Feb 7, 2024 - Weddings

Carolina Wedding Confessionals: See inside this Charlotte couple's six-figure Asheville wedding

Carolina Wedding Confessionals: Caitlin and Mark

Photo: Courtesy of Amber Hatley Photography.

Caitlin and Mark had their first date at the OG Sycamore Brewing in 2015. Last June, the two tied the knot with a $125,000 wedding just outside Asheville.

By the numbers: Their original budget of $75,000 had nearly doubled by the end.

  • Caitlin says this was mostly due to changing quotes and price increases from the time of their 2021 engagement to their wedding.

Yes, and: The two had a lot of out-of-town guests, so they made a weekend-long celebration out of their wedding, with a welcome party on Friday at Asheville's Green Man Brewery and a morning-after brunch on Sunday.

Here's a look at the cost breakdown of Caitlin and Mark's wedding for 150 guests.

Of note: Caitlin's responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.

  • Costs are rounded to the nearest dollar. The breakdown doesn't include every wedding expense, such as invites or the rehearsal dinner, though we've factored everything into the total cost.

Venue: $16,000

Caitlin and Mark got married at Chestnut Ridge, a wedding venue in Canton, NC, about 20 miles from Asheville.

  • The cost included access to their décor closet, bridal/grooms suites and lunch for the wedding party on the wedding day.
  • They paid an extra $2,200 to extend the ceremony's end time from 10pm to 11pm.
wedding venue chesnut ridge
Caitlin and Mark on their wedding day at Chestnut Ridge in Canton, NC. Photo: Courtesy of Amber Hatley Photography.

Wedding dress and veil: $6,048

Rentals: $10,390

  • Rentals were pricier than expected, Caitlin says. Most of the cost went toward a grill for the caterer.
  • Some other rental costs included silverware, plates, linens and chairs.

Food and alcohol: $19,000

The couple's wedding food (about $12,000) included appetizers during cocktail hour, a plated dinner and a late-night French fry bar. The remaining $7,000 was spent on alcohol.

  • "Food was our biggest splurge, mostly because of the seated dinner."
alcohol
Photo: Courtesy of Amber Hatley Photography.
apps
Caitlin wanted the food to have a global flair. Their appetizers, for example, ranged from samosas to Mexican street corn. Photo: Courtesy of Amber Hatley Photography.

Cake: $1,042

  • "We had a three-tier cake and a sheet cake with the same flavors to supplement."
wedding cake
The tiered cake fed 75. Photo: Courtesy of Amber Hatley Photography.

Flowers: $10,090

  • Flowers were "shockingly expensive," Caitlin says.
  • The couple reused flowers from the ceremony and the bridal bouquets as center pieces at the reception.
flowers
Caitlin had the idea to recycle florals as centerpieces after receiving an initial much more expensive invoice. Photo: Courtesy of Amber Hatley Photography.

Photography: $7,400

All of the wedding photography (which includes all images in this article) were taken by Amber Hatley Photography.

  • The photography cost included 10 hours of coverage, pre-wedding bridal photos, a second photographer and wedding album.
reception
The wedding reception also took place at Chestnut Ridge. Photo: Courtesy of Amber Hatley Photography.

Wedding Planner: $5,000

  • "A wedding planner is a must-have — the day-of coordination especially," Caitlin says.

Transportation: $4,325

  • Having a mountainside wedding meant limited access to Ubers, so Caitlin and Mark rented school buses and hired drivers to take guests to and from the venue.
  • The two also had a getaway car for the end of the night, which cost $1,675.
school bus
Photo: Courtesy of Amber Hatley Photography.

Hair and makeup: $3,360

The cost included Caitlin's hair and makeup (and a trial run), plus hair and makeup for her nine bridesmaids and a few others in the wedding party.

A few other notable costs include a ceremony string trio for $1,950, a dog handler (to have their dog Piper attend) for $475 and a DJ for $3,300.

  • The couple spent $975 on an after party from 11pm-1am at Kimpton Hotel Arras in Asheville.
  • Instead of wedding favors, Caitlin and Mark made a $450 donation to the American Cancer Society in honor of family members diagnosed with cancer.
caitlin, mark
Caitlin and Mark with their dog, Piper. Courtesy of Amber Hatley Photography.

Total cost: $125,439.

Advice to soon-to-be brides: "Have your wedding the way you want it. Trends come and go. Make it fun and make it feel like you," Caitlin says.

  • "Also, have a 20% contingency budget. Whatever you're planning for, there's some fee you don't realize you have to pay for."

Calling all Carolina newlyweds! Want to be interviewed for our wedding budget series? Fill out this survey to be considered.

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