If you’re here, trying to find out the average wedding cost in the US, chances are the romantic side of the whole endeavor is over. You — or your significant other — have said “Yes,” and you’re now left with numbers and calculations in attempts to organize a wedding of your dreams and not go bankrupt in the process.
So, here are a few facts and stats on wedding expenses (the dress included) to help you get a clearer perspective and a rough idea of how to plan your budget for your big day.
Top 10 Wedding Cost Statistics and Facts to Keep in Mind
- There will be 2.47 million weddings in 2022 with an average cost of $24.3k.
- The most expensive weddings in the world take place in the United Arab Emirates.
- Colombia is one of the cheapest countries to get married in.
- The average wedding guest list was reduced to 66 people in 2020.
- The wedding services industry in the US currently amounts to $56.7 billion.
- Massachusetts was the most expensive state for organizing a wedding in 2020.
- The average price of a wedding in 2021 ranges between $29,000–$31,000.
- Reception venues can cost as much as $500,000.
- A slice of a wedding cake can cost couples from $1.50 to $12.
- Lady Diana and Prince Charles had the most expensive wedding in history.
Cakes, Rings, and Dresses — Wedding Expenses in the US
What’s the cost of a wedding dress, how much money do couples spend on engagement rings, and what are the most popular venues for getting married in the US?
1. The average wedding cost in 2021 ranges between $29,000 and $31,000.
Almost 50% of all couples in the US spend more money than initially planned due to unrealistic budgets. What’s more, experts believe that wedding costs will become even higher over the next two years. Why? Due to the pandemic, many wedding service providers had to increase their fees to keep their businesses working.
2. A wedding dress in the US costs about $1,600.
This is the average cost of a wedding dress, but since it’s based on many factors (accessories, details, designers, etc.), the price can actually range from $500 to $4,000.
If you want to save some money on the dress, consider using less expensive materials (like polyester) or getting a second-hand dress. Get ready, though: wedding dresses fall under the unfortunate pink tax area. They cost more than a regular dress of the same quality just because their purpose is to be worn on your wedding day.
3. 48.5% of couples who hired a wedding planner regret doing so.
The poll conducted by Novi Financial also found that videography (36.7%) and wedding favors (36.1%) were, in retrospect, unnecessary costs. On the other hand, 50% of couples married in the previous 10 years said their wedding cake, wedding dress, and photography were worth the cost.
4. According to the wedding cost data, American couples set aside $5,225 on average for engagement rings.
According to the latest jewelry stats, 19% of American couples spent less than $1,000 on engagement rings, 29% spent between $2,000 and $5,000, and 9% were ready to give more than $10,000.
Interestingly, 81% of Americans believe that they shouldn’t spend over $5,000 on engagement rings.
5. In 2020, barns and farms were the most popular wedding venues among American couples.
The most popular venues in 2020 were barns and farms, banquet halls, country clubs, and historical buildings.
The average wedding cost ranged from $5,989-$12,341 for a barn/farm reception, $2,378-$22,576 for banquet halls, $2,331-$17,123 for private clubs, and $4,083-$22,596 for historical buildings.
6. A slice of a wedding cake can cost couples from $1.50 to $12.
The average cost of a wedding cake amounts to about $540. The actual price is determined by the size, design, ingredients, and the kind of frosting couples choose. And let us not forget delivery fees, which also need to be taken into account.
7. The food costs $62 per plate at an average wedding.
Catered food will cost you $4,092 on average if you decide to have the usual offer for 66 guests. Of course, if you’re planning a more extravagant wedding, expect the food costs to go up as well.
Getting Married in the US
8. Experts are predicting a real wedding boom — there will be 2.47 million weddings in 2022.
(JCK PRO) (Wedding Report)
Also, the average wedding cost in 2022 is estimated to be about $24.3k. Thus, 15% of the couples decide to cut their original budget by up to 28%.
Still, even with cuts and the omicron variant, 2022 promises to be the year with the biggest number of weddings since 1984.
9. 72% of couples believe their guests deserve nothing but the best.
Statistics of the wedding cost inform us that at most weddings, guests are presented with complimentary experiences such as photo booths (58%), performances by musicians (25%), and a variety of wedding games (17%), which can put a significant strain on the newlyweds’ budget, and may even require taking out a wedding loan to cover the costs.
9. 38% of couples in the US opt for wedding ceremonies with religious and ethnic elements.
Roughly four in 10 couples involve ethnic and religious elements in their wedding ceremony.
Fifty-one percent of those couples incorporate religious reading, 22% hold ceremonies in religious institutions, 22% light the unity candles, 11% hold a sand pouring ceremony, and 9% break the glasses.
10. Organizing a reception typically involves more than 15 vendors.
You will need a vendor for everything, from flowers to catering.
The average wedding cost breakdown in 2019 (pre-COVID) shows that the most expensive aspect of weddings were reception venues ($10,500), followed by engagement rings ($5,900), reception bands ($3,700), and photographers ($2,400).
For makeup and hairstyling services, couples needed to set aside about $100 per vendor, which, according to some fresh stats on the beauty industry, is roughly half of the average amount Americans spend on beauty products each year.
11. Massachusetts is the most expensive state to get married in.
According to the most recent available data, Massachusetts ranked as the 30th state in terms of the number of weddings. In fact, 16,089 couples got married in this state in 2020, although it had the highest wedding costs, averaging at $30,489.
Stats on the average wedding cost by state inform us that New Jersey was second on the list, with an average cost of $30,357. Moreover, Massachusetts and New Jersey were the only states where the average price of a wedding was over $30,000.
Next in line were Connecticut ($22,499), the District of Columbia ($27,965), and New York ($27,533).
12. 73% of weddings occur between May and October.
The most popular months to get married are October, September, and June. In contrast, January, February, and March are the least popular months for weddings.
13. Arkansas had the lowest average wedding cost in 2020 — $12,426.
(The Wedding Report)
The average cost per guest in Arkansas was only $188. West Virginia followed close behind with an average cost of $12,498.
Next were Mississippi ($13,399), Kentucky ($13,537), Oklahoma ($13,881), Tennessee ($14,057), New Mexico ($14,591), Montana ($14,599), and Nevada ($14,877).
14. California is the 8th most expensive state for a wedding.
The average cost of a wedding in California in 2020 was $26,049, i.e., $395 per guest. Furthermore, the Golden State also had the most expensive metros (San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley) when it came to wedding costs.
For example, the cost of a wedding in these cities amounted to $33,697 on average. The cheapest metros to get married in were Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater (FL).
15. The average wedding cost in New York state is $27,533.
(Wedding Report) (ValuePenguin)
New York was the fifth most expensive state for getting married in 2020. New Yorkers paid an average of $27,500 for their wedding. This was still a significant decrease compared to 2019 when the average cost amounted to $32,200.
16. Same-sex couples in the US pay on average $500 more for the wedding ceremony than heterosexual couples.
(Fool) (NBC News)
In 2019, there were 980,000 same-sex couple households in the US, of which 58% were married couples, and 42% were unmarried partners.
Income statistics indicate that same-sex married couples had a higher median income compared to heterosexual married couples, $107,210 vs. $96,932, which might explain the higher average wedding cost.
COVID-19 Impact on the Wedding Services Industry
20% of the weddings in 2021 had to be rescheduled for some time in 2022.
Rescheduling was the main wedding trend in 2021. There were 1.93 million weddings in 2021 and tying the knot costs amounted to $22.5k on average.
17. In 2020, the average wedding guest list was reduced to 66.
(The Knot) (ValuePenguin)
The size of wedding guest lists is getting smaller with time. A regular 2007 wedding hosted 153 guests on average. In 2019, the number of guests amounted to 131.
Since then, the average wedding reception costs decreased significantly due to the increasing popularity of smaller weddings and the COVID-19 pandemic. consequently, there were only 1.7 million wedding events in 2020, so it probably deserves to be called the worst year for weddings.
18. An average virtual wedding costs $3,000.
(Forbes) (Wedding Report)
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, countless couples have been forced to cancel their weddings, organize microweddings with up to 25 guests, or get more creative with their planning.
Cue in virtual weddings, which, if we look at the numbers, could be beneficial to your personal finances, given that more and more wedding services providers offer virtual weddings for as little as $3,000, including the ceremony, live stream, and real-time chats.
19. The revenue of the wedding services industry in the US amounts to $56.7 billion.
Between 2016 and 2021, the wedding services industry suffered a decline of 8.8% per year. However, experts believe that the year 2021 will end with a yearly increase of 25.8%.
Global Wedding Cost Statistics
How big is the global wedding services industry, which country is the most expensive, and which one is the cheapest to get married in?
20. The most expensive country to get married in is the United Arab Emirates.
Based on an estimate provided by Insider, the most expensive wedding ceremonies are organized in the UAE. The largest portion of $185,000 an average wedding in this country costs is typically covered by the groom’s family.
21. Wedding venue cost statistics show that reception venues can cost as much as $500,000.
There are currently some 22 million millionaires in the US. Those among them looking to splurge on their special day should look no further than Key West in Florida, where renting a resort costs half a million dollars.
22. Colombia is one of the cheapest countries in the world to get married in — provided that you already live there.
Weddings in Colombia cost an average of $3,300. Seventy-nine percent of weddings here center around a religious ceremony (the majority of Colombians are Catholic).
23. The average wedding cost in the UK amounted to £30,000 ($39,655) in 2020.
Although, technically, you only need £50 to tie the knot in the UK (£46 for a ceremony at a registery office, plus £4 for the marriage certificate), weddings in Britain cost £30,000 on average in 2020. The largest portion of that sum is usually spent on covering venue and catering costs.
24. The cost of a wedding in Australia amounted to $19,429 in 2020.
Compared to the wedding cost in 2019 ($25,679), this was a 24% decrease.
25. Lady Diana and Prince Charles had the most expensive wedding in history.
It’s rumored that “the wedding of the century” cost the British royal family some $48 million (that would be $137 million today). Three thousand five hundred guests attended the wedding ceremony held in London, in 1981, at St. Paul’s cathedral.
As we all know, Charles and Diana’s marriage didn’t exactly have a “happily ever after,” but unlike their wedding, their divorce didn’t break any records. The same can’t be said about the divorce of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie who had the most expensive divorce in history (so far) that cost $36 billion.
What’s the average number of guests at a wedding?
An average 2019 wedding reception in the US hosted 131 guests. However, due to the pandemic, in 2020, this number shrunk to 66.
Nearly 60% of wedding ceremonies in 2020 were held outdoors (compared to 43% in 2019), whereas 5% of couples held an entirely virtual ceremony.
The most popular outdoor reception venues were homes, barns and farms, banquet halls, country clubs, and historical buildings.
How much does a wedding cost in the UK in 2020?
Brits spent an average of £29,870 ($41,455) on wedding costs. The prices ranged from £6,275 ($8,708) to £67,600 ($93,820), depending on the ceremony, venue, the number of guests, etc.
For example, the median cost for a wedding and reception venue amounted to £5,500 ($7,633). Still, you could find a much cheaper option for £500 ($693), or a much more luxurious one, for £10,000 ($13,878).
How much is a wedding for 150 guests going to cost you?
Wedding caterers for 100 guests cost between $8,500 and $10,000, i.e., $50–$150 per head. But, again, the overall price will depend on many factors. Plated meals are generally more expensive, while buffet-style meals are the more affordable option.
What is the average cost of a small wedding?
The average cost of a small wedding for 50 guests is about $8,550. In addition, couples at small weddings spend about $1,750 ($35 per person) on food, $4,000 on ceremony and reception sites, $500 on attire, $750 on drinks, and about $250 on music.
Couples can reduce their costs if they:
- opt for a cash bar instead of an open bar
- make their own music playlists (no bands and DJs)
- do their own makeup and hair
- do their own food decoration
- skip the flowers and excessive decorations, etc.
What is the most expensive part of a wedding?
The most expensive part of a wedding is usually the venue, which can cost between $12,343 and $14,006 on average.
The price will also be determined by the type of venue. For example:
- event centers cost between $2,083–$23,823
- private clubs cost $2,331–$17,123
- banquet halls/restaurants cost $2,378–$22,576
- historic/landmark buildings cost $4,083–$22,596
- museums cost $4,474–$14,748
If you’re among those couples currently planning a wedding, getting acquainted with stats on the average wedding cost could help you get a clearer picture of where you stand and what your next moves could be.