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How Much Does the Average Wedding Cost?

average cost of a wedding

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updated: July 3, 2024

Your wedding day is meant to be the happiest of your life, but getting to that day can be extremely stressful, thanks to the high cost of anything wedding-related. Even with your family's help, you might spend tens of thousands of dollars on just that one day. But how much does the average wedding cost, and what are the best ways to cut back on your wedding expenses? We break it all down here so you can focus on the most important aspects of your wedding.

Wedding costs over the years

Wedding website The Knot surveyed 10,000 engaged couples in 2023 and found the average cost of a wedding was $35,000, $5,000 higher than in 2022.

The following table shows the average cost of weddings from 2019 to 2023, according to The Knot. With the exception of 2020, the height of the pandemic, costs have risen steadily for the most part.

YearWedding Costs Over the Years

How the economy is impacting wedding costs

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the annual inflation rate in 2023 was 4.1%. That’s down from a high of 8% in 2022 and more in line with the 4.7% inflation rate in 2021. But what does that have to do with weddings?

When the annual inflation rate is high, the cost of goods and services also rises. This means your money won’t go as far. For wedding planning, you may have to settle for a lower-quality bouquet or a buffet dinner instead of a multi-course meal with table service. And if you don’t want to lower your expectations, you’ll probably have to increase your wedding budget to compensate for increased prices.

Data from The Knot shows that 51% of engaged couples in the U.S. went over their wedding budget in 2022. That’s why it’s vital to research the average costs of everything wedding-related where you plan to have the wedding to develop a realistic budget based on the current prices of goods and services.

Wedding costs in 2024

According to online wedding planning resource Zola, the average cost of a wedding in 2024 is $33,000. That’s up 13.8% from 2023, when the average cost was $29,000.(The Knot doesn’t have data on 2024 costs yet).

The average cost of a wedding by state

The cost of a wedding varies significantly by state. Alaska is the cheapest state to get married in ($14,444), while Rhode Island is the most expensive ($49,207). The following are the average costs of a wedding by state (and in the District of Columbia), as reported by Zola.

StateAverage Wedding Cost in 2024
District of Columbia
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
West Virginia

The average cost of a wedding in the largest U.S. metro areas

While the average cost of a wedding in your state can be a good resource to help determine your budget, costs will likely be higher in large metro areas. For example, the average wedding in New York City costs $49,866—several thousand dollars higher than the New York state average of $45,422.

Even within the same state, costs can vary significantly by metro area. For example, the average wedding cost in California is $36,068. But getting married in Sacramento ($29,167) is much cheaper than in San Francisco ($44,229).

CityAverage Wedding Cost in 2024
Los Angeles
New York
San Francisco
Washington, D.C.

International wedding costs

Getting married in another country is a memorable experience, but those memories come with a hefty price tag. According to The Knot, the average destination wedding in 2023 cost $41,000, compared to an average of $35,000 for weddings overall in that same year.

If you’re considering getting married overseas, it helps to know the average wedding cost in numerous countries before choosing where to get married. Remember that these costs don’t include travel to the country, hotel, car rental, or other travel-related costs.

(Before you pick a low-cost-for-the-event distant destination, consider travel expenses for your guests. High-ticket travel is, of course, one way to limit the number of invitees who actually attend your wedding, thus further paring the price tag—more on that in the next section.)

CountryAverage Wedding Cost in 2023
$15,000 to $22,000
United Kingdom

Average wedding costs by guest count in 2024

Unsurprisingly, what you’ll pay for your wedding will increase the more guests you invite. If you keep it small and intimate, you should be able to plan a wedding for under $12,000. But if you want to go all out and invite a big group (including your second cousin once removed, your childhood neighbor, and your favorite grocery-store clerk), expect to spend a lot more.

Number of GuestsAverage Wedding Cost in 2024
10 or less
10 to 30
30 to 50
50 to 75
75 to 100
100 to 150
150 to 200
200 to 300
500 or more

How much was the most expensive wedding in 2023?

The most expensive wedding in 2023 was likely the marriage of Madelaine Brockway (an heiress to a car dealership empire) and Jacob LaGrone (a former production assistant to country singer Jason Aldean), which cost around $59 million.

It occurred just outside Paris at the Chateau de Villette over five days. The wedding festivities included an overnight stay at the Palace of Versailles, a rehearsal dinner at one of the most famous opera houses in the world, and a performance by Maroon 5’s Adam Levine.

Most expensive wedding features

According to data from Zola and The Knot, the most expensive wedding features include the reception venue, food, engagement ring, wedding entertainment, photographer, flowers, and the dress.

  • The venue is one of the biggest wedding expenses, costing $6,500 to $12,000, according to Zola.
  • Catering may be included in the venue's cost. If it’s not, expect to pay an additional $6,500 to $10,000, according to Zola.
  • The engagement ring is another large expense. Average outlay: $5,500, according to The Knot.
  • Entertainment can cost between $2,000 and $7,000, depending on whether you opt for a band or a DJ, according to Zola.
  • Photography and videography are major expenses. Couples are paying $3,500 to $6,500 for a professional to capture their big day, according to Zola.
  • Flowers can be surprisingly expensive, especially if you opt for exotic species or complicated arrangements. Expect to spend between $2,500 to $6,000, according to Zola.
  • The wedding dress is often one of the most expensive clothing items a bride will ever purchase. The exact cost depends on style and design (and, sometimes, designer), but the average wedding dress costs $2,000, according to The Knot.

Least expensive wedding features

On the other end of the wedding-expenses spectrum are items such as wedding favors, invitations, cake, transportation, and hair and makeup. According to Zola and The Knot, these take the smallest bite out of nuptial budgets.

  • Transportation can be as simple as a luxury sedan or as complicated as a limousine or horse and carriage. It’s still one of the cheapest parts of a wedding at $700 to $1,200, according to Zola.
  • Wedding favors cost an average of $450, though the exact cost will depend on the type of favors chosen, according to The Knot.
  • Wedding cake is more expensive than regular cake, but it still clocks in at just $600 to $900, according to Zola.
  • Invitations are often one of the first expenses the couple encounters. On average, wedding invitations cost $530, according to The Knot.
  • Hair and makeup cost an average of $550 to $850, depending on the stylist’s experience level and the number of people in the wedding party, according to Zola.

5 Ways to save money on your wedding costs

Your wedding will likely be expensive, no matter how you plan. But there are ways to stretch your budget and make your dollar go further. Consider these five strategies to save money and still have pretty much the wedding you’ve always wanted.

  • Make a budget and stick to it. When you start shopping around for venues, photographers, and DJs, you might be surprised how quickly your original budget starts to creep up. Take the time to research costs where you plan to be married. Build a realistic budget and don’t let yourself get upsold when shopping around.
  • Stay simple. If you can live without a seven-tier cake with intricate sugar flowers on every inch, you can save a lot of money. List your must-haves and would-be-nices and see what your budget will get you.
  • Trim the guest list. It’s hard to do, but fewer guests can significantly decrease your wedding costs. Stick to close friends and family to save money and make memories with the ones who matter most.
  • Get married in the off season. Wedding season typically runs from late spring to early fall, and prices are typically higher in these months. Choose a date in the late fall, winter, or early spring to save money. If the date isn’t negotiable, opt for a daytime wedding rather than an evening affair.
  • Rethink location. Getting married at a stately manor will certainly impress your guests and make for memorable photos—but it’ll come at a cost. Consider a lower-cost location, such as a local park, library, beach, or your backyard.
  • Thrift your attire. If you enjoy hunting for bargains, you can save money on your wedding outfits. A thrifted wedding dress will usually be much cheaper than a new one, even when you factor in the cost of alterations.

Who typically pays for the wedding?

Traditionally, the bride’s family paid for the wedding. But modern weddings are less likely to be funded solely by the parents. Zola’s 2024 Wedding Trends survey found that almost 57% of respondents were receiving some money from their family to help pay for their wedding, while almost 42% were getting help from their partner’s family.

Zola’s research also found that more than 50% of couples will save for several years before getting married to pay for their wedding expenses without going into debt. Another 32% use credit cards to help cover some or all of their wedding costs. Almost 17% of the couples open a cash fund as part of their wedding registry, allowing guests to foot the bills.

Wedding loans

If you don’t have help from family and haven’t been able to save much money to pay for your wedding, a loan may be a good option. The best wedding loans are actually unsecured personal loans with terms ranging from one year to 20 years. Depending on the lender, you could borrow anywhere from $600 to $100,000, with an APR of 5.99% to 35.99%.

TIME Stamp: Location and number of wedding guests impact cost the most

Numerous factors affect the total cost of a wedding. Two of the top contributors are the location of the wedding and the number of guests. Although the average wedding cost in 2024 is $33,000, your costs could be significantly lower (or higher) depending on your choices when planning your wedding.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Do I need wedding insurance?

Although not required, wedding insurance is a smart buy for anyone planning a wedding. Wedding insurance can help protect you if the wedding is canceled unexpectedly or if there’s an expensive issue, such as a ruined dress. Without wedding insurance, you could lose a lot of money.

What is a reasonable budget for a wedding?

The average wedding in 2024 costs $33,000, but that doesn’t mean all engaged couples will spend that much. A reasonable budget will vary, depending on how many guests you invite and how extravagant you want your day to be. It’s possible to get married on much less than $33,000 with careful planning.

Is $10,000 a good budget for a wedding?

A $10,000 budget should be enough for a small, intimate wedding. Invite more than a handful of guests and this amount will likely fall short—maybe a lot short—of what you’ll need.

Is $30,000 a lot for a wedding?

A $30,000 budget for a wedding is just below the average cost of $33,000 in 2024 . It definitely sounds like a lot of money (because it is), but there are ways to get married for less than $30,000.

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