weddings at DC War Memorial

It is that pinnacle time of year, engagement season! From Thanksgiving to Valentine’s Day, the most celebrated holidays, is the time when couples get engaged and embark on a new chapter of their lives. For most Couples, it is their first time getting married and even if it is not, the burning question of knowing how much to spend on their wedding is puzzling.  In this blog, I will provide you with useful pieces of practical advice to will cost to plan a wedding in 2022 with a realistic outlook for big ticket items and how the pandemic  has affected prices which is paramount to establishing your wedding budget.

Prior to COVID, In the Washington, DC metro area to include Northern Virginia and suburban Maryland, you may view depending on the “publication source” the average wedding cost is approximately $44,000 (I like to explain it based on CPG – cost per guest – $440), with an average wedding guest size of 100 persons.  You may question, where is all of this being allocated? How do I determine how much to save?  Are the publication reports reliable?  All of these are varying valid questions, and as The Olivia Pope of events, I am here to help you decipher all the details.

Unfortunately, there is no post-COVID as the insurgence of the pandemic is still alive after two consecutive years of dealing with its unwanted challenges which resulted in the average cost of weddings in 2020 to be around $20K because of the restrictions to gather couples hosted smaller intimate micro/macro size weddings (less than 20-persons). Transitioning into 2021, the world began to live a new normal that coexisted with the pandemic which included the return of the size of weddings you were used to seeing but this was faced with a new challenge – a global supply chain shortage which ignited the cost of planning a wedding!

Before diving into the global supply chain shortage, let us discuss the breakdown of your big ticket items and how to quickly create a realist budget for your wedding.


Let’s learn how to determine your CPG (cost per guest); this will provide you with a more realistic guide on how much to spend on your big day based on the style of wedding you envision.  CPG includes all associated costs – venue, food and beverage, entertainment, floral décor, entertainment, your wedding planner, transportation, etc. – everything you plan to speand money on for your wedding divided by the number of persons in attendance for your wedding. For example, if the average cost of wedding in Washington DC is approximately $40K and the average guest count is 130 persons; $40K divided by 130 equals $308 per person (this is your CPG).  If you plan to invite 200 persons, then multiply 200 by $308 to get your estimated total wedding budget ($61,600).  This is a great starting point to determine your budget, however, so many determining factors go into establishing a budget based on the style, geographical location, details and the type of venue chosen, so be cautious.  I recommend consulting with your Planner and ask them what is their average CPG for weddings they plan to get a better handle on your budget.  For instance, the average CPG (cost per guest) for the weddings I planned in 2021 with an average guest count of 150 persons was around $800; average total wedding budget – $120,000.


As we have experienced in our daily living, the cost of living has increased tremendously.  The cost of milk pre-pandemic was $3.04 per gallon to during the pandemic increased to $3.32 and $3.77 respectively in years 2020 and 2021.  The global supply chain turmoil has created a ripple affect financially in the way we live creating material scarcity, increasing freight prices, the difficult demand to forecast, labor shortage, etc. 

This disturbance has transcended into the beautiful creation of weddings that has instituted an increase in production cost for wedding professionals that couples unfortunately will see in 2022.  Wedding and event professionals have made it a priority to manage customer expectations and to be transparent with cost of planning a wedding. The pandemic created a domino effect from supply chain shortage, economic hardship, increased complexity, and physical conditions of running a business, to now simply being overwhelmed with the increased number of events in the future, vendors had to increase their prices; expect to see cost increases from 20-50%.  According to The Vogue, The Knot and other sources, they have projected over 2.6 million weddings to take place in 2022 – a record 40-year-high!

Now let us begin the conversation about the main areas of your budget – venue, food and beverage, and décor!

plan a wedding at DC War Memorial


Your wedding venue is approximately 40-60% of your wedding budget. In the Washington, DC metro area, the investment (pre-pandemic) for hotel venues varied in price, $150 – $350 per person; the closer you are to Washington, DC the higher the cost. A hotel wedding venue includes at a minimum a 5-hour celebration, the space (ceremony plus reception), food and beverage (4-hour open bar); and then linens and chairs if you choose not to rent these items outside of the venue. Other ancillary charges to be aware of from hotel venues you will incur that are non-negotiable are sale tax, service charges, and gratuity that range between 20-35% of your total bill; these charges are in addition to what I have stated above.

In 2021, my couples married at what I call luxury and upper-upscale hotels.  The actual total cost for the hotel averaged $51,500 or $343 per guest.  


If you are looking for a location other than a hotel to host your wedding celebration, the options vary based on their individual uniqueness.  These unique venues are only allowing you to utilize their facilities and for you to outsource all your other needs to include catering.  Venue spaces in this classification include museums, farms, wineries, parks, historic landmarks, warehouses, etc.  The value related to unique venue spaces in Washington, DC range from $7,000.00 to $15,000.00.   The closer to the metro area and the historical essence of the space reflects in the overall value.  Rental time generally includes 5 hours of event time, 2 hours of set-up, and 1 hour of breakdown time.  Normally, the venue has a “preferred venue” list that meets the venue’s requirements that you can choose from; and most of the time with caterers you can only commission the caterers on their list.  Other additional costs sometimes required by these types of venues; liability insurance purchased by the Couple, Security Services, Valet Services.


Our Washington D.C. area has an abundance of superb full-service catering companies that range in culinary skills and cuisines.  These prominent catering companies can curate to your culinary palette based on what you want to accomplish and experience.  Each has their own unique strengths beyond just creating amazing food such as producing creative food displays which plays an important factor since most people eat with their eyes first.  Some have their own equipment inventory to include linens in various textures and colors, variety of china and flatware, unique seating decor, tables, tents, and more.  In addition, some will have their own pastry chef and do not have outsource their desserts to another supplier.  The value of their “all-in” services ranges from $125.00 – $250.00 per person (to include labor and equipment rental charges). Due to the pandemic supply chain challenges, they too have been faced with external fees beyond their control from suppliers which ultimately made them evaluate their costs which yielded a rise in prices to continue to provide stellar culinary services.


If you are like me, you love the beauty of a room and what all goes into creating a lush and romantic space.  Floral Designers create unique one-of-a-kind designs that suit the taste of each individual client rather than creating one design for all!  Floral designers cater to special events in which production is required not a simple drop-off or client pick-up. Their capabilities are extensive because they think outside the box and their creative minds prevent from reproducing the same design over and over (a trait that I absolutely love!), and their inventory stretches beyond flowers.  A floral designer’s inventory ranges from unique style vases to custom built units of added décor for any special event.  An experienced Wedding Planner works primarily with Floral Designers as they are the most critical element of the design process that brings all the beauty to your wedding day.

I will refer in this section to your tabletop décor that includes floral centerpiece and accompaniments, chargers (base plates), linens, chairs, table numbers, menu cards, place cards.  I will not discuss china and glassware because most clients choose what automatically comes from the hotel or catering company so I will only refer to those items that my client’s value in customizing.  Statement floral (tall, lush floral centerpieces) designs are approximately $650-$1100 per table. Complimentary floral (low-level bountiful centerpieces) designs are approximately $350-$450 per table.  In combination with your tabletop accompaniments (chargers, linens, chairs, table numbers, etc) based on (9) persons per table, statement tables are around $871-$1350 per table; or $571-$750 per table complimentary table decor.

Additional decor charges to be aware of are labor, delivery and setup charges, and a sample display.  Most floral designer charge approximately 20-30% of your floral invoice for service and delivery charges.  Keep in mind, your floral designer is working on your wedding at least 7-days in advance which means they are assuming labor fees prior and on your wedding day.  And if they have the responsibility to stay behind for the ceremony to transition ceremony décor to the reception, there is a cost associated with this detail because they need to pay their staff who will be staying behind to take care of this task. 

Lastly, floral designers are one of the hardest hit by the pandemic due to the shortage of florals, increased cargo rates, floral farm harvesting challenges, and elevated prices from their wholesalers…floral designers have had to increase their costs to effectively operate their businesses.


I know this was a substantial amount of information, but I hope this helps and you have a familiar understanding of the costs of planning a wedding. If you are ready to hire a Wedding Planner to create the wedding of your dreams, schedule a consultation with me and let us get started!


(Photography Credit – Terri Baskin Photography • Real Weddings by Perfect Planning Events)