The average cost of a wedding in 2020 was $20,300, a $4,400 per-wedding decrease from the year before. Many factors combine to determine the cost of a wedding, including the size and location of the venue, the number of guests, the food and entertainment — not to mention additional costs that are up to the wedding party's preferences.
Below, ValuePenguin lists the average cost of a wedding by state and metro, along with per-guest costs. Depending on location, the cost of a typical wedding varies by $18,063. Researchers also broke down the most and least expensive features that are commonly included in the overall cost of a wedding.
The average cost of a wedding, by state
Depending on where you get married, the cost of your wedding can vary significantly. Across the country, the average cost of a wedding was $20,300, but the cost can vary by as much as $18,063 depending on the state in which the ceremony and reception take place.
Graphic shows only the 10 most and least expensive states for weddings, on average, separated by the "Average" bar.
The most expensive state to get married in is Massachusetts, where the average cost of a wedding is $30,489. Along with New Jersey, these two states are the only places where the average cost of a wedding is more than $30,000. Conversely, the cheapest state to get married in is Arkansas, closely followed by West Virginia.
Many of the most expensive states to host a wedding are on the East Coast. Four of the five most expensive states — aside from the District of Columbia — are in the Northeast. California and Hawaii, the eighth and ninth most expensive states for a wedding, are the only states in the top 10 that are west of the Mississippi River.
Seven of the 10 cheapest places to get married are in the South, while the other three states among the most affordable places to get married are in the West — New Mexico, Montana and Nevada.
The following table shows the states in alphabetical order, along with the typical cost of getting married in that state. To determine the average cost per guest, researchers divided the average wedding cost by the average number of guests per wedding nationwide. In 2020, the average wedding had 66 guests — declining sharply from the 131 the year before. With fewer guests, the cost per invitee is higher than what's typical.
Cost per guest
2020 average cost
|District of Columbia||$424||$27,965|
The average cost of a wedding in the largest metros
Even among the 20 largest U.S. metros, the average cost of a wedding can vary significantly. The difference in the average cost of a wedding in the most and least expensive of the largest metros is $13,653. The metro with the cheapest weddings is Tampa-St.Petersburg-Clearwater in Florida. The cost of a wedding here is $20,044. On the other hand, the average cost of a wedding in the San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley metro in California is $33,697 — the most expensive among the 20 metros.
|New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA||$33,446|
|Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA||$30,492|
|Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX||$25,786|
|Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX||$24,087|
|Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL||$33,401|
|Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA||$23,593|
|San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA||$33,697|
Ordered by population size
Most expensive wedding features
The overall cost of a wedding depends on the scale of the ceremony and reception. While the average cost of a wedding in 2020 was $20,300, this cost can quickly rise as the wedding becomes more extravagant. The most expensive parts of most weddings are costs associated with the reception venue, including the cost of renting materials, including tables and chairs, and serving food or alcohol.
1. Reception venue
The reception venue isn't typically a single, large cost but a series of above-average expenses that add up quickly, especially if the bridal party opts for a package deal from their venue. Taken in sum, the costs of renting a venue, catering the event and providing other related necessaries makes this feature of weddings the most expensive. Common costs associated with a wedding reception venue include:
- Venue rental: With thousands of dollars typically spent to reserve a venue for a wedding, it's often one of the priciest components of a reception. The typical cost of a venue amounts to $9,261, making it among the most expensive costs related to weddings. When couples have to rent tables and chairs and other furniture to fill out a venue hall, the cost increases.
- Catered food and drink: Making sure that guests are well-fed is one of the most expensive parts of any wedding — particularly if a wedding venue requires the couple to hire their own caterer. Expect to spend an average of $4,075 for a wedding of 66 guests — $62 a plate. As wedding sizes return to pre-pandemic sizes, the cost of food (per plate and in total) will rise. Of course, the cost of food is likely to increase for more extravagant weddings. But hosts could save on the cost of the venue by offering a cash bar as opposed to an open bar.
2. Engagement ring
There may be more variability in price with engagement rings than almost any other wedding-related expense. The cost of an engagement ring averaged $5,204 per wedding, but the cost of a ring depends on the size and type of stone used, the cut, the manufacturer and other factors that could easily catapult the price of a ring into the tens of thousands of dollars, or even higher.
3. Reception band
Musical entertainment is a mainstay of most wedding receptions. The decision to hire a band or a DJ for the reception can have sizable effects on the overall cost of a wedding. Hiring a band for a wedding reception can be one of the most expensive parts of the entire party. The average cost of having a band play at a wedding is $3,263. A DJ, by comparison, is typically more than $2,200 cheaper than a live band. Hiring one could be an efficient way to reduce the total cost of a wedding.
Having photos taken is expensive — researchers found that the cost was $2,117 on average per wedding. That's not even including the cost of a videographer, which can cost an average of $1,588. Together, these services make up a combined $3,705.
5. Florist and decor
Flowers and other decorations can quickly add up in terms of cost. The average cost of a florist is $1,764 per wedding. This figure can grow as the number of flowers needed for an event increases. Make sure to ask your venue what comes free so you don't end up unknowingly doubling up on purchases or paying for a more expensive version of what they have.
Least expensive wedding features
The following features commonly found at weddings are much cheaper than the must-haves mentioned above. Depending on the scope and elaborateness of these more affordable features, they could still carry a high cost for some — or, on the other hand, couples could reduce their expenses on these less-expensive parts of a wedding by getting creative.
The least expensive part of a wedding for most people are the favors that guests receive. On average, the cost of wedding favors was $353 in 2020. Depending on the type and amount of favors offered, the cost of favors could increase or decrease relative to the national average. For this reason, the couple could save money by avoiding expensive party favors.
2. Wedding cake
A wedding cake costs $441, or $6.68 per piece, based on the average number of guests that attended weddings in 2020. There are multiple ways to save money on this expense, however. For instance, the married couple could decide to serve smaller cuts of cake. Alternatively, they could order a smaller version of a wedding cake for presentation and then have a few sheet cakes in the kitchen to feed the mass of people.
Invitations cost $7.88 each on average (assuming most people come as couples), though much fancier invitations can command higher costs for every person. Couples looking to save could reduce their costs by making DIY cards or even going with 100% electronic invitations that are sent out as emails.
The average cost of securing transportation for a wedding is $706 per event. This expense may include a limo or hired car to take the newly married couple (and in some cases the bridal party) to the reception venue. Limiting the size of a hired vehicle or, if the reception is close to the ceremony, walking from one point to the other could significantly lower or eliminate the cost of transportation.
5. Reception DJ
Compared to the expense of hiring an in-person band for the reception, a DJ has a much more affordable cost. The cost of hiring a DJ amounts to $1,058 on average. This is $2,205 cheaper than getting a band to play the reception.
What about wedding insurance?
Wedding insurance can add hundreds of dollars to the overall bill for a wedding. The cost of wedding insurance depends on the amount of protections the newlyweds to-be want to add.
Wedding insurance refers to two different types of coverage: one version guards against deposits and wedding-day property, like special clothes and jewelry. The other is a type of liability coverage.
The in-person restrictions and uncertainty that COVID-19 caused in the wedding insurance industry resulted in consumers being unable to purchase coverage from some of the most well-known providers. As 2021 shapes up to be more normal than 2020, it's safe to assume that wedding insurance companies will see more couples purchasing coverage. However, rates could be more expensive as companies look to make up their lost revenue.
How wedding costs have changed over time
Aside from 2020, there have been more than 2 million marriages every year since 2000. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the number of marriages fell to 1.2 million — a year-over-year drop of 37%. Despite this drop, a per-wedding cost that continued to exceed $20,000 coupled with high numbers of people who still went forward with their planned weddings meant people still spent more than $25 billion on weddings.
ValuePenguin estimates that Americans spent a yearly average of $50 billion on weddings from 2015 to 2020.
Given the unprecedented effects that 2020 had on the wedding industry — even though earnings were high — it's likely that the cost of weddings in the rest of 2021 will resemble the more conventional cost of weddings in 2019. The average cost of a wedding that year was 18% higher than it was in 2020.
ValuePenguin researchers used data from The Wedding Report on the overall cost of a wedding over time. Researchers determined the average spend per wedding feature using per-item spending data from The Knot. Data related to the total number of weddings per year is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.