The National Average Cost of a Wedding Is $33,931

Don’t let this number scare you—it’s an average! Read The Knot’s full breakdown of how couples plan and budget for deeply personalized celebrations, and pull out all the stops to reinvent beloved wedding traditions.
by Maggie Seaver

The Knot 2018 Real Weddings Study has officially arrived! We surveyed over 14,000 couples married in 2018 to uncover the latest trends and overall wedding spend in America, including the new national average cost of a wedding: $33,931 (excluding honeymoon expenses).

Before you start hyperventilating, remember—this is an average dollar amount calculated by combining the total cost of thousands of real couples’ weddings, then dividing that sum by the number of couples surveyed.

Keep in mind too, these couples come from all over the US and have entirely different wedding budgets, locations, head counts and styles. What they end up spending naturally varies—a lot. Throwing a wedding in a densely populated, expensive destination (a big city like New York or Chicago) costs more than it does in a smaller, more rural or less populated locale (Idaho, West Virginia or Wyoming).

So, what’s all that money going toward? Couples are investing in super-personalized events infused with meaningful details, and 29 percent hire a professional planner to help them pull it off. Many wholeheartedly embrace or blend their cultural customs, while others intentionally turn tradition on its head—by paying homage to pop culture (Harry Potter stilettos, anyone?), nixing old-school activities (like the garter toss) or reinventing big moments to suit their individual style (tequila shot unity ceremonies are never a bad idea!). At the end of the day, they want their wedding to be a true expression of their love story, and for guests to leave saying, “That was so them.”

Speaking of guests, couples go to great lengths to make sure their loved ones have an absolute blast: The average couple hosts 136 guests, and the average spend per guest is $258. Besides the expected food, drink and music, 38 percent of couples hire above-and-beyond reception entertainment. We’re talking live tattoo artists, cigar-rolling stations and craft margarita bars, to name a few. 

Alcohol is also a major part of the wedding spend, as 92 percent of all couples who wed in 2018 served beer, wine or spirits to guests. According to our study, the average couple spent $2,564 on alcohol for their wedding.

And, of course, no wedding can happen without an entire team of incredible vendors. To-be-weds continue to lean on best-in-class local pros to make their day unforgettable, whether it’s a macramé artist for bespoke bohemian wall décor or the perfect planner to bring their Jewish-Chinese fusion celebration to life.

So what’s the average amount cost of different wedding vendors? Read our full breakdown here:

Overall wedding spend (excluding honeymoon): $33,931

See how the average wedding cost compares to previous years' price tags. Interestingly enough, the average cost of a wedding in 2017 was also $33,391. That's way down from 2016, when the average spend on weddings reached an all-time high of $35,329. In 2015, couples spent about $3,000 less, averaging $32,641 for their weddings. The average cost of weddings in 2014 was just under $30,000—coming out to $29,858, while the average cost of a wedding in 2013 was $28,427.

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