Money can’t buy you love…

Bling droppers

…but it can buy you a big fancy wedding! According to, the average price for a wedding in the U.S. is $26,800. The general breakdown they give is thus:

Wedding Attire $1,841.00
Wedding Ceremony $2,337.00
Wedding Favors & Gifts $1,104.00
Wedding Flowers $1,136.00
Wedding Jewelry $1,739.00
Wedding Music $922.00
Wedding Photography $2,659.00
Wedding Reception $13,692.00
Wedding Stationery $809.00

The site features a wedding cost calculator based on zip code, which is pretty cool. A wedding in the city in which I live costs somewhat more at $28,944. Most weddings in the town I grew up in cost around $39,664. Where my paternal family lives, however, a wedding will “only” set you back $18,492.

For those of you out there who are married, I would love to know roughly how much your wedding cost. Or, if that’s too personal, perhaps you could tell me what the most expensive element (dress, catering, hall, etc.) was and how much that cost.

And here’s a little food for thought from

A spokesman for insurers Weddingplan, said: “A wedding is one of the biggest financial outlays a couple will ever make.”

The cost of getting married has risen 75 per cent since the firm carried out its first poll in 1998.

68 Responses to “Money can’t buy you love…”

  1. emily says:

    It is to laugh. It says the avg. cost in my area is $55K (I’m on Long Island, home of wretched excess, but still). They’re on drugs. This is a heavily Jewish area, so we spend less money on some things (wedding favors aren’t usually done, we don’t do rehearsal dinners, nor is wedding music necessary), but the prices still seem way, way out of line. I’m not sure what they’re using to extrapolate, but my guess is they’re taking retail prices or doing some sort of proportion. Also, the prices seem way low for bands relative to the photographers: the way I remember it, the photog. was cheaper than a decent band. Got married in 1995: I’m pretty sure it came in for under $20K (yes, daddy paid). Granted, it wasn’t lavish, but it was a “nice” wedding for about 140 people.

  2. Erin G. says:

    ‘Tis true, what Emily says. I live in the same general area (Astoria) but got married in NYC. Most weddings around here come in at about 50k. Receptions are usually $130 per head. I managed a 18K wedding…but I was calling in favors all over the place. My single girlfriends have begged me to keep my “Bridal Bible” as a resource for them when they marry. It wasn’t easy to stay within a tight budget. I did a lot of compromising and I spent most of my engagement feeling very tired due to all the DIY. But, no debt! So there you go.

  3. Alaska says:

    We were married in 1995 in Sonoma, California for a little under $5,000. We chose a restaurant off of Sonoma Square that offered a package including a buffet-style lunch, a bar that was open — but only for two hours — and my dress was an ivory variation on the bridesmaid’s dress. I had a seamstress add some lace to the neckline and make a matching veil–$300 spent on the dress altogether. It was lovely. The rings were probably half of the expense. The one area we totally scrimped on was the photographer. We hired an amateur, which in the long run, “cost” us in that we have few good photos from the wedding and they used up so much of our time that we weren’t able to visit with the guests enough. Considering where we were and our situation at the time though, it was a good deal. No regrets except for the photographer.

  4. Amanda says:

    My sister spent $150,000 on her wedding last year in Boston. The reception alone cost $100,000. There were 400 guests and everything was top notch. She and her husband paid for everything and did not go into debt (they have done quite well for themselves, although they are only in their late 20s).

    Although the wedding was a lot of fun and everything was gorgeous, there is NO WAY I will spend even a tenth of that on my wedding. I don’t even know 400 people I could invite, let alone spending $200/head on my high school swimming coach who I hadn’t seen in 5 years.

    It’s big blowouts like this that are bringing up the average wedding costs.

  5. The local says:

    My sister’s first wedding was a big Southern affair, cost my parents $10k in 1972 dollars. Dresses, big rehearsal dinner, suits, party at country club, etc etc. The marriage lasted two years.

    A few years later, she married one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met, a physician who provides OB-GYN services in what the politicians like to call an “underserved” area (i.e., mostly rural and poor). They got married by a local judge she knows (she’s a county social worker) who refused to take his usual fee because he knew and liked them both. This was on a Friday afternoon and they wore the clothes they had worn to the office that day. They went home to his house on the water and had boiled shrimp and beer and called family and friends to let them know they did the deed. Thirty years later, they still dote on each other.

    My first marriage cost a bit over $20,000 in 1983, including a honeymoon in Scotland. The marriage lasted five years. In 1995 I met someone whose smile still makes me happy today. We decided to skip the marriage thing. Last year I told my daughter she could either have a big wedding or I’d pay for medical school. She chose tuition over a dress.

    Perhaps people should get a cheapie wedding first and see if it lasts, then have a big party five years or so later.

  6. Jenn C. says:

    When my husband and I got married in 1998, it cost us about $12,000 for a small wedding (about 90 people) with a catered dinner. Food, drink and location rental (all tied together for us) were definitely the most expensive part of that. We were in a suburb of Boston at the time.

  7. Tom says:

    My wonderful wife (a true Scot) got her dress at the famous Filene’s Basement bridal sale in Boston. House of Bianchi, pure silk. $150. I think our whole wedding as maybe $5000.

  8. Jessica says:

    I am praying, praying, praying for under $8K.

  9. Kay says:

    Vegas wedding!!! All we paid for were the plane tickets/hotel package for my husband-to-be and I, about $800. (Hey, this was 1996, people). His family and mine paid for the wedding, video of said wedding, the cake, the food. The limo to and from the chapel was free. My grandmother actually made the cake in Oregon and flew it Las Vegas. Oh, and let’s not forget the Elvis impersonator who sang after the wedding. My brother-in-law sprang for that. So it was pretty cheap for us. Thank god, since some friends of ours got married the day before and their wedding was over $30K. Of course, the Beastie Boys were guests at their wedding, so I’m thinking it was a little more…extravagant than ours.

  10. Meredith says:

    Our wedding cost somewhere around $40,000, and I believe the most expensive element was catering hall/food. We live in the suburbs on NYC, however, so costs for just about everything tend to be higher.

  11. Ally says:

    Um. I met my husband-to-be down at the municipal building and we paid $10 for our marriage license. Afterwards we ate two chocolate chip cookies that had been given to me by a coworker. We’re very low-key people and even if we had forty grand, we wouldn’t spend it on a wedding. As another poster eloquently said, you don’t need a fancy wedding to have a great marriage.

  12. Rachel says:

    Ryan and I got married three years ago, in the backyard of my mom’s house. Mom made my dress and we rented Ryan’s suit. Mom’s choir group did two songs, a friend’s daughter did the catering and a co-worker of Ryan’s was the DJ.
    here’s the breakdown from what I recall:
    Engagement ring: $25 an amber stone from the Natural History museum
    Wedding bands: $300 the pair of palin gold bands from Shane Company
    Bride Dress: $40 including fabric and pattern, an Empire style gown in silk
    Flowers: I made my own bouquet from “found” plants around Mom’s yard
    Groom suit: $200 rented from a costume shop, Napoleonic style
    Best man: $20 rented big bow tie for the dog
    Caterer: $1500 the daughter of Mom’s friend was just starting as a caterer
    Drinks: $200 case of red wine, case of white, case of sparkling, and some sodas
    DJ: $350 a co-worker of Ryan’s
    Singing: my mom’s choir group from church, they did it for the food
    Phtotography: $600, stills only, no video
    Pastor: $200

    For about $3500, we had a great ceremony. No complaints and no one felt left out. It can be done!

  13. JimT says:

    My wife and I celebrated our Golden Wedding in 2005.

    Back in 1954 I spent $110 for a small diamond engagement ring. In 1955 I spent $12 on her wedding ring and she spent $16 on mine. The priest wouldn’t accept a fee. We took the Best Man and Maid of Honor to a local cafe for sandwiches afterwards, and spent the night in an hotel. Total cost of the adventure, $200, more or less.

    About ten years later I had a jeweler make a new wedding ring because my wife always wanted a wide band instead of the simple circlet I gave her when we were students. The jeweler enlarged the original ring and built the new ring around it. It cost about $500.

  14. Wolfcat says:

    Had to chip in here, we got married November 5th, 2005 in a medieval themed ceremony. We spent 2 1/2 years preparing for it and paying for it ourselves-no loans, no going into debt to do so, with help from friends and actually had a betrothal ceremony for about 150 – 200 people in June of 2004 and the wedding for 150, with 3 attendants each for right around $6000.

    Engagement and wedding bands: $1500

    grand ballroom at a local hotel – $595 (included chairs, tables, white tablecloths, kitchen service and a jacuzzi suite for us)

    1 room for 2 nights for bridemaids – 120

    14th century outfits for all 8 of us, plus three boys – $600 (made by myself, maid of honor and a couple of other volunteers) – including pearls and semi-precious stones on headpieces and my gown

    scrolls and wedding invitations (one set for handfasting/betrothal, one for the formal wedding) $250, including postage (color copies of calligraphed and illuminated invitations)

    Food/drink: 7 entree feast in buffet style, plus sparkling cider, punch and two sets of cakes for the 2 ceremonies $1000

    Gifts for attendants: $60

    Decorations – handmade topiaries, painted banners, ‘torches’ (taplights inside black matboard shaped like wall torches), castles, fairies, white christmas lights, votive candles, ivy, chair covers of lavender tulle and bows, sewn banners – some brought by members of the local re-enactment group, plus lavender pomanders and gilded pinecones $400

    Chuppah (canopy), ring pillow – $60, a friend embroidered the four corners for me as her wedding present – she is marvelously talented, but very short on cash and had offered to help and to do embroidery as her gift. – then brought strawberry mead for the toast

    Rented pitchers, cambro hot box, purchased catering supplies and the eating utensils/flatware/glassware: $500

    Videographer: $350

    Flowers: 4 dozen lavender and white roses from Costco: $32, gorgeous purple/lavender and violet carnations and mini-carnations from online: $175 (12 dozen); lisianthus, white mini-carnations, beargrass, lavender poms, blue irises, and white carnations from The Flower Exchange online: $175, plus baby’s breath and fern from Albertson’s for $10. I had flowers on all of the tables, huge arrangements near the altar and canopy, some for my family, and large ribbon-wrapped sheafs for myself. I had picked up 3 white and lavender silk pomanders at Joann’s then added extra ribbons and such to them to match each lady’s gown color so that they could keep them.

    Sitter, day of wedding: $40 – watched our combined children, plus those of guests

    I admit to being very fortunate. I can sew and do flower arranging/painting and so forth, and had friends willing to give me time and companionship instead of things. Another 6 volunteered to help with the food and we prepped a lot ahead of time. Other friends vounteered their expertise with photography and so did my brothers. In August, just before the wedding, I was in a car accident that resulted in a shattered left wrist, surgery and 2 months of cast – when still doing fittings, sewing and so forth. My MoH emailed everyone who knew us and said “she won’t ask for it, but let’s all give her more help” and so our first toast was to thank everyone who helped the wedding come about.

    I became famous for the phrase, “it won’t work that way?/isn’t finished? well punt…try this and otherwise, we’ll make do.” IT ISN’T WORTH STRESSING OVER! 10, 20 or more years from now, will it really matter if the vase is not set just right, or the menu/cake not as elaborate as you want? No, what will matter is that you are still happy, married and that the ones you care most about were able to be with you!

    (and glue, safety pins and bond-o can be your friends, the night before!)

  15. Wolfcat says:

    forgot to mention, 4 weeks later, my neighbor had a double wedding with her daughter, and they borrowed a great deal of decorations and catering supplies from me to set up a lavender and white winter-wonderland type wedding at their church. I let the church keep the wedding bell/flower cluster I had made, but they used my topiaries, chair covers, white lights, stag decorations, ivy, pomanders, gilded cones and catering supplies, plus I helped make the daughter’s wedding dress in a week and fix her bouquet from the remainder of my silk flowers. They couldn’t use candles in the church, but we had a lot of fun setting up their decorations, and they were able to have their wedding for 50 people for under $400. *smile*

  16. Gileswench says:

    In 1993 I was married to the coolest guy in the world. We paid for the wedding ourselves, and spread both the planning and the costs over the course of about 18 months. Here’s how it broke down:

    Site: $500 for a lovely redwood grove where we could have both the ceremony and reception
    Gown: approx. $300. This covers the silk fabric from a wholesale-to-the-public dealer, the silk thread I used to make 11 yards of handmade lace, the two Folkwear patterns used as a basis for my vision, and the special foot I had to buy my friend for her sewing machine as her price for creating a truly special wedding gown. Oh, and it took second prize at the county fair that summer.
    Ring: $87. That was the price of my frog prince engagement ring. He wears no wedding ring, and I wear my late mother’s.
    Flowers: $30. That’s right, $30. It was a redwood grove. Putting out a lot of flowers would have been a case of bringing coals to Newcastle. We bought what looked good at a wholesale-to-the-public florist shop and some ribbon and florist’s tape to make bouquets and small arrangements for the reception tables, and a friend brought a few extra goodies from her garden to decorate the altar. It was just perfect.
    Music: $250 for a five-piece band to play both ceremony and reception. This also included having one member pipe me up the aisle in traditional Scottish style and a lovely guitar rendition of Here, There, and Everywhere at the request of my Beatles obsessed spouse.
    Photography: $500 for a professional I knew. Several other people brought cameras – both still and video – and gave their pictures and films as gifts that we still treasure.
    Food: approximately $200. Since it was an afternoon wedding in the great outdoors, we got a lot of picnic-style foods. We bought sandwich makings (bread, meat, cheese, lettuce, pickles, mustard, mayonnaise, etc.) and a big bowl of homemade fruit salad. My father contributed (free of charge) homemade potato salad, fruit tarts (instead of a cake), soft drinks, beer, and champagne. My mother in law made her amazing homemade sushi. Everybody went home full, and we had food leftover. Not bad when feeding 125 people.
    Invitations, postage, assorted decorations: approximately $150. The invites were among the very few things I bought at full retail, but I loved them.
    Blood tests, marriage license, Jp fee: approximately $200.
    Tuxes: $0. My beloved and all the groomsmen owned their own tuxes…except for my brother who wore his kilt., and my father who wore his.
    Wedding night at local B&B: $85
    Gfts for attendants: approximately $100 for ten attendants.
    Total budget: $2332, give or take.
    We celebrate our thirteenth anniversary in June. Our friends still talk about our great wedding. What’s more, we had a good time, too. I’m one of the very few women I know who really enjoyed her wedding. I chalk it all up to having control of the situation from day one, and not letting anything get too out of hand.

  17. Nate says:

    Money can’t buy you love? ABSOLUTELY!! I’m living proof.

    I have been married twice. The first time I had a HUGE wedding. We hired a mansion for the day, band, two 4 course meals, designer outfits, tons of flowers, the list is endless. The whole thing (minus the honeymoon!) cost $60,000!!

    The marriage lasted 18 months…

    … our credit card debt lasted longer than his vows but I digress…

    The second (and last time) I was married it cost us a total of $40. Yup, that’s it!!

    I am British and came to the US to marry my American husband so the whole thing had to be rushed because of the INS process. With that in mind I arrived on my fiancee visa on the Tuesday, got the certificate on the Wednesday and was married on the Thursday!!

    We had just two witnesses, both wore our smartest clothes and paid just $25 for the license and then $5 for a disposable camera!!

    Some may say this is depressingly scarce and basic but look at it this way. I am STILL just as in love with my husband as ever- if not more and not having a huge deal hasn’t affected our marriage any.

    The only thing that makes us sad is that we don’t have nice photos but we have promised ourselves that on our tenth anniversary we’ll renew our vows and have a big thing then. That way we can save for it and not stretch ourselves unnecessarily so we can meet a deadline.

    Just something to think about I think since so many of us end up getting stressed out and spending every last dime on that perfect day when it’s easy to forget the real reason we’re there to begin with.

    Besides, who wants to start their married life stressing about paying the credit card debt off- use that time to enjoy your early years instead!!


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