Average cost of a wedding: bride and groom dancing on their wedding

Some couples host extravagant destination weddings, while others invite loved ones to celebrate in their backyard. Both have very different budgets, but what’s the average cost of a wedding these days?

Let’s explore the average cost of a wedding, what to budget for your wedding essentials, and how to save money on your wedding expenses

What Is the Average Cost of a Wedding?

Based on data for 2021, the average cost of an American wedding is about $28,000. That’s a nearly $9,000 increase compared to the previous year, but steady in general. The last several years have been tough on the wedding industry, especially during the pandemic. People had to embrace smaller gatherings like elopements and minimonies. But now couples are hosting bigger, more expensive weddings once again. 

The average cost of a wedding also changes depending on which state you’re in. Weddings in New York, New Jersey, and California are higher than the national average. Meanwhile, hosting a wedding in states such as Mississippi or Arkansas are generally about $7,000 less than the national average.

Wedding Must-Haves: Pricing Breakdown

The headline figure sounds big, but there’s a lot that goes into planning and hosting an unforgettable wedding day. Here’s what you can expect to spend your money on as you start your wedding planning journey — from most to least expensive. Use this alongside our wedding budget breakdown to help you plan your dream day. 

Reception Venue: $10,500

Average cost of a wedding: dining hall designed for a wedding

Almost half of your wedding budget will likely go towards the wedding reception venue cost. The average venue cost is around $10,500, which typically includes limited rentals, linen, and decor. You can often score a better deal by booking an off-season winter wedding or selecting a smaller venue. 

Florist: $2,500

With flowers playing such a key role in most weddings, it’s no surprise that this is where a lot of couples spend their budget. Expect to pay around $2,500 for a florist to create your bouquets, boutonnieres, centerpieces, and other floral arrangements. 

Wedding Photographer: $2,500

Camera set-up with a stand

Your wedding photographer has a major role in helping you capture those incredible memories. It’s that pressure, and talent, that puts the average cost of wedding photography in the region of $2,500. Invest in an amazing photographer if you can, or ask a talented friend to take the lead. 

Wedding Videographer: $2,000

While a wedding videographer isn’t a must-have, a wedding video makes for a wonderful keepsake that lets you relive those precious moments forever. Like photography, videography is likely to take a large amount out of your budget — around $2,000.

Live Entertainment: $2,000

A reception DJ, live band, or performer is an excellent choice if you want to keep your guests entertained throughout the reception. But such wedding entertainment doesn’t come cheap, with DJs charging around $2,000 per wedding. Hiring a band or entertainer can increase your budget even more — you’re looking at close to $4,000 for a private band performance. 

Wedding Attire: $2,000

Traditional wedding attire can be expensive. Expect to pay around $900 for a tuxedo and $1,800 for a wedding dress. Budget for alterations too, as well as accessories and shoes. One way to save your budget is to opt for a more casual look, or to shop vintage and off-the-rack sales for bargains. 

Rehearsal Dinner: $2,000

One cost that often sneaks up on couples is the rehearsal dinner. This isn’t your standard restaurant dining experience, which can cause costs to rise to $2,000. While it’s traditional for the parents of the groom to pay for this meal, include a line for it in your wedding budget unless a loved one has offered (and confirmed) to pay for it. 

Wedding Planner: $1,500

The wedding planning process is a joy for some but a chore for others. Hiring a wedding planner to help things go smoothly is a great idea, but it’s likely to set you back close to $1,500. For couples on a budget, consider the DIY planning route. You can use our event planning checklist to get started.

Wedding Stationery: $600

Wedding invitations are a must-have. Alongside these, save the dates, thank you cards, and marriage announcements are also popular. Sending these to your guests can cost as much as $600 and even more if you opt for something bespoke and high-end. Don’t want to spend that much on wedding stationery and still dazzle your guests with a stylish design? Switch to online invitations

Transportation: $500

Wedding transportation can be a surprising cost for many couples. Hiring a limo or town car to whisk you to the ceremony and on to the reception venue can cost as much as $500. Destination weddings or hiring a bus to take guests from one place to another increases the cost significantly. You can skip this cost almost completely by hopping in a family member’s car to the venue instead. 

Wedding Cake: $450

Wedding cakes are some of the most expensive baked goods around, coming in at around $450 for a custom cake. If you love cake and want that traditional cake-cutting moment, then it’s well worth the expense. But if you’re on a budget, consider less traditional desserts like cake pops, cupcakes, or even donuts.

Wedding Favors: $400

It’s traditional to send wedding guests home with favors as a thank you and a reminder of your special day. You can do this on a budget with homemade cookies or jars of candy, or invest in something more bespoke like personalized shot glasses. Budget for around $400 for wedding favors unless you’re hosting a small gathering. 

Hair and Makeup: $250+

Many couples bring in a professional team for hair and makeup styling on the wedding day. Whether it’s for the bride(s) or the whole wedding party, professionals can help everyone look incredible on the big day. A stylish updo can set you back $100, while makeup application is generally $150. This means your professional makeup and hair styling can cost upwards of $250, depending on the number of people you’re paying for. 

Wedding Catering: $80 per person

Enjoying a meal together is one of the best parts of a wedding celebration. The average price for wedding catering is about $80 per person. Traditional sit-down meals will be more expensive than a buffet option. Meanwhile, food trucks and potluck-style dinners are affordable alternatives to traditional catering. 

5 Useful Ways to Save Money on Your Wedding

With weddings costing in the region of $28,000, most couples want to save where they can. The good news is that you can plan your dream wedding on a budget. Here are some effective ways to help save money on the average cost of a wedding

1. Set a Wedding Budget and Stick to It

Get clear about your wedding budget and stick to it as closely as possible. Take a look at your personal finances and offers of support from loved ones, and set a realistic figure. Divide your budget into categories and prioritize the wedding expenses that matter to you most — whether that’s flowers, photography, or catering. For the others, seek out as many bargains as you can. 

2. Pick Your Date Carefully

May to October are the most popular months to tie the knot, and Saturdays are always the favorite. Look outside these dates and days of the week to score a great deal on your wedding venue price tag. Check that your officiant, loved ones, and vendors are available for your planned date if it’s outside the usual season before you make the final decision.

3. Choose an Alternative Venue

Wedding venues are notoriously expensive — especially if you want it during the height of the season or that coveted Saturday afternoon slot. You might be looking to book years in advance. To save money, try another venue. Seek out a quirky place to host — like a private cinema — or host a backyard wedding instead. 

4. Reduce Your Guest List

One of the best ways to save money against the average cost of a wedding is to host a small wedding. Reduce the number of guests and you’ll save across all categories — from your venue and rentals to your catering costs. 

5. Send Digital Invitations

Vibrant Bouquet Invitation

Design: aticnomar designs & art

Finally, save money by switching to digital wedding invitations. Greenvelope’s online designs give you that personalized, bespoke feel at an affordable price. Plus, you’re making a positive impact on the environment. That’s a theme you could continue throughout your ceremony and reception with a more eco-friendly approach to celebrating. 

Celebrate in Style Regardless of Your Budget

The average cost of a wedding might be high, but it’s perfectly possible to host an amazing celebration for less than the national average. You can also plan a decadent event that exceeds the average — it’s really for you to decide. 

Whether you’re on a budget or have more to spend, digital invitations are a wonderful way to invite your loved ones to the celebration. Browse our wedding designs, find a style you love, then use it to send gorgeous, customized save the dates, wedding invites, and thank you notes to your guests.