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How much does it cost to have a wedding in San Diego?

Updated: Apr 10

I am pretty sure this is one of the most searched questions when it comes to planning a wedding in San Diego. I will try to answer and be completely honest and transparent but, just to set the record straight, you will not find a personalized answer on Google, and here is the proof:

cost of wedding in San Diego

Source: Google

If you search "How much does it cost to have a wedding in San Diego?" that is the first answer you'll get on Google. This number is very misleading, especially if you envision a curated and personalized celebration similar to the photos you may have seen on my website. Simple things like flowers, design items, type of venue, trustworthy vendors will blow this "budget" in seconds.

As with everything in life, there is a wide budget range. A house on the shores of La Jolla has a different cost than a townhouse in Temecula or than an apartment in downtown San Diego. It all depends on priorities and budget, even for weddings!

First of all, it is important to understand that the question is too generic to have a straight answer, it all depends on how you want your wedding to be:

Do you want an elopement or a micro wedding?

Maybe you want a big party with a food truck and farm tables?

Or you envision a beautiful sit-down dinner with lots of flowers and beautiful upgraded decor?

Or maybe you want to keep it simple but you want that full ocean view or that exclusive venue?

Is your guest count 50 or 200?

Do you want a team of vendors that have been in business for years and are professional or do you want to compromise with what fits in the budget?

Each one of these points will create a different estimated cost.

bride and groom portrait with neutral flowers

Mirelle Carmichael Photo

Let's take an imaginary example: Julie and Andrew want to have a wedding in San Diego, they are expecting 100 guests, they want to have a ceremony and reception in the same venue, it will be a sit-down dinner with a hosted full bar for the entire night, they envision a Spanish style venue with lots of florals, and some design elements, they found an amazing photographer that has been published in Martha Stewart weddings and are willing to spend more to get her. They prefer a venue that has accommodation so that guests can book a room and don't have to drive after the wedding. What will Julie and Andrew budget be?

Their budget will probably be in the $100k (and up). How? Let's analyze their non negotiable items:

  • 100 guests = the higher the guest count, the higher the budget.

  • Sit-down dinner with a hosted full bar for the entire night = the key here is hosted full bar for the entire night, on top of the dinner, most venues give you a certain number of hours in the wedding package that goes from 2 to 4 generally so Julie and Andrew might need to pay for additional bar hours per guests (around $15 to $25 per guest per hour).

  • Spanish style venue = how many are there in San Diego? I can probably count them on my fingers and they are upscale venues.

  • Lots of florals = this means the floral budget needs to be a good one. I often have the impression that there is not enough information about flower cost, you might think flowers are cheap; on the contrary, flowers are quite expensive! Most of my couples spend between $10k and $25k in florals. If Julie and Andrew want to have a good amount of flowers (without exaggerating) they will probably have to budget for $10-$15k.

  • Some design elements = this means they want some upgrades, maybe chairs or chargers or tablecloth... With 100 guests you can easily spend another $10k for basic upgrades (which means you have to select the 2-3 items you want to upgrade out of all the things you wish you could have).

  • An amazing photographer = the cost of photographers vary. Their photographer seems experienced (she has also been published in Martha!) and will probably be on the higher end. Of course you can get a "new" photographer that charges less but, as with all vendors, do you really want to take the risk and either not get the photos you want or have to work with someone that is still learning? Based on my past weddings and San Diego wedding industry, the minimum spent for a good photographer is $7k.

  • They prefer a venue that has accommodations = this means they probably will need to select a hotel venue and chances are, their catering estimate (food & beverage, venue rental, service fee, taxes) will be somewhere between $35k to $70k for a 100 guests - wide range, depending on the type of hotel (midrange, upscale, luxury).

As you probably noticed, the venue is the vendor that takes the biggest portion of the budget and lays the ground for the full wedding budget. This is why it is of the utmost importance deciding few things before signing the venue contract:

  • define a budget: have your ideal overall budget and the very max you could spend.

  • don't spend more than 50% on the venue, food & beverage otherwise you will not have enough to cover all the other vendors cost.

  • define your priorities: this will guide you in the budget creation.

how much does it cost to have a wedding in san diego

Julie and Andrew's wedding is just an example of a couple that has specific priorities. Every couple is different and the budget set for the wedding will have to be adjusted accordingly to their priorities. But as you can see from this example, even with simple expectations, the estimated cost of a wedding in San Diego is far from the initial Google answer! Of course you can have a wedding for much less but you will probably need to adjust the number of invited guests and lower your expectation or give up on some of the things you would like to have.

As a general rule, with what I see and in my experience as a planner I can say that if you want to get married in San Diego in a upscale venue with let's say around 120 guests, you would want to have a starting budget of $100k.

Figuring out a budget personalized to your preferences and non-negotiables can be daunting and if you don't want to do that alone, you can reach out to me at this link and we'll create a realistic budget, find the perfect venue for you and plan your wedding without having to worry about doing costly mistakes!

Check out more articles about weddings in San Diego!

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