,450. "As soon as I had the dress on, I knew it was right!" Justin Alexander, Little White Dress, Castle Rock, (303) 814-8972

wedding gown alterations $300. The bride needed her hem taken up an inch and a bustle created. Donna Savoy, Parker, (720) 373-9403

hair $130. "My updo cost more than I planned on spending, but I was happy with it." Keri Winters, Castle Rock, (720) 733-0711

makeup $150. "It was worth every penny. It looks great in pictures -- and I thought the false eyelashes were especially amazing!" Chantelle LaCouture, Parker, (720) 220-3238

veil $15 for a veil the bride's mother made. Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores, hair accessories $600. "It was a headband that sparkled all the way around. A splurge, but my unmarried bridesmaids want it to be their something borrowed." Maria Elena, Little White Dress, Castle Rock, (303) 814-8972

shoes $75. "My silver strappy heels were comfortable enough that I didn't need flip flops!" Blue Tux,

wedding rings $800 for two platinum bands from a store that was going out of business.

bridal party gifts $320 for tote bags with day-of needs and sporting goods store gift cards.

groom's formalwear $0. It was free with the groomsmen's tux rentals. Men's Wearhouse, Colorado Springs, (719) 528-5909

wedding stationery $70 for DIY invitations, programs and escort cards.

book $30 for a photo book.

flowers $700 for seven bouquets, two corsages, ten boutonnieres, five centerpieces, and one guest book arrangement. My Daughter's Wedding, Parker, (303) 841-5515

ceremony music $300 for a pianist and a cantor. Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Church, Colorado Springs, (719) 633-1457

cocktail hour and reception music $1,200 for a DJ for an unlimited time. Blue Moon Entertainment, Colorado Springs, (719) 632-9164

favors $50 for boxes for the site-provided pastries.

Chelsey Parker & Bradley Halbert

June 15 | Colorado Springs | 70 guests

Their Budget: $8,962

Their Breakdown

ceremony and reception site $650 for nine hours in the space. The Lodge at Cathedral Pines, Colorado Springs, (719) 559-8428

ceremony decor and accessories $150 for a sand ceremony, two flower girl baskets and four aspen trees for the background.

photography $1,400 for two photographers and all-day coverage. Majesty Photo, Colorado Springs, (719) 649-1030

videography $250 for one shooter, ceremony coverage and an hour at the reception. Jay Schipper, Denver, (678) 429-0040

consultant $0 because they used a family friend. "She did everything a day-of coordinator would do and beyond. It was a real money-saver to have an organized, trusted friend."

officiant $0 for the family pastor. Sean Nix, Harvest Church, Dothan, AL, (334) 702-6555

wedding gown $1,400. "My dress was my splurge. I knew I just had to find ‘the one.'" Chia Lieu, Little White Dress, Castle Rock, (303) 814-8972

wedding gown alterations $230. "I needed some minor alterations around the waist and bust." Donna Savoy, Parker, (720) 373-9403

hair $0 for a low bun with curls, a gift from the bride's friend who's a hairstylist. Lora Wakefield, Englewood, (303) 768-0199

makeup $60, including a trial. Copperfalls Aveda Spa & Salon, Castle Rock, (303) 814-2035

veil $100. "Lace cathedral veils cost $700 everywhere else I looked. I found mine at a sample sale for much less." Winnie Couture, Little White Dress, Castle Rock, (303) 814-8972

hair accessories $16, a silk flower.

shoes $50. "And I can wear them again!" Nordstrom, Littleton, (303) 799-3400

wedding rings $300 for the groom's. Jared the Galleria of Jewelry, Englewood, (303) 799-4739

bridal party gifts $250 for gold-plated aspen leaf necklaces, monogrammed teacups, Zippo lighters and shawls. The Colorado Store, Castle Rock, (303) 814-0343/ The Knot Wedding Shop, WeddingShop,, Lone Tree, (303) 768-9130

groom's formalwear $0. It was free with five groomsmen's tux rentals. Al's Formal Wear, Englewood, (303) 706-0001

wedding stationery $90 for DIY programs, escort cards and invitations/$6 for DIY menu cards.

rental equipment $350 for linens, chair sashes and 70 chairs. Party Time Rental, Inc., Colorado Springs, (719) 634-1212

catering $2,000 for a cocktail hour, four course buffet meal, wine, and a signature cocktail. First Impressions Catering, Colorado Springs, (719) 321-0721

music $300 for a ceremony and cocktail hour guitarist/$250 for a reception DJ. Michael Lancaster, Denver, (303) 765-1245/Shelby Sowerby, DJ Gypsy, Colorado Springs, (719) 217-7346

flowers $700 for five bouquets and corsages, seven boutonnieres, a flower girl basket, tossing petals, and centerpieces. Hillside Consultants, Inc., Colorado Springs, (719) 499-2841

wedding cake $350. "It matched my dress!" A Matter of Taste, Littleton, (303) 933-6200

favors $60. The couple made mix CDs of their favorite love songs.

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