Carnegie Institute of Science Washington DC wedding dog

Real Weddings: 2018 Statistical Review

Welcome to my post about 2018 real wedding anec-data! Here is where I give you some statistics about my 12 real weddings from 2018. This is not a big survey. It is not statistically significant. But it is real information about real couples getting married in the DC area. I think it’s fun to take this macro view after I’m out of the weeds of the actual weddings. You can also read about my 2017 real weddings and my 2016 real weddings if you are curious.

2018 Wedding Locations

Bellwether Events worked on twelve weddings in 2018. Five weddings were in DC, two weddings were in Baltimore, three weddings were in Virginia, and one had a DC ceremony and a VA reception. Nine were at special event venues, two were at hotels, and one was at a private club. 2018 included six wedding venues that Bellwether Events had never worked at before, including both Baltimore wedding venues: Baltimore Museum of Industry and The George Peabody Library. I’ve been wanting to work at Peabody Library for about 14 years – I was so excited!

Nine of our 12 couples left nothing to chance, and planned on indoor weddings from the beginning. Two of the remaining three had great luck and we were able to do the outdoor ceremonies as planned and desired. Unfortunately one couple was forced to move their ceremony indoors due to threat of rain and very high temperatures and humidity.

Rust Manor House Wedding Leesburg Virginia wedding ceremony outside

2018 Wedding Size

The average wedding guest attendance was 139 guests with a low of 53 and a high of 270. If you remove the outliers, the average wedding guest list was 134.

2018 brought me my largest wedding party ever: 10 bridesmaids, 10 groomsmen and 2 junior attendants. The other 11 weddings had more typical wedding party sizes: 16, 13, 13, 13, 12, 6, 5, 4, 4, and we had two weddings with no attendants. Three weddings had mixed-gender attendants.

National Portrait Gallery wedding

Wedding RSVP rates: still looking like 80% is a safe bet, though when you cross that 200 invitee mark, the response rate does drop a little bit closer to 70%.

Wedding RSVP rates 2018

2018 Wedding Budgets

My twelve couples spent an average of $61,100 on their weddings. This is a small decrease from 2017. I saw a high wedding budget of $117K, and a low of $20K. The average per person spend was $448 per guest. The lowest per wedding guest spend was $220 and the highest spend was $612 per wedding guest. Since I don’t do full planning for all my couples, I had to estimate some budgets here. But I have a lot of the other vendor contracts, so I feel good about when I made estimates.

2018 Wedding Details

Couples who wanted partial or full planning with Bellwether Events hired us 7-13 months in advance of their wedding date. Couples who booked Event Management hired us 3-5 months in advance of their wedding.

Only one of my 2018 weddings used a house of worship for their wedding ceremony. But six other couples had a religious officiant for their wedding ceremony. Four couples had a friend or family member lead their wedding ceremony, and one couple hired a professional wedding officiant for their secular ceremony. Four of my couples signed a Ketubah as part of their wedding day.

Nine of my twelve couples opted to do a first look. Last year it was eight of ten who did a first look.

As I said in my 2017 real wedding round up, sweetheart tables are making a come back. Five couples used a sweetheart table in 2018, four sat at a long head table, one sat at a standard round table and two had cocktail style receptions with no table assigned for themselves!

Rust Manor House wedding Leesburg Virginia Sweetheart table boho rustic

Seven couples hired a DJ for their reception, three hired a band, 1 couple had both a DJ and a live band, and one couple used Spotify playlists for their wedding reception.

Six couples hired a videographer.

Eight out of 12 weddings had a wedding cake. Two cakes were cut with military sabers. Other desserts we saw in 2018, either standing alone or paired with cakes included: pies, cupcakes, dairy free sorbet and ice cream, mini desserts, and a Pittsburgh Cookie Table!!!

Peabody Library Wedding - white buttercream wedding cake

We had two official getaway cars in 2018. One was a rental and one was a personal car.

Fathom Gallery wedding Washington DC getaway car

Most importantly, three couples included their dog in the wedding day.

Carnegie Institute of Science Washington DC wedding dog

Biggest Challenge

In 2017 we had a huge challenge, that involved moving an entire wedding from one venue to another with 3 months to go. In 2018 we didn’t have any challenges as dramatic. But we did see some other vendors go AWOL on our clients, and we guided our couples through those challenges before and after their wedding days. We had a couple who investigated close to 2 dozen venues – a record for us that took many months! We had a groom who had mono on his wedding day – poor guy!

Notable Success

NThere were four weddings in 2018 that I led the design of, and I’m super proud of how all 4 turned out. Like, really really proud. I can’t wait to share all the photos from those weddings.

Rust Manor House wedding Leesburg Virginia tent reception
Torpedo Factory Wedding Alexandria Virginia wedding tent reception

Coming Soon

2019 is looking great – we have fourteen weddings booked, and are still looking to fill in some dates in May and in October. We are excited to have our first weddings at Dumbarton House, The Fairmont Hotel, Veritas Vineyard, and Tranquility Farm, and we are excited to be back at Riverside on the Potomac, DAR, Woodend, Decatur House, Saint Francis Hall and Meridian House. We also have two at-home weddings coming up in June.s