When people imagine their dream wedding, the price tag usually isn’t part of the fantasy.
According to Wedding Wire, the average wedding costs $US30,000 in the United States, and for some people, that figure is conservative.
It seems like a very high number, but between the attire, the cake, the photographer, and everything else that goes into a wedding, costs can quickly add up.
If you’re planning a wedding of your own, it can be helpful to have an idea of what weddings truly cost – and where you might be able to cut back to save cash.
Of course, not all of these costs are necessary for every couple or wedding.
Here’s what the average cost of a wedding in the US looks like, broken down into all of the elements that can make up the special day.
Invitations can cost several hundred dollars.
According to Woman Getting Married, invitations can cost between $US150 to $US1,300, depending on whether or not you DIY them or order custom-designed ones. This number usually varies depending on the type of invitations ordered and how many guests will be invited.
Plus, you’ll want to factor in the cost of postage.
Rehearsal dinners can be costly.
Brides magazine estimates the cost to be around $US1,330, with most couples choosing only to invite their immediate families and the wedding party to attend.
Of course, the cost depends on where the dinner is being hosted and how many guests are invited.
Suits and dresses are a huge part of the wedding budget.
Many brides have a different idea of how extravagant they want their wedding to be, but on average, many of them end up spending at least four figures on their attire.
Wedding Wire reports that the average wedding dress costs between $US400 and $US1,700, with most brides spending around $US1,050, not counting the added costs of alterations and accessories.
As for suits, the site reports that the average cost is $US350, with most grooms choosing to rent their suit or tuxedo.
These prices can certainly vary, as not all couples will purchase one gown and one tuxedo. Some couples will purchase two wedding dresses or two tuxes, or not wear “traditional wedding attire at all.”
You could spend a lot on a venue to hold your ceremony or reception.
According to Value Penguin, recent bride surveys determined the average couple spent between $US12,343 and $US14,006 on average on a wedding venue.
The cost depends on which venue you choose and what’s included. For a basic event center, couples can spend as little as $US2,083. But, for a more luxurious hotel or resort, they can pay up to $US73,014.
Some venues do include meal plans in their prices, which could mean saving money on food. Plus, these costs can vary depending on the season you’re getting married.
The wedding cake can get pricey depending on the level of detail and how many people it must serve.
Typically, the price of a wedding cake depends on how elaborate of a cake the couple is looking for and how many guests it will need to feed.
The Knot reports that wedding cake is typically priced by the slice, and the cost typically ranges from $US0.12 to $US1.50 per slice. But, this price typically doesn’t factor in added design costs.
You’ll also want to factor in any additional delivery fees or cake-cutting costs.
Catering is one of the highest expenses for couples, especially if there’s alcohol.
Food for guests at the reception can end up being one of the biggest parts of a couple’s wedding budget because it can get pricey to feed an entire guest list’s worth of people.
According to Wedding Wire, the average cost of a plated meal is $US41 per person, with a buffet being a bit more affordable at around $US28 per person.
Having a cocktail hour? Add at least $US20 per person for appetizers.
The site also reports that alcohol’s starting cost is around $US15 per person. This number can vary greatly depending on whether or not couples want to offer a full open bar or a limited bar with just beer and wine to their guests.
The cost of music for your ceremony and reception can vary.
Unless they’re springing for a live band (which Cost Helper estimates at about $US2,085 for a five-member band for four hours), most couples hire a DJ for ceremony and reception music.
Cost Helper estimates this cost at about $US100 to $US300 an hour.
These costs can vary depending on the date of your wedding and whether or not it’s a weekend.
Photographers can bill thousands for their services.
If you want to splurge on anything for your wedding, it might not be a bad idea to get a photographer you really love to capture the memories of your special day – but be aware that it could cost you.
According to Snapknot, wedding photographers cost an average of $US2,800, unless you live in a more expensive area like New York City, where they generally charge over $US4,000.
Wedding albums and prints will cost extra, although many photographers include an engagement session in their wedding price.
If you want your wedding recorded, a videographer will cost you.
Wedding videographers are another popular trend, and these packages can range quite a bit in price.
According to Ever After Guide, very basic video services can cost between $US400 to $US900 and high-level luxury packages can start at $US3,500.
Of course, there may be additional editing costs or publishing-to-DVD costs to consider before signing any contract.
Wedding favours are a popular trend, and their prices can vary.
According to Martha Stewart Weddings, the couple should typically spend between $US2 to $US3 per person. But, many times couples choose to give one favour per family or couple in attendance, which can help cut costs.
Of course, favours are optional and the cost depends on what the favour is and how many you purchase.
Transporting members of the wedding party or guests can get costly.
Many couples choose to rent a limo or bus to transport members of the wedding party, and sometimes guests, to the wedding ceremony and reception.
This cost isn’t always necessary depending on the venue location and whether or not you want to use your own vehicles, but Wedding Wire reports the average couples spends $US750 on transportation for their wedding day.
For some, a wedding planner is worth the cost.
A wedding planner can be incredibly helpful when it comes to booking vendors and getting the details just right. But, their services will typically cost you at least a grand.
According to Cost Helper, a day-of wedding planner will cost about $US1,500, whereas a full-service wedding planner can cost between $US5,000 and $US10,000.
Wedding rings can vary in cost.
According to Braunschweiger Jewellers, a fairly plain and simple band can typically cost between $US300 and $US1,500. A more intricate band that has stones or diamonds could cost upwards of $US6,000.
Of course, you’ll want to multiply this cost by two.
Flowers and decorations can be costly, depending on what the couple is looking for.
ValuePenguin reported that wedding flowers and other decorations for the wedding – think centerpieces, photo backdrops, and ceremony decor – costs an average of $US2,141.
That number can obviously increase if the couple hires professionals to deck out their venue.
Fortunately, a marriage licence is typically quite affordable.
The cost of this important licence varies by state and can range from $US10 to $US115.
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