How Much Do Weddings Really Cost

If you have recently been considering just heading to your local courthouse to avoid the steep costs of having an actual wedding, we don’t blame you. The costs of having a nice wedding are loudly bemoaned in society and for very good reason as they are pricey. However, they have been so built up that it’s hard to find people who really know how much weddings actually cost on average in the United States. 

And for those who simply cannot afford the wedding costs that so many others seem willing to pay, what options are available for them that don’t require eloping? There are plenty of financing options and ways to minimize costs. If a beautiful and memorable wedding is a priority for you, it is definitely within reach and you won’t have to go broke to do it. 

Average Wedding Costs

The Knot did a study in 2018 to find out the average wedding costs for real Americans. The average overall cost of a wedding was $33,931 which is quite a hefty price tag. They broke down some other average costs of wedding services, rentals, and purchases: 

  • Reception Venue: $15,439
  • Ceremony Venue: $2,382
  • Photographer: $2,679
  • Videographer: $2,021 
  • Transportation: $856
  • Wedding Planner: $2,002
  • Officiant: $286
  • Reception DJ: $1,292 
  • Wedding Dress: $1,631
  • Hair and Makeup: $225
  • Rehearsal Dinner: $1,297
  • Groom’s Attire: $283
  • Catering: $70 per person
  • Flowers and Other Décor: $2,411
  • Invitations: $386
  • Wedding Cake: $528

Choosing to Finance a Wedding

There are quite a few people who decide to finance their weddings or a portion of it through some form of credit whether that be through credit cards, personal loans, or borrowing from friends and family. Whether you decide to use this strategy to afford your wedding comes down to your personal judgement. This could work for many people while being a bad idea for others. 

When weighing your options, it is important to understand every aspect of the agreement you are making with a lender, know the interest rates you are signing onto, and ensure that you will be able to afford the payments after the wedding is over. The last thing that you need to deal with after a dreamy honeymoon is to worry about a high monthly loan payment that doesn’t fit into your budget. But if you are sure in your financial situation that financing through credit will work, then do some research and pick the best lending option for you.

How to Minimize Wedding Costs

If you are determined to have yourself an amazing without spending anywhere near the average cost everyone else pays, then you may benefit from some strategies for minimizing the costs for all the services and purchases listed above. The following tips can save you a significant amount of money without making your wedding seem at all cheap:

  1. Don’t get stuck on the idea of having a brand new, made-to-order wedding dress. There are plenty of gorgeous gowns in sample sizes, consignment, and once worn dresses that could work perfectly for a fraction of the price. Check out some great online stores like Stillwhite, Wore It Once, and Nearly Newlywed to get some beautiful once-worn or never-worn dresses.
  2. No one needs a paper invite. Save money on the paper, the printing, envelopes, and postage and go paperless for your wedding invites. This will save you tons of money and make it much easier to organize your RSVPs.
  3. Be your own DJ. All you really need to throw an amazing dance party for your reception is a great playlist on your computer and some speakers! This way you can also make sure some of your favorite songs play. It’s your wedding so you should get to dance to Toxic is you want to.
  4. Minimize your use of a professional photographer. Instead of having your pro photography there the whole time, simply have them take pictures of the bridal party beforehand. Then recruit all your friends with top-notch phone cameras to take as many beautiful pictures as they can throughout the ceremony and reception. They can upload them all to a shared album and you’d be surprised how gorgeous many of them turn out.
  5. Keep your guest list as small as you can. Catering costs per person that attends your wedding so it’s a good idea to keep the wedding intimate if you want to save money. You can do this by inviting less people and also by limited the number of plus ones you allow in your invites.
  6. Pick a date that isn’t at peak wedding season. You can save significantly on your venue costs and occasionally some other costs by simple holding your wedding during the off-season. Having a January or February wedding will cost a lot less than a June wedding.
  7. Do some comparison shopping for your meal and drink options. Fancy plated dinners through catering will obviously be the priciest option. Same with an open bar. So, it’s worth it to do a little research and pricing out for various other options like buffet or family style or offering just beer and wine instead of an open bar. 
  8. Look into less conventional venues. Instead of the more traditional venues, consider more affordable options like a family member’s large home, a nice restaurant, a friend’s fancy backyard, or local brewery or wine cellar.
  9. Who needs cake? A fancy cake isn’t necessary to serve your guests a delicious dessert. You could serve cookies or pie or ice cream instead. If you do want to get a cake to cut, you can forgo on a few tiers and save a big chunk of the typical cost. 
  10. Request wedding help instead of wedding gifts. You can ask talented friends to give you the gift of their services instead of that new dishware. People could offer their services for photography, live music, DJing, cooking, or baking!

Everyone deserves to make their wedding day a magical day they will never forget regardless of their budget!

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