By:Christy Bieber |Published Sept. 2, 2020
Image source: Getty Images
Weddings have become more than just a chance for a couple to express their commitment to each other -- they've become big business.
Couples budget, on average, around $23,000 for their wedding but end up spending around $30,000, with more than half of all couples increasing their projected spending during the planning process according to Wedding Wire's 2020 Newlywed Report.
With couples spending enough money to buy a car or put a down payment on a home on a one-day event, let's take a look at where this money goes, where it comes from, and who covers the costs.
- The average cost of a wedding in 2019 was $33,900.
- New Jersey has the highest average cost at $53,400, with Utah taking the lowest spot at $19,700.
- Shift weddings, microweddings, and minimonies have become more popular during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Photography and food are the most common items to increase wedding budgets for.
- The average wedding dress costs around $1,500.
- Wedding photography costs an average of $2,400, while videography averages $1,799.
- The average cost of a wedding cake is $540, but can vary widely.
- Across all groups, parents of the bride and groom pay for 52% of wedding expenses.
- 32% of couples pay for their wedding with a credit card.
How much does a wedding cost?
According to The Knot's 2019 Real Weddings Study, the average cost of a wedding in the United States came in at $33,900. This doesn't include the honeymoon, but does include the engagement ring.
However, it doesn't tell the whole story in terms of how much a wedding is likely to cost couples, as the price tag can vary substantially from state to state as well as based on the type of wedding.
How much does the average wedding cost across the U.S.?
Where you live can have a major impact on how much you spend to say "I do" to your beloved.
In fact, weddings cost a whopping $33,700 more in New Jersey -- where couples have the honor of hosting the nation's most expensive weddings at an average price of $53,400 -- than in Utah, the cheapest place in the U.S. to get married (couples spend just $19,700 on average).
The extra $33,700 that Garden State residents spend would be enough to cover the full cost of an average wedding in 36 states!
Surprisingly, though, there are just three states in the country where the average cost of a wedding comes in at under $20,000 -- Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming.
The table below shows the average price throughout the country:
|State||Average wedding cost in 2019|
|North Dakota & South Dakota||$29,200|
Average wedding costs by type of wedding
Where you live isn't the only factor that affects how much you're likely to spend when you celebrate the start of your life with your beloved. The type of wedding also makes a difference:
- Destination weddings average $32,000, while hometown weddings average $27,000.
- First marriages weddings average $30,000, while second weddings average $14,000.
- Millennials typically spend $30,000, while members of Gen Xers spend $20,000.
Hometown weddings come at a lower average cost than destination weddings for obvious reasons -- it's cheaper to stay local than to incur the costs of travel.
However, some of the extra wedding costs of a destination ceremony may be offset by a lower price tag for the honeymoon, assuming the couple celebrates in the location where the wedding was held.
It's surprising, though, that millennials -- who have faced unprecedented financial struggles -- tend to spend more on their nuptials than their older counterparts. This discrepancy could be explained by the fact that social media has played an increasingly important role in driving the price of weddings up. More than half of all couples set up their own wedding hashtag in 2019.
Sexual orientation made almost no difference at all in average wedding costs. Opposite-sex couples spent an average of $28,000 while same-sex couples spent just $500 more.
How much do weddings cost in the COVID-19 era?
For many betrothed couples, weddings will look very different in 2020 -- and perhaps beyond -- due to COVID-19.
With most states imposing limits on the number of people attending gatherings and with coronavirus continuing to spread, lavish affairs are being replaced with alternatives, including these three options:
- Shift weddings still involve a large guest list, but guests attend at appointed times
- Microweddings are typically small gatherings with under 50 guests. Most couples plan a larger reception at a later point.
- Minimonies normally involve 10 or fewer guests, mostly including close family members.
While shift weddings will likely retain the high average cost of more traditional affairs, microweddings and minimonies come with much smaller price tags.
In fact, one venue that normally charges approximately $30,000 for a standard wedding with 300 guests has indicated microweddings cost an estimated $2,750 for up to 30 guests or $4,500 for up to 50 guests.
Median and average wedding costs differ
While average wedding costs can provide insight into what couples are spending, they don't always tell the whole story and can establish unreasonable expectations.
By nature, averages can be skewed by some couples spending exorbitantly -- if, for example, two couples marry and one spends $1,000 and another spends $100,000, an average wedding cost of $50,500 isn't a very accurate representation of what either actually spent.
Median cost can shed more insight into what typical couples are spending, as it is the middle number in the list. Unfortunately, median cost isn't as widely available. However, a quick look at the most recent year in which median wedding cost data was published shows a substantial discrepancy between the median and average cost.
With the median coming in more than $10,000 below the average, it's likely that the average is skewed by some couples throwing over-the-top affairs while most spend a more reasonable sum.
Wedding budget breakdown: Where does the money go?
With tens of thousands of dollars on the line, it's important to understand what couples prioritize and where this money goes.
For most couples, budget increases are driven by five primary factors, according to Wedding Wire:
Wedding cost breakdown: Here's what the typical wedding budget looks like
The data below shows average wedding costs for different spending categories, according to Wedding Wire:
- Venue: $10,500
- Engagement rings: $5,900
- Honeymoon: $5,000
- Band: $3,700
- Photography: $2,400
- Alcohol/liquor: $2,300
- Wedding rings: $2,200
- Flowers: $2,000
- Rehearsal dinner: $1,900
- Videography: $1,800
- Wedding dress: $1,600
- Wedding planner: $1,500
- Lighting and décor: $1,500
- DJ: $1,200
- Guest entertainment: $1,000
- Transportation: $800
- Invitations/stationery: $560
- Cake/desserts: $500
- Wedding musicians (e.g., soloist, ensembles): $450
- Favors and gifts: $400
- Groom's attire: $300
- Jewelry: $200
- Officiant: $250
- Groomsmen attire (each): $180
- Bridesmaid dress (each): $140
- Hairstylist (bride): $110
- Makeup artist (bride): $100
- Makeup artists wedding party (each): $70
- Hairstylist wedding party (each): $70
- Catering (per head): $70
Not all couples will incur all of these expenses, and some will choose to spend far less on certain areas in order to splurge on others.
Let's take a closer look at variation in costs for some of these major categories.
Average wedding venue cost
Where you get married can be one of the biggest drivers of cost, as the price tag of the most expensive venues can be several thousand dollars more than the least expensive.
In fact, according to Wedding Forward, here's the average cost of different wedding venues:
- Community or event center: $2,000 to $24,000
- Country or private club: $2,000 to $18,000
- Banquet hall: $2,000 to $23,000
- City buildings: $4,000 to $23,000
- Museum or art gallery: $4,000 to $11,000
- Brewery or winery: $5,000 to $10,000
- Hotel or resort: $5,000 to $74,000
- Barn: $6,000 to $13,000
- National or city park: $7,600 to $14,000
Average cost of wedding flowers
Wedding flowers are surprisingly complicated, with more than 15 different types of possible arrangements to consider. Brides.com provides some details on what couples can expect to pay for some of the different floral items at their wedding.
- Bridal bouquet: $150 to $350
- Bridesmaid bouquet: $65 to $125
- Boutonniere: $24 to $45
- Pin-on corsage: $32 to $48
- Wrist corsage: $48 to $65
- Reception flowers: $75 to $250
- Flower girl petals: $65 per bag
- Altar flowers: $75 to $500
- Arrangement next to sign-in book: $150 to $250
- Arrangement next to place cards: $65 to $125
- Head table centerpiece: $65 to $150
- Sweetheart table garland: $12 to $45 per foot
- Guest table centerpiece: $75 to $400
- Cake flowers: $25 to $150
- Flower crown: $45 to $125
Mixing low- and high-priced florals can help keep budget costs down, as can reusing flowers from the ceremony at the reception and choosing flowers that are in season.
Average wedding dress costs
Most brides dream of finding the perfect gown, but the price of perfection isn't cheap. When looking at the average cost of a wedding dress in every state, Insider DATA found that most states came in around $1,500.
In addition to the dress itself, brides may need to pay for extras including:
- Accessories such as shoes, veils or tiaras, jewelry, and a clutch purse. Wedding Forward reports these accessories typically cost between $350 and $500.
- Undergarments, which average around $200 in cost.
- Alterations, which can cost between $500 and $600 if they're not included by your bridal shop.
- Cleaning and preservation, which could come at a combined cost of around $500.
Average cost of a wedding photographer or wedding videographer
More than 90% of couples hired a photographer in 2019, according to The Knot. This didn't come cheap at an average price of $2,400.
However, as this data from Wedding Forward shows, the cost depends on the skill level of the person taking the pictures. Here's what you can expect to spend if you hire photographers with varying levels of experience:
- Student: $500 to $1,500
- Semi-pro: $1,000 to $2,500
- Professional: $2,500 to $10,000
- Grandmaster: $6,000 and up
For couples who want to capture their magical moments on video, rather than just on film, the average videographer comes at a price of $1,799 according to Wedding Wire.
However, most couples spend anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500 with the cost determined in large part by the amount of time your videographer spends at your event as well as the level of editing requested.
Average cost of a wedding cake
For couples looking to end the night with something sweet, wedding cakes typically cost anywhere from $1.50 to $12.00 per slice, with the overall average landing at $540, according to Wedding Forward. Factors that affect the price include
- number of tiers,
- frosting type,
- delivery fees, and
- equipment rentals.
Unfortunately, couples hoping that alternatives such as wedding cupcakes may cost them less will likely be disappointed as Wedding Forward reports that common options such as wedding cupcakes or cake pops carry an average price tag of $2.50 to $4.00 per serving -- on par with a low- to mid-priced cake.
How much does a wedding planner cost?
With so many moving parts to make up a perfect wedding, many couples turn to a professional for help planning it all. An estimated 30% of couples hire a wedding planner to take care of some or all of the logistics, according to Wedding Wire.
While the average cost of this professional help comes at a price of around $1,500, the price tag depends what type of assistance your planner provides.
Couples have the option of choosing
- a full-service planner;
- a day-of coordinator;
- a wedding-weekend or destination-wedding coordinator; or
- a professional who offers a-la-carte services and assists with only a specific aspect of wedding preparations.
Obviously, the less assistance a planner provides, the lower the price will be.
How much does a small wedding cost?
The average wedding size is 131 guests, according to The Knot. Having so many people present for your big day is a wonderful way to celebrate, but it's also one of the reasons weddings have such a high price tag.
With catering alone averaging $70 per person, every 10 people you can cut from your guest list could save you as much as $700.
A smaller wedding could also enable you to reduce the size of your venue and save on alcohol.
As many as 92% of couples serve alcohol at their wedding, and the average cost of adult beverages is approximately $2,300, according to The Knot.
Who pays the costs of the average wedding?
With such a high price tag, it can be hard for many couples to cover the costs of the typical wedding. Many get help from their parents while others use savings or even charge wedding-related purchases on their credit cards.
The charts below show how costs are split among the couple, their parents, and other generous contributors, along with how couples come up with the funds to pay for their special event.
Percent of wedding paid for:
Here's where couples draw money from to pay for their part of the wedding:
The average cost of a wedding around the world
The United States is far from the only country where couples spend extravagantly on their nuptials. The data below from WeddingWire shows the average price of a wedding around the world in U.S. dollars, using currency conversion rates as of March 2019.
The United States is the most expensive on the list by a wide margin in terms of average cost, but couples across the globe have a keen interest in making their wedding special and are willing to pay a relatively high price in order to do so.
What about wedding insurance?
Unfortunately, weddings aren't immune to unforeseen circumstances. (If you've lived through 2020, you know just how true this is.) Which is where wedding insurance comes in.
Wedding insurance policies cover a wide variety of items, from lost rings to injured guests.
Cancellation insurance covers the deposits you made on the venue, DJ, vendors, photography, and so on. It might also cover loss or damage of attire, rings, cake, gifts, and other items, depending on the provisions in your policy.
Liability insurance covers injuries to the people who attend your wedding.
So how much does all of that cost?
According to The Knot, you'll pay between $155 and $550 for a basic cancellation policy that covers things like rings, attire, gifts, and deposits. General liability insurance will cost about $185.
In general, $200 to $400 is probably a safe bet for the average wedding insurance. But costs and levels of coverage can vary widely, so be sure to check multiple options.
Your big day will almost assuredly come with a substantial wedding budget
No matter how you add it up, the cost of a wedding is likely to be several thousand dollars at a minimum, even for a small affair.
Couples would be well-advised to consider their budgets carefully and make sound decisions during the entirety of the wedding planning process, including setting limits up front -- and sticking to them.
Those who are involved in the wedding planning process should likely also aim to pay for as much of the wedding in cash as possible, rather than relying on credit cards that can carry high interest rates. Charging wedding costs can sometimes add hundreds or even thousands of dollars to the final price tag depending on how long the couple pays finance charges.
By taking a financially-responsible approach to their special event, couples should be better able to avoid starting their married life with the substantial wedding debt that can result from such a lavish affair.
- Bortz, Daniel (2020). New York Times. "Wedding Insurance 101."
- Istomina, Valeriya (2019). Wedding Forward. "This Is the Average Price of a Wedding Dress."
- Istomina, Valeriya (2020). Wedding Forward. "Average Cost of Wedding Venues: The Ultimate Guide."
- Istomina, Valeriya (2020). Wedding Forward. "Average Price of a Wedding Cake: An Actual Cost Guide."
- Komorn, Julie (2020). The Knot. "Wedding Insurance 101."
- Lee, Heather and Elizabeth Mitchell (2019). Brides. "Average Cost of Wedding Flowers: Making the Most of a Floral Budget."
- Motina, Kate (2020). Wedding Forward. "Average Wedding Photographer Cost: 2020 Study and Guide."
- Nichols, Ashton (2020). The Dallas Morning News. "Weddings in the COVID-19 era? They’re happening but with compromises."
- Seaver, Maggie (2019). The Knot. "This Is How Much a Wedding Costs on Average, According to Real Data."
- Shaw, Gabbi (2019). Business Insider. "What the average bride spends on her wedding dress in every state."
- Sims, Maddy (2019). The Knot. "Here's How Much the Average Couple Spends on Alcohol for Their Wedding."
- Sims, Maddy and Sarah Hanlon (2019). The Knot. "This Is the Average Wedding Guest List Size in the U.S."
- The Wedding Report (2016). "2016 U.S. Median Cost of a Wedding was $14,399."
- WeddingWire (2019). "2019 Global Wedding Report."
- WeddingWire (2020). "Newlywed Report 2020."
- WeddingWire (2020). "Wedding Videographer Cost Guide."
The average cost of a wedding in 2021 was $28,000 (including the ceremony and reception), according to The Knot's 2021 Real Weddings Study. Here's what you should know about wedding costs and how to realistically estimate how much you'll spend to take the plunge.What's the average cost of a wedding in 2022? ›
2022 wedding price tag
All told, the Wedding Report's average cost for a 2022 wedding sits at around $27,000, which is about on par with 2021 costs.
In the United States, most weddings with 150 guests cost between $28,000 and $38,000, with an average price tag of around $33,000. This figure will vary depending on the site's location, cuisine and drinks offered, as well as other variables. Do you need a wedding budget breakdown for 150 persons?What is the average total cost of a wedding with 100 people? ›
Most receptions for 100 people cost between $5,000 - $10,000, with $7,000 being the average cost. Here's a general estimate of what you can expect to pay for food, service/staffing, alcohol, and rentals for a wedding of this size.Whats the most expensive part of a wedding? ›
The most expensive parts of most weddings are costs associated with the reception venue, including the cost of renting materials, including tables and chairs, and serving food or alcohol.How Much Should bride's parents pay for wedding? ›
On average, the bride's parents usually spend 44 percent of the overall budget, while the couple contributes 43 percent and the groom's parents pop for about 12 percent.Who typically pays for a wedding? ›
You might be aware that the bride's family is expected to cover the majority of the wedding day costs, while the groom's family pays for a variety of extra activities, like the rehearsal dinner and the honeymoon.How much money do you give for a 2022 wedding gift? ›
A typical wedding gift is around $100. The exact amount depends on your personal budget and relationship to the couple, among other factors. Aug. 18, 2022, at 4:18 p.m.How much do couples spend on weddings? ›
Average cost of a wedding by year.
These numbers may vary a little depending on who you're speaking with, but a small wedding typically includes 50 people or under, a medium wedding has a guest list of anywhere from 50-150 guests, and a large wedding has over 150 attendees.
Usually, basic catering with two main courses and one sweet dish costs between ₹ 400 to ₹ 700 per plate. However, if you are looking for several salads, various snacks and cuisines, this cost may vary from ₹ 700 to ₹ 2500 per plate.How do people pay for weddings? ›
“Often times, it's a combination of parents, families, and the couples themselves.” On average, couples cover about 60% of their total wedding costs. The bride's parents pay for about 21%, while the groom's parents typically cover a bit less, according to debt.org.Is 20000 dollars enough for a wedding? ›
A $20,000 wedding budget is feasible. More than half of your budget will cover the cost of the venue, catering, and decorations. Other categories to keep in mind are attire, entertainment, vendors, rings, stationery, and miscellaneous fees.How much is a wedding in NC? ›
The average wedding costs in NC, specifically the Triangle area, are just over $30,000. It doesn't matter whether or not you are on a tight budget or have the ability to spend more freely, a bit of organization and know-how can help you plan a beautiful wedding without encountering unexpected expenses.What is the bride's mother responsible for? ›
The mother of the bride plays the role of hostess, meaning you should spend some time greeting guests during the reception. Although there are exceptions, other wedding-day duties may include sitting at the parents' table and dancing with the father of the bride to help warm up the dance floor.What are the 3 largest expenses with a wedding? ›
- The Ceremony and Reception Venue. The wedding venue is one of the biggest expenses that you'll face. ...
- The Catering. ...
- The Open Bar Cost. ...
- The WeddingDress. ...
- The Photographer and Videographer. ...
- The Music for Reception. ...
- The Flowers. ...
- The Wedding Rings.
The simple answer is weddings have many moving parts: caterers, reception, pictures, videography, makeup, etc. All of these things cost money, which makes the price tag add up quickly.Do parents still pay for weddings 2022? ›
According to the WeddingWire Newlywed Report, parents pay for 52% of wedding expenses, while the couple pays for 47% (the remaining 1% is paid for by other loved ones)—so parents are still paying for a majority of the wedding, though couples are chipping in fairly significantly.What does the groom's family pay for 2022? ›
What Does the Groom's Family Pay For, Traditionally? The groom's family is responsible for corsages and boutonnieres for immediate members of both families, the lodging of the groom's attendants (if you have offered to help pay for this expense), and sometimes the costs of the rehearsal dinner.How much should I give my daughter for a wedding gift? ›
Of course, it would be amazing to give your daughter thousands and thousands of dollars as a wedding gift, but not at the risk of making your own financial situation dire. Depending on their relationship with the bride, wedding guests typically give between $50 – $150 when making a monetary gift.
Traditionally, the bride's family foots the majority of the bill, but that's not stopping modern couples from spending their own savings to have the wedding they want.Do brides parents still pay for wedding? ›
Even though many modern couples are breaking wedding traditions left and right, one tradition is definitely sticking: parents paying for the wedding. To be fair, many couples do try to pay for some of the wedding, but it seems a hefty percentage is still being shelled out by both sides of the family.How much money should the groom's parents give as a wedding gift? ›
Parents of the bride and groom collectively contribute about $19,000 to the wedding, or about two-thirds of the total cost, according to WeddingWire. The bride's parents give an average $12,000, and the groom's, $7,000. Just 1 in 10 couples pays for the wedding entirely on their own, according to TheKnot.com.Is $500 a good wedding gift? ›
A typical cash wedding gift could range from $50 to $500, depending on the same factors listed above. Even then, aiming for the $100 mark is generally sufficient and will be comparable to the average cost of a physical wedding gift.How much do you give a sibling for a wedding? ›
In general, it's thought that guests should spend around $100 on a wedding gift. That said, we recommend spending somewhere between $200-$400 for a sibling as it is generally considered appropriate to spend a little more if you are close friends or family members of the couple.Should I give cash or check for wedding gift? ›
When it comes to wedding gifts, there's no right or wrong answer on how much you should spend. It's all about your personal budget. And cash is a completely acceptable gift, says Lizzie Post, etiquette expert and co-host of Emily Post's “Awesome Etiquette” podcast. Some couples even prefer it.Is 15000 a good wedding budget? ›
If your budget is $15,000, you can still have an amazing wedding. With a $15,000 budget, the key is to keep the guest list to 50 people or fewer. Other ways to keep costs within your budget include sending invitations through email or choosing a venue's buffet package rather than a plated dinner.How much should you save monthly for a wedding? ›
The simple math trick that makes it all work? Take the sum of your desired budget and divide it by the number of months you have to save up. Getting married in a year with a budget of $20,000? Divide $20,000 by 12 (which equals about $1,700 per month).How much does an average wedding ring cost? ›
The 2020 jewelry and engagement study on the knot shows that the average price of a ring is $5,900. This is a country average as price varies by region. It is quite discovered that most couples spend between $1000 to $3000 on an engagement ring. With some spending even below $1000.Is 15k a good wedding budget? ›
If your budget is $15,000, you can still have an amazing wedding. With a $15,000 budget, the key is to keep the guest list to 50 people or fewer. Other ways to keep costs within your budget include sending invitations through email or choosing a venue's buffet package rather than a plated dinner.
As a general rule you can set your wedding budget with this calculation: multiply your annual post-tax salary by 40%. This gives a figure based on 20% monthly savings for 2 years from your engagement until getting married. You can then add on top any financial help you receive from family.How much money do you give for a 2022 wedding gift? ›
A typical wedding gift is around $100. The exact amount depends on your personal budget and relationship to the couple, among other factors. Aug. 18, 2022, at 4:18 p.m.Who typically pays for a wedding? ›
You might be aware that the bride's family is expected to cover the majority of the wedding day costs, while the groom's family pays for a variety of extra activities, like the rehearsal dinner and the honeymoon.Is $20000 enough for a wedding? ›
A $20,000 wedding budget is feasible. More than half of your budget will cover the cost of the venue, catering, and decorations. Other categories to keep in mind are attire, entertainment, vendors, rings, stationery, and miscellaneous fees.How do people pay for weddings? ›
“Often times, it's a combination of parents, families, and the couples themselves.” On average, couples cover about 60% of their total wedding costs. The bride's parents pay for about 21%, while the groom's parents typically cover a bit less, according to debt.org.What is the average wedding ring cost? ›
The average wedding ring cost is significantly less than an engagement ring. For men, the average is around $500, and for women it's closer to $1,000. Most people choose from platinum, gold, silver, rose gold, or white gold.How much should you save monthly for a wedding? ›
The simple math trick that makes it all work? Take the sum of your desired budget and divide it by the number of months you have to save up. Getting married in a year with a budget of $20,000? Divide $20,000 by 12 (which equals about $1,700 per month).Is it worth it to spend money on wedding? ›
Although you can of course get married without an expensive wedding party, many couples choose to spend money to celebrate with family and friends. In fact, research shows that spending money on meaningful life experiences with your loved ones can increase happiness.How much do parents give as a wedding gift? ›
To be fair, many couples do try to pay for some of the wedding, but it seems a hefty percentage is still being shelled out by both sides of the family. According to the Brides American Wedding Study, parents cover anywhere between 35 and 42 percent of the cost of their children's weddings.Is $500 a good wedding gift? ›
A typical cash wedding gift could range from $50 to $500, depending on the same factors listed above. Even then, aiming for the $100 mark is generally sufficient and will be comparable to the average cost of a physical wedding gift.
In general, it's thought that guests should spend around $100 on a wedding gift. That said, we recommend spending somewhere between $200-$400 for a sibling as it is generally considered appropriate to spend a little more if you are close friends or family members of the couple.How do you have a big wedding on a small budget? ›
- Limit your guest list. ...
- Host the ceremony or reception at home or outside. ...
- Ask friends and family to exchange skills for presents. ...
- Do-it-yourself whenever possible. ...
- Use a dummy wedding cake. ...
- Time your wedding wisely. ...
- Scout out vendors.
- Venue and Catering: 40 percent of your budget.
- Photography and Videography: 15 percent of your budget.
- Wedding Attire and Beauty: 5 percent of your budget.
- Music/Entertainment: 10 percent of your budget.
- Flowers: 10 percent of your budget.
- Favors and Gifts: 2 percent of your budget.