The Most Expensive Places to Get Married in the US, Based on Data

"There's nothing quite like the feeling of having the late-night run-of-the-house in a long-admired landmark." Experts based in these markets weigh in.
Esther Lee - Deputy Editor, The Knot
by
Esther Lee
Esther Lee - Deputy Editor, The Knot
Esther Lee
Deputy Editor
  • Esther is the Deputy Editor of The Knot. She currently leads all content on The Knot Wellness, focusing on financial, relationship, and mental wellbeing.
  • She oversees The Knot's travel vertical (honeymoons, destination weddings, bach parties), as well as overarching features and trends.
  • She proudly serves on the Advisory Council of VOW For Girls, focusing on ending the injustice of child marriage around the world.
Updated Mar 29, 2024

When it comes to the most expensive places to get married in the US, we find it most helpful to set expectations as you get started on planning your nuptials. That's why we're here to let you in on a secret: Those sweeping views of the glittering NYC skyline for your wedding or a private terrace facing the Pacific? That may come at a higher cost. While the premium to marry in the most expensive wedding places is influenced by multiple factors, supply and demand, as well as higher average costs of living, are the most obvious reasons why city weddings are typically pricier. Creative director Nikisha King of NK Design House describes this as the "economic ecosystem" of weddings. "When there is a concentration of wealth in large cities, this drives up the cost of products and services in the area, setting a high baseline for the cost of living and the cost of wedding planning," says King.

"The wedding industry is an economy," agrees event planner, designer and producer Lindsay Landman of Lindsay Landman Events. "You don't have to invest in your wedding, just like you don't have to buy a house or buy a car. But if you are committed to the purchase, you should accept the terms of sale… and scale." Booking a wedding in traditionally expensive cities like New York or San Francisco comes with a multitude of perks though. "I love just about everything that goes with a city wedding, especially the iconic venues that become a canvas for a glamorous and fun event," Landman adds. "Having exclusive use of epic spots… can create once-in-a-lifetime experiences not only for the couple but also for their guests. There's nothing quite like the feeling of having the late-night run-of-the-house in a long-admired landmark."

We hope to prepare you with wedding-related costs, including an overview of the most expensive places to get married in the US. Even then, this is a location-specific average. There will be weddings that require more spend than what was found in The Knot 2023 Real Weddings Study.

In This Article:

Most Expensive Places to Get Married

Chances are that most of this list won't come as a surprise: our list is a reflection of the macroeconomic trends that affect major US cities. The most expensive places to get married, naturally, correlate to the cities with higher average costs of living across the most densely populated areas of the country. (Think: New York, Houston, Miami, Denver and more.) Hence, why, weddings across metropolitan areas of the US can oftentimes cost two to three times more than the national average cost of a wedding.

For couples who want a city wedding, one of the first tasks will be setting a budget. It helps to know the most expensive places for a wedding in the US. "I am often surprised to find that even clients who work in financial services are turned around by this," says Landman. Wedding costs vary nationwide, often in line with the macroeconomic circumstances of a given region. More densely populated areas will lead to higher demand; higher demand leads to more limited supply, driving up the price of costs, goods and services. Explore the most expensive cities for a wedding in the US, according to our study.

1. New York, New York

rainbow room wedding leila brewster photography
Leila Brewster Photography,Venue: Rainbow Room

The average cost of a wedding in New York was $63,000 making it the most expensive place to get married in the US. NYC's five boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island, have perennially topped the list of the most expensive cities in the US, so it comes as no surprise that this global city is number one on the list, according to our study data.

2. Chicago, Illinois

The average cost of a wedding in Chicago was $56,000. The biggest city in the Midwest, Chicago (affectionately known as the Second City) is home to numerous historic landmarks, including the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel and the Chicago Cultural Center, home to the world's largest Tiffany stained-glass dome.

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3. San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, California

The average cost of a wedding in San Francisco and its surrounding areas, including San Jose (Silicon Valley) and Oakland, was $51,000, making it third on the list of the most expensive places to get married in the US. According to Kiplinger, which cites data from the Council for Community and Economic Research, San Jose was the third most expensive city in the US, followed by San Francisco in fourth.

4. Boston, Massachusetts

The East Coast city of Boston is fourth on the list of the most expensive places to get married in the US. Boston is home to beautiful university campuses, including Harvard, Tufts and Boston College, as well as a sprawling waterfront (with historical remnants of the American Revolution's Boston Tea Party). It is also the only city in the US that boasts a Raffles Hotel and two Four Seasons properties.

5. Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles offers a trendy and often laidback coastal setting, though the price point of some venues and properties aren't exactly described as laissez-faire. The average cost of a wedding in Los Angeles was $48,000, according to our data. For couples who want to marry in the City of Angels, top-billed venue options include renowned spots like the Houdini Estate, The Beverly Hills Hotel, Lombardi House and Calamigos Ranch.

6. Washington D.C., DMV

The average cost of a wedding in the nation's capital, Maryland and Virginia was $42,000. Couples can select venues from sophisticated city options to bucolic farms and vineyards in the Shenandoah Valley.

7. Philadelphia, PA

Venue: Academy of Music
Emily Wren Photography
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Venue: Academy of Music,Catering: Garces Group

The average cost of a wedding in Philadelphia was $40,000. The City of Brotherly Love is a short distance from New York City (less than 75 minutes by train) with stunning venue options. "​​Cities like Philadelphia, which are walkable and also easy to access from other destinations, have an added benefit for guests traveling and staying the weekend," says Robin Ewing, Director of Catering at the Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia. "If the couple is based here, their wedding websites will often provide recommendations based on their favorite haunts around the city–where to enjoy a cheesesteak, a cocktail spot from their first date, and so on."

8. Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Vizcaya Museum & Gardens reception string lights water miami
Matlock and Kelly Photography
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Vizcaya Museum & Gardens

The average cost of a wedding in the Miami and Fort Lauderdale region was $39,000. South Florida is often considered a popular domestic destination wedding location as it offers the perfect ambiance for a relaxed yet exciting getaway for loved ones. Vibrant and packed with culture, Miami offers world-class food and beverage options while nearby Fort Lauderdale is a more laidback spot for a beach wedding.

9. Houston, Texas

The average cost of a wedding in Houston was $37,000. An honorable mention goes out to the other big city in Texas, the Dallas-Ft. Worth region, where the average cost of a wedding was $35,000.

10. Denver, Colorado

The average cost of a wedding in Denver was $35,000, tied with the aforementioned Dallas. The gateway to the Rocky Mountains is home to venues like C Lazy U Ranch and The Ramble Hotel.

For more information about the most and least expensive places to get married in the US, click the link below.

Location and Wedding Spend Factors

So by now, couples who've long dreamt of a glamorous city wedding may be wondering: What is up with the cost of the most expensive places to get married in the US? "With major cities, the prestige of a location comes at a premium," says King. "Which is why these cities become some of the most expensive places to marry."

"It's all about location," agrees Ewing, the Vice President of Philadelphia's WIPA Chapter. "Weddings in major cities tend to be more expensive because those markets are populated with some of the most sought-after venues and the best and most qualified vendor partners." Here, we explore other factors that influence the most expensive wedding locations (and the least expensive places to get married). If you want to workshop everything, explore The Knot Budgeter tool to help you practically crunch the numbers.

Higher Cost of Living

"At the heart of the issue is the cost of living, significantly elevated in areas with large corporations and vibrant industries," says King. "These economic powerhouses offer lucrative employment opportunities, demanding considerable time and energy from their workforce, but compensating with equally substantial paychecks."

Labor Costs

This section has everything to do with the cost of services. "The primary reason that weddings in big cities are so much more costly is because the cost of labor is so much higher in these locations," says Landman. "Couples and their families planning weddings tend to think of costs as tied to things, but that is not true. The bulk of the cost related to weddings is connected to people and labor, and not to the materials used to create the event." For example, F&B service charges. "The perception related to high catering costs is that food is so expensive; however, the reality is that the people who buy, make, and serve the food are so expensive," Landman adds.

Site Fees

What's that saying? The rent is too damn high. Some venues also happen to be rented in buildings that require a premium rate to rent (think: a restaurant on the top floor of The Edge in New York City's Hudson Yards). Other venues may require higher maintenance fees. All of this influences the cost of your event for the evening. Plus, some venues will require add-ons to protect their spaces. Refer to our piece that covers the COI (certificate of insurance) and other unexpected factors.

Higher Average Cost of Goods

"The same can be said for flowers, stationery and even rental items," says Landman. "Paper itself costs way less than the person designing what goes on the paper does. Because the cost of living is so much higher in big cities, resulting labor costs can be startling for wedding budgets."

Higher Average Guest Counts

Let's say you were throwing a wedding in Mallorca, which often requires layovers and transfers, the guest list will naturally decline. Whereas with major cities, most friends and family members will easily be able to access your chosen venue. "In general, destination weddings are often less expensive for couples because the guest count is traditionally lower. Couples who opt for weddings in cities tend to have higher guest counts, which impacts the overall spend for the event," Ewing adds.

Supply and Demand

The challenge of securing the perfect venue is exacerbated by limited availability and high demand. "With a finite number of venues and desirable dates involved, the laws of supply and demand come into full force," says King. "As availability dwindles for wedding venues in popular big cities, the prices soar, leaving couples to contend with escalating costs for their special day. This is why we always recommend couples find their event or wedding planner [far in advance]… Let them help you by using their connections to find a venue."

Accessibility & Prime Location

Did you know that walkability increases property value? The same could be said for wedding venues–the best are often a stone's throw away from popular tourism spots. "Couples who marry in major cities, like Philadelphia, select these locations to capture iconic landmarks in the backdrop of their wedding photos," explains Ewing. "For example, the Rocky Steps and Rittenhouse Square Park are blocks away."

"With city venues being within walkable proximity to restaurants and bars, you can easily host welcome events that allow guests to mingle and soak in the city's ambiance on foot," says King. "Such gatherings enhance the communal feel of your celebration, making every moment shared part of the lasting memories you are creating."

The 'Extras' You Forgot

"In general, wedding costs are missing lots of important line items from the outset. That's why couples go 'over' their expected boundaries of spend," says Landman. "For example, many will allocate for invitations, but not for postage and addressing. Or they'll include photography and videography, but not the required vendor meals that they'll be responsible for. It all seems like little things until it adds and adds."

We're here to remind you, one last time, that you're also hiring for the services rendered by your vendor team. "Again… labor is the big one," says Landman. "Couples will look online to see that renting the tablecloth they love costs $40, but they won't see that delivery of that linen costs money too."

To conclude, we highly recommend couples go into wedding planning conversations with an open mind, especially regarding spend. "A 'one-size-fits-all' approach with information can set unrealistic expectations regarding the cost and execution of wedding elements, leading to surprises and frustrations down the line," says King. National and even local averages are typically used to guide you in the process, but they aren't fixed numbers–especially among the most expensive places to get married in the US.

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