Under the Veil: The Average Cost of a Wedding

Average Cost of a Wedding

The average cost of a wedding in 2020 hovered just over $30,000. While many vendors and services are somewhat affordably priced when you tack on the word “wedding”, you can look forward to paying double or even triple what that service would normally cost. 

From your photographer to your wedding venue, to your DJ, and more, the cost of a wedding can quickly rack up. Luckily, there are ways to trim down costs so that you can still have the wedding of your dreams without going broke. Today, we’ll take a look at the average wedding cost for new couples, their wedding party, and their guests, along with some cost-saving tips that can bring down that price point.

Understanding Average Wedding Costs

With the average cost of a wedding hovering just over $20,000, you might be wondering where all that money is getting spent. There are some big-ticket purchases with any wedding that simply can’t be avoided. For example, costs for your wedding venue, photographer, wedding dress, and catering will undoubtedly be the most expensive parts of your wedding.

Other features like wedding favors, decor, lighting effects, and dressing the wedding party are other expenses that might not be as pricey but are still important to consider. 

No matter how you go about it, you should plan to spend at least a couple of thousand dollars if you want to pull off a wedding worth enjoying. As with any wedding, planning accordingly, establishing a budget, and knowing the different factors that can increase the overall cost of your wedding will help ensure you are allocating your wedding dollars wisely. Today, we’ll take a close look at what it means to plan accordingly for the wedding of your dreams. 

bride and groom
The average cost of a wedding is a bit over $20,000.

Average Wedding Costs in the U.S By State

While the national average wedding cost covers just over $20,000, you shouldn’t be surprised that where you host your wedding will undoubtedly factor into the price. Certain states are more affordable to host a wedding than other states. 

Couples getting married in states like New Hampshire, New York, California, Maryland, and Washington D.C. can expect to spend an average of just over $27,000. Meanwhile, States like Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and West Virginia have an average wedding cost  ranging anywhere from $12,000 to $13,000. 

Below, you’ll find the average wedding cost in the U.S according to the largest metro area. 

Metro AreaAverage Cost
San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA$33,697
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA$33,446
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL$33,401
Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH$32,451
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD$31,895
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA$30,492
San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA$30,118
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA$29,467
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO$27,984
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA$27,278
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI$26,456
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX$25,786
Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL-IN-WI$25,752
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX$24,087
Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler, AZ$23,856
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI$23,726
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA$23,593
St. Louis, MO-IL$22,894
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV$21,158
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL$20,044

Average Wedding Cost By the Number of Guests

Unsurprisingly, the number of guests who attend your wedding will also drive up the cost of the wedding. The average wedding guest list is made up of 100 to 200 individuals. 

According to the latest data, the average wedding cost of the top ten most expensive states by the number of guests includes the following:

StateCost per guest2020 average cost
New Jersey$460$30,357
District of Columbia$424$27,965
New York$417$27,533
New Hampshire$410$27,074
Rhode Island$386$25,458

Additionally, the average wedding cost for the top 10 least expensive states by the number of guests includes the following:

StateCost per guest2020 average cost
New Mexico$221$14,591
West Virginia$189$12,498
wedding guests
The number of guests can affect the cost of a wedding.

The Average Cost of Wedding Vendors

When determining how much you should budget for a wedding, you’ll need to consider how many vendors you want to work with. The more vendors, the more you can expect to pay for your wedding. Typically, the average cost of the most popular type of wedding vendors includes the following:

  • Average cost of reception venue: $11,200
  • Average cost of engagement ring: $5,800
  • Average cost of live band: $3,900
  • Average cost of a wedding photographer: $2,600
  • Average cost of florist: $2,400
  • Average cost of rehearsal dinner: $2,400
  • Average cost of videographer: $2,100
  • Average cost of wedding/event planner: $1,900
  • Average cost of wedding dress: $1,900
  • Average cost of reception DJ: $1,500
  • Average cost of the wedding cake: $510
  • Average cost of catering: (price per person): $75

When considering the different wedding vendors you’ll work with, this is one of the best ways to figure out how and where you should cut costs. If a wedding vendor can be substituted for a more affordable option, this is a great way to cut costs. For example, the average cost of working with a florist can get pricing. Opting to skip the florist and work with a design/decor or staging company instead can be a better use of your money. 

wedding rentals
Wedding vendors’ expenses can drive a wedding’s cost up.

Average Wedding Costs by Type of Wedding

The type of wedding you have will also impact the price. For example, opting for a more intimate and close-to-home wedding will be more affordable than a lavish destination wedding. The age of the couple can also determine whether one type of wedding will be used over another. For example, millennials are typically drawn to experience style, destination weddings, whereas older generations might gravitate toward a more intimate, smaller size wedding. 

According to recent data, the following remains true about the type of wedding couples opt for: 

  • Minimonies or small intimate ceremonies typically involve 10 or fewer guests, and it’s mostly limited to just family members. 
  • Micro weddings, or weddings with under 50 guests are typically the most affordable. 
  • Hometown weddings are traditional-style weddings with an average guest list of 100 to 150 guests. These weddings take place in a couple’s hometown. Avoiding the cost of travel, and expensive destinations, these are typically the most affordable type of weddings. Across the nation, a traditional hometown wedding can cost anywhere from $12,000 to $27,000. 
  • Destination weddings are one of the most elaborate, and expensive weddings out there.  Destination weddings incorporate added costs such as travel and lodging. However, because they tend to have smaller guest lists, costs can be cut down a bit in this regard. A typical destination wedding averages about 32,000 according to the latest data. 
beach wedding
Some types of weddings are less expensive than others.

Most Expensive Wedding Features

Unsurprisingly, there are some wedding features that will cost more than others. It’s these expensive wedding features that really set the tone for the rest of the wedding budget. Let’s get into the details of some of the most expensive wedding features you can expect as well as typical average costs. 

Reception Venue

For many couples, the wedding venue will be the most expensive part of any wedding budget. The wedding venue directly correlates with the number of guests you have. The more guests, the larger the space you’ll need, and the more you should expect to allocate for this expense. On average, wedding venues can cost anywhere from $8,000 to $12,000. When choosing a wedding venue, some of the most popular locations include the following: 

  • Vineyards
  • Hotel conference rooms or reception halls
  • Estate wedding venues
  • Barn weddings 
  • Restaurants
  • Breweries 

For those looking to cut costs, there are plenty of ways to find an affordable wedding venue. some popular locations that can either be free or incredibly cheap include the following: 

  • Community center venues
  • Personal backyard venues
  • State parks 
  • Churches and other religious centers 

Engagement Ring

An engagement ring is another one of the big ticket purchases associated with a wedding. Engagement rings are highly personalized aspects of a wedding. Depending on the couple, this purchase might be a really expensive one, or it might be free or cheap if a groom has an heirloom wedding ring that is being passed down through the family. 

According to a recent study, the average cost of an engagement ring was roughly $5,225. Typically, couples can expect to spend anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 on an engagement ring. However, it doesn’t take much for this price point to jump up. The type of ring you opt for, the style, and the clarity of the gem (if you opt for one) will all factor into the price. 

Additional expenses associated with an engagement ring will also help drive costs up. For example, if you decide to get insurance on your engagement ring, you can expect the price point to climb yet again. 

If you are budgeting for an engagement ring, one of the best rules of thumb is to shop for a ring that is no more than three times your monthly income. This allows you to establish a reasonable budget while incentivizing you to save towards a beautiful ring your partner will love. 

Reception Band

The average cost of a live wedding band for a wedding or reception ceremony is roughly around $5,000 plus a 10%  gratuity according to recent data. A live wedding band can add undeniable appeal to your wedding ceremony, but it is undeniably expensive. 

If you are looking to save money in this regard, opting for a wedding DJ instead might be a better option. Wedding DJs will typically charge an average of $2,000 – $5,000. With a wedding DJ, you can get a more personalized experience because the DJ can provide a more personalized and versatile experience. Additionally, paying a little more for a wedding DJ might be a better option for couples who also want added sound and special effects at their wedding.  DJs will typically offer their own sound and lighting system that can help create an overall enjoyable atmosphere during your wedding. 

Photographer or Videographer

A photographer and videographer is another big ticket purchase that you should prepare for as you plan your wedding. The average cost of a wedding photographer is roughly $2,500. Videographers will also cost about the same. Many couples will opt for a vendor that can offer both photography and video services as this can help reduce overall costs. With a vendor that offers both services, you can expect to pay anywhere from $5,000 – $7,000

Florist and Decor

Forest and decor companies account for another expensive part of wedding planning. The industry standard is that your florist and decor vendor should be no more than 10% of your overall wedding budget. The final cost will largely depend on the services you need and how large a wedding venue is. 

Florists will typically charge more because they are using real flowers and will need to plan ahead for your big day. The average cost of a wedding florist will generally be about $2,400 – $3,000. If you opt for a decor company instead, you can expand to spend about $1,500 for staging and faux floral decor. 

Dress Costs

For many brides, a wedding gown is the most important dress they’ll ever purchase. For this reason, you should expect to allocate a pretty significant sum of money towards this expense. The average cost of a wedding dress ranges from 1,800 to $4,000. However, wedding dress costs can quickly climb up if you shop for designer and luxury brands. Dressing a bridal party and groomsmen can also get expensive with the average cost starting at $1,000 to dress the wedding party.

reception venue
Wedding features, like the reception venue, tend to be costly.

Least Expensive Wedding Features

When it comes to the least-expending wedding features you can look forward to, you’ll be pleased to know that there are many. As you plan out your wedding, this can be one of the best places to start when it comes to cutting costs and saving on your overall budget. Let’s take a look at some of the average costs of less expensive wedding features. 

Wedding Favors

Wedding favors will generally cost a couple hundred dollars, but no more than $500. Not all couples will offer wedding favors, but if you choose to have them at yours, there are so many ways to get affordable wedding favors your guests will love. 

Wedding Cake

Wedding cakes are another least costly expense of weddings. And despite being the most expensive cake you’ll probably buy in your life, this is a wedding feature that you won’t have to allocate much towards. Typically you can look forward to spending anywhere from $250 to $500 on a wedding cake. 


Wedding invitations will cost you anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars, but no more than $500 for decent invites. The type of invites you choose, the paper material, printing, and styling options will all Impact price. There are so many ways to save with this wedding feature. 


Transportation is another cost that can be pretty flexible and easy to bring down. While the average cost of transportation for the couple, the wedding party, and the guests can quickly stick up to $1,000, there are plenty of ways to bring down this cost so that it’s only a couple of hundred dollars. 

Wedding Reception DJ

A wedding reception DJ is a great way to save costs on music for your big day. Reception DJs are a great alternative to live bands and typically cost less than what a live band would. Additionally, many reception DJs will offer additional services including a photo booth, a karaoke machine, and even lighting and special effects. 

wedding cake
Some wedding features are not as pricey, such as the wedding cake.

What About Wedding Insurance?

Wedding insurance, sometimes referred to as event insurance, is a way to ensure a private event like your wedding ceremony is protected in the event that it is canceled, or there is some sort of liability issue. Wedding insurance is not often an expense many couples consider, but in unique situations, it might be an expense worth considering. 

How Wedding Costs Have Changed Over Time

Wedding costs have changed over the years and decades — with costs unsurprisingly but steadily going up. Weddings have grown to be a lucrative industry generating over $25 billion a year. 

Over the past decade, the cost of weddings has gone up significantly with average weddings costing $20,000 or more. In the 1930s, couples spent an average of 25% of their median household income on a wedding celebration. This rate has nearly doubled to 49% as of 2012.  

wedding costs over time
The cost of weddings have risen considerably.

How To Plan a Wedding On a Budget In 2023

With wedding costs at arguably record highs there are still plenty of ways you can cut down on cost and plan a wedding on a budget. Here are some tried and true methods that will help you save on your wedding expenses.  

Consider Replacing Professional Vendors 

Professional vendors like a DJ, photographers, or decor companies can sometimes be substituted for individuals who are either just getting started in their field, are looking to build a portfolio, or are simply amateurs who enjoy doing this work part-time. Doing your research and carefully vetting out amateurs is a great way to get a quality experience without having to pay professional prices. 

Look Into Suburban Venus

Head out to the suburbs and explore venues like farms, state and local parks, and other areas that are not located directly within city limits. You’ll find that with many suburban venues the costs are much lower than high-value metropolitan venues. 

Trim The Guest List

Trim your guest list down to only those that you really want at your wedding. This will help you cut down on cost overall because the fewer guests that are in attendance, the less you’ll have to be paying per guest. 

Seek An Off-Peak Season

Wedding season is notorious for its high demand and even higher prices. Skip peak season and opt for untraditional months like the fall and winter months to get married. You’ll be surprised at just how much savings you can rack up when you plan a wedding off-season. 

Move The Special Day

Moving your big day from the weekend to a less in-demand day like Thursday or Sunday can significantly help you lower costs. Wedding vendors typically charge more on peak days like the weekend and Friday. Snag up savings by planning your wedding on a less demanding day of the week. 

Compare Prices and Services

Always compare costs and always ask for price matches. You’ll be surprised at how many vendors are willing to bring down their prices in order to get your service. You’ll find that with ample research and negotiation, you can save hundreds and even thousands as you plan your perfect wedding. 

Anticipate Extra Costs

You should always anticipate extra costs and plan accordingly. With your budget, add in an extra 5%  to 10% cushion for unexpected costs like gratuities, extra services, and other fees. 

planning for a wedding
Keep certain cost-cutting tips in mind while planning your wedding.

Final Thoughts 

Planning out your perfect wedding can get expensive, but fortunately, it doesn’t have to be. Doing your research, comparing prices, and figuring out different ways to save can help you cut down costs significantly. Be sure to share with us in the comments section below some of your favorite ways you’ve cut costs on your wedding day.

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