Browse Wedding Costs By Category
Everything you need to know from the expected to the unexpected.
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On average, most couples in the US spend nearly $30,000 on their wedding ceremony and reception. However, this can vary widely depending on the vendors hired and location. WeddingWires Wedding Cost Guide provides a comprehensive breakdown of average wedding vendor costs by area, along with details on factors that can affect pricing, so you can go into wedding planning knowing what to expect and easily create a wedding budget you can stick to.
Dont Let The Numbers Fool You
The $19,000 average is steep and thats lower than in recent years, due to smaller-than-normal celebrations during the COVID-19 pandemic. But remember that averages dont tell the whole story. Experts point out that they can easily be skewed.
One $1 million wedding can bring up the average of thousands of $10,000 weddings, says Jessica Bishop, wedding expert and founder of the Budget Savvy Bride.
So treat this data as a benchmark, not an expectation. And you don’t have to spring for all the items on the list. For example, you might decide to skip favors and hook your smartphone up to a speaker system instead of hiring a band or DJ.
About The Survey + Disclaimers
First and foremost let us say: this is far from a scientific or proof-laden survey. We do not have cold-hard evidence to prove that the participants in this survey were providing factual responses. However knowing the vast majority of responders personally, and being invited to be a part of many of their days, we would proudly endorse the answers provided to us. However, of course, take this with a grain of salt if you cannot live without proof .
We conducted this Instagram poll by asking followers of Hush Hush Photography & Film to respond anonymously with what the cost of their wedding was, or was projected to be. Participants had a 24 hour window to respond, and any obviously-spam answers from fake Instagram accounts were disregarded.
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Should You Hire A Wedding Videographer
When it comes to the planning phase, wedding videography is frequently placed into the maybe basket. This is frequently due to money constraints, with couples debating whether a videographer is truly necessary or whether the money on this aspect of your wedding is justified.
If youre still on the fence, here are some things to consider:
Least Expensive Wedding Features
The following features commonly found at weddings are much cheaper than the must-haves mentioned above. Depending on the scope and elaborateness of these more affordable features, they could still carry a high cost for some or, on the other hand, couples could reduce their expenses on these less-expensive parts of a wedding by getting creative.
The least expensive part of a wedding for most people are the favors that guests receive. On average, the cost of wedding favors was $353 in 2020. Depending on the type and amount of favors offered, the cost of favors could increase or decrease relative to the national average. For this reason, the couple could save money by avoiding expensive party favors.
2. Wedding cake
A wedding cake costs $441, or $6.68 per piece, based on the average number of guests that attended weddings in 2020. There are multiple ways to save money on this expense, however. For instance, the married couple could decide to serve smaller cuts of cake. Alternatively, they could order a smaller version of a wedding cake for presentation and then have a few sheet cakes in the kitchen to feed the mass of people.
Invitations cost $7.88 each on average , though much fancier invitations can command higher costs for every person. Couples looking to save could reduce their costs by making DIY cards or even going with 100% electronic invitations that are sent out as emails.
5. Reception DJ
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What Are The Most Expensive Wedding Destinations
If you’re wondering what the most expensive wedding destinations are, the answer is it varies. International markets oscillate when it comes to destination wedding prices. However, our study found the average cost of weddings in 2019 across different U.S. states. See the top 10 most expensive wedding destinations in the United States, below:
Should You Tip Your Wedding Vendors
The short answer is yes, tipping your vendors is recommended by wedding budget planners as part of the overall expense. Including these costs in your wedding budget template will often allow you to prepare to tip appropriately. A wedding planner can often help you to determine the right amount to tip for each of the vendors and venues involved in your wedding. When tipping your food and beverage vendors, be sure to add between 10-20% of the entire bill. In addition to this, you should allocate funds to tip drivers and chauffeurs, typically 15%. Your photography and videography teams should also receive a tip that ranges from 5-7% of your overall bill. For hair stylists and makeup artists, 15-20% of the bill is customary. Dont forget about individuals who are working the event, including managers, tent set-up coordinators, portable restroom managers, and even security. These tips will range from $30 to $100 depending on your geographic location.
Giving gratuity is considered industry best practices, and is essential to showing gratitude for your wedding vendors hard work for your big day.
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Rustic Barn Venue Hidden Costs
If you are planning a rustic, country-themed wedding, a barn is the perfect setting. But getting the barn up to par for your ceremony will require lots of work, and dont forget those extra wedding venue costs.
Restrooms: If the barn is not equipped with restrooms, you will have to provide them yourself, and its going to cost you if you want more than the basic porta potty.
Climate Control: Depending on the season, you may be required to rent either heaters or fans to keep yourself and your guests comfortable and happy,
Generator: While barns can be quaint and charming, they may lack certain modern-day luxuries. like electricity, which you will then have to provide.
Cleaning: You definitely want your wedding to be free of spiders, dust and dirt so you will have to hire a commercial cleaning crew to get that rustic, homey feel.
Lighting: Unless the barn has lots of natural light, there will be additional costs to provide adequate lighting.
Once You Determine Your Budget Whats Next
Now that you understand how to assess the average wedding cost breakdown and how to use it to inform what you can expect for your own wedding costs, youre ready to take your next steps. Our directory can help you get in touch with venues and vendors in your area to find out how they compare to the local market, and whether they fit into your budget. You can also peruse our library of wedding galleries to see how each wedding vendor youre considering has contributed to other couples’ big days. When youre ready to chat with them to learn more, reach out directly from our site, knowing that you have a confident grasp on what to expect from your vendors and your wedding costs.
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Additional Wedding Venue Costs
Although weve mentioned pretty much everything thats included with the average cost of a wedding venue, there are some peripherals that need to be accounted for.
Make sure to inquire parking, tips, taxes, and third-party vendor fees.In downtown areas parking is often off-site and very expensive. Before placing your deposit, compare the cost and convenience of parking vs the cost of transportation.
When researching your venue make sure to specifically ask who is providing services. Its not uncommon for a banquet hall to hire outside contractors or formal business partners to fulfill some of the obligations. There may be a fee hidden in the fine print, and theyll require an individual tip.
If youre wondering who else has a tip coming to them, many venues provide bathroom attendants, bartenders, and coat checks. They are all in the customer service industry and should be assessed and compensated just the same as a waiter at a nice restaurant.
One last thing you should consider is cleanup. There will be leftover food, dirty linens, and decor to dispose of. Whos going to handle that? If its not expressly written in your venue contract you may be on the hook for additional fees.
The Great Outdoors Venue Hidden Costs
Whether its a sunlight beach, a romantic vineyard, or a simple backyard wedding, there will be hidden costs, as being exposed to nature and the elements always call for extra precautions. Here are some possible extra wedding venue costs for you to consider.
Tents: You have to be prepared for rain or shine, so always have a Plan B. And of course, you will need lighting and decor for the tent to keep in synch with your wedding theme.
Permits: Events held in a public place like a beach or public park often require permits, location fees, and often, insurance. And you most likely will need a permit for that tent as well.
Dance Floor: You dont want people slipping and sliding in the grass or falling on the pavement and getting hurt. And as an added fee, of course, dance floors built over grass require subflooring.
High Powered, Quality Sound System: There is a lot more noise at an outdoor wedding than an indoor one and you dont want anyone to miss out on the toasts and speeches or not be able to enjoy the dance music.
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Average Cost Of Wedding Flowers
Wedding flowers are surprisingly complicated, with more than 15 different types of possible arrangements to consider. Brides.com provides some details on what couples can expect to pay for some of the different floral items at their wedding.
- Bridal bouquet: $150 to $350
- Bridesmaid bouquet: $65 to $125
- Boutonniere: $24 to $45
- Pin-on corsage: $32 to $48
- Wrist corsage: $48 to $65
- Reception flowers: $75 to $250
- Flower girl petals: $65 per bag
- Altar flowers: $75 to $500
- Arrangement next to sign-in book: $150 to $250
- Arrangement next to place cards: $65 to $125
- Head table centerpiece: $65 to $150
- Sweetheart table garland: $12 to $45 per foot
- Guest table centerpiece: $75 to $400
- Cake flowers: $25 to $150
- Flower crown: $45 to $125
Mixing low- and high-priced florals can help keep budget costs down, as can reusing flowers from the ceremony at the reception and choosing flowers that are in season.
Save Up During Your Engagement
Taking out debt for a wedding isn’t typically recommended, so the best way to pay for wedding expenses is by saving in advance to avoid paying interest. To do this, you’ll need to determine your wedding budget and it’s important to be realistic and plan for unexpected expenses.
You can find ways to trim your budget, such as cutting down the guest list or choosing seasonal flowers that are less expensive. While the average couple hired 14 vendors for their wedding in 2021, you may be able to pass on pricey details like professional invites or goodies for guests. The Knot offers a wedding budget breakdown to estimate how much you should allocate for expenses:
- Venue, catering and rentals
- Wedding bands
- Gifts for guests
Once you’ve determined your wedding budget, determine how many months you have left to save. For example, if you’re planning a wedding two years in advance, then you may have about 18 months before you need to put down deposits. To save up $28,000 in that time, you’ll need to put aside about $1,500 per month.
One way to simplify your budgeting strategy is to set up a direct deposit from your paycheck into a high-yield savings account, which will grow over time with interest. You can compare savings account rates on Credible to find the right bank to invest your wedding fund.
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Preparing For The Big Day
Weddings have the potential to be one of the largest one-time expenses many people will make in their lifetime. Unlike buying a car or purchasing a home, weddings have the additional stress and pressure of setting the tone for your new life with your spouse.
Planning for your special day should begin shortly after you get engaged, but that doesn’t mean you should feel rushed. Take the time to choose a wedding date, venue and other details, and keep costs in mind every step of the way. Spend time working with your significant other on designing a wedding budget that avoids plunging you into deep debt. With the financial aspect of getting married well-managed, you’ll be able to spend your wedding day enjoying your ceremony instead of stressing over costs.
Average Wedding Costs By Type Of Wedding
Where you live isn’t the only factor that affects how much you’re likely to spend when you celebrate the start of your life with your beloved. The type of wedding also makes a difference:
- Destination weddings average $32,000, while hometown weddings average $27,000.
- First marriages weddings average $30,000, while second weddings average $14,000.
- Millennials typically spend $30,000, while members of Gen Xers spend $20,000.
Hometown weddings come at a lower average cost than destination weddings for obvious reasons — it’s cheaper to stay local than to incur the costs of travel.
However, some of the extra wedding costs of a destination ceremony may be offset by a lower price tag for the honeymoon, assuming the couple celebrates in the location where the wedding was held.
It’s surprising, though, that millennials — who have faced unprecedented financial struggles — tend to spend more on their nuptials than their older counterparts. This discrepancy could be explained by the fact that social media has played an increasingly important role in driving the price of weddings up. More than half of all couples set up their own wedding hashtag in 2019.
Sexual orientation made almost no difference at all in average wedding costs. Opposite-sex couples spent an average of $28,000 while same-sex couples spent just $500 more.
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Average Cost Of A Wedding Cake
For couples looking to end the night with something sweet, wedding cakes typically cost anywhere from $1.50 to $12.00 per slice, with the overall average landing at $540, according to Wedding Forward. Factors that affect the price include
- delivery fees, and
- equipment rentals.
Unfortunately, couples hoping that alternatives such as wedding cupcakes may cost them less will likely be disappointed as Wedding Forward reports that common options such as wedding cupcakes or cake pops carry an average price tag of $2.50 to $4.00 per serving — on par with a low- to mid-priced cake.