Over the past 20 years, we’ve heard bride after bride declare their confusion when balancing their bridal budgets. “Is this caterer overcharging me?” “How much should cake for 250 actually cost?” “What photography package can I afford?” With a final total in mind, many brides struggle to appropriately allocate each wedding dollar. It’s been a common bridal conundrum – until now!

We surveyed a random sampling of Arkansas wedding vendors and consulted TheWeddingReport.com to put a price tag on some of the most traditional bridal services you’ll consider during the planning process. Although the numbers aren’t all averages of the estimated 31,435 Arkansas weddings in 2010, they still provide a legitimate preview of price quotes you’ll get from a majority of the state’s wedding professionals.


That got-to-have dream wedding gown? It’s going to cost about $727* – or at least that’s the average price Arkansas brides paid in 2010. Meanwhile, bridal accessories padded the bill, including:

Veils: $72*

Accessories (like hair pieces, garters, shoes, etc., but not jewelry): $107*

Gown preservation: $134*


The following rates for ceremony and reception music were averaged from a random sampling of Arkansas venders.

Ceremony music (two hours)

String quartet $600

Harpist: $525

Reception music

DJs (includes four hours of music and emcee service and basic audio/lighting equipment): $544

Well-known party bands (includes three hours of live music and emcee service and audio equipment): $2,925 +$500 for out-of-region travel, if applicable

Money-Saving Tip: Not only do booking agents eliminate a lot of legwork from the music search for brides, these companies can charge about $500 less than self-managed talent, according to our research.


Go ahead and plan on photography eating up a large portion of your budget. As photographers love to say, “Years from now, your wedding photos will be all you have left from your wedding day.” And that rational is accurate. You’ll preserve your gown and save a cocktail napkin or two, but your photos will be the main mementos you reach for to remember the day you said, “I do.”

Prepare to spend more than $1,700 on a basic wedding photography package.

Budget about $5,000 on a photographer’s ultimate wedding photography package.

Big-Day Screen Debut: Arkansas brides spent an average of $1,269* for videographers to capture their weddings on camera in 2009.


For those brides who aren’t members of a church or for those who dream of nature-set nuptials, there are a plethora of wedding sites to choose from in Arkansas. Based on our conversations with staff members of several chapels and outdoor venues, brides can anticipate a fee of about $668 for an evening ceremony accomodating about 130 guests* (the average number of guests invited to Arkansas weddings in 2009), with rehearsal access the night before.

Garden venues cost $100-$200 more than chapel rentals, as more setup is involved to host events.

Marrying Man: Expect to pay about $150* for an Arkansas ceremony officiant (whether you opt for a Justice of the Peace, ordained friend or family member, pastor or minister, rabbi or priest).


Unlike sites that require brides to purchase packages or to use an on-site caterer, there are many Arkansas locales that brides can simply rent. Here’s a snapshot of some average rental fees Arkansas venues charge (remember, food and décor costs are not included):

Historic Homes/Buildings: $1,208

Museums/Galleries: $1,175

Corporate or Private Rooms/Residences: $1,100

However, data shows that the average rental fee among all Arkansas reception sites is $1,750*.

Make Sure to Ask: Many venues offer discounted rental rates for Friday and Sunday receptions. If your dream locale does, a date change might be worth considering.


Many venues blend catering costs and rental fees, charging a per-person rate. Hotels, conference centers, restaurants and country clubs are among the venues that often require brides to spend a minimum amount.

At these venues, Arkansas brides spend an average of $2,500 on reception food service, but some spent upwards of $4,800*.

On top of that, Arkansas wedding bar tabs averaged $1,443* in 2010. Projections indicate the 2011 average will remain about the same.


Cakes are very bride-specific, so it’s hard to gauge the cost in generalities. However, we asked some bakeries around the state to share the starting prices they charge – per serving – for basic flavors and icing, and for fancy fondant cakes.

Basic: $3/per serving

Fondant: $4/per serving

Slice of Advice: Save money by ordering a smaller wedding cake with separate sheet cakes or mini, table cakes. All of your guests will still get a piece, but you’ll have budget peace of mind.

Cupcake Towers: These tend to be more of a delicious splurge than a money saver, as cupcakes cost about the same as a regular serving of wedding cake, and brides usually end up ordering extras for guests who will eat two (or more).

Don’t Be Surprised: Those surveyed said they charge extra for delivery – about $40 or more – depending on the distance.


This is where staying on budget really gets tricky. Chris Norwood of central Arkansas’ Tipton & Hurst estimates that for a small, church wedding with about three bridesmaids and three groomsmen and a reception for 100 people, a bride would need a floral budget of at least $1,500-$2,000.

However, floral design is extremely bride-specific, and it’s important that brides marry their flower budget and wedding day expectations carefully.

Pick Your Posey: By remaining open to a color palette instead of specific flower types, the Arkansas florists we talked to said they can give you more blossoms for your buck.


For a grand getaway in a limo, expect a rental fee of about $350*. At least, that’s what 9,448 brides paid, on average. Would you rather ride away in an antique car or horse carriage? That’ll run you about $259*.


On average, Arkansas couples spent $13,995* on their 2010 weddings. Here’s a regional look at average wedding costs** for couples that live in or near:

Eureka Springs: $11,285 to $18,809

Fayetteville: $12,576 to $20,960

Hot Springs: $11,394 to $18,990 

Jonesboro: $11,855 to $19,759

Little Rock: $15,071 to $25,119

Pine Bluff: $9,962 to $16,604 

Rogers: $12,219 to $20,365

Texarkana: $10,394 to $17,323 

 *Data collected from TheWeddingReport.com’s 2010 Wedding Statistics & Industry Market Estimates for Arkansas.

**Regional data collected from CostOfWedding.com.