Getting married can be expensive. Depending on which state you live in, the average cost of a wedding is around $30,000. As a result, more couples are opting for cost-efficient alternatives to traditional planning and taking advantage of honeymoon registries that help fund the unforgettable trip they’ve been dreaming about.
A number of variables should be factored into the cost of a wedding. We break down the average wedding costs that go into planning your big day and what to keep in mind when budgeting, including:
- Wedding Venue and Location
- Wedding Size
- Various Necessities
- The Wedding Cake
- Additional Must-Haves
Cost by Wedding Location
The average cost of a wedding fluctuates depending on the state it’s held in. In 2019, the most expensive location to tie the knot was Manhattan, NY, at just under $76,000. Other states on the high end include New Jersey, Massachusetts and Rhode Island; more specifically, Chicago and Los Angeles are also near the top of the list. On the flipside, Mississippi is the least expensive state with an average wedding cost of about $15,000. New Mexico, Utah, Oregon and Montana are among the other more affordable states.
These averages are based on a wide variety of factors, including time of year, wedding venue cost and number of guests, and can fluctuate as such.
Surprisingly, destination weddings can be less expensive because guests pay their own airfare and accommodations. They are especially ideal for couples who have shorter guest lists and are looking for more of a “getaway feel” on the big day. Not to mention, the destination can double as the honeymoon location, making airfare and planning that much easier.
Another crucial factor in the cost of a wedding is whether or not the ceremony and reception are held in the same location. If you’re planning a more traditional wedding where the ceremony takes place in a church or temple, for example, the reception to follow will likely be held offsite. Hotels and restaurants are among the most popular places for receptions, but they can be pricey when adding up costs of food, drinks and entertainment (more on those three later). When planning, it’s important to keep in mind the number of guests attending and whether or not the venue will accommodate them comfortably.
Size of the Wedding Guest List
Arguably one of the most important factors of planning a wedding is determining the guest list. The difference between 50 people and 200 could be thousands of dollars. This is, of course, is your special day and it should be spent with as many friends and family as possible. But there’s still a budget to consider. On average, it costs $85 to feed each guest, which can add up quickly.
Laid Back or Formal Wedding?
Do you want a traditional wedding in a church or temple with bridesmaids, groomsmen and a flower girl? Or, do you envision a more relaxed ceremony on a beach or in a garden with a casual dress code? Your wedding day is all about you and your spouse, so choose a style that reflects your relationship beginning with the location.
Your wedding day should be one of the most unforgettable days of your life, which means booking a talented wedding photographer is essential. The wedding photographer cost will vary, but this may be the time to splurge. Capturing each and every special moment in a beautiful composed photo will be worth it for years to come.
But there are plenty of other ways to create an album of memories. Photobooths with props and giving guests Fujifilm Instax cameras are both highly popular. It allows guests to get creative and share their own unique perspectives from your big day.
Music is essential, too. A live band or a wedding DJ can entertain your guests once the ceremony ends and it’s time to celebrate. The average cost of a wedding DJ can range between $800-$1500 whereas the average cost of a wedding band is more variable, $2,850-$6,488. Whichever you prefer, ask for references to make sure they’ll keep the party going. Discuss the playlist and acoustics as well.
One more necessity to consider is wedding invitations. Depending on the length of your guest list, the price of your Save the Date cards and invitations can quickly add up. As an alternative, Honeymoon Wishes offers customizable wedding websites where you can add all relevant information for your wedding without having to mail anything.
Wedding Catering Costs
As mentioned earlier, the average cost of feeding a guest is $85. Some venues require that you use their catering services, which can drive up prices, while others work with third parties. With the latter, some couples nowadays are bringing in food trucks. Depending on the venue, they can pull up to the reception and feed guests directly. In addition to being fun, food trucks offer guests multiple options and are extremely cost-efficient.
Another trend becoming increasingly popular is a buffet-style reception, allowing guests to eat as they please. While this can be less expensive than paying per plate, it’s hard to estimate how much food you’ll need.
Wedding Cake Costs
Even if you go the nontraditional wedding route, there’s likely going to be a dessert. The average cost of a wedding cake is anywhere between $300-700 depending on the size and type. Alternatively, you could have a smaller wedding cake for you and your new spouse while offering cupcakes, donuts and other sweets to guests. Variety is always nice, especially when you have a large number of guests.
Wedding Day Must Haves
It’s time to shop! The average cost of a wedding dress is $1500, but with more and more cost-efficient options popping up, you can purchase one for as little as $100! Be sure to search different websites like NearlyNewlywed.com as well as local stores. Wedding dresses were once thought to be the most expensive factor of your wedding day, but with some smart shopping you’ll have money left over for other necessities.
Whether you choose centerpieces for every table or if you’d rather just have a single bouquet and boutonniere for the walk down the aisle, flowers can play a big role in your special day. The average cost of wedding flowers is $2,200 depending on how many pieces are needed, but that can be drastically reduced. Even on the higher end, flowers make for stunning photographs and add character to the venue.
There is no right or wrong way to plan your special day. It’s up to you and your spouse, and the budget you’re working with. Starting with our blog, Honeymoon Wishes’ honeymoon registry offers a variety of resources to help make the process as seamless as possible!