Average Cost of a Wedding: by Feature and State

With more than 2 million people getting married in the U.S. each year, ValuePenguin wanted to do a bit of research on how much the average wedding costs. 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 — in the U.S., the average cost of a wedding was $29,858 based on our analysis. The table below shows the states (and areas of the state, where applicable) in alphabetical order, along with the typical cost of getting married in that region. To determine the average wedding cost, we multiplied our average cost per guest by the average number of guests per wedding nationwide (140).


Average cost per guestAverage wedding cost









California (Central)


California (LA)


California (Orange County)


California (Sacramento)


California (San Diego)


California (Santa Barbara)


California (SF/Bay Area)






Florida (Central)


Florida (Northern)


Florida (Southern)


Florida (West Coast)


Georgia (Atlanta)


Georgia (Savannah)






Illinois (Central)


Illinois (Chicago Suburbs)


Illinois (Chicago)












Maryland (Baltimore)


Massachusetts (Boston)


Michigan (Detroit)


Michigan (Lansing/Grand Rapids)






Missouri (Kansas City)


Missouri (St. Louis)






New Hampshire


New Jersey (North and Central)


New Jersey (South)


New Mexico


New York (Long Island)


New York (Manhattan)


New York (Outer Boroughs)


New York (Westchester)


New York (Western/Central)


North Carolina


North Dakota


Ohio (Cincinnati)


Ohio (Cleveland)


Ohio (Columbus)


Ohio (Toledo)






Pennsylvania (Central)


Pennsylvania (Lehigh Valley/Poconos)


Pennsylvania (Philly)


Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh)


Rhode Island


South Carolina


South Dakota




Texas (Austin/San Antonio)


Texas (Dallas)


Texas (Houston)


Texas (West Texas)










Washington D.C.


West Virginia






Most and least expensive places to get married

All five of the most expensive regions to host a wedding are in locations with some of the largest populations: near New York City, southern Florida and Chicago. Conversely, the more affordable states are all in the bottom half of the U.S. in terms of population, with the exception of Texas.

Most and Least Expensive States graph
Most and Least Expensive States graph

Most expensive wedding features

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

top five most expensive parts of wedding cost
top five most expensive parts of wedding cost

1. Reception venue

The reception venue isn't typically a single giant cost but a series of above-average expenses that add up quickly. Below is a list of 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 for alleviating that expense, although we'd 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 guests ($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.) brought in to accommodate the large number of people in attendance. While cheaper than the venue and food costs, equipment still isn't cheap: $1,700 on average.
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How to save on your wedding venue

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2. Engagement ring

There may be more variability in price with engagement rings than almost anything else. From $100 to $1 million, you can find them in all shapes, sizes and prices. 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? Of the four C's (color, clarity, carat and cut), we recommend that you don't compromise 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 — our research found that the cost was $2,440 on average per wedding (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 wedding features

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

Least Expensive graph
Least Expensive graph

1. Favors

Wedding favors can cost you in the high $200s. This is generally an expense that can be cut altogether or at least minimized with planning. 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 is both low-cost and memorable.

2. Invitations

Invitations cost $6.32 per invite on average (assuming most people come as couples), though 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

The 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 musicians. Surprisingly, this can cost as much as $588 for the ceremony alone. 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

Traditionally, weddings hire a limo (or bus) whose express purpose is to shuttle the wedding party around in style before and after the ceremony. Their typical 3 hours of service will set you back in the ballpark of $700 once you include the driver's tip.

How wedding costs have changed over time

Looking at our chart below, you'll see that the price of a wedding has increased from $15,200 to $29,650 on average since 1990 ... a sizable 100% increase!

But are we coming down too strongly on what we see as a ridiculous increase in wedding costs over the years? Possibly. Using inflation data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (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 by 9% in the last two and a half decades. Not bad!

graph of how wedding cost have changed over time
graph of how wedding cost have changed over time

Annual spend on weddings

With an average cost of $29,858, we estimate that over $66 billion is spent on weddings in the U.S. each year. This is based on the CDC's tracking of weddings.

YearWeddings in the U.S.


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