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How Much Does the Average Wedding Cost?

02/10/2016 03:54pm ET | Updated December 6, 2017
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While weddings can be magical and exciting for everyone involved, they can also be incredibly expensive. Even if you've spent years saving up for your special day, you might be tempted to take out a loan to finance your nuptials. Planning to say "I do" in the near future? Let's look at a breakdown of wedding costs before you reach out to a lender (or your parents) for extra cash.

Compare personal loan rates for your wedding costs.

The Average Wedding Cost by State

Average wedding costs are on the rise. In 2014, couples paid an average of $31,213 for the whole shebang, which was more than 4% above what they paid the previous year. If that seems like a lot of money, you might be surprised to learn that couples in some states spent much more than that.

According to an annual survey published by The Knot, brides and grooms in New York had the biggest financial burdens. On average, couples in Manhattan paid $76,328 for their ceremonies. Considering the high cost of living in NYC, that's not too shocking. It's more than five times what their counterparts paid in Utah.

Overall, weddings in the West and the Southwest (with the exception of those in California and Texas) cost less than those in other regions. After Utah, Arkansas is the cheapest state for weddings. Following New York, northern and central New Jersey and Chicago, Illinois are the most expensive places to wed.

The Average Wedding Dress Cost

For a lot of brides, it's all about the wedding dress. If you're a fan of any of the wedding series on the TLC network or WE tv, you've probably seen plenty of women spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on a dress they'll only wear once in their lives.

Despite what you might have witnessed on TV, though, brides tend to purchase dresses at more modest price points. In 2014, brides nationwide spent an average of $1,357 for their gowns, up from $1,281 in 2013. Compare that to the $254 average that grooms spent on their suits and accessories.

The Average Wedding Venue Cost

It's the reception hall that takes the biggest chunk out of couples' wedding budgets. The Knot surveyed almost 16,000 newlyweds. On average, they paid $14,006 for their reception venues. That's higher than what their predecessors paid the year before ($13,385). Wedding ceremony sites, on the other hand, cost $1,901, on average, in 2014.

That means that rather than hosting your wedding party at the most luxurious place in town, it might be worth it to consider cutting your cake somewhere more low key. To take it a step further, you can lower the cost of your ceremony by saying your vows in a nice park or at an unconventional location like a museum.

The Average Cost of a Wedding Planner

It's not uncommon for couples to hire someone to handle every aspect of their weddings, from booking the venue to making sure the flowers go along with the event's theme and color scheme. The Bureau of Labor Statistics places wedding planners in the same category as meeting, convention and general event planners. In 2012, their median yearly salary was $45,810.

From a single wedding, however, planners typically aren't paid all that much for their services. Wedding planners, on average, cost couples $1,973 in 2014.

The Average Cost of Wedding Invitations

Wedding announcements don't have to be a huge expense. That is, unless you plan on inviting 1,000 people or you pick the fanciest stationery you can find. The average couple spent $439 on invitations, down from $443 in 2013. Besides the party favors, invitations were the only other wedding cost that decreased between 2013 and 2014.

The Average Wedding Ring Cost

Some folks plan elaborate proposals to woo their future spouses. Grooms spent an average of $5,855 on engagement rings for their brides-to-be. According to data from weddingstats.org, between $5,968 and $6,258 was spent (on average) to pay for wedding rings and bands for brides in 2015. The 2013 average for a groom's wedding band was between $389 and $547.

The Average Wedding Cake Cost

That cake you and your spouse plan to smash into each other's faces at your reception? It cost couples an average of $555 in 2014. If that's a steep price to pay for dessert, you have other options. You could offer your guests tiers of cupcakes instead, or serve cheaper sheet cake after guests have gotten a glimpse of a custom-made (but fake) wedding cake.

The Average Cost of Wedding Food

The food you serve at your reception - whether it's filet mignon or pasta - will likely cost you close to $68 per person, the average cost of a catered meal per person in 2014. That's significantly higher than the average cost of dining out, which is $39.40, according to a 2015 Zagat survey. Let's hope there aren't any no-shows!

The Average Wedding DJ Cost

Not everyone likes dancing. If you can't imagine getting married without busting out the electric slide or the Macarena, however, you'll probably need to make room in your budget for a DJ. That'll cost you around $1,124.

But what if you want a full band at your reception? You can expect to pay about $3,587, the average price for a live musical group in 2014. Expect to pay around $637 if you want musicians to play during your ceremony.

Try out our budget calculator.

The Average Cost of Wedding Flowers

The brides and grooms who participated in The Knot's survey paid $2,141 on average for their wedding flowers and decorations. All too often, couples forget to think about flowers when they start making plans. By incorporating them into your list of expenses from the very beginning and shopping around for the best deals, you can make sure you're not overspending on floral arrangements.

The Average Wedding Photography Cost

Having great wedding photos to share with friends and future children is a must-have for many people. On average, couples spent $2,556 for their photographers. Those who wanted a professional to capture every moment on video paid an average of $1,794.

A Final Word

Wedding season falls between the end of the spring and the beginning of autumn. Getting married in the winter might be a good way to save money. But if you're set on tying the knot in the usual season, it's important to know what you can expect to shell out for your big day.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Heidi van der Westhuizen, ©iStock.com/claudiodoenitzperez, ©iStock.com/edwardolive

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