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Average Cost of a Wedding (2017)

By Value Penguin:

With more than 2 million people getting married in the United States each year alone, ValuePenguin wanted to do a bit of research on how much the average wedding cost in the United States. Are you currently planning a wedding and interested in what your budget should be? Below you’ll see how much brides and grooms are spending on a state-by-state basis so you can see how you stack up.

The Average Cost of a Wedding (by State)

Depending on where you get married the cost of your wedding can vary significantly from the national average of $29,858. Our table below shows the states (and areas of the state where applicable) in alphabetical order. To arrive at the “Average Wedding Cost” figure, we took our cost per guest and multiplied it times the average wedding guests nationwide (140).

State Cost per Guest Average Wedding Cost
Alabama $137 $19,203
Alaska $193 $26,962
Arizona $217 $30,359
Arkansas $133 $18,596
California (Central) $178 $24,960
California (LA) $264 $36,890
California (Orange County) $262 $36,745
California (Sacramento) $264 $36,990
California (San Diego) $269 $37,599
California (Santa Barbara) $338 $47,252
California (SF/Bay Area) $282 $39,475
Colorado $225 $31,435
Connecticut $314 $43,942
Florida (Central) $271 $37,898
Florida (Northern) $255 $35,638
Florida (Southern) $365 $51,073
Florida (West Coast) $300 $42,038
Georgia (Atlanta) $205 $28,659
Georgia (Savannah) $253 $35,480
Hawaii $312 $43,739
Idaho $109 $15,286
Illinois (Central) $138 $19,251
Illinois (Chicago Suburbs) $199 $27,902
Illinois (Chicago) $351 $49,151
Indiana $137 $19,129
Iowa $97 $13,637
Kentucky $124 $17,357
Louisiana $206 $28,830
Maine $262 $36,663
Maryland (Baltimore) $252 $35,236
Massachusetts (Boston) $280 $39,147
Michigan (Detroit) $185 $25,870
Michigan (Lansing/Grand Rapids) $145 $20,290
Minnesota $136 $19,084
Mississippi $91 $12,769
Missouri (Kansas City) $142 $19,829
Missouri (St. Louis) $136 $19,082
Nebraska $103 $14,388
Nevada $296 $41,502
New Hampshire $241 $33,780
New Jersey (North and Central) $342 $47,868
New Jersey (South) $295 $41,273
New Mexico $132 $18,479
New York (Long Island) $354 $49,556
New York (Manhattan) $630 $88,176
New York (Outer Boroughs) $349 $48,866
New York (Westchester) $326 $45,709
New York (Western/Central) $195 $27,302
North Carolina $199 $27,808
North Dakota $103 $14,437
Ohio (Cincinnati) $145 $20,311
Ohio (Cleveland) $156 $21,782
Ohio (Columbus) $153 $21,466
Ohio (Toledo) $112 $15,734
Oklahoma $118 $16,497
Oregon $185 $25,956
Pennsylvania (Central) $178 $24,966
Pennsylvania (Lehigh Valley/Poconos) $267 $37,429
Pennsylvania (Philly) $288 $40,350
Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh) $200 $27,975
Rhode Island $327 $45,736
South Carolina $219 $30,611
South Dakota $103 $14,437
Tennessee $159 $22,274
Texas (Austin/San Antonio) $198 $27,743
Texas (Dallas) $206 $28,810
Texas (Houston) $223 $31,236
Texas (West Texas) $99 $13,904
Utah $95 $13,301
Vermont $254 $35,493
Virginia $204 $28,542
Washington $195 $27,293
Washington DC $320 $44,856
West Virginia $140 $19,554
Wisconsin $139 $19,483
Wyoming $142 $19,813

Most and Least Expensive States

The most expensive states to host a wedding are all in 5 of the states with the largest populations. Conversely, the more affordable states are all in the bottom half of the US in terms of population with the exception of Texas.

bar graph of top five cheapest and most expensive states for weddings

Most Expensive

The five most expensive components of your wedding, on average, tend to make up almost 90% of your total costs.

top five most expensive parts of wedding cost

1. Reception Venue – the reception venue isn’t typically one giant cost but a series of above average expenses that add up quickly. Below I’ll list the main costs and what you can expect for each. They include:

  • Bar Service – If you’re opting for open bar service at your reception the average couple pays somewhere between $1,834 and $3,056 to quench their guests thirst. Having a cash bar is one option of alleviating that expense, although we recommend you just opt for cheaper booze than making your guests pay for all of their drinks!
  • Catered Food – Making sure your guests are well fed is one of the most expensive parts of any wedding. Expect to spend an average of $4,200 for a wedding of 140 ($30 per plate). Of course, if you’re having a fancier wedding be prepared to spend much more than that…anywhere up to $100 per plate depending on how decadent your reception is.
  • Venue Rental – With $3,100 spent on average to rent a wedding venue, it’s the 2nd priciest component of your reception.
  • Equipment Rentals – On top of renting out the venue, many couples end up needing additional equipment (chairs, tables, etc) brough it it accomodate the large number of people in attendance. While cheaper than the venue and food costs, equipment still isnt’ cheap: $1,700 on average.

2. Engagement Ring – There may be more variability in price with engagement rings that almost anything else. From $100 to $1 million, you can find them in all shapes, sizes and costs. In 2013, nearly 81% of all men that were married opted to purchase an engagement ring for their wife to-be. So how can you make sure you’re getting plenty of bang for your buck, the  nearly of the four C’s () don’t compromse on cut.

3. Reception Band – Since musical entertainment is usually a big part of a wedding reception, the question is whether you’ll shell out for a band or decide to save extra cash by going with a DJ. The average cost of having a band at your reception was $3,469 in 2013 with about 25% of couples going that route. The average price to have a DJ spin your night away was about 70% cheaper, or $1,000 for the night.

4. Photographer – Having photos taken is expensive as our $2,440 average per wedding indicates (and that’s not even including the cost of a videographer if you want that, too). If you’re looking to save money, most photographers will give you significant discounts if you refer your other friends who have weddings in the pipeline.

5. Ceremony Site – while a more traditional wedding ceremony (like a church) isn’t terribly expensive, more and more people these days are opting to go the less traditional route and find a scenic location for their ceremony. Getting married on the beach for example. Couples in 2013 spent an average of $1,793 on their ceremony sites.

Least Expensive

While much cheaper than the more expensve wedding must-haves, these five expenses can still be had for a cheaper price if you’re willing to get creative!

1. Favorswedding favors can cost you in the high $200s. This is generally an expense that can be cut altogether or at least minimized. Instead of giving something that is going to collect dust or end up in the trash bin by the end of the night you can save money by doing something a bit more thoughtful. For example, a CD with 15 of your favorite songs that guests can take home as a reminder of the night that’s both low-cost and memorable.

2. Invitations – Cost $6.32 per invite on average (assuming most people come as couples) with much fancier invitations can command $15 or more per invite. You can always opt to save by making DIY cards, using “print your own” invitations, or even going with 100% electronic invitations that are sent out as emails.

3. Wedding Cake – Average expenditure is $3.90 per piece of wedding cake. There are multiple ways to save money on this expense. You could order a half slice for each guest instead of a full slice (since most people only eat half anyways) to cut your cost. Another option is to order a smaller version of the beautiful cake for presentation and then have a few sheet cakes in the kitchen to feed the mass of people!

4. Ceremony Musician – Once you decide what kind of instruments and arrangements you want to be played during your ceremony you’ll need to hire a musician(s). Surprisingly, this can cost as much as $588 for the ceremony. Of course if you have a musically talented friends you can also save if they’re willing to “donate” their time for the ceremony.

5. Transportation – Most weddings that I’ve been in have had a limo (or bus) whose express purpose is to shuttle the wedding party around before and after the ceremony in style. For their typical 3 hours of service it will set you back in the ballpark of $700 once you include the drivers tip.

How Have Wedding Costs Changed Over Time

Looking at our chart below you’ll see that wedding prices have increased from $15,200 to $29,650 on average since 1990…a sizable 100% increase!

But are we being unfair and coming down too strongly on what we see as a ridiculous increase in wedding costs over the years? Possibly. Using inflation data from the BLS we found that prices have risen 82% over the past 25 years. That means a $15,000 wedding in 1990 would cost $27,300 in 2014 dollars. So using this metric, wedding prices have only increased 9% in the last two and a half decades. Not bad!

Methodology

The data used in this analysis is from a variety of sources and websites including: CostofWedding.com, WeddingStats.com, and TheKnot.

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