Average wedding cost: Wedding planning tips for 2023
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A wedding is a special occasion, but its high price tag can often cause significant stress for the couple tying the knot. The high cost of venues, catering, photography, flowers, music and more can make the already high-stress wedding planning process even more pressure-filled.
Nearly half (47 percent) of couples say that planning with a budget is their top planning challenge, according to 2022 data from The Knot.
The price of everyday expenses is rising due to inflation, and it may drive up budgets for weddings across the U.S. this year. Here’s how much people are spending on weddings coming into 2023.
Key insights on how the economy is impacting wedding costs
- 54% of couples whose wedding timeframe was in the fourth quarter of 2022 say their budget and planning were affected by the economy. (The Knot)
- 39% of couples married in 2022 discussed inflation when shopping for vendors for their wedding. (The Knot)
- 60% of couples married in 2022 say they have increased their overall wedding budget at least once, in part due to inflation. (The Knot)
- Almost one in ten (7%) people have delayed getting married due to the state of the economy, such as rising inflation and interest rates, as of October 2022. (Bankrate)
Wedding costs in 2022
The average wedding held in 2022, including both the ceremony and reception, cost $30,000, according to The Knot. That’s the most couples have spent since 2018 ($33,931), before COVID-19. It’s also $2,000 more than the 2021 average, which totaled $28,000 for the ceremony and reception.
Wedding prices balloon when couples invite more guests, and the Knot research states that the average budget was $256 per person in 2022. Couples, on average, had 117 wedding guests in 2022, up from an average of 105 guests in 2021.
Wedding couples aren’t paying for expenses entirely by themselves. Only 16.6 percent of couples are paying for their entire wedding themselves, while 33.6 percent are paying for at least part of it, according to online wedding resource Zola. Parents or in-laws are paying for at least part of the wedding for 32.5 percent of couples, while 9.4 percent say their parents or in-laws are paying for the entire wedding.
To pay, couples are optimizing credit cards, like using points or taking out new cards (28.69 percent), have saved for years before getting engaged (25.86 percent), have taken second or third jobs (12.35 percent) or have taken out a loan (3.72 percent), Zola states, among other methods. An additional 49.27 percent can afford the wedding but have not used those methods.
Wedding expenses are paid to, on average, 14 different vendors, according to the Knot. The most expensive wedding costs in 2022 were a venue, engagement ring and live band.
Source: The Knot
If you’re planning a wedding, your budget will likely differ from the average depending on how many people will be invited, where you’ll have your wedding, which vendors you choose and other factors.
But some expenses are nearly universal. Nearly all couples (93 percent) purchased their wedding dress from a vendor in 2022, while 90 percent spent money on a venue rental.
That venue rental spending made up the bulk of couples’ average spending. Of the average $30,000 budget, couples spent around 37 percent, or an average of $11,200, on their venue. That price has only grown more expensive since last year, due to inflation.
How inflation in 2023 is impacting wedding costs
If you’re planning a wedding for 2023, inflation may impact those wedding costs, though it’s slightly fallen since a summer 2022 high.
That inflationary impact means venues, food and other key wedding expenses are more expensive in 2023. The average venue cost was $500 higher in 2022 than in 2021, according to the Knot.
Delaying a wedding may not necessarily help avoid inflated prices. Though inflation has fallen since its 9.1 percent peak last year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ inflation rate as of January 2023 — 6.4 percent — is still far above the Federal Reserve’s ideal 2 percent figure. Inflation is not expected to fall to the Fed’s target until at least 2024.
One in two couples (51 percent) told The Knot that the current economy was impacting their wedding costs and planning, 13 percent higher than in 2021. More couples planning a summer or fall wedding this year reported inflationary impacts.
Nearly two-thirds (60 percent) of those feeling those inflation impacts increased their overall budget at least once. Because of inflation, 54 percent of couples passed up upgrades or add-ons they had originally considered.
One might want to think twice about going into debt for their wedding, especially with the price of borrowing money also on the rise at the same time inflation is elevated. Consider saving for the big day the moment you know it’s on the horizon. Open a savings account specifically for your wedding and allocate some of your paycheck to it along the way.
— Sarah FosterBankrate U.S. economy reporter
This is how prices have changed, over the last year, for common wedding expenses.
|Wedding expense||Price increase from January 2022-January 2023|
|Fresh cakes and cupcakes||+13.5%|
|Full service meals and snacks||+8.1%|
|Alcoholic beverages away from home||+6.9%|
|Alcoholic beverages at home*||+5.3%|
|Men’s suits, sports coats and outerwear||+7.4%|
|Personal care products||+7.1%|
|Personal care services||+5.2%|
|Lodging away from home, including hotels and motels||+8.5%|
|Stationery, stationery supplies, gift wrap||+16.2%|
Source: Consumer Price Index, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, February 2023
Note: Alcoholic beverages at home may refer to alcohol for a wedding purchased from a retailer, while alcoholic beverages away from home may refer to alcohol not purchased directly, such as hiring a bartender.
Average wedding costs by state
If you’re planning a New Jersey wedding, you might spend a lot more compared to other locations. New Jersey couples spent $51,000 in 2022, according to the Knot, the highest in the country. Part of that high price tag comes from its appeal. New Jersey is a popular wedding spot for New York City couples, since it doesn’t have The Big Apple’s size restraints or costs.
“It’s the Garden State,” said Eileen Kaden Dean, owner of New Jersey-based wedding planning company An Affair to Remember. “There’s a lot of open gardens and beautiful grounds. The people that are in New York City who want to have lands and gardens and all of that space … they love New Jersey because that is the Hudson Valley, it’s the easiest way to get that garden wedding that they envision.”
Other Northeastern states like Massachusetts and New York rounded out the priciest states to get married, according to the Knot data analyzed by Bankrate. In contrast, Kansas, Oklahoma and Utah were the cheapest; couples may expect to spend $16,000 on a wedding on average. This is what weddings cost on average in every state, except for Alaska and Hawaii, in 2022.
|State||Average wedding cost in 2022|
|North Dakota and South Dakota||$20,000|
Source: The Knot
3 ways to save money on your wedding costs
Inflation can greatly affect your budget, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have an incredible wedding surrounded by loved ones. Making a budget and sticking to it can make wedding planning much easier, even if it means crossing some decoration ideas from Pinterest off your list.
“There’s a common adage in personal finance: Don’t try to time the market. Usually such phrases apply to investing, but it can actually resonate with all stages of our personal finances — including marriage,” Foster said.
“Factors that Americans should consider when planning a wedding should come down to more than just inflation. You don’t decide to get married just because wedding dresses are on sale. The same is true vice versa. At the end of the day, it’s a personal decision. Consider what’s important to you and your life — and align your finances up with that.”
1. Build a wedding budget.
You can avoid going into wedding debt by determining how much money you can afford to spend, as well as listing your planned expenses on paper or in a spreadsheet. This can help you decide how much to devote to each item, and you can also choose whether any costs should be trimmed or eliminated.
Similar to a household budget, you’ll likely refine your wedding budget during your wedding-planning process, especially if prices change over the course of your planning due to inflation. Review your wedding budget regularly to make adjustments and ensure you’re staying on track.
2. Set your wedding priorities.
Part of creating your budget involves picking the components of your wedding that are most important to you.
It helps to ask, “What are your top three most important purchases for your wedding?” says Michael Dickey, co-owner of the financial coaching firm Fiscal Fitness Phoenix. “These are non-negotiables and are the top priority when creating your budget.”
After settling on your must-haves, look for ways to save on other wedding costs. Consider:
- Sending out wedding e-vites instead of paper invitations
- Picking a date that’s not in peak wedding season
- Buying in-season flowers
- Buying a department store wedding gown
Another way to save on expenses is choosing a venue that provides various reception essentials, eliminating the need to rent them separately.
“We see so many couples exhaust the majority of their budget on a venue and not have enough financial resources left over to hire their vendor team,” says Lee Dyson, owner of the Hey Mister DJ wedding entertainment service in Burbank, California. “Make sure you understand exactly what your venue provides and includes — catering, lighting, sound system, tables, chairs — as these additional hard costs really add up fast.”
As a starting point, Dyson recommends that the combined costs of the venue and catering should comprise no more than 30-50 percent of your total budget.
3. Decide where to stash your wedding savings.
Where you keep your wedding fund is also important to consider.
You can park your money in a savings account or money market account that pays a competitive yield. You may also want to consider a certificate of deposit if your wedding date is at least a year away. In exchange for locking your money away for a prescribed term, a CD may pay more interest than a savings or money market account. Just be sure the CD matures before you need your money to avoid an early withdrawal penalty.
Whatever account you choose to park your savings, experts recommend keeping your wedding fund separate from your overall savings. You might also consider using a checking account for the convenience of paying your wedding expenses with a check or a debit card.
Bankrate.com commissioned YouGov Plc to conduct the survey on financial milestones. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. The total sample size was 2,442 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between October 19-21, 2022. The survey was carried out online and meets rigorous quality standards. It employed a nonprobability-based sample using quotas upfront during collection and then a weighting scheme on the back end designed and proven to provide nationally representative results.