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How to Budget an International Wedding in Ukraine

How to Budget an International Wedding in Ukraine

April 1, 2016

As winter fades with the new arrival of spring, we once again approach the prime wedding season in Ukraine. With so much planning and preparation required, chances are if you haven't already made arrangements for your wedding party then you may have to compromise for much less than what you had originally wanted.

The best photographers and videographers are already booked months, sometimes years in advance. What about restaurants resort halls and hotels? Were you wanting live music for your wedding? You better make reservations soon or your only source of music will be your drunken uncle MC singing cover tunes until 2am! 

Of course, Ukrainian families are experts in the planning and engineering of wedding events. This comes natural. But, what about an international wedding? What is the best way to plan wedding arrangements with a foreigner?

Planning a Ukrainian wedding budget

Planning a budget for an international wedding in Ukraine can be difficult. Every foreigner will have their own unique preferences and cultural influences so there is often some disagreements in blending expectations and planning effectively. However, for you foreigners who are about to be married in Ukraine I suggest you take this simple advice. Simply let your fiancé(e) and her family make the arrangements and get ready for some serious fun with your wedding party - Ukrainian style!

My husband James was born and raised in the Chicagoland area which has a large Ukrainian /Polish community, so his Slavic roots and enthusiasm made it easy for us all to put together the type of wedding events that both we and all our family members could enjoy. You see, we made the decision to have our wedding party in a small town near my home village in Western Ukraine, where all of my relatives, many of them being older, could easily travel to and attend. It worked out great! We settled on inviting 100 guests and we had family and friends attending from all different regions of Ukraine.

Today, we decided to share some information that we hope our readers might find useful. I kept accurate record of all the expenses from all the arrangements that my husband and I, along with our family made for our wedding. This will help foreigners to develop an understanding of the true costs of certain party goods and services in Ukraine.

Everyone's budget is unique. There will no doubt be some Americans or Westerners that view our arrangements as modest and they would be correct - according to western standards. Although many Ukrainians would likely view our wedding budget as rich and abundant. And it was! 

We like to think that we found the perfect balance point for the perfect international wedding in Ukraine. But you shouldn't allow limited finances to discourage your plans for getting married in Ukraine. There are so many important elements to a succesful international marriage, so you shouldn't be over concerned about a storybook wedding. Believe me when I say that Ukrainians are experts in making memorable celebrations from limited resources.

Now for the numbers, with descriptions to follow...

Cost of Ukrainian wedding party

Wedding Date: May, 2011

Guest count: 100 (not including the 30+ locals that crashed the party!)

Prices: US dollars

Wedding Theme: Traditional Ukrainian with a slight modern touch  

American and Ukrainian flags with traditional embroidery everywhere!


Wedding invitations $70

Church services/Priest $100

Our wedding was scheduled for the first week of May. All invitations were sent out 3 months in advance. Our church ceremony was held in my home village which has a small population of less than 200. The village location makes for difficult travel since there is only one, very rough road going in and out. Having all of our friends and family together for the event made for such wonderful experience. Unfortunately, we experienced 3 straight days of cold rain, just before our wedding date. But on the day of our wedding, the skies cleared, bringing the most magnificent display of spring colors. I thank God for the wonderful blessings on that day.


Musicians $320

Photographer $250

Videographer $650

We were fortunate to have some very talented professionals to make our wedding day special. The musicians followed us the entire day with wonderful Ukrainian folk tunes. They kept the mood festive all the way from my home in the village during the Buyout the Bride ceremony, to the march to the village church and to the reception. The photographer and videographer preserved these special moments.


Restaurant $1250


  • 2 limousines 4 hours $400
  • bus $90

Our wedding reception was held in a modest restaurant about 8 km distance from our village church. The restaurant is quite nice for being in a small town, but of course we needed to provide some form of transportation to help people get around. James had arranged for two limousines for us, the bridesmaids, the best men and our inner circle of friends. We also rented a marshrutka to help transport other friends and family, so they could begin to party without having to drive.



  • decoration $375
  • bouquet, boutonniere $40

The flowers looked great, even though they were delivered from over 80 km away. Still, we should have ordered more. My advice - order twice the amount you think you might want, if your budget allows.


Other Decorations

  • registry book $20
  • candles $120
  • flags $40
  • mini flags $20
  • wedding favors $50
  • balloons $10

The international wedding theme made for some great excitement and it also brought much attention to the party. There were different size UA and USA flags along with some nice decorations throughout the restaurant. It wasn't formal, but incredibly festive!


Home kitchen food $1000

  • Fish
  • Meats
  • Breads
  • Fresh Fruits and vegetables

There were a variety of well prepared food dishes supplied by the restaurant staff, but the main menu was supplied by our inner family members. We had a whole smokehouse full of meats prepared the week before the wedding. There was also an incredible abundance of tasty fish, fresh from the river off our family property and gorgeous fresh breads, fruits and vegetables everywhere.


Homemade Korovai $80

Cake includes delivery $125

Knife set for cake $40

Traditionally, both families of bride and groom make Korovais. Those two korovais are made by women of the families and special traditions are followed while making the Korovai. All godparents bring Korovai to the wedding, and even aunts and uncles and other close family members brought smaller versions of Korovais, which are called Kalach. We received so many Korovais for our wedding, we didn't know where to put them. The rule of thumb here is that you can never have too much Korovai! James also ordered a gorgeous western-style three-tier wedding cake that somehow made the 80 km trip to town undamaged. We also special ordered a custom engraved knife set for cutting the wedding cake.


Coffee / Tea / Sweet Desserts $200

There was plenty of coffee, tea and sweets for the guests to enjoy at their convenience.



Champagne 40 bottles $200

Champagne Glasses for head table $50

Champagne glasses plastic 100 ct $80

Vodka 50 bottles $125

Soft drinks 80 2 liter bottles $80

Bottled Water 80 2 liter bottles $70

Birch juice 35 3 liter jars $90

What more can I say, as there is no such thing as too many drinks at a Ukrainian wedding. Champagne and Vodka... even Samohonka? That'll keep the party going!


Chocolate fountain 100 servings $100

Fruits for fountain $40

Nothing spectacular, but the young people really enjoyed it.


Cigars $100

Fireworks $100

Well, at first the awesome live music attracted some wedding crashers from in town. Many friends that I haven't seen in years showed up to see what was going on. I was very happy to see them.  However, after the impressive fireworks show, we soon found our "new guest" count growing beyond control. Oh what a night!


Total cost of wedding party = 6,285 USD

Remember, you don't have to spend a fortune to have a nice wedding. Although money helps, it's the people that make the party great. The above list seems complete for the most part. If you have any ideas to add feel free to post them in the comments section below.


01 Apr 2016
Terrific! My wedding is scheduled for June. This information will be helpful to me because my fiancee and I cannot decide how many guests to invite. She has a very large family, there might be close to 200 guests to invite if we incllude her friends and everyone possible. I have my brother, my sister and husband and two good friends traveling to Ukraine for my wedding. I would like to invite all my friends and family but travel cost makes for difficult situation. Travel expense will be near $3000 for each of them. I am not wealthy oligarch, but we will have a nice wedding =)

Congrats NealS! Number of guests is always a challenge in wedding planning. I'm glad some of your family and friend will be able to join the celebration. I bet they'll have a lot of stories to tell back home after experiencing Ukrainian wedding party. Cheers!

01 Apr 2016

^ I'll have what he's having :)

01 Sep 2016
I don't think I can get tired of saying this: Oksana, James - both of you are amazing!!! Thanks for sharing all of this. Both of you are showing the path for those of us that are in the dark and want to make things special for our significant other. Very grateful for all you do! May the best be with you...always!!!

You're very kind Windsurfer7. There are many paths to choose from but when dealing with Ukrainian society in its current form, we always recommend the path of least resistance. We wish you great success!

19 Apr 2017
I used this site as a guide while my wife and her family planned the wedding. Originally, I had budgeted $3000 USD. We came in just under $8000 USD. 120 people. I'll tell you what. Travel expenses(including hotel and expenses) I paid for my guests were an additional $5000 USD. We had a reception for my friends at home in Hawaii about 3 months later. $5000 for renewing vows and reception. 40 people. I think the Ukraine wedding was a deal. Just think. I was only trying to learn the Russian language. I met a man online who was trying to learn english. After a while, he invited me to Kharkiv to visit him and his family. I met Anna the first day I was there. Now happily married.

Thanks for sharing your experiece Lpgarcia. Money well spent - prices continue to rise in Ukraine due to the added costs of "westernization". Today, general costs listed above would likely have considerable increase, but most foreigners benefit from current exchange rates. Best wishes to you and your wife!

23 Apr 2017
This was very good reading, thanks for posting it. I was interested in the "bride price" that I keep hearing about. How is that determined and what should the limits be on that? I have done some extensive research and the most I can come up with is that it isn't too much. What are your thoughts on that? Thanks

Hello - Traditionally, there is no one-size-fits-all answer, or in this case, set price. Ukraine wedding traditions do vary from family to family and the buyout the bride tradition is no exception. Here I can offer simple advice from a personal perspective. Most families focus on the joy and fun of the event but there is no denying that a monetary offer of significant amount would benefit new family relations. Negotiate hard to command respect and once you gain the upper hand.. give beyond the settled price to demonstrate honor and pride - but do this tactfully and make sure your intentions are clearly understood.

As far as the amount -  $100 USD ? Can you afford $1000 USD?... is she worth it? How about a calculated percentage of your adjusted gross monthly income?  say,10, maybe 20%? Now there's a clever idea!

Of course, if you're shelling out thousands of dollars in wedding expenses you might be satisfied with a strict low-ball offer, but prepare for the evil eye from the babushkas! Many families use a pouch full of lower value coins simply to make the exchange more interesting and very often the currency would be local UAH. This should get ya thinking. Good luck and have fun w/ it!

14 Dec 2017
It is interesting to read this site on weddings in Ukraine. I am interested to know from other foreign men who went to Ukraine to get married and how they got on bringing large amounts of cash into the country ? It seems a bit of an unknown of what to expect for a us foreign men. At the boarder or airports immigration you have to declare amounts around 10k. I am looking to get engaged to my girlfriend and looking ahead at probably getting married in Ukraine so her family and friends can be present.
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