Wedding Costs by the Numbers

Wedding Planning Guide 2015 – Article No. 9

The average cost of a wedding in North America is around $27,000; it’s the biggest party most people have ever thrown, and the price tag is certainly not for the faint of heart. In fact, one in five couples will spend more than $30,000, and one in 8 will spring for a wedding that costs more than $40,000 – not including the honeymoon. If you are thinking “That’s more than the down payment on my house!” you’re probably right. Why is it that, with the economy forcing people to tighten their belts, wedding spending rages on unabated?

The answer is that marriage is (traditionally supposed to be) for life; you get one chance at your wedding, and you want it to be memorable for all the right reasons. In addition, unlike other types of parties like milestone birthdays that have the potential to go big, there are certain customs that go along with weddings that naturally add to the costs (like the pricey gold rings). And there are certain expectations regarding style and luxury as well. Here is what today’s couples are spending all that money on:

Guests: the average number is 141, with average spending on each guest running close to $200

  • Reception: the venue alone costs an average $12,000
  • Catering: food and drink rings in at $8600
  • Engagement ring: diamonds are forever, the $5,300 average price tag stings right now
  • Reception band: entertainment has a high price at over $3,000
  • Photographer: budget more than $2K to keep your memories preserved, with another $1500 for the videographer
  • Flowers: expect to drop another $2K on flora
  • Wedding gown: the $1,000 average price tag is surprisingly modest for a dress that many brides keep forever, when you consider it would only buy two wedding cakes at the average $500 price
  • Locale: Want to get married in Manhattan like Mr. Big? Expect to pay over $70,000 for the privilege. That’s what average weddings cost in New York City.


How to Afford the High Cost of Tying the Knot

Yes, weddings are unique, incredible, day-long parties that join a couple forever. But the wedding industry thrives in part because they know that you, the soon-to-be-weds, are at their mercy. As soon as you put the word ‘wedding’ in front of anything – dress, cake, makeup, you name it – you are automatically paying a huge premium for an item that would cost far less if it were for something else.

So how can you keep your wedding affordable? Here are some expert tips:

-Book in the off-season. Just like vacations, weddings have an off-season: it’s October to May. Wedding costs are cheaper all around in these months.

-Think outside the box. Booking on a Sunday, or having a morning wedding harbour cruise, or getting a florist friend to handle the flowers in lieu of a gift, are all creative ways to save.

-Crowd funding: it really works. If you think crowd funding your wedding is tacky, consider holding a themed wedding shower where you ask for gifts to finance your honeymoon. Since the vast majority of couples live together before marriage, do you really need to register for a better toaster? No. An outdoor party with a “Help send the Smiths to Mexico” theme, complete with risqué piñatas, Mexican food and sombreros, will be fun for all your friends, and will actually end up paying for your trip.

For more ideas & Inspiration –

Previous Article in this Series – Destination Weddings

Next Article in this Series – Your Guide to Wedding Costs  (Stay Tuned)