The Average Cost of a Wedding

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  • WEDDING COST SPIKE: The average wedding cost rose to $35,000 in 2023, marking a significant increase over the previous two years.
  • LOCATION MATTERS: Wedding expenses vary dramatically by state, with New Jersey and Rhode Island being the priciest.
  • BUDGET BREAKDOWN: Reception venues and engagement rings top the list of wedding expenses, consuming a major portion of the budget.
Key findings are powered by ChatGPT and based solely off the content from this article. They are reviewed by Jack Caporal, our research director. The author and editors take ultimate responsibility for the content.

Weddings have become more than just a chance for a couple to express their commitment to each other -- they've become big business.

Couples spend $33,000 to $35,000 on their wedding, on average, and most in the past year have said that planning within their budget has been a challenge in wedding planning.

With couples spending enough money on a one-day event to buy a car or put a down payment on a home, let's take a look at where that money goes. The Motley Fool Ascent has compiled the latest data from The Knot and Zola, two of the largest wedding planning platforms, as well as Wedding Forward and to break down how wedding budgets add up.

How much does a wedding cost?

The average cost of a wedding in 2023 was $35,000, according to The Knot. Couples plan to spend an average of $33,000 in 2024, according to Zola. Based on data from the Knot, That's up $5,000 from 2022 and $7,000 from 2021.

A line chart showing the average cost of a wedding by year

Those figures do not include the cost of a honeymoon but do include the cost of the engagement ring.

However, it doesn't tell the whole story in terms of how much a wedding is likely to cost couples, as the price tag can vary substantially from state to state as well as based on the type of wedding.

The average cost of a wedding in each state

The state you have your wedding in can have a major impact on how much you spend to say "I do" to your beloved.

The Knot and Zola have gathered data on how expensive it is, on average, to get married in all 50 states. Here's what the data shows and how their rankings compare.

Weddings cost a whopping $55,000 in New Jersey, $20,000 above the national average and $38,000 more than the average wedding in Utah, the cheapest place in the U.S. to get married, according to The Knot.

Data from Zola has Rhode Island as the most expensive state to get married in, with the average wedding there coming out to $49,207. South Dakota is the cheapest state for a wedding, per Zola, with the average bill there amounting to $15,625.

Zola and The Knot are in agreement on which states are the most expensive to get married in. New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and California are in the top 10 most expensive states in both sets of data.

There are some divergences between the lists. Zola generally found the average cost of a wedding in each state to be cheaper compared to The Knot's findings. The two wedding platforms diverge substantially in some particular states as well, such as Wyoming. On The Knot's list, Wyoming is the 37th cheapest state to be married in with an average cost of $26,000, while the state is the 6th most expensive on Zola's list, with weddings costing an average of $42,000.

The table below shows the average price of a wedding by state with data sourced from both Zola and The Knot:

A table and map showing the average cost of a wedding by state.

Average wedding costs by type of wedding

Whether you have a destination wedding or local wedding significantly impacts cost. Here's how those averages breakdown, according to The Knot:

  • Destination weddings in the U.S. average $43,300.
  • Destination weddings outside the U.S. average $42,000.
  • Hometown weddings average $33,300.
  • First marriages' weddings average $30,000, while second weddings average $14,000.
  • Millennials typically spend $30,000, while members of Generation X spend $20,000.

Some of the extra wedding costs of a destination ceremony may be offset by a lower price tag for the honeymoon, assuming the couple celebrates in the location where the wedding was held. Plus, some vendors may be cheaper abroad compared to the United States.

Nineteen percent of newlyweds had a destination wedding in 2023, per The Knot, in line with the past few years. Zola estimated that 36% of recently married couples had a destination wedding in 2023, with 28% being domestic destinations and 8% tying the knot abroad.

Wedding budget breakdown: Where does the money go?

With tens of thousands of dollars on the line, it's important to understand what couples prioritize and where this money goes.

Here's how much couples spend on average on different vendors, clothing, and other aspects of their weddings.

Vendor 2023 (The Knot) 2024 (Zola)
Reception venue $12,800 $6,500 to $12,000
Engagement ring $5,500 N/A
Live band $4,300 N/A
Wedding photographer $2,900 $3,500 to $6,500
Florist $2,800 $2,500 to $6,000
Rehearsal dinner $2,700 N/A
Videographer $2,300 $3,000 to $6,000
Wedding/event planner $2,100 $1,500 to $4,750
Wedding dress $2,000 N/A
Reception DJ $1,700 $2,000 to $7,000 (band or DJ)
Transportation $1,100 $700 to $1,200
Wedding cake $540 $600 to $900
Wedding invitations $530 N/A
Favors $450 N/A
Groom's attire $330 N/A
Hairstylist $150 for one $550 to $850 (including makeup)
Makeup artist $140 for one $550 to $850 (including hair)
Catering (per person) $85 $6,500 to $10,000
Alcohol $2,800 N/A
Officiant $250 N/A
Jewelry $360 N/A
Event rentals $2,000 N/A
Lighting and decor $1,900 N/A
Ceremony ensemble $900 $500 to $800
Data source: The Knot (2024) and Zola (2024).

Not every couple will incur all of these expenses, and some will choose to spend far less on certain areas to splurge on others.

Costs in every category except for engagement rings increased in 2023 from the previous year, according to The Knot. The largest increases were venue costs ($11,200 to $12,800), live bands ($3,900 to $4,300), florists ($2,400 to $2,800), and alcohol ($2,400 to $2,800).

One reason the cost of engagement rings fell may be the turn to lab-grown diamonds. Seventy-two percent of couples surveyed by Zola said that "diamond alternatives and substitutes" were "in."

Let's take a closer look at the variation in costs for some of these major categories.

Average wedding venue cost

Where you get married can be one of the biggest drivers of cost, as the price tag of the most expensive venues can be several thousand dollars more than the least expensive.

According to Wedding Forward, here's the average cost of different wedding venues:

  • Community or event center: $2,000 to $24,000
  • Country or private club: $2,300 to $18,000
  • Banquet hall: $2,500 to $22,500
  • City buildings: $4,000 to $22,500
  • Museum or art gallery: $3,500 to $15,000
  • Brewery or winery: $5,000 to $10,500
  • Hotel or resort: $6,000 to $74,000
  • Barn: $6,000 to $13,000
  • National or city park: $7,800 to $13,500

Average cost of wedding flowers

Wedding flowers are surprisingly complicated, with more than 15 different types of possible arrangements to consider. provides details on what couples can expect to pay for some of the different floral items at their wedding.

  • Bridal bouquet: $250
  • Bridesmaid bouquet: $80
  • Boutonniere: $20
  • Pin-on corsage: $25
  • Wrist corsage: $30
  • Reception flowers: $120 to $600
  • Flower girl petals: $25 per bag
  • Ceremony structures: $1,500-$4,000
  • Altar flowers: $75 to $500
  • Arrangement next to sign-in book: $200
  • Arrangement next to place cards: $65 to $125
  • Head table florals: $1,500
  • Sweetheart table decor: $500
  • Cake flowers: $150
  • Flower crown: $100

Mixing low- and high-priced florals can help keep budget costs down, as can reusing flowers from the ceremony at the reception and choosing flowers that are in season.

Average wedding dress costs

Most brides dream of finding the perfect gown, but the price of perfection isn't cheap. When looking at the average cost of a wedding dress in every state, Insider DATA found that most states came in around $1,500.

In addition to the dress itself, brides may need to pay for extras including:

  • Accessories such as shoes, veils or tiaras, jewelry, and a clutch purse. Wedding Forward reports these accessories typically cost between $350 and $500.
  • Undergarments, which average around $200 in cost.
  • Alterations, which can cost between $500 and $600 if they're not included by your bridal shop.
  • Cleaning and preservation, which could come at a combined cost of around $500.

Average cost of a wedding photographer or wedding videographer

Eighty-eight percent of couples hired a photographer in 2022, according to The Knot. This didn't come cheap at an average price of $2,100.

Average cost of a wedding cake

For couples looking to end the night with something sweet, they should be prepared to spend $540 -- the average cost of a wedding cake, according to The Knot.

Wedding cakes typically cost anywhere from $1.50 to $12 per slice, according to Wedding Forward.

Factors that affect the price include:

  • Ingredients
  • Design
  • Number of tiers
  • Frosting type
  • Delivery fees
  • Equipment rentals

Unfortunately, couples hoping that alternatives such as wedding cupcakes may cost them less may be disappointed. Wedding Forward reports that common options such as wedding cupcakes or cake pops carry an average price tag of $2.50 to $4 per serving -- on par with a low- to mid-priced cake.

How much does a wedding planner cost?

With so many moving parts to make up a perfect wedding, many couples turn to a professional for help planning it all. Twenty-nine percent of couples hire a wedding planner to take care of some or all of the logistics, according to The Knot.

The cost of a wedding planner depends on the type of assistance they provide. The Knot found that in 2023, couples spent an average of $2,100 on a wedding planner while Zola estimates that in 2024, couples will spend between $1,500 to $4,750.

That range reflects the wide variety of services a planner can provide at different price points. Options include:

  • A full-service planner
  • A day-of coordinator
  • A wedding-weekend or destination-wedding coordinator
  • A professional who offers a-la-carte services and assists with only a specific aspect of wedding preparations

The less assistance a planner provides, the lower the price will be.

How much does a small wedding cost?

The average wedding size in 2023 was 115 guests, down from 131 in 2022, according to The Knot. Zola found that the average guest count for a 2024 wedding will be 145, with a 75% RSVP rate, resulting in about 109 guests.

Guest count is a major cost factor for weddings. The Knot found that couples spent an average of $304 per wedding guest in 2023. That's up from $256 per guest in 2022 and $214 per guest in 2019.

Catering alone averaged $85 per guest in 2023, according to The Knot. That doesn't include alcohol, wedding favors, venue costs that may increase with size, and other costs.

The average cost of a wedding with 50 or fewer guests was $16,700 in 2023, according to the Knot. A guest count between 50 and 100 had an average cost of $28,300. The average cost grew to $45,600 for weddings with 150 guests.

Zola came to similar wedding cost estimates by guest count for 2024:

Guest Count Average Cost
Fewer than 10 $11,667
10 to 30 $17,048
30 to 50 $18,768
50 to 75 $20,581
75 to 100 $24,769
100 to 150 $33,957
150 to 200 $41,286
200 to 300 $42,751
500 or more $54,500
Data source: Zola (2024).

Who pays for the wedding?

Just 27% of couples pay for their own wedding in full, which is no surprise given how expensive tying the knot has become. Sixty percent of couples contribute to their wedding bill, but it's not clear how costs are divided between them and others who help foot the bill.

Who Is Paying for the Wedding? Percent of Couples
Couple contributing but not entirely covering 60%
Couple completely covering 27%
Wedding is covered by others 12%
Other 1%
Data source: Zola (2024).

How do couples pay for their wedding?

How couples pay for their weddings shows how expensive weddings have become.

Thirty-two percent of couples surveyed by Zola use some combination of credit card points and new credit cards to pay for the wedding, for example, up from 29% in 2023. Twelve percent of those surveyed in 2023 said they had taken on additional jobs to make extra money.

How couples pay for their wedding 2023 2024
We are optimizing credit cards (including using points, taking out new credit cards, etc.) 29% 32%
I/We saved up for years before getting engaged 26% 50%
I/We have taken second or third jobs 12% N/A
Adding wedding elements to registry (photographer fees, etc.) 6% N/A
We have taken out a loan 4% 5%
Crowdsourcing/funding 2% 1%
We are able to afford our wedding, but none of the above apply 49% N/A
Other 9% 20%
Data source: Zola (2024).

The average cost of weddings around the world

The United States is far from the only country where couples spend extravagantly on their nuptials.

The table below shows what the average cost of weddings around the world was in 2022. Costs are converted into U.S. dollars using average currency conversion rates that year and do not include jewelry, engagement rings, or honeymoons. Data was collected by The Knot.

Country Average Cost Average Number of Guests
United States $30,000 117
United Kingdom $23,000 81
Italy $23,000 109
Spain $23,000 115
Canada $19,000 89
France $19,000 97
Portugal $17,000 112
Uruguay $15,000 115
Chile $9,000 89
Brazil $9,000 125
Mexico $8,000 145
Colombia $5,000 76
Argentina $4,000 106
Data source: The Knot (2023).

The United States is the most expensive on the list by a wide margin in terms of average cost, but couples across the globe have a keen interest in making their wedding special and are willing to pay a relatively high price to do so.

What about wedding insurance?

Unfortunately, weddings aren't immune to unforeseen circumstances -- which is where wedding insurance comes in.

Wedding insurance policies cover a wide variety of items, from lost rings to injured guests.

Cancellation insurance covers the deposits you made on the venue, DJ, vendors, photography, and so on. It might also cover loss or damage of attire, rings, cake, gifts, and other items, depending on the provisions in your policy.

Liability insurance covers injuries to the people who attend your wedding.

So how much does all of that cost?

According to The Knot, you'll pay between $125 and $550 for a basic cancellation policy that covers things like rings, attire, gifts, and deposits. General liability insurance will cost about $185.

In general, $200 to $400 is probably a safe bet for the average wedding insurance. But costs and levels of coverage can vary widely, so be sure to check multiple options.

The most expensive weddings

For many couples, spending over $30,000 on a wedding is a significant financial commitment. For the ultra-wealthy, not so much.

There's little agreement about the most expensive wedding among different sources.

The Guinness Book of World Record claims the $55 million wedding in 2004 of Vanisha Mittal, daughter of the billionaire Lakshmia Mittal, the executive chairman of ArcelorMittal, the world's second-largest steelmaker, and Amit Bhatia, an investment banker, is the most expensive wedding held. The six-day wedding in Versailles included a re-enactment of the couple's courtship.

Insider lists Prince Charles and Lady Diana's wedding as the world's most expensive, costing $48 million in 1981, over $170 million today. Their wedding was broadcast on television to 750 million viewers and included 27 wedding cakes.

The Knot has the wedding between the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and his bride Princess Salama in 1981, as the most expensive. The affair would have cost over $100 million today, per The Knot. Twenty thousand guests attended the wedding, which was held in a custom-built stadium.

How to save money planning a wedding

No matter how you add it up, the cost of a wedding is likely to be several thousand dollars at a minimum, even for a small affair.

Couples would be well-advised to consider their budgets carefully and make sound decisions during the entirety of the wedding planning process, including setting limits upfront -- and sticking to them.

Those who are involved in the wedding planning process should likely also aim to pay for as much of the wedding in cash as possible, rather than relying on credit cards that can carry high interest rates. Charging wedding costs can sometimes add hundreds or even thousands of dollars to the final price tag, depending on how long the couple pays finance charges.

By taking a financially-responsible approach to their special event, couples should be better able to avoid starting their married life with the substantial wedding debt that can result from such a lavish affair.

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