The National Average Cost Of A Wedding Is…

Each year we survey nearly 13,000 brides that have gotten married in the last year to find out their wedding budget, style preferences, and other key details. It’s called The Knot Real Weddings Study, and we have to be honest, our findings are eye-opening. For starters, the national average cost of a wedding is at an all-time high since we started the survey in 2008. National wedding budgets on average are at $29,858. Before you gawk at that, keep in mind that this is an average and that depending on where you live, that number might be lower or higher (talking to you NYC brides). See the stats below — broken down by category.

2013_TK_WeddingSpend
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Want More? Of Course You Do!

> See the average wedding cost last year!
> Who pays for what in a wedding?
> Your new best friend: The Knot wedding budget tool

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  • Melizabe
    03/27/14 at 04:51

    Wow, that is a lot. Where can you see the distribution? I am guessing that this number is not the median. How much is it affected by the couples at either end of the spending spectrum?

  • 03/27/14 at 09:04

    Excluding the ONLY vendor actually needed for a wedding…the officiant. Really?

  • Christy
    03/31/14 at 02:13

    Not to stir the pot, but I think possibly the cost of the officiant is sometimes assumed by the brides taking the survey to be included in the category of “ceremony site” if the couple is getting married at a church or having a destination wedding and taking advantage of the wedding packages at a resort. But you’re right, sometimes the officiant is another added cost in addition to the cost of the ceremony site.

  • miranda
    04/13/14 at 07:54

    everybody needs to click this link! this author explains that the knot.com is reporting the mean average for vendors/people in the industry. they do not suggest brides use this number as a borometer for what they should spend… very informative.

  • 03/28/14 at 07:26

    Don’t forget to budget in the cost of officiant! If a couple is investing in a good photographer and other details, chances are they’ll want a wonerful ceremony written by a professional. It is after all, the hightlight of the day!

  • 03/28/14 at 10:37

    I would bet the officiant is lumped in with the ceremony fees.

    I’m also curious what the average number on the guest count is.

  • 03/28/14 at 10:46

    Yes, you’re right. I didn’t catch that. If it’s any help to you, the average wedding I officiate here in NJ has about fifty guests. Most of the weddings I am seeing are one hundred guests or less.

  • Suz
    03/28/14 at 04:24

    My entire wedding is going to cost less than the average engagement ring. LOL!

  • 03/31/14 at 12:52

    Mine too :-) !!! We will have a lovely honeymoon tho ;-)

  • butterflytatus
    03/31/14 at 06:33

    $5,600 for the engagement ring??? Where are you shopping? My 1/2 carat princess-cut bridal set was on “clearance” for $999. It was a unique/vintage design that fit my personality perfectly – and I chose it before I saw the prices, turning down several pricier rings!

  • Miranda
    03/31/14 at 01:14

    The graphic is misleading. All of the components on the bottom add up to over 38k, but the highlighted national avg is about 30k. Plus, the ring category should be the wedding bands. Who ever counts the engagement ring?

  • Robin
    03/31/14 at 03:14

    I call BS! This is more of a high budget brides list. Everything on this list is almost more than half of what I paid for my upcoming wedding. If someone spends that much….all power to them but it’s just one day and I guess it shows what your future will be like. Engagement?wedding rings for both of us $2,000, Reception venue $5,000, ceremony $700, Rehearsal dinner $600, 3 tier cake $300, dress $700, grooms tux FREE, Florist $700….you get my point. Basically when all is said and done, ours will cost $15,000 and that’s even high. I have talked to other friends and they also were no where near that range.

  • Liz
    03/31/14 at 04:16

    This is actually a little less them what my Fiancee and I are spending on our wedding and ours isn’t crazy extravagant. I think depending on where you live, cost of things vary greatly.Our venue alone is about $15,000 (only $150 per person). We are in NY and the price we are spending is MUCH less then the average NY wedding.

  • Liz
    03/31/14 at 04:19

    Sorry, I meant 150 guests, not $159 per person!

  • Avery Peterson
    03/31/14 at 03:36

    Wow!! That’s a great heap of money. I specifically set a $18,000 budget for my wedding including wedding & reception venue, food, premium liquor, photo booth, photographer, flowers, transportation, fireworks, invitations and favors. I guess the rest of the things I have not fully thought through, it may add up to $28k. Smh!! But good luck to the rest of the brides!!

  • Ashley
    03/31/14 at 03:38

    Woah! I don’t plan on spending more than $500 on the dress (excluding alterations)

  • 03/31/14 at 03:39

    That’s insane!
    My wedding is going to cost about $5,000, including the engagement ring, and that’s because I’ve been splurging. Of course, I have a CZ because it’s just as beautiful and no one can tell and I’m not walking around with $2500 on my finger that I might accidentally lose or something. (I told my fiance not to bother with a real giant diamond, that the real CZ and the little embellishment diamonds are just fine, thank you very much… otherwise he would have happily made himself broke trying to buy a show-piece for my finger, so that no one would think he was cheap.)

    This is my second marriage and I did the fancy schmancy wedding the first time (although not as fancy as I wanted because we couldn’t go over $10,000), and I have realized at most of that stuff doesn’t matter. What matters to me is the memories and sharing the day with family. It doesn’t matter how fancy and picture-perfect everything is, and how amazing the food is.
    We’re getting married in a friend’s back yard (and we’re helping make the place beautiful by buying plants and helping plant them) and we’re having a pot-luck reception. If my friend hadn’t of volunteered, we would have gotten married at a local grange or park (about $250)… or there’s even the good old basement of the church you do the ceremony at.

    We got pretty cupcakes for our cake (at $1 a piece), because seriously, $500 for something that’s going to be hacked up and eaten and probably doesn’t even taste that good anyway? And we’re using plastic table cloths and dishes at the reception with beat-up chairs borrowed from a church, and making our own center pieces with homemade paper flowers. And I bought photo booth software for $50 and accessories from they thrift store and I’m running it on my own laptop with my own webcam and printer (so we’re talking about $150 instead of $500+, and it could be less if I didn’t let the guests print out their photos).

    My maid of honor is wearing an old dress of mine from prom. The boys are wearing khakis and button-up shirts. I’m wearing a designer formal dress from the store that most people buy their super-fancy prom dresses at, not an official wedding gown .. it cost $450 and is GORGEOUS.

    My friend is taking photos with his SLR and my uncle is taking video. I made my own save the dates and invitations from some of my friend’s photos (he did an engagement sitting for me), and shutterfly/snapfish/zazzle (whoever has the best sales at the time). My reception playlist will be streaming from my iphone.

    And if things don’t go exactly to plan, it’s ok. In fact, those little bloopers make the best memories.

    No, what matters to me is that our ceremony means the world to us (we’re writing it ourselves) and that our family and friends are there to share the day with us.

    To do that, you really only need a few key pieces: The marriage certificate, an officiant, a space large enough for everyone, some way to invite them (Facebook or e-vites might work for almost everyone except maybe the grandparents!), and at least some cups and water for them to drink (of course, if you’re asking for gifts… which we aren’t… you might want to provide them more than that, out of courtesy). And you’ll probably want that special day to be recorded somehow (ask your guests to take pics and vids with their phones and email them to you or post them on a site like Capsule.com, or give them disposable cameras). But really, do you have to show off how amazing your wedding is to impress your friends or your future-spouse’s family? Is it a contest? Is it really the end of the world if someone else borrows one of your ideas? Do you have to spend more on each guest than they will be spending on you in return? Do these things REALLY have anything to do with the point of marriage: Making a commitment to the one you love that you will be committed to each other for the rest of your lives? And do you really, really want to start your new lives together off in debt because you just had to have the showiest one-day ever (or put it on your parents to be in debt… and then the pressure or guilt you might feel if for some reason your marriage actually doesn’t work out and you asked them to spend all of this money on it)?

    For me, the answer is no.

  • Leticia L.
  • 03/31/14 at 04:11

    I don’t call this BS, I live in San Jose, CA and we’re having 150 guests, most of my components are like double this, our photographer was like 5k, and catering is close to $150 per person… i think it all depends on where you live

  • Jenna
    03/31/14 at 11:10

    I couldn’t agree more, Gina! I too am getting married on the Central Coast & am finding it hard to stay in my $30-35k for my 105 guests (excluding engagement ring, wedding bands, gifts for parents & honeymoon). And I got my non-designer dress on sale too! If you’re getting married in a “destination location,” like NYC or any part of costal California south of SF, you’re going to pay a pretty penny! Good quality vendors & venues just cost more in places like that, I feel.

  • Hollie
    03/31/14 at 05:04

    Explains a lot. My fiancee and I have been married before so we were planning a small, intimate wedding. I was getting a lot of push back from vendors on trying to plan a small ceremony and couldn’t wrap my brain around why they were being so inflexible with booking a few hours at a venue versus the entire day. There were moments where I was so frustrated because my questions about ways to cut costs were being looked down on. Same thing with photographers, wedding planner, etc. We were even open to a Sunday and flexible time and I just couldn’t get around lowering the cost without schlepping everything (linens, decorations, flowers, cake, etc). It’s so sad to experience first hand the pressure the industry puts on brides not to mention the pressure brides put on each other.

    I guess what pushed me over the edge was that there were a few people clearly looking for an excuse to party on our dime. I think that’s what I struggled the most with. We have the means to pay those prices but we are choosing not. The cost for the reception alone will be the entire cost of the trip and wedding in Vegas plus money to party with our friends.

    Getting married is a happy time. A marriage shouldn’t start out eyeballs deep in debt.

  • Netta
    03/31/14 at 05:14

    I definitely agree that it’s a challenge to do a wedding under $20k in CA and NY unless you REALLY limit your guest list. You can do it, but it’s definitely challenging. No matter how hard I tried to keep the costs to $20k, it’s been super challenging in the LA area unless you want to have less than 50 guests. Surprisingly, Orange County was A TAD more doable (we’re getting married in San Juan Capistrano). This national average seems more on par with a “budget/mid-priced” LA wedding for 150 people. I’m pretty on par with the above numbers, even calling in favors from my band, officiant & other areas.

  • thequestess
    03/31/14 at 05:30

    I forgot to say…. having already had one of those “fancy” weddings that pretty much everyone seems to want…

    The things I _remembered_ from my first wedding was the ceremony, my guests, dancing, and the fun car we rented. I don’t remember the food (of which I barely got to eat any of). I don’t remember the cake, except when I look at photos (of which we ended up not getting the top, nor to even taste the groom’s cake, all because there was so much going on it all got a bit mixed up). I don’t really remember the venue. I watched the video once and that was it. I loved the scrapbook my mom made me MORE than the super expensive one my photographer made, and some of the most memorable photos came from a disposable camera my 3 year old nephew got a hold of, and another disposable camera a bunch of my college buddies passed around their table. The car was fun, but I didn’t have to have it and my wedding still would have been awesome without it.

    Last time I didn’t really care about a fancy honeymoon, so we spent our budget all on the wedding and just rented a little timeshare condo 80 miles from where we live for a week. This time I don’t care about a fancy wedding, so we’re going to have a super awesome honeymoon instead (Caribbean cruise, baby!). And really, a super-duper honeymoon isn’t the most important thing either, we’re just doing it because we have the money (I am in my 30s, have a good job, and am paying 100% for my own wedding and honeymoon, without any loans or credit cards). Because, we have the rest of our lives to take really awesome trips together, we don’t _have_ to have a really awesome honeymoon.

  • Leticia L.
    02/16/15 at 07:55

    Excelent ideas thanks a loot!!

  • Brittany
    03/31/14 at 07:50

    My fiance and I live in NJ and our wedding is about $50,000. I can totally see how people can get around 30,000 but it is difficult I feel If You Have A Large Guest list. Our venue is what killed us. We cut down our guest list to 160 and our venue is $33,000. DJ was $1500, photographer was $2000, favors $160, dress $800. Florist was $3000. I had a friend spend $5000 on her wedding and it was beautiful. I just feel it is harder to have a wedding under $20,000 near NY..not impossible just harder to do.

  • Laura
    03/31/14 at 09:38

    NY weddings are very hard to keep down. I’m having a low key day wedding and it’s still 110/plate with 225 ppl. My band alone is 7k! We are close to the city so everything’s more!!! And we are being smart about things like flowers which get thrown out.

  • blade
    04/01/14 at 12:21

    My first wedding was 5 K. the divorce is still on going after nearly 10 years and 100K. I suggest elope and put your money in a 401K in your dad’s name so you get the money back.

  • 04/01/14 at 12:41

    Drives me crazy as professor who teaches statistics. My freshman students know more than TK: one should report the average using the median (not mean) with data such as these. Using the mean distorts the findings to look like people are spending a lot, lot more than they really are.

    Ignore these numbers. Read the Slate article quoted above by a previous poster. Not to many people spend this much.

  • Kathy
    04/02/14 at 08:44

    We live in the Northern Nj area…I WISH these were the prices of our vendors! $2,000 for a florist???? That would get you baby’s breath and maybe some carnations.

  • gina
    04/02/14 at 09:40

    I agree!! I wish! My florist is 5k!

  • Navy Veteran
    12/27/14 at 07:33

    We live in North NJ and make $250K a year in North NJ as a couple and are shocked at what some people spend for their wedding. We spent $7K for our wedding and $7K for an 8 day/8 night trip to Aruba. $14K — we were doing major house renovations on our $500K house. Some folks want to go all in on their wedding — we would rather have a nie honeymoon and a nice place to live in. Still trying to figure where some people come up with $30K for a wedding. Lots of folks start out going into a hole for their wedding and reception and you just think “boy this couple is going to have it tough starting out”

  • 04/05/14 at 10:25

    These are all such great tips, it’s so incredibly helpful for future brides to know where to save and what to cut by hearing it directly from former brides. We share breathtaking images but also stress that brides don’t break the bank in their attempt to recreate looks.

    http://www.everyintricatedetail.com

  • 04/08/14 at 12:22

    No hair and makeup stats? This is just as an important part of the day for a bride as the photography and the dress. Sure, a lot of brides will choose to DIY this but most will at minimum to go a salon to get their hair done, and more and more are looking for luxury on-site hair and makeup services that specialize in bridal. Not sure I understand why this was omitted? I think brides would appreciate knowing the average cost of these services since they are in higher demand now than ever.

  • sara
    04/28/14 at 04:38

    I had my wedding in September which was right at the end of peak season in Northport which is just north of Traverse City Michigan (one of the most popular places in Michigan to get married now.) I spend about 18k for 115 people but we decided to house all our wedding party and parents which was about 4k total. Our total included but was not limed to food, venue, dress, tux, girls dress, hair and make-up, photographer, DJ, church, catering, rehersal dinner, flowers and housing for about 30 people. I spend about 1k (included the flowers, vases, and candles) and the florist was going to charge me about 4k for waht I wanted and I wouldn’t have been able to keep any of the vases etc. I even made my own bouquets. Also – I used VRBO to rent housing for my wedding party. I spent about 70 dollars a couple per night per night instead of 175+ per night it would have been for a hotel room. The houses also provided more space, better views (most a block or less from the water) and nicer accomodations.

    The number one suggestion I would give a bride is to find a place that allows you to choose your own vendors. Our venue was an old Mill house that had been updated. They had some preferred vendors but you were not required to use them and there was no penalty if you used someone else. We were able to bring our own booze as long as we hired a bartender or caterer to pour the drinks. This alone saved us around 5k since we had a fully stocked bar with top shelf liquor.

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  • klysha
    10/31/14 at 04:52

    This average seems about right to me. We spent about $31K on our wedding in the DC area and that was after a lot of scrimping and budgeting and getting a lot of normally costly items gifted to us. We had 186 guests, paid about $110/ guest, had photography services, DJ, wedding planning, musicians, most of the stationary, makeup gifted or significantly discounted by friends. It’s really hard to have a wedding on a budget in the DC area if you have a long guest list.

  • 11/20/14 at 08:49

    I am a new york bride though im in the Washington Dc metro area. I want to have it at home in the bronx but its looking like it will be in queens or harlem which were my second choices. Lets talk about high! lol and not to mention the 250 plus guest list.

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  • jen
    01/12/15 at 04:32

    I agree with Rachel, spending all this on a wedding and being stressed out just doesnt seem worth it. Ive never been married, but all the brides I know dont even remember half the stuff they paid so much for, and certainly didnt make the couple any more likely to stay together. I would rather forgo gifts, which half of you dont even use or really need, and opt for a much more relaxed party in my backyard. Just family style pot luck, flowers from my garden, some candles lanterns and string lights, and maybe a quick impromptu ceremony on the nearby beach. The makeshift photobooth idea is much more fun way to get pics, and I actually dont like how much the camera and video get in the way of the party. One nice pic of the couple and one with the family is probably all you are going to look at down the line, and your guests could get plenty for you for nothing (plus about $10 to print at walgreens). Im sure it is considered the biggest day for many women, so if having a big wedding is truly important to you, then I dont judge. I do feel this wedding industry has basically brainwashed us into believing that weddings need to be expensive. Im sure I could swing a really nice party for under 2,000 and not have to spend a year of my life planning it. The rest of that money could be spent on a long honeymoon traveling the world and then on something like a downpayment on house. Finances are one of the biggest causes of stress in a marriage, so Id rather not start it 30,000 in the hole for one day. Besides, weddings may have been more of a one time thing in the past, but certainly not now.

  • jen
    01/12/15 at 06:17

    So if you do want a big wedding here is some ideas to budget:

    1. Public places offer a much cheaper option for a venue – botanical gardens, parks, beach houses, train stations, libraries, cultural centers, galleries etc. Some of these locations are way more beautiful than a hotel ballroom. Downtown Chicago Library Winter Garden (up to 500 guests) ($7,000) Botanical Gardens ($3,500) South Shore Cultural Center ($4,800)
    SAVINGS – $5000+
    2. Make your own centerpieces & buy supplies from others who already had their wedding – I see wedding items posted all the time on craigslist.
    SAVINGS – $1,000+
    3. Use potted flowers to decorate – and then give to your guests as favors. This will save the cost of a separate wedding favor, provide a lasting gift, potted plants will be cheaper and you can purchase them in advance versus fresh cut flowers. Mums are great for late summer weddings, and poinsettia for winter.
    SAVINGS – $500+
    4. Buffet style, rather than single plates – can save a lot of money and often you can serve a better variety of food. Ive been to one that even had their own stir fry chef. Plus you can offer food to people working the wedding, kids, and last minute guests rather than having to pay for extra plates.
    SAVINGS- $2,000+
    5. Dont get a photographer or videographer, or ask a friend or family member with a nice camera Aand tripod to take some pictures for you.
    SAVINGS $3000+
    6. Search online (ebay) for wedding dresses – you can get amazing ones for $100-200 and you can customize them
    SAVINGS $900+
    7. Any family members or friends that love to bake? Either pay them to make your cake, or get a much smaller professional cake and have them make matching cupcakes for the guests. Chocolate fondue with fruit is an easy dessert option.
    SAVINGS $400+
    8. BYOB. Definitely find a venue where you can supply your own booze. Also if you are tight on budget, let your guests know what you will have so then they can decide to bring their own favorite top shelf liquor.
    SAVINGS $500+
    9. Use a playlist on an ipod – and enlist someone in your family (preferably who is too young to drink) to watch over the music for a few bucks. Rent some speakers or borrow some.
    SAVINGS $600+
    10. Have a family member who works in a dealership? You might be able to get a really nice sprinter van or caddy to use to get your wedding party around. You can also look into just renting a car and giving a relative few bucks to be your designated driver.
    SAVINGS +$500
    11. Invitations – there are many sites that will print some nice invitations for cheap. Rather than sending a stamp for reply, offer a special email or evite link
    SAVINGS $300+
    12. Your friend can be ordained a minister for only $7 if you are not already part of a church or religious organization.
    SAVINGS $200+

    Probably about $15,000 worth of possible savings depending on where you live.

  • Alyse
    02/12/15 at 03:25

    Awesome ideas, thanks for sharing

  • SueB
    03/10/15 at 12:52

    A lot of the expenses are not covered in the standard ones as shown in the graphic, such as a dress shopping trip with dinner for attendants, brunch and parties, additional clothes for these events, the limo, shower and gifts, misc decorations and favors, attendant gifts, thank you cards and stamps etc

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Escort cards are extremely easy to personalize and an excellent way to bring in your wedding day colors -- from calligraphed seating cards set atop a textured linen to apples tagged with each guest's name or small personalized bundles of lavender tied off with string. Other ways to display escort cards: Pin them to a clothesline, post them on a board covered in color-coordinated ribbon, or incorporate them into your cocktail hour using personalized stirrers tagged with guests' names.
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