How Much Does A Wedding Cost? (Facts & Figures You Need To Know)

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Jennifer Skulski

Published: Aug 19, 2021

Last Updated: Sep 20, 2022

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Celebrating your recent engagement can be an exciting time, but pretty soon you’ll be wondering, how much does a wedding cost? Between the wedding apparel, the rings, the venue, the guests, the food, the flowers, the cake, and more, weddings can quickly become quite pricey.

Whether you set aside a large budget for your big day or you’re trying to keep your costs low, we’re here to help keep your wedding day finances on track. This guide will cover all the important facts and figures when it comes to answering the question, how much does a wedding cost? Plus, we’ll even share tips on how to lower your wedding expenses and look out for those hidden costs. Let’s dive right in!

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How Much Does A Wedding Cost? (Year By Year)

Here we’ll begin with everything you need to know in terms of how much does the average wedding cost!

budgeting for a wedding photo

Average Cost Of Weddings In 2021

According to The Knot’s 2021 Wedding Study, the average cost of a wedding ceremony and reception in the United States in 2021 was $28,000. In addition, the average cost of an engagement ring in 2021 was $6,000. For U.S. weddings in 2021, this brings the average grand total up to $34,000 per wedding.

Did It Decrease Compared To The Previous Year? By How Much?

The average cost of a wedding ceremony and reception in 2021 saw around a 47% increase from the average cost of a 2020 wedding. However, the lower cost of 2020 ceremonies accounts for the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise in small weddings. 2021’s average wedding cost is actually on par with the cost of a pre-pandemic wedding from 2019.

Which State Is The Most Expensive Place for Weddings?

The most expensive state for weddings would be New Jersey. So how much does a wedding cost in New Jersey? On average a New Jersey ceremony and reception costs $47,000 while the average engagement ring costs an additional $6,000, bringing New Jersey’s average wedding cost total to be $53,000.

Which State Is The Cheapest Place For Weddings?

Wyoming is on average the cheapest state for weddings, according to data from the past two years. In Wyoming, the average cost for the ceremony and reception is $15,800. 

What’s The Biggest Contributor To Wedding Costs?

A lot of factors can quickly add up to create an expensive wedding, however, the biggest contributing factor to the average wedding costs would be the venue and catering expenses. Venue and catering arrangements are a pivotal part of any wedding planning and will typically account for around 50% of your entire wedding budget.

Who Pays For The Wedding?

Traditionally, the bride’s family was expected to host and cover all the costs of the wedding ceremony. Today, this tradition may seem a bit overwhelming for all the costs to fall on one family. Many modern couples decide to split the costs between the two of them. Family members on both sides may also wish to pitch in to cover certain expenses.

There isn’t necessarily a right or required way to split up your wedding costs. Figure out a budget and system that works best for you, your fiancé, and your families to ensure everyone is comfortable with their contributions and aren’t overextending their budget constraints.

Wedding Cost By Year

Let’s look into not only how much the average wedding costs, but also how this average wedding cost has changed over the years. Here are the prices of the average wedding from the last nine years. These figures represent the total national average wedding costs including the ceremony, reception, and engagement ring.

Shanayco wedding costs
  • 2021: $34,000
  • 2020: $22,756
  • 2019: $33,900
  • 2018: $33,931
  • 2017: $33,391
  • 2016: $35,309
  • 2015: $32,641
  • 2014: $29,858
  • 2013: $28,427
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Wedding Cost By State

All weddings are different, and thus all couples will spend varying amounts on their big day. Depending upon where you live and what venue you choose, the average wedding costs are going to be quite different. For example, large cities like New York City or San Francisco are bound to be more expensive than weddings held in a small town in Idaho or Oklahoma.

How much does a wedding cost in your state? Here are the figures according to The Knot’s average wedding cost data.

elopement wedding photo in New York
  • Alabama: $25,500
  • Alaska: $27,800
  • Arkansas: $21,800
  • Arizona: $29,400
  • California: $39,000
  • Colorado: $30,000
  • Connecticut: $41,000
  • Delaware: $34,900
  • DC: $40,600
  • Florida: $30,600
  • Georgia: $30,900
  • Hawaii: $32,900
  • Idaho: $19,800
  • Illinois: $39,700
  • Indiana: $22,800
  • Iowa: $22,600
  • Kansas: $22,400
  • Kentucky: $23,900
  • Louisiana: $33,900
  • Maine: $33,500
  • Maryland: $33,800
  • Massachusetts: $43,600
  • Michigan: $29,700
  • Minnesota: $28,800
  • Mississippi: $23,800
  • Missouri: $26,600
  • Montana: $23,000
  • Nebraska: $23,300
  • Nevada: $22,500
  • New Hampshire: $32,100
  • New Jersey: $53,400
  • New Mexico: $25,600
  • New York: $48,600
  • North Carolina: $29,500
  • North Dakota: $29,200
  • Ohio: $29,300
  • Oklahoma: $21,200
  • Oregon: $22,400
  • Pennsylvania: $35,900
  • Rhode Island: $49,800
  • South Carolina: $30,600
  • South Dakota: $29,200
  • Tennessee: $26,900
  • Texas: $30,200
  • Utah: $19,700
  • Vermont: $38,300
  • Virginia: $33,300
  • Washington: $25,600
  • West Virginia: $26,500
  • Wisconsin: $27,800
  • Wyoming: $19,800

Wedding Cost By Vendor

How much does a wedding cost per vendor? In 2021, the average number of vendors couples hired was 14. Some of the most common vendors include the venue supplier, wedding planner, photographer, florist, DJ, caterers, and makeup specialist. Here’s a breakdown of how much different wedding vendor costs on average in 2021, from most expensive to least.

wedding costs ranked from most expensive to least expensive
  • Reception Venue: $10,500
  • Catering Cost: $7,350*
  • Engagement Ring: $5,900
  • Live Entertainment: $2,450
  • Photographer: $2,400
  • Florist: $2,000
  • Rehearsal Dinner: $1,900
  • Videographer: $1,800
  • Wedding Dress: $1,600
  • Wedding Planner: $1,500
  • Wedding Transportation: $800
  • Wedding Favors: $400
  • Hair And Makeup Specialists: $210

*Catering costs are computed at $70 per person x 105 guests (average # of guests)

Most Expensive Wedding Cost

While there are many high ticketed wedding items including wedding rings or wedding attire, the most expensive wedding cost is typically the reception venue.

Depending upon the scale of your wedding and the number of guests you invite, a venue’s ultimate price tag may differ. However, there are many costs associated with securing your venue such as a security deposit, paying for staff and a full-service catering team, and renting equipment such as chairs and tables.

To put this cost into perspective, when creating your perfect wedding budget, your venue and catering will typically account for 50% of your overall wedding cost.

Least Expensive Wedding Cost

During your wedding planning process, as you’re purchasing items and hiring vendors, you may be thankful to come across a few expenses that won’t be breaking the bank.

While everything ultimately depends on the size of your ceremony and how extravagant you choose to be, hiring your hair and makeup stylist will typically be associated with the lowest vendor cost.

You’ll likely only need your hair and makeup specialist for an hour or two the morning of your ceremony and after paying them their hourly wage and tip, their job will be done.

wedding on a budget chart by wedding hashers

Factors That Contribute To High Costs

No matter if you’re planning a big wedding or a micro-wedding, there are always a number of factors that contribute greatly to high wedding costs. It’s important to keep these aspects in mind in order to cut costs when needed or even splurge in other areas so you can pull off your dream wedding within your dream budget.

Now that we’ve covered your questions on how much it costs to get married per vendor, let’s evaluate the wedding items with the most overall cost.

average cost of food and beverage per guest

Above all else, as stated above, venues will most likely be your highest wedding cost. When searching for a proper venue, keep in mind the size of your guest list and how much a big, fancy venue means to you. With a little creativity and some DIY wedding decor, you can transform any location into a gorgeous venue. In 2020, with the increase in minimonies, we even saw the rise in backyard weddings which can still be incredible venues at a fraction of the cost.

2021 saw over double the amount of destination weddings compared to 2020 during the height of the pandemic. However, pandemic weddings also proved how lovely and intimate smaller ceremonies such as backyard weddings can be, which are significantly cheaper than destination venues.

Another high cost to consider would be catering. While the price per person may not seem too high, this cost quickly begins to add up as you create your guest list. Some important factors to consider when working on your catering budget would be the style of food you’re interested in serving, whether you prefer a buffet or predetermined entrees, and if you’re choosing to have an open bar. All these decisions will drastically affect the cost per guest when it comes to catering. 

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10 Tips To Lower Wedding Costs

If you and your partner are looking to lower your wedding costs and stick to your strict budget, then these tips are here to help. Now, how much does a wedding cost with these helpful cost-cutting tips? Let’s find out exactly which areas you can adjust to lower your wedding costs.

1. Choose A Wedding Theme That Allows You To Save Money

A good wedding theme can go a long way, but did you know that certain wedding theme ideas may be more cost-effective than others? 

For example, destination weddings will end up with pricey travel and trip expenses, summer weddings may involve added expenses due to wedding season being in high demand, and fairytale weddings can get rather high in costs through trying to make the arrangements as elaborate and as perfect as possible.

For wedding themes that are most cost-effective, consider something like a rustic wedding. Rustic weddings are a popular theme allowing for beautiful decor, but with a purposefully aged look. You can get creative by finding ways to upcycle or repurpose vintage items for a stylized, rustic wedding theme.

Other good wedding themes would be adhering to a powerful wedding color scheme throughout your venue to make your venue pop while also controlling your budget.

wedding inspo for a rustic wedding

2. Use Online Wedding Invitations

How much does the average wedding cost in terms of invitations? Well, believe it or not, even something as simple as wedding invitations can cost couples on average nearly $600. Printing costs and mailing costs do end up adding up, especially if you decide to print your invitations on more unique material such as acrylic, glass, or vellum paper. 

If you’re looking to limit your wedding cost, simply opt for digital wedding invitations. Not only will digital invitations save you money in printing and mailing, but they’re also a more environmentally friendly option.

Choose to design your digital card yourself or consult an online wedding invitation service such as Greenvelope that can help you with your invitation design as well as track your RSVPs.

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Pro Tip: Choose to design your digital card yourself or consult an online wedding invitation service such as Greenvelope that can help you with your invitation design as well as track your RSVPs.

greenvelope for online wedding invitations

3. Enlist Friends Instead of Expensive Vendors

While not all expensive vendors can or should be replaced, perhaps you have some dedicated friends that are willing to pitch in to make your wedding day special. If you have a buddy that loves to jam out with his or her band, get them to play at your wedding reception. That one friend who just began their photography business, enlist them to be your VIP photographer. Instead of spending time testing out hair and makeup artists, see if one of your makeup-obsessed bridesmaids can lend a hand.

Weddings require a lot of moving parts, but if you have some talented friends who are willing to help out throughout your wedding day, this can be a great way to counter the cost of expensive vendors.

destination wedding photo

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4. Get A Smaller Cake Or Use Fake Layers

Everyone loves a good wedding cake as a tasty treat to celebrate the newlyweds. But you don’t have to spend hundreds on this traditional dessert. Don’t pay a fortune for a giant cake that will leave behind weeks of leftovers. Opt for a smaller cake or even a fitting number of cupcakes to satisfy your guest list.

Instead of dishing out hundreds of dollars to an expensive bakery, you can even try creating your own DIY wedding cake or at least recruit a friend or family member to lend their baking skills to your cause. It’s the personal, homemade touches that not only can make a wedding day more special and intimate, but can also save you money. You can even buy a cake kit that provides everything for you, making a DIY cake easier than ever!

Furthermore, who said the elaborate wedding cake on display had to be entirely real? Yes, you can have a wedding cake with fake layers to keep up appearances but save on costs. Believe it or not, this is actually a common practice where Styrofoam blocks are decorated with icing to seamlessly blend in with the actual wedding cake.

cakes with fake layers

5. Use A Wedding Food Truck

How much does a wedding cost just in terms of food and drink? Well, according to The Wedding Report, the average cost for wedding food in the US in 2019 was $4,618 while the average for bar services was $2,365.

A trendy and unique way to cut down on expensive catering services would be to reserve some awesome wedding food trucks instead. Reserving food trucks are not only a great way to support small, local businesses, but they also are a fun way to appease a variety of appetites. Food trucks will typically only serve food within a limited time frame; however, the cost per person for food truck food can be as low as $15. In comparison to the average cost of $70 per person for catering, the money you’ll save with a food truck could be substantial.

food truck on wedding day

6. Have A Smaller Guest List

Large guest lists can become quite excessive, expensive, and unnecessary. Instead, consider planning a micro-wedding for a more intimate feel to your celebration. Having a smaller wedding size will definitely save you money since when it comes to wedding costs, every guest comes with an added price. In 2020, the average cost per guest was $244.

With a smaller guest list, you can save money on catering and food costs; you can reserve a smaller and cheaper venue; and you’ll also save money on other miscellaneous expenses such as invitations, wedding favors, and transportation.

wedding ceremony with color photo

7. Go For Less Expensive Flowers

Flowers are a beautiful addition to any wedding venue, but how much does it cost to get married with multiple flower arrangements? Wedding flower arrangements can include the bridal bouquet, boutonnieres and corsages, flowers as table centerpieces, and flowers as venue decor.

To cut back on your wedding flower expenses, you can opt for fewer flower arrangements at the venue such as seeking out alternative table centerpieces or even investing in faux greenery. Stick to the floral arrangements that are most important to you and your partner whether that be the bouquet and corsages or the flower arrangements at your venue.

Choose flowers that are local to your area and that are currently in season in order to lower the cost of your arrangements. While red roses are lovely and a symbol of romance, these flowers also tend to be one of the most expensive. Do your proper research and work with your florist in order to achieve a gorgeous arrangement at a decent price. 

floral bouquet photo

8. Be Smart In Choosing The Wedding Date

If your wedding date is negotiable and you’re looking to save some money, consider off-season wedding dates. Yes, wedding season is very much a real term. In the US, wedding season begins in May and can last all the way through October. While summer weddings are the most popular due to the nicer weather for outdoor celebrations, December weddings can also get quite booked around the holiday season.

If you’re looking to save money from your wedding date, consider off-peak dates such as winter or early spring weddings when venues are less booked and feature cheaper prices. Weekday weddings are also less common and could save you a bit of money should you decide to get married during the week. 

weekday photo

9. Skip Expensive Venues

As we mentioned earlier, the venue typically consumes the largest percent of your wedding budget. So how much does the average wedding cost for just the venue? That would be around 30 to 50 percent of your total wedding budget. The average cost for wedding venues in 2021 was $10,700. 

While this average venue price may seem high, there are plenty of ways you and your fiancé can keep this price low and even cut it in half. For instance, skip the expensive venues. Instead, opt for a smaller or less exclusive venue that will still satisfy your wedding needs. Or even consider hosting your special day in a park, barn, or backyard for an awesome venue at a much lower price.

backyard wedding photo
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10. Go With DIY Wedding Favors

Wedding favors make for adorable exit treats to thank your guests for their love and support. Wondering how much does a wedding cost with wedding favors? The average couple spends around $400 on their wedding favors. Each individual favor may only cost around $1 to $3; however, this cost quickly gets into the hundreds when you consider that the average wedding has around 130 guests. Plus, don’t forget shipping costs.

Therefore, if you’re interested in reducing the cost of your wedding favors, consider DIY favors instead. Handmade gifts can be a fun and personalized way to thank your guest list. Consider DIY favors such as homemade baked goods, honey, soap, hot cocoa mix, or other fun crafts. To make your custom wedding gifts more personalized, consider using a site like For Your Party where you can personalize your wedding favors and other wedding essentials.

wedding favor ideas

Hidden Costs Of A Wedding

As you’re planning your wedding budget, organizing your expenses, and figuring out clever ways to save money, you’ll want to be aware of the hidden costs associated with weddings.

Nobody likes hidden expenses, so it’s best to plan ahead as much as possible to avoid them at all costs. Here are ten rarely talked about wedding expenses that you should definitely keep in mind.

1. Marriage License Fee

Marriage license fees differ depending upon your location and ceremony site. Typically, getting married in a public space will cost the most amount which can be around $100. While in the grand scheme of your overall wedding cost, this fee might seem small, multiple hidden costs can quickly accumulate into thousands of dollars of unforeseen expenses.

To avoid this surprise, be sure to research how to obtain a marriage license in your city and find out how much it will cost you.

Add that amount to your budgeting spreadsheet ahead of time so you’re prepared for the expense.

2. Vendor Trials and Demos

Have you thought about vendor trials?

Think of them as your vendor’s rehearsal time to demo and make sure everything is perfect for your big day. These trials are often associated with your hair and makeup team. You may want to practice your wedding day look with them ahead of time in order for everything to run smoothly on the day of your ceremony.

Vendor trials may also relate to catering in the form of wedding cakes or food tastings. It can also be something like a music rehearsal to test out the sound system and quality of your live band or reception DJ.

The cost of these trials will depend upon the vendor, but you may wish to put some money aside to account for this.

3. Postage Stamps for Invitations

As you’re preparing to send out your lovely wedding invitations, have you planned ahead and thought about postage stamps?

In 2022, USPS postage stamps cost 60 cents each. Again, the associated price may be minuscule, but depending on how many guests you have or if you want to personalize your stamps, this cost can add up.

4. Wedding Dress Alterations

You’ve said yes to the dress, but now you might need a few alterations before you wear your stunning gown on your special day. It’s incredibly common to need dress alterations to ensure your wedding day attire is perfectly flattering.

Depending on what you need to be done or any custom work you request, paying for a seamstress to alter your dress may cost anywhere from $200 to $600. The same goes for tailoring the tuxedo for the groom.

5. Transporting Rental Equipment

You’ve secured and paid for your wedding décor or rental material whether that be floral arrangements, speakers, chairs, tables, or other items, but now you’re surprised by a hidden transport fee. Often, your rental equipment doesn’t include the cost of packaging, shipping, and transporting your rentals to your venue.

This hidden cost can be as low as $50 to as high as $500 or more. Thus, you’ll want to make sure you ask your desired rental company up front what the transport cost may be and hire accordingly.

6. Overtime Fees

You plan ahead, you set an agenda, and yet still your ceremony or reception runs long. Before you know it, you’re hit with hidden overtime fees.

While you of course want to plan the best you can to avoid any overtime fees, it’s also smart to take into account what these fees might be should any hiccups occur along the way. Each of your vendors may increase their hourly fees once they go beyond their scheduled time. Your photographer, videographer, caterer, and DJ may start charging $250 or more for each hour of overtime. Ask your vendors about their policy and have it written in their contracts so you know exactly what expenses to expect.

7. Service Fees

On top of the price of your venue, you may have additional costs related to the services the servers and staff must undertake. These hidden service fees may relate to the cost of cake cutting, serving alcohol, washing dishes, and more.

The ultimate charge could amount to around 20 percent of the total cost of food and drink. Ask your venue ahead of time about any service fees they might have.

8. Wedding Band Equipment

When booking a wedding band, all fees and contracts differ. While you’re paying for their time and talent, you may also need to pay for some of their equipment. Some bands may have their own sound system, but if they need additional resources depending upon your venue size, you may have to pay some hidden fees for larger speakers and additional microphone rentals.

Prior to solidifying your live wedding band or reception DJ, make sure you provide them with details about your venue space so they can understand the equipment they need and provide you with an accurate quote upfront.

9. Taxes And Gratuities

We all know taxes exist, yet sometimes when we ring up that final price, we’re still taken aback at just how much taxes and additional fees can increase the overall price.  

Aside from taxes, you must also consider tipping your vendors. Many vendors may not include gratuity in their invoices, yet it’s a gracious thing to add to show you appreciate them for playing a big part in your big day.

Taxes will vary according to location, but in order to avoid the burden of these additional costs, it’s important to set aside around one-third more of your anticipated expenses to prepare for taxes and gratuities.

10. Cleanup And Breakdown Costs

As your ceremony comes to a close, your wedding day expenses aren’t necessarily over. Depending on your venue, you may have to pay for additional cleanup fees. If you have a full-service venue, then this cost will typically be included in the overall pricing on the venue.

However, if you have additional rental companies coming in to pick up and breakdown equipment, there may be additional labor costs associated with the cleanup, pickup, and garbage removal.

Wedding Trends Related To Costs/Budget During The Pandemic

Of course, the global pandemic that spread throughout the world in late 2019 has greatly affected weddings within the past few years. Many weddings were canceled or postponed to a later date. Despite health restrictions and a time of uncertainty, weddings did however prevail. Although these weddings were different, a pandemic wedding was still made possible with a few alterations.

Mainly, due to safety concerns, these weddings were held in smaller capacities. The rise in minimonies and small weddings have become quite the wedding trend throughout 2020 and 2022. These miniature ceremonies are the perfect way to celebrate your love with those closest to you.

minimonies wedding photo

In regard to how these trends have affected wedding costs, with fewer guests to account for, the average wedding cost has definitely decreased. So, how much does a wedding cost during the pandemic? Well, during the height of the pandemic, the average cost was around $19,000, which was an all-time low within the past ten years. 

In 2021, as capacity restrictions and health concerns began to ease, the average cost of a wedding increased back up to $28,000. While 2020 weddings had an average of 66 guests in attendance, 2021 weddings had around 105 guests.

Aside from having a smaller guest list during the pandemic, pandemic weddings also saw an increase in safety precautions which further added an unexpected cost to wedding planning. Such arrangements may include a larger venue space to allow for social distancing, an outdoor venue, extra face masks, and hand sanitizer stations throughout. 

According to The Knot Real Weddings Study, on average couples spent $280 extra on safety measures such as personalized face masks or miniature sanitizer bottles for their guests to use and keep as memorable favors.

pandemic wedding favors

Let The Planning (And Budgeting) Begin!

Now that you have a better understanding of how much it’ll cost to get married, it’s time to start properly planning out your budget. There are infinite ways to cut wedding costs and get creative with DIY solutions. The question is no longer how much does a wedding cost, but rather how can you work your ideas into your wedding budget?

Once you and your fiancé decide on a proper budget, you can begin planning your big day accordingly by investing in what matters the most to you as a couple and trying to trim down costs where vendors and items are more expendable to you. It can be a tricky balancing act, but ultimately your wedding can cost whatever amount you budget it for!

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