The biggest question that we get, day in and day out in this industry is: what does it cost to get married at Olio?
My most unhelpful and quick reply is: what do you want it to cost?
So today I'm sharing my 10+ years of expertise in planning weddings at venues all over New England with you! You are welcome.
Budgets... this is not an easy question to begin to answer! Why is it complicated and where do we start? Read on....
First Things First
The first step at a nontraditional venue is to recognize that ultimately, the budgeting piece is entirely in your hands.
▶This is wonderful because it means that can you create a unique and memorable experience based on your individualized priorities and preferences. There is maximum flexibility to pick and choose your priorities and where you want your budget to go.
Want a 4-course plated meal with wine pairings and hit play on a Spotify playlist?
Want to go all out on the floral design and stick to a cash bar?
You can do that.
▶This is challenging because it means that there isn't a quick answer to what weddings cost. This is a big distinction from a function hall or hotel-type venue that has in-house catering and can tell you what couples typically spend.
A core part of a wedding planner's job is to help with budget allocation, so you should start with a wonderful planner (we have referrals!) if you plan to go that route.
All that being said, our pricing at Olio is published and kept up to date right on our website. We want to give couples and planners all of the tools to figure out if we're the right fit from the budget side!
A Few Caveats about Wedding Budgets
Information below is subject to change and is accurate as of fall 2023. It is specifically targeted to the geographic area north of Boston and may not apply in other areas. Listings below are specific to wedding day vendors, and exclusive of other expenses that may be incurred around the wedding (ie invitations, attire, rehearsal dinner, honeymoon, hotel rooms).
And I feel it's important to explicitly point out: these are not required minimums to spend on a wedding day. These are typical ranges that we see in the wedding world for expenses that most couples incur. Do some couples scale significantly back from what's listed below to fit a more budget-minded process? Absolutely.
For a very rough back-of-the-napkin budget, start with the caterer. At Olio, we require full service catering. In short, that means that the caterer handles your food, beverage (bar), rentals (furniture/linens/tableware), and staffing (setup through cleanup and trash removal). Most full service catering starts around $150/person including all four of the categories listed above, and it can run up to several hundred dollars per guest, depending on what's included.
So a great first step is to start by chatting with a few caterers from our preferred list of caterers. If you take the catering quote and double it, you can approximate a total wedding budget.
So if the catering proposal for 150 guests comes in at $25,000, the wedding budget should be around $50,000.
Obviously, this completely depends if you are having a live band or a DJ, hanging a floral chandelier or sticking to silk flowers... but this is a great ballpark estimator.
Note: unlike at most similar venues, none of our preferred caterers pay a listing fee or commission to be included, they are simply wonderful partners for a great event who are experts at working at Olio.
DJ or band is the big question here, with a DJ starting around $2,000 for the most basic package and go up from there.
Bands start significantly higher, around $8,000 with most couples spending upwards of $10,000 for a 7+ piece band.
The great news at Olio, unlike most other venues, is that the entertainment folks only have one single setup (ceremony, cocktail, reception) and this will provide clients with savings.
Florals are the biggest component of décor for more couples, but the range in what clients spend is ginormous. Some couples spend $0, borrowing candles and silk flowers from friends and DIY'ing a backdrop for their ceremony. Some couples spend $20,000+ on gorgeous centerpiece blooms, ceremony installations, sweetheart backdrops, thousands of candles, and more. Most couples are somewhere in the middle, in the $3,000-$10,000 range for floral design and installation. Most couples at Olio hire a full service florist who not only comes onsite to set up and install their art, but also returns at the end of the night for break down.
If you've toured Olio with me, you've heard me say: the biggest way to make an impact in a big, tall space is with lighting. There are many wonderful professional event lighting design and installation companies in the area, and we are happy to provide referrals with those who have worked at Olio.
The most budget-friendly lighting option will be uplights, running in the $500-$1,000 range. Some entertainment companies offer uplights or other dance lights as an add-on.
String lights are also a popular addition, as they provide a cozy, romantic vibe to the room. Some couples choose to light the whole room and some just string lights over the dinner tables or hanging from the walls. Budget $1,500-$4,000 for string lights, depending on the specific vendor and installation.
Many other event lighting ideas abound - ask us for professional referrals.
Hiring a wedding planner or coordinator is highly recommended at Olio (and frankly at all venues). Wedding coordination is where I got my start (hello Without A Hitch) and I can tell you from firsthand experience that you want someone onsite at your wedding who is
b) experienced and
c) works directly for you.
Wedding day coordination typically costs $2,500-$4,500 (and includes more than just showing up that day).
Partial planning typically costs $4,000-$8,000.
Full service planning (including design, budget management, vendor management, and guest management), typically costs $8,000-$25,000. The large range is dependent on the scope of services and experience of the planner.
If you are considering Olio, we would love to share a list of referrals of planners who have been successful in our space.
For many couples, photo and video services are a big deal. The investments range hugely based on experience and inclusions (ie engagement session, albums, number of hours, associate shooters) but generally expect to pay $3,500-$8,000 for each service.
With abundant nearby parking options and a loading zone right out front, many couples choose not to provide transportation to Olio, particularly if guests are staying at a number of different nearby hotels. That said, if you want to encourage your guests to party and drink and not worry about driving, and you have a sizeable contingent staying at a single hotel, providing a bus or trolley service is a fabulous perk. Budget $500-$1,000 per bus, holding ~40 adults.
Many couples choose a friend or family member to officiate and therefore have minimal to no expense. Keep in mind that anyone can get a one-day designation from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to perform the ceremony.
Bringing in a professional officiant is a great option for many couples, and couples choose from a religious pricing ranges from $150 to $1,000+ depending on the experience and the services provided. Some religious officiants request a donation to their congregation or honorarium.
Regardless of which option you choose, you'll need to pull your marriage license from any town/city hall in the state, which has a small fee associated.
A few other vendors that you may want to consider budgeting for but may not be essential for your celebration: bakery, photo booth, live painting, specialty furniture rentals, social content creator, and performers.
A few critical things to keep in mind...
There are a lot of worksheets and guidelines from big national or international corporations. They aren't all bad but take them with a grain of salt. Unless they are targeted at your specific geographic area, the costs are going to vary wildly.
Don't forget gratuity!
Vendor meals are a (nominal) additional expense. You should feed any vendor who is onsite with you throughout the day and your caterer will have a special vendor meal price.
Consider a weekday or off-season wedding to save money. The less demand there is for the date you are looking at, the more likely there will be pricing flexibility or "add ons" discounted. More about our love of winter weddings on our blog feature.
Consider a lunch or afternoon wedding to save on food/beverage costs.
OK! That's all I got for now, from your resident wedding expert. How did accurate did you find this guide? Any budget tips for future couples? Comment below!
Ready to start planning with me? Inquire here!
xo, Sarah Narcus
Owner of Olio: Modern/Industrial Event Space