After two years of postponed weddings, a record number of couples are planning to get married in 2022. Spending on weddings is set to return to pre-pandemic figures, with destination weddings and features like open bars on the rebound.
In its 2021 Real Weddings Study, online wedding planning platform The Knot surveyed more than 15,000 couples. The results revealed that couples are spending just as much money on ceremonies as they were in 2019, and guests are spending even more than before to attend these special events.
Average wedding spending
In another survey from personal finance software company Quicken, 59% of people said that love is a priority over money and 37% said they would give up any amount of money to be part of a happy couple. If wedding spending is any indication, couples are willing to spend big in order to seal their commitment to one another.
In 2021, the average couple spent $34,000 on their wedding, including everything from the engagement ring to party favors. That entailed hiring an average of 14 vendors, including the most popular professionals: for the wedding dress (93%) and the venue (88%). However, the amount spent varied greatly depending on the number of guests invited. For example, weddings with less than 50 guests averaged around $15,000, and those with more than 100 guests cost about $38,000.
Of course, wedding spending also varies significantly by region:
- The average total wedding cost was $84,000 in New York City, versus $31,000 in Denver
- The average spent on day-of costs was over $36,000 in the Northeast versus $26,000 in the South
- Ceremony/reception spending averaged $40,000 in Boston versus $25,000 in Orlando
The Knot's survey also looked at what couples spent on individual items and features, including everything from tuxedos to music. Here's what average expenditures looked like in 2021 in some of the top spending categories:
- $10,700 for the venue
- $2,500 for a photographer
- $2,300 for flowers
- $1,800 for the wedding dress
- $1,400 for a DJ
Attendees also paid a price to participate, dropping an average of $160 on a wedding gift and $460 to attend, while couples spent an average of $266 per guest, including roughly $75 per person on catering.
Marriage and money
According to a survey from the National Financial Educators Council (NFEC), discussing money with a partner is a source of discomfort in most relationships. Determining how much to spend on a milestone event like a wedding can be a particularly stressful decision.
Not every couple decides to combine their finances, but planning a wedding is likely to require both individuals to share financial expectations, pressures and expenses. How can partners go about facing these challenges together?
For anyone facing early relationship milestones, including planning a wedding, the NFEC offers guides on facing financial love life events together, with tips on saving up for an engagement ring and saving money on a wedding. Here are a few ways to cut costs:
- Comparison shop for wedding rings and be sure to look for sales both online and in person
- Choose your highest priorities for your wedding and agree on some expenses you don't mind eliminating
- Instead of registering for gifts, request financial contributions through your wedding website or online registry
- Use travel rewards or vacation packages to save on your honeymoon, or go during the offseason
Methodology: The Real Weddings Study captured responses from over 15,200 U.S. couples married between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2021; respondents were recruited via email invitation from The Knot and/or WeddingWire membership. This report also includes findings from ad hoc studies conducted throughout the year.