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 $24,723 based on our research. The table below shows the states in alphabetical order, along with the typical cost of getting married in that region. To determine the average cost per guest, we divided our average wedding cost by the average number of guests per wedding nationwide (136).
Average cost per guest
Average wedding cost
|District of Columbia||$265||$36,082|
Average cost of a wedding in the largest metro areas
Even among the largest U.S. metro areas, the average cost of a wedding can vary by nearly $15,000. Prices range from $23,871 in the Tampa-St.Petersburg-Clearwater metro area in Florida to $38,721 in the New York-Newark-Jersey City region. More than 1 in 3 American weddings takes place in one of the following metro areas.
Average wedding cost
Number of weddings
% of total weddings in the U.S.
|New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA||$38,721||134,561||6.1%|
|Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA||$34,698||86,024||3.9%|
|Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX||$28,988||41,902||1.9%|
|Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX||$28,988||38,814||1.8%|
|Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL||$27,310||49,024||2.2%|
|Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA||$25,951||35,105||1.6%|
|San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA||$37,833||27,320||1.2%|
Most and least expensive places to get married
With the exception of Hawaii, all of the most expensive states to host a wedding are in the Northeast area: New Jersey; Washington, D.C.; Massachusetts and Connecticut. The most affordable states are located in the Southeast quadrant of the U.S.
Most expensive wedding features
The five most expensive components of your wedding, according to our analysis, can easily make up over 78% of your total costs.
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 you go with a package deal from your venue. Below is a list of the main costs and what you can expect for each. They include:
- Bar service. If you're opting for bar service at your reception, the typical couple pays somewhere between $1,476 and $4,147 to quench their guests' thirst, depending on the formality of the wedding. 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 — particularly given many professional wedding venues will require you go with their caterer of choice. Expect to spend an average of $6,937 for a wedding of 136 guests ($51 per plate). Of course, if you're having a fancier wedding, be prepared to spend much more. The cost of food can easily exceed $100 per plate, depending on how decadent your reception is.
- Venue rental. With thousands of dollars typically spent to rent a venue, it's often one of the priciest components of your reception.
- Equipment rentals. On top of renting out the venue, many couples end up needing additional equipment (such as chairs and tables) to accommodate the large number of people in attendance.
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 2019, the median American spent 4% of their pretax salary on an engagement ring. 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 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 by going with a DJ. The average cost of having a band at your reception was $3,094. The average price to have a DJ spin your night away was about 70% cheaper, or $941 for the night.
Having photos taken is expensive — our research found that the cost was $1,952 on average per wedding (and that's not even including the cost of a videographer — $1,473 — if you want that, too). If you're looking to save money, most photographers will give you significant discounts if you refer your friends who have weddings in the pipeline.
5. Florist and decor
Flowers and other decorations can quickly add up in terms of cost — particularly if you don't read the fine print. Make sure to ask your venue what comes free of charge, so you don't end up doubling up on purchases, or paying for a more expensive version of what they have unknowingly. And, when possible, get your friends and family to help set up decorations, so you aren't paying for "labor" to set up candles on tables.
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.
Wedding favors cost $179 on average. 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 can by the end of the night, you can save money by doing something a bit more thoughtful. For example, you might hand out copies of a CD with 15 of your favorite songs. Guests can take it home as a reminder of the night, and it's both low-cost and memorable.
Many couples opt to have a friend or family member perform their ceremony. But if you want to have a ceremony in a religious setting, you'll likely have to work with their officiant for the ceremony, and potentially have multiple interviews with them beforehand. Though this comes with a cost, it's often made as a donation to the venue you chose.
3. Photo booth
Adding a photo booth to your wedding costs $237 on average, but you may want to nix this feature if you're on a budget and already have a photographer. Alternatively, some couples put out disposable cameras for guests to snap their own memorable moments.
Invitations cost $4.13 each 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.
5. Wedding cake
The average expenditure is $2.83 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 anyway) 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.
How wedding costs have changed over time
Looking at our chart below, you'll see that the price of a wedding has decreased by nearly $2,000 over the past five years — a meaningful -7% change when you're on a budget.
Annual spend on weddings
With an average cost of $24,723, we estimate more than $55 billion is spent on weddings in the U.S. each year. This is based on the CDC's tracking of weddings.
Weddings in the U.S.
The data used in this analysis related to the overall cost of a wedding over time was sourced from The Wedding Report. ValuePenguin determined the average spend per feature of a wedding using data from The Knot on per-item spend. Some per-person costs, such as hair and makeup for the bridal party, were aggregated. Data related to the total number of weddings per year are from the CDC.