The average wedding cost in the U.S. is $26,645. Some couples spend over $33,000 while others keep it below $20,000 and most manage to keep the cost at or below $10,000. The average cost of a wedding as well as the other figures listed here do not include any honeymoon costs.
If you are planning on getting hitched, it is important to understand the cost of a wedding and how to stick to a budget. Let’s take a look at the breakdown of the average cost of a wedding.
Breakdown of Wedding Costs:
Attire and accessories: $1,629
On average, couples spend over $1,600 on attire and accessories. This is usually referring to the bride’s dress. Yes, the average cost of a wedding gown, vail and other accessories is $1,629. That is a pretty penny for an outfit that you will only wear once in your entire life! There are a few ways that you can save money on your dress though.
Don’t be afraid to check the clearance rack at local bridal shops. Many of these dresses are simply “out of style” but that is okay because you wouldn’t want to wear the same style dress as everyone else the year you are getting married anyway. Also consider asking your mother if she still has her dress. Many families like to hand wedding dresses down from mother to first-born daughter. This could save you a fortune because you will only have to pay to have the dress altered to fit you.
Beauty and Spa: $129
The “Beauty and Spa” category in the wedding cost breakdown is something that is optional for most couples. This category covers things like hair, makeup and any spa treatment for the bride the day of her wedding. In all reality you can do your hair and makeup yourself and knock the price of this category down to $0.
If you do some shopping around and get creative, you can save a lot of money on the entertainment at your wedding. Most people get a DJ to play music for their wedding. Some couples decide to do some sort of karaoke through the night. Other couples play games throughout the evening with their friends and family. There are a few ways you can save money on entertainment for your guests though.
You should always shop around. Even if you really loved the DJ at your friend’s wedding, you may be able to find a better deal than they did. Look for a local DJ or talk to some of your friends and find out if they know someone. People are usually willing to cut you a deal if they know you and when it comes to games to play at the wedding, DIY is the way to go. Make your own games and your own prizes. It will save you a ton of money and it is a great bonding activity for wife-and-hubby-to-be.
Flowers and Decorations: $1,563
Flowers and decorations is an area where many people spend a ton of money but they could spend far less. For instance, when my father got married to his wife we made all of the centerpieces. The vases were bought for $1 a piece, we filled them with marbles (also very cheap) and then stuck homemade heart-shaped lollipops in the vases (someone gifted them the homemade lollipops). Overall, the centerpieces barely costed them any money. The rest of the decorations were also handmade and we put them up ourselves the night before the wedding. They cut this “average cost” in half (at least).
Gifts and Favors: $702
When you have a wedding you are supposed to offer gifts to your bridal party and favors to everyone else who attends the event. For an average sized wedding, $700 really isn’t that much to spend on this category, however, you can shave the cost a bit if you set a spend limit for the gifts for your bridal party as well as set a limit to the number of people in your bridal party.
Some couples have 10 or more people in their bridal parties which makes buying gifts a rather expensive task. If you keep your bridal party down to about four people and keep your gifts under $50 each, you will only spend $200 or less.
Spending practically $800 on invitations to your wedding is a little over-the-top. There are a few ways you can spend a fraction of that and still have attractive invitations. First, make sure you are only inviting the necessary people. You don’t have to invite the girl you used to be best friends with in first grade. Only invite the people that are close to you: family, close friends and allow each person to have a “plus one.” Second, order your invitations online. You can customize the invitations and pick from a variety of prints and pay as little as $0.31 per invite.
This category is really all about personal preference. Obviously jewelry is a huge part of the wedding day (you exchange rings), however, you don’t necessarily need to buy all of the jewelry at full price. Oftentimes jewelers will have a deal around the holidays or Valentine’s Day (when people buy a lot of jewelry). If you are planning a wedding that may be the perfect time to go and pick out your wedding bands. You will get a great price and be able to save a little money on one of the most expensive parts of your big day.
Photography and Video: $2,835
Everyone wants to have photos of their wedding so that they can look back on them and reflect on the day. While photos may be necessary for many couples, paying a professional photographer isn’t always necessary. Some couples shave this cost down to $0 by creating a hashtag for their wedding for social media. Throughout the wedding people will take photos and videos and post them to social media using your clever wedding hashtag. Once the day is over you can look back at the hashtag and see all the wonderful photos that you, your family members and friends took at your wedding. Even better – you can save them to your computer and get prints made if you like them enough.
A wedding planner is something that many couples feel that they need but it is not always necessary. You can shave the cost of a wedding planner down to $0 if you give yourself enough time to plan your own wedding. Pinterest has a ton of great wedding planning tools as well as print outs and wedding binder organization ideas. You can also ask for help from family. Oftentimes the mother-in-law-to-be and the bride’s mother join together to help plan the wedding. If you follow a schedule and are able to stay organized, you can plan your wedding without a licensed planner.
Venue, Catering and Rentals: $11,944
The venue, food and rentals are all lumped together in the last, most expensive category of wedding costs. There are ways that you can slim down the costs associated with this category, however, trimming this cost will take some time, flexibility and determination.
Some couples are set on a specific venue for their wedding day, however, if you are not set-in-stone on your location you can shop around for different, cheaper venues. You can also consider traveling away from your hometown and finding a cheaper venue in a rural area. The same goes for catering. If you are willing to shop around you can find a good catering company and stick within your wedding budget.
Wedding Cost Estimator
If you’re looking to get hitched soon and are looking at this article thinking, “Oh my gosh, I don’t have $26,000 to get married,” it is okay. Sit down with your soon-to-be spouse and talk about how much money you have for the wedding day. Once you do that try plugging your “dream wedding” into this Wedding Cost Estimator and see how doable it is. You can pick areas in which you are both willing to make cuts and stick to a budget.
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Photo: Flickr: Steven Tom