Average Wedding Costs In The United States

Is anyone else shocked that average wedding costs in the U.S. have climbed over $31,000? For a little perspective, keep in mind that the median household income nationwide is only $55,775 as of 2015. I keep thinking that more people will elope or opt for small “family only” weddings, but the costs just continue to soar (up 16% in the past four years).

Location has a big impact on average wedding costs:

The least expensive place to get married is Utah, where the average wedding costs are only $15,257. In Manhattan, $15,000 only covers the shrimp cocktail. Not really, but the average Manhattan wedding was over $76,000 last year. Check out the map below of the 25 Most Expensive Places to Get Married.

Average Wedding Costs In The United States

My best piece of advice is…do not commit to any expenditures before you have an overall wedding budget. This Wedding Cost Estimator is pretty handy in case you are going to be planning a wedding in the near future.

Breakdown of average wedding costs:

Category 2014 National
Average Spend  
2013 National
Average Spend
Overall Wedding (excludes honeymoon) $31,213 $29,858
Venue (reception hall) $14,006 $13,385
Photographer $2,556 $2,440
Wedding/Event Planner $1,973 $1,874
Reception Band $3,587 $3,469
Reception DJ $1,124 $1,038
Florist/Decor $2,141 $2,069
Videographer $1,794 $1,700
Wedding Dress $1,357 $1,281
Groom’s Attire and Accessories $254 $248
Wedding Cake $555 $546
Ceremony Site $1,901 $1,793
Ceremony Musicians $637 $588
Invitations $439 $443
Transportation/Limousine $767 $732
Favors $275 $281
Rehearsal Dinner $1,206 $1,184
Engagement Ring $5,855 $5,598
Catering (price per person) $68 $66
Officiant $266 $260

According to theknot.com’s 2014 wedding survey:

45% of couples went over budget, 26% stayed within budget, 6% came in under budget, and 23% didn’t have a budget.

The next question is: Who is going to pay for all this? Only 12 percent of respondents in the survey paid for the whole wedding themselves. On average, couples contributed 43 percent of the budget, the bride’s parents contributed another 43 percent, the groom’s parents contributed 12 percent, and ”others” account for the remaining 2 percent.

Don’t feel bad if you cannot afford an elaborate wedding:

A study by two economics professors at Emory University found that marriages that start with more lavish ceremonies and expensive engagement rings are less likely to succeed, and in fact, may depend more on your credit score.

Final thought: Planning a wedding is likely the first major project a couple has worked through together. It may be the first time a couple has had to make a budget with competing priorities and hard compromises. The experience can be stressful, but the reward can be a lifetime of bliss 🙂 …and, hopefully, a honeymoon.