This Is How Much the Average Wedding Costs

If a nuptial event is in your future and you haven’t yet priced out the costs, get ready for sticker shock.

A 2022 Real Wedding Study conducted by The Knot found that the average total wedding expenditure in the United States was about $30,000 per couple. This figure can go substantially higher or lower depending on many factors, including the venue where the wedding is held.

[Read: Affordable Wedding Venue Ideas.]

No matter where you are, though, the expenses involved can add up if you’re not careful, so preparing far in advance is recommended. A 2023 Study from SmartAsset found that it can take nine years to save for the average U.S. wedding if you will be covering all the costs without assistance from others.

Here’s what you need to know about average wedding costs, and how you can modify them for your own special day.

How Much Does the Average Wedding Costs

Although the amount you spend on your wedding will depend on what you want and what your finances allow, it’s a good idea to understand how much weddings typically cost in your area.

As per the SmartAsset study, these are the most and least expensive U.S. cities for weddings:


“The final cost is based on the market and destination,” says Kristen Gosselin, founder of KG Events & Design, located in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. “There is a direct correlation with real estate values, the cost of living and the wedding. The most expensive places to live will be the most expensive for hosting.”

Biggest Wedding Spend Categories

Of course, every couple’s event will be different, but there are some general spending categories that most wedding in the U.S. entail. According to The Knot, the 10 biggest spending categories are:

— Venue.

— Band.

— Rings.

— Photography.

— Alcohol.

— Flowers.

— Videography.

— Couples’ attire.

— Wedding planner.

If the price of a wedding planner seems excessive and you’re tempted to do it all on your own, you can, but keep in mind that their job is to find the best deals for everything involved in your big day. A well-connected professional will know where to get the best-priced cakes and catering, and can negotiate the venue fees.

“They will coordinate all the details and maximize value,” Gosselin says. “Bringing in a wedding planner will be recouped somewhere. You likely get different pricing and they will streamline the process, saving you time.”

Some expenses will cost more than you think, too. For example, an outdoor wedding may seem like it will cost less than one held in a hotel reception room but that’s often not the case.

“People typically underestimate the cost of a tented wedding,” Gosselin says. “Building it out will be more expensive than a venue that is all set up.”

Restrooms, extra catering fees and transportation are just a few of the expenses that are typically included in a hotel or club.

Anticipate Hidden Wedding Expenses

Because overspending is so easy, carefully crafting a comprehensive wedding budget will be important. You can start with a relatively easy calculation breakdown, says Karen Nudy Pecora, a wedding and event manager and CEO of Karen Pecora Events in Berwyn, Pennsylvania.

“I always tell my brides to allocate 48% to 54% of their entire budget for venue, food and beverage,” Percora says. “If they’re within that estimate, they’re good and can plan for everything else.”

Still, the most precisely developed budget can be busted with surprise costs, says Lisa Lafferty, owner of the Beverly Hills, California-based event planning company. Lisa Lafferty Events. For this reason, it’s a wise idea to establish a slush fund for the extras that could arise.

“Expect to spend 10% to 15% more than your budget,” Lafferty says. “You’ll want to have that padding for overages.”

Even something as simple as a change in the weather can upend a wedding budget.

“Foul weather affects labor costs,” Gosselin says. “If it’s raining, you may need to buy last-minute supplies like towels and umbrellas for your guests. Wind and rain can also cause damage, such as stains from mud, that you can be responsible for.”

This goes for indoor weddings, too. If the ceremony and venue are in two different places, you may want to pick up the transport costs for people with mobility issues.

With all that in mind, confer with anyone who said they would be helping with the finances and start socking cash away for your wedding as soon as possible.

[READ: How to Save for a Wedding.]

“I suggest opening a bank account specifically for the wedding, in the bride and groom’s name,” Pecora says. “Have everyone who is committed to funding the wedding add their money in. They can do it though Zelle, Venmo, write checks or hand over a wad of money. Whatever the method, a wedding account will streamline the entire process.”

Splurge and Save According to Your Vision and Financial Capability

While each person will have their own idea about what is and isn’t a must, there are some general guidelines about where to save and spend.

Pecora emphasizes the universal importance of capturing the day with a great videographer and photographer.

“This is the only opportunity for future generations to see movement and voices of people who attended your wedding,” she says. “You will want to preserve that for the family. They should see the dancing, and hear the laughter and joy. Get high-quality pictures. A videographer and a photographer are the only two things that you absolutely must have.”

You are creating memories, so focus on the things that will have lasting emotional power.

“We are in an age of Instagrammable moments. Gorgeous flowers make a wedding extra amazing, and I would splurge on a bridal gown,” Lafferty says. “For food, give at least three entree options if you can. Add in something from your culture to make your wedding special.”

As far as areas where you can cut down on costs, Lafferty says paper invitations can be swapped out for digital, potentially saving you many hundreds of dollars.

[Read: How to Save Money on Your Wedding.]

To stick to your dream without overspending, remember that you don’t have to purchase all of the elements.

You can rent just about everything, from the wedding arch or chuppah, to most of the decor,” Pecora says. Not only can it save you money while achieving the same look and experience, you won’t have to cart it all home and store it afterward.

Another category in which you can save is gifts for your guests. Even small presents add up when you have many attendees. Those $15 keepsakes showing your names and the wedding date can be a sweet thought, but for 120 people the final tab will be $1,800, so it might not be worth it.

No matter what the average wedding cost is, sticking to your personal financial parameters is crucial. This is your event, so avoid getting caught up in what celebrities, influencers and loved ones have done for theirs, Gosselin says. Do it right and you’ll get married in a way that stays true to your vision and budget.

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