Weddings are these magical things that can turn dreams into reality. We dream of having our "Best Day Ever." However, this dream can have a hefty price tag. So are you wondering what the average wedding price is? Well, in 2019, the average wedding cost was $28,000. Twenty-Eight Thousand!
Now let me clarify, that amount is the average cost of the ceremony and reception. That figure does not include the honeymoon, engagement ring, or even wedding rings. Those additional costs average $10,000. Wow.
That being said, I love weddings. I loved planning my own, and I enjoy attending wedding celebrations. If you are newly engaged, congratulations! There's nothing like being a witness to a love story. And it's possible to have a fantastic wedding on a budget.
This article will break down costs and how much does it cost to get married. This is based on national averages, the median cost of a wedding, and what the common expenses are.
Why is the average wedding cost so expensive?
A wedding is an exciting way to celebrate your love and the start of your marriage. It's probably one of the most elaborate events you will throw and ask your loved ones to celebrate with you.
Of course, the average cost of a wedding depends on many factors. Still, even the average wedding racks up costly expenses fast.
There's food, music, location, and outfits to consider. Also, the bigger the guest list, the higher the price tag. Another reason a price can increase on a wedding is what day of the week and season you have it in. So, that being said, let's dive into what the common wedding expenses are.
Most common wedding expenses that drive the average wedding price
Let's look at what makes up the average wedding cost. There are many different factors to consider, but we'll answer the question, how much does it cost to get married, by looking at some common expenses.
Average wedding cost for food
Food is one of the biggest expenses for weddings. Although it depends on the type of catering you decide on, the average catering cost is around $4,000! The average price for a plated meal is $40 per person, and a buffet-style is $27 per person.
Some couples opt for a buffet-style option because it can be cheaper if you do it right. For instance, opting out of high-end food costs such as seafood like shrimp and crab. So there are ways to significantly reduce the food costs with some effort.
Ah, the yummiest part of the wedding-the cake. But how much is that fancy treat anyhow? Well, the average cost of a wedding cake runs about $350, and some couples opt for even more expensive options that can add up to about $1,000!
So, an estimate for each cake slice is between $4 to $5 per guest. However, in cities like Manhattan and San Francisco, these figures can be more than doubled.
Of course, you don't have to spend that much on a dress if you don't feel it's in your budget or best interest financially. In fact, you can either purchase a gorgeous gown pre-owned or even rent one for the day!
Everyone wants to capture their special day perfectly. But doing so can come with a hefty cost. The national average cost for a wedding photographer runs about $2,000. In addition to a photographer, some may decide to hire a videographer as well.
This way, they have a professional video of their entire day to treasure. However, this can add another $1,800 to your wedding budget. If you feel comfortable, you could save on costs by finding a friend or family member that does photography instead.
The median cost of a wedding venue depends on your destination and location. However, the average wedding venue runs between $12,000-$14,000. Costs also vary due to the day and time of year you get married.
Another thing to consider is if you are having your wedding at the same venue as your reception because you will need to budget for both if not.
Another typical expense is the wedding planner. Although it may seem pricey, some feel having someone to ensure everything runs smoothly is worth the cost. You can expect to pay around $1,800 on a wedding planner, depending on what package or services you pick.
As a result, it's obvious why these average wedding costs can add up quickly.
How much does it cost to get married? Average wedding costs breakdown
As I planned my own wedding, I prioritized the things that were most important to me. For some, it might be wedding attire, the best DJ or live band, great food, or perhaps having a plethora of lush flowers. Whatever it may be, weddings can be expensive! But do they have to be?
Keep in mind that the average wedding price will vary by region and season. Let's break down the average wedding budget.
The average wedding cost: Budget breakdown
Now you know the average cost of a wedding. Here is a breakdown of wedding costs based on percentages of your budget:
- 50% of your total wedding budget can be allocated to the reception.
- 10% to attire which includes gown, alterations, veil, bridal accessories, and the groom's suit or tux.
- 10% of the budget would encompass flowers and decor, including the floral arrangements for the ceremony and reception, bridal bouquet, and lighting.
- Photography and/or video can make up another 10% of the budget.
- Wedding rings, transportation, officiant fees, ceremony site fees, favors, gifts, wedding stationery, music, and entertainment will eat up the remaining 20% of the wedding budget.
Be sure to check out the completely free Clever Girl Finance course on how to plan a fabulous wedding on a budget. It also includes a wedding budget template and other useful resources.
Hidden costs of a wedding day
We covered the average cost of a wedding, but there are always additional wedding costs. You definitely want to plan for them in your wedding budget breakdown. These hidden costs can sneak up on you. Some of these sneaky costs include:
- Additional postage for wedding invitations and thank you notes.
- Tax and gratuity for your vendors.
- Printing wedding photos and ordering wedding albums.
- Those pesky cake cutting and corkage fees.
You don't have to go into debt to have a beautiful wedding. (Please don't). Yet, even the costs of a simple backyard wedding can add up quickly when you consider additional lighting, table, and chair rentals.
Having a budget for miscellaneous expenses could save you from financial wedding stress.
How much does a wedding cost in different states?
Different states may have cost differences for wedding expenses. Remember this if you plan on having a destination wedding somewhere other than where you live.
According to Andrew Hurst of Value Penguin, Massachusetts is the most expensive state to get married in, with an average of over $30,000 spent. The least costly is Arkansas, where you'll spend an average of approximately $12,500.
How to achieve your financial goals while paying for a wedding
As all Clever Girls know, having a budget is key to reaching your financial goals. Before you subscribe to bridal magazines, schedule venue tours, or book a dress shopping appointment, know what you can spend before you spend it. Just because the median cost of a wedding is $28,000 doesn't mean you have to spend that much.
Here are a few tips to help you stay focused on your goals while paying for a wedding:
Communicate with your partner
Don't leave your partner out of the wedding planning conversation. Communication is key. They might not care about floral arrangements; however, the two of you should be open and honest about the expected contributions.
Determine who is paying for what
Will the wedding be solely paid for by you and your partner? If it is more than the two of you paying for the wedding, know precisely the amount of the contribution and when you will receive it.
You can't properly budget for a wedding if you don't know the total money coming in. Don't make assumptions about whether parents or other relatives will contribute to wedding costs.
Be wary of any strings attached to any wedding contributions you accept. Will your parents want to add an additional 20 guests to the list since they are helping you pay for wedding costs?
Avoid wedding debt
Starting a marriage with wedding debt is not advised, and it's unnecessary. Instead, make a plan so that your finances support your wedding plans. The average length a couple in the U.S. is engaged is 12 to 18 months.
So use that time to make a plan to pay off debt and start saving towards your wedding. Think about the outstanding debt you and your partner have.
Hash out the small details with a budget
Don't despair if you haven't been stashing cash away for wedding expenses. Take a look at your budget and the median cost of a wedding, and determine how much you and your partner can save up in the next several months. $500 a month? $1,000 a month? Every dollar counts towards your goal!
And remember that making a budget together and discussing it along the way will help. Find the total you're comfortable spending and the total you'll spend for each part of the event.
Try to communicate about costs and discuss who is paying for what. It might help to get together once a week or once a month to talk money. That way, you can ensure you're sticking with your budget.
Now you know how to plan for average wedding costs!
The average wedding price is relatively high, but a wedding is just one financial goal. Choose the wedding expenses that you care about the most and cut all others. Prioritize those things that you really want to splurge on and figure out where you can save.
I'm a firm believer that no one should determine how you spend your money except for you. Budgeting and planning will give you the freedom to be unapologetic about what you do and don't spend money on. There is no rule book on how much you should spend. In most states, you can get a marriage license for less than $100.
Be wise, cautious, and have the wedding you want. Once you have your debt-free wedding be sure to tag us by using #CGFwedding we'd love to celebrate with you! For more great financial tips, tune in to the Clever Girls Know podcast and YouTube channel!