Updated December 10, 2015

23 Unbelievable Average Wedding Cost Statistics

Read more about Marriage Statistics

Despite young adults waiting longer to get hitched, demand for wedding products and services continue to grow. Here are the eye-popping numbers.

© Chris Photography~ (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

Revenues increased by 1.9% between 2009 and 2014, totaling roughly $55 billion. Nearly 800,000 people are employed in some capacity by the wedding industry.

Getting ready to walk down the aisle may take months of planning, and one of the things that couples need to be aware of is how much it's actually going to cost. Unless you're planning to elope or say your "I do's" at the courthouse, the odds are good that you're going to be forking over a nice chunk of change. If you've got your heart set on a big wedding down the road, here's a breakdown of what you can expect to spend.

WEDDING ATTIRE AND ACCESSORIES

Every bride wants to look beautiful on her wedding day. The dress, professionally done hair and perfectly manicured nails usually cost a decent amount of money. The groom and bridesmaids may get off a little cheaper but the average wedding still comes with a pretty sizable price tag. We've broken down the biggest expenses that the typical wedding party encounters.

1. How much does the average wedding cost?
As of 2013, the average wedding cost was $29,858, not including the cost of the honeymoon. That's an increase of nearly $1,500 over 2012.

2. What's the average cost of the wedding dress?
For brides-to-be, the big day is all about the dress and on average, they spent $1,281 to find the right one in 2013. That figure climbed by $70 from the year before.

3. What's the price tag for a tuxedo rental?
It's also important for the groom to be well dressed and fortunately, tuxedos aren't quite as pricey as wedding gowns. The average amount spent for a tuxedo in 2013 was $248.

4. How much does it cost to be a bridesmaid?
Being a bridesmaid is certainly an honor but it doesn't come cheap. Between the dress, shoes, shower gifts, wedding gifts and the bachelorette party, the average bridesmaid is out nearly $1,700.

5. What do couples spend on their rings?
These days, diamonds don't come cheap; the average cost of an engagement ring is somewhere in the neighborhood of $5,600. By comparison, grooms usually pay between $500 and $600 for their wedding bands.

PLANNING THE CEREMONY

Some people prefer church weddings while others like to get a little more creative about their choice of venue. Where you decide to hold the ceremony can impact your wedding budget in a big way. Once you've settled on a place, you also have to factor in the other costs that go along with making it an event to remember.

6. What's the average cost of wedding invitations?
Save-the-dates are the latest trend to hit the wedding scene, increasing the total couples pay for invitations. On average, getting the word out to guests about the upcoming event costs $443.

7. What's the average cost of flowers for a wedding?
No ceremony would be complete without a flower arrangement or two, and all those beautiful blooms will run around $2,000.

8. What do brides spend on their bouquet?
Brides aren't expected to walk down the aisle empty-handed; it'll cost anywhere from $75 to $250 for the bouquet. If the bridesmaids are carrying flowers, that tacks another $30 to $75 per bridesmaid onto the cost.

9. How much is the average venue fee?
The venue is usually one of the biggest expenses when planning a wedding. If you're holding the ceremony at one location and staging the reception at another, it averages out to about $1,800 and $13,400 respectively.

10. How much does it cost to hire a photographer?
The memories you make on your wedding day are priceless, and it will cost about $2,440 on average to hire a professional wedding photographer to capture them. If you want a video record of the events, you can expect to spend another $1,700 for a videographer.

11. What's the average officiant fee?
Unless you know someone who's licensed to perform your marriage, you'll have to hire an officiant to oversee the ceremony. The average fee for wedding services is $260.

12. How much does it cost to hire a wedding planner?
If you don't want to do all the hard work of planning your wedding yourself, you could hire a pro to give you a hand. Just keep in mind that it will cost about $1,874 on average to do so.

FOOD, DRINKS AND ENTERTAINMENT

The reception is the time to celebrate your newly wedded bliss, enjoy some food, and run with your guests. Some people prefer a more casual approach while others like to go all-out with a black tie affair. Take a look at the average cost to show your friends and family a good time.

13. How large is the food bill?
If you're planning on having your wedding reception catered, you should be prepared to spend about $66 per person for the food. Even if you're keeping things on the small side, that can still add up to several thousand dollars.

14. What about the cost of the cake?
Whether you prefer something simple or a cake that's a little more elaborate, the average amount you'll spend for these sugary sweet confections is $546.

15. What do couples spend on entertainment?
A reception would be pretty boring without some music and dancing. Hiring a DJ will cost you a cool $1,038. If you want to get a live band, you're looking at closer to $3,500.

16. How expensive are the wedding favors?
Although favors are meant to be small tokens for guests that commemorate the day, they can still come with a big cost. The average amount spent on favors in 2013 was $281.

17. How much do couples shell out for booze?
An open bar is usually a crowd-pleaser among wedding guests but if you're going this route, get your checkbook ready. It costs just over $2,800 to hire a bartender and stock up on alcohol.

GIFTS AND GETAWAYS

Some places are more of a bargain than others when it comes to planning a wedding. If you've got a big budget, you may be able to afford a destination affair or fancy gifts for the members of the wedding party. On the other hand, you may be better off saving those extra bucks for your dream honeymoon.

18. Where do couples spend the most for a wedding?
Couples who live in the Big Apple part with most cash for a wedding, spending an average of $86,916 to make their relationship official. Long Island isn't far behind, with an average price tag of $57,343.

19. Which cities are the cheapest for getting hitched?
Living somewhere a little more out-of-the-way can bode well for your wedding budget. Couples in Idaho spend the least, averaging $16,159 on their nuptials, while Utah residents shell out $16,816.

20. How many couples opt for a destination wedding?
Destination weddings are becoming more popular, accounting for 24% of all ceremonies each year. Part of the reason is that they can be less expensive (averaging around $20,800), not including the cost of the honeymoon or rings.

21. How much is the average registry worth?
Receiving gifts is one of the perks of getting married and on average, couples request approximately $5,158 worth of merchandise through their registry. Bakeware and appliances rank as the most popular registry items.

22. What do guests spend to attend a wedding?
The bride and groom aren't the only ones who are paying big bucks for their wedding. Guests spend an average of $539 just to show up and $577 if they participate in the ceremony in some capacity.

23. How expensive is the honeymoon?
Once the wedding is over and the guests have all gone home, it's time for the bride and groom to spend some quality time together. Although estimates vary, couples spend roughly $5,000 for their honeymoon.

How to Save Money on a Wedding

Look, we get it. The average wedding is expensive.

But does it have to be? Here are some tips on how you can save money on your perfect wedding.

Why do most wedding budgets bulge beyond what the bride and groom can pay? (The fact is that parents generally do not chip in as much as those of the past.) You may get caught up with what you see in wedding and celebrity magazines. Reign in your fantasy and you can still have the day of your dreams. “Get inspired by celebrities, but work within your budget to create your own signature wedding,” advises David Caruso, an event planner and member of the National Association for Catering and Events.

Here are ways to keep your wedding budget in check:

Planning

  1. Pick a non-traditional day.
    Practically everyone seems to have their wedding on Saturdays, so think outside the box and try a Friday or Sunday event. This will reduce the reservation costs and open up your windows of opportunity.

  2. Compose your guest list with caution.
    You may want everyone from your high school buddies to closest family members in attendance, but unless you have the funds to mail out invitations and feed all those people when they arrive, start trimming down the guest list. If food, drinks and favors for each guest will cost you $40 and you’re already at 200 attendees, be prepared to fork over $8,000 in hard-earned cash! And that’s not even counting the cost of the dress.

  3. Strongly consider a destination wedding.
    This may limit your options in terms of the guest list, but destination wedding deals are typically all-inclusive and you’ll pay less for your wedding and honeymoon combined than if you did them separately (it’s like getting two things for the price of just one). You will get the best deal if a certain number of your attendees book in advance.

Location

  1. Find a venue and stick with it.
    The property manager may be willing to cut you a deal if you have the wedding and reception in one place. Or consider free locations, such as a family member’s backyard that is already decorated with a garden.

  2. Look beyond what the local wedding publications suggest.
    Venues that do not specialize in weddings may have cheaper rates, or at least be more open to giving you a deal if you suggest having your party there.

Décor

  1. Be choosy with flowers.
    Base your floral request on what is in season, or be creative and load up your bouquet with ferns, berries, or succulents, which can be much less expensive than the more popular arrangements.

  2. Have the flowers do double duty.
    Turn the bridesmaids’ arrangements into centerpieces when you get to the reception.

  3. Look for creative ideas for centerpieces.
    The more flowers you have, the more your wedding tab will end up. You could instead go to a craft store and stock up on simple candles and vases for an elegant look. Or go for a unique look, such as books if you’re both readers, or antique-looking globes if you both love to travel, suggests Kristin Griffin, a Massachusetts wedding photographer.

Food and Drinks

  1. Limit the bar.
    Tell the bar to serve only beer and wine (provide sangria as an option if you must). Either serve champagne only for the toast, or just have the guests raise whatever drink they’re having rather than spring for the expensive bubbly. Your guests will appreciate not having to pay for their own drinks all night, and you won’t be paying your life savings for your aunts and uncles to feed their multiple martini habit.

  2. Avoid fancy meals.
    You may have fallen in love with the non-traditional food choices at the tasting session, but save those selections for another day and feed your guests the comfort foods they’ll enjoy. Opt for chicken over beef and buffet-style servings over plated meals.

  3. Time it right.
    If you go for an early morning brunch, you’ll have much cheaper cuisine than a plated dinner – and you’ll guests will likely drink a lot less.

  4. Save on the big the wedding cake.
    Instead of ordering a gigantic wedding cake for all your guests to enjoy, go with a smaller option and supplement it with a large sheet cake (kept out of sight) for everyone to enjoy. Doing so can save you 50% or more of what you would have paid otherwise.

  5. Skip the wedding cake altogether.
    Who says you have to have cake? Go for a candy bar that will give your non-dancing guests something fun to do. Everyone gets to take home a bag of goodies – and you won’t have to shell out money for favors. Or make a cupcake arrangement, and let guests get their own. Many weddings hand out sliced cakes to guests, and much of that dessert goes to waste.
    Stationery

  6. Make DIY invitations.
    Emailing invitations is still not quite acceptable, according to etiquette mavens. So head to your local party store or peruse the web for creative do-it-yourself ideas that will cost less than ordering the invitations from a stationery store.

  7. But do email save-the-dates.
    Don’t waste your time attaching $0.49 postage stamps to save-the-dates that don’t require a response.

Wedding Attire

  1. Be flexible.
    Shop around at a variety of local boutiques and second-hand shops to see where you can get the best deal on a wedding gown. Even better, start with discount gown retailer David’s Bridal, which offers a $99 sale every year. If you can find your dress there – and avoid falling in love with a higher quality dress somewhere else – you will have a big chunk of savings to use somewhere else. Skip such stores for your bridesmaids and see what you can find at department stores. You may even be able to find attire for them that they can actually wear more than once.

  2. Be savvy with your accessories.
    Use all your jewelry as opportunities to get something “borrowed” from your grandmothers’, aunts’, or mothers’ jewelry boxes. Or peruse Etsy and eBay for special, yet reasonably priced, pieces.

  3. Pay for everything with your credit card.
    Consider signing up with a rewards card that has an introductory 0% APR for at least 12 months, and you could spread out your debt payments and rack up some rewards that you could use toward your honeymoon. Go for this option only if you know you’ll be able to pay off the full balance by the time the promotion period ends.

Entertainment

  1. Hire a DJ.
    A band can definitely lighten the mood and offer a soothing vibe, but DJs are more flexible and can also act as the master of ceremony for the reception. And they typically come at a much cheaper rate.

  2. Don’t hire the most expensive photographer on the block.
    A graduate of an art school will do. Or ask the high-end specialists for referrals if they’re out of your price range.

BOTTOM LINE

As you can see, the typical wedding experience can tie up a significant amount of your cash. Before you plan to exchange vows with your sweetheart, it's a good idea to go over your budget with a fine-tooth comb to make sure you're keeping the cost under control.

Sources and References

More from CreditDonkey:


Best Place to Buy Engagement Ring


Weddings

Infographic: Love and Marriage

Marriage Statistics

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    Good news for married couples! Statistics show that they'll probably be healthier and live longer than their unmarried friends. Now the bad news: They'll spend some of that extra time arguing over money.

Comments about 23 Unbelievable Average Wedding Cost Statistics

  • Travis from Minnesota
    on February 16, 2015 9:53 AM said:

    And not a mention of a penny spent on pre-marriage counseling. When couples are "budgeting" for the beginning of their marriage/wedding, seems like it would behoove them to include the average cost to ensure their marriage is actually strong ;)

  • Joe from South Dakota
    on February 16, 2015 11:09 AM said:

    Pre-wedding counseling doesn't help make a marriage strong -- at best it helps uncover potential issues and let's the couple decide to back out. But more-often-than-not it's just a test of how much inane blather the couple can put up with.

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