You've found "The One," and you're ready to make it official. If that means throwing a wedding for all your well-wishing family and friends, the average price tag for the celebration is higher than for a year of tuition at a private university.
In 2011, total average spending for a wedding and reception reached $25,631, according to the Wedding Report.
Let's break that figure down with a few line items. Wedding bands: $1,179. Wedding dress: $1,166. Tuxedo or suit: $200. Bridal bouquet: $132. Wedding photographer: $1,668. Food for reception: $4,772, plus $423 for the wedding cake. Live band: $1,542. DJ: $699.
Gail Johnson, a wedding planner in Decatur, Ga., says many of her clients "don't have a clue" about what their dream wedding will cost.
"They may see pretty flowers and not realize that one stem of one orchid may cost you $25 or $30 -- or even more if we have to import it," Johnson says.
Of course, you could skip the grand festivities and do the nuptials for not much more than the cost of a marriage license. Those fees vary widely from state to state, from as little as $4 in Massachusetts -- depending on what city you're in -- to $115 in Minnesota .
CostHelper.com pegs the price of a honeymoon at $3,400 to $5,100 for a six- to eight-day trip, based on surveys of wedding industry sources.