The Average Cost of a Wedding: How Much Should You Spend?

Female Wedding Photographer at Work.
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Planning a wedding can be a joyful experience, but where should you begin?

You can hire a professional to manage every detail of your nuptials, or you can opt to go it alone. Either way, your first thought might be, “How much will it all cost?”

Whether you want to take the DIY approach or get some professional help, continue reading for tips on keeping your wedding budget on track for one of the most memorable days of your life.

Average Wedding Costs

According to The Knot, the average cost of a wedding was $34,000 in 2021. The Knot reported that the states with the lowest 2021 average wedding cost were Idaho and Oklahoma at $16,000. New Jersey came in the highest at $47,000.

If you and your beloved are among the wedding hopefuls this year or next year, the following are some important things to consider as you plan your big day:

  • What do typical wedding services cost where you live?
  • How will hidden costs affect your wedding budget?
  • What do you need to include in your wedding budget?
Make Your Money Work for You

What Contributes To the Cost?

To ensure that you get exactly what you want within your wedding budget, we took a look at wedding services and their costs based on the national average. Planning carefully can decrease your chances of having unwanted surprises along the way.

1. Wedding Planner

  • Average Cost: $1,700 (varies by state)
  • What’s Commonly Included:
    • Wedding day tasks, such as timeline, setup, managing seating chart
    • Venue selection
    • Communication and correspondence
    • Post-wedding cleanup and breakdown.

2. Flowers

  • Average Cost: $2,300 (bride’s bouquet, bridesmaids’ bouquets, mothers of the bride and groom flowers)
  • What’s Commonly Included:
    • Florist consultation
    • Floral samples
    • Floral storage
    • Delivery and setup
    • Cleanup.

3. Wedding Cake

  • Average Cost: $500 depending on how many attendees you have
  • What’s Commonly Included:
    • Cake(s)
      •  Guest cake, Bride’s cake, Groom’s cake
    • Consultation and tasting
    • Stands, toppers, utensils
    • Extra top tier for the first anniversary.

4. Officiant

  • Average Cost: $500-$800 with a $50-$100 tip
  • What’s Commonly Included:
    • Premarital counseling
    • Travel expenses
    • Performing ceremony
    • Fill out, sign and submit marriage license to the state.

5. Photographer

  • Average Cost: $2,500
  • What’s Commonly Included:
    • Number of hours
    • Travel expenses
    • Additional staff
    • Digital images and editing
    • Copyrighting.
Make Your Money Work for You

6. Videographer

  • Average Cost: $1,900
  • What’s Commonly Included:
    • Number of hours
    • Travel expenses
    • Video editing and highlight reel.

7. Catering

  • Average Cost: $75 per person
  • What’s Commonly Included:
    • Cost of food and non-alcoholic beverages
    • Additional staff, such as chefs and servers
    • Equipment rentals, such as tables, chairs
    • Additional fees, such as corkage, cake cutting.

8. Wedding Venue

  • Average Cost: $10,700
  • What’s Commonly Included:
    • Location fee, such as church, banquet hall, hotel
    • Parking.

9. Reception DJ

  • Average Cost: $1,400
  • What’s Commonly Included:
    • Playing recorded music
    • Emceeing
    • Making toasts and announcements
    • Audio equipment.

10. Live Band

  • Average Cost: $4,300
  • What’s Commonly Included:
    • Emcee
    • Audio equipment
    • Microphones, sound system, speakers
    • Performers
    • Travel expenses.

11. Ceremony Music

  • Average Cost: $200-$500
  • What’s Commonly Included:
    • Soloist, duo or group
    • Live or recorded
    • Processional and recessional.

12. Bridal Gown

  • Average Cost: $1,800

13. Groom’s Tuxedo

  • Average Cost: $300-$1,000, rental or purchase
  • What’s Commonly Included:
    • Shirt and slacks
    • Tailoring
    • Accessories.

14. Transportation

  • Average Cost: $900
  • What’s Commonly Included:
    • Car, van, bus, limousine, SUV
    • Insurance
    • Chauffeurs, drivers.

15. Hair and Makeup

  • Average Cost: $115 for makeup, $130 for hair
  • What’s Commonly Included:
    • Hairstylist, makeup artist
    • Products
    • Extras, such as eyelashes, waxing
    • Additional staff.
Make Your Money Work for You

Wedding Planning Tips

If you want to save some money by planning your own wedding, here are three tips to help keep your costs down:

  1. Stick to your budget. Your budget is the foundation of any decisions you make about your wedding. Make sure that your personal finances are in order before diving into wedding planning.
  2. Get and stay organized. Keep all of your wedding business intact and in the same place. Use apps and online tools to organize all of your plans and documents.
  3. Consult your partner. You’re not in this alone. Your partner’s opinion matters. Make the decisions together to avoid any conflicts on your wedding day.

Good To Know

Don’t forget to build in a cushion for emergencies, miscellaneous expenses and unplanned expenses such as child care services, event liability insurance and postage for sending save-the-date announcements and wedding invitations.

If the average wedding cost is out of your budget range, consider cutting some corners to start your happily ever after off right. Sticking to your wedding budget could mean doing something as simple as trimming the guest list or having a weekday ceremony instead of one on the weekend. The choice is yours.

Sam DiSalvo and Elizabeth Constantineau contributed to the reporting for this article.

Information is accurate as of May 26, 2022.

About the Author

Kathy Evans is a personal finance freelance writer and entrepreneur with a technical writing and instructional systems design background. She holds an MS in technical writing and informational design and is currently a doctoral student in instructional technology at Towson University. Through work experience in the federal government as well as commercial and nonprofit industries, she has focused her freelance writing on finance, investing and economic content with a specialization in budget coaching.  

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