Weddings are a celebration of love and the joining of two families together.
Because of that, many couples end up putting much of their savings into their dream wedding.
When they realize how expensive weddings are, however, many are surprised.
The average cost of a wedding in the United States is $28,000.
When one includes the average price of an engagement ring, that increases the average to $34,000.
Considering that the average price of a wedding is almost on par with a down payment on a house or the price of a new car, you may wonder what makes a single event so expensive.
Here are 10 reasons weddings are so expensive.
Why Are Weddings So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)
The state in which you get married can sometimes inflate the cost of your wedding.
Certain states like Rhode Island, New York, and New Jersey have higher averages than other states.
Rhode Island has an average price of $43,000 per wedding.
New York has an average price of $42,000 per wedding.
New Jersey has an average price of $47,000 per wedding.
Wyoming has the lowest average at $15,800.
Oklahoma and Idaho share second place at $16,000.
There may be a few reasons certain states have a higher average than others.
For one, New York has a high number of millionaires and other wealthy residents congregated within it.
The wealthy can afford to spend more on a wedding compared to others who have to budget.
Since there’s a higher number of wealthy couples living in certain states, it can push the average towards the more expensive side of things.
Another reason is that some states might have higher prices on venues and other expenses.
When examining New York, there are a few wedding destination areas within New York City itself that charge high rates for hosting a wedding.
That also pushes the cost of the average wedding higher since more people want to have their weddings at those venues.
Designer dresses and other designer elements also come from cities like New York City which can increase the price of weddings for people who live there.
Depending on what state you live in or decide to get married in, it could increase your wedding expense all on its own.
Another big factor that influences the cost of a wedding is the venue.
This includes both the wedding ceremony and the reception.
The typical wedding has two parts.
There’s the ceremony which tends to be more solemn.
It’s the part of the wedding in which the couple actually becomes married.
Then there’s the reception, which is the party and celebration of the newly married couple.
Some couples choose to have their reception at the same place as their wedding ceremony.
Event halls and community centers, for example, are ideal locations for this type of convenience.
It’s also relatively cheaper with this method since you can sometimes receive a discount for renting the space.
Other couples will rent out a space for the wedding and then a separate space for the reception.
This is pricier since you’re paying for two different locations.
One can easily carry a higher price than the other.
Filling the venue with decorations and equipment also adds to the price.
If you need a big venue, then you can also expect your expense to increase.
Some venues charge by the head whereas others charge by the floor space needed.
The bigger or more lavish the venue, the higher the cost of the wedding.
Another big expense of a wedding is the catering.
Because receptions can sometimes go on for hours or they follow a long ceremony, most guests expect to receive food.
Celebrations without a meal don’t tend to sit well in the memory of the guests.
Because of that, couples can easily spend a large portion of their budget on catering.
There are cheaper catering services like those that specifically make a business out of it or a chain restaurant that also offers catering.
Then there are those that charge more expensive prices.
These tend to be run by executive chefs who provide their services at a high cost.
Expensive catering usually means you receive higher-quality food or more food options.
It also sometimes means they bring in a bartender to take care of drinks.
Each caterer differs from the others, and their price reflects the type of service that you can expect.
The average price for catering services is $20 to $30 per person.
However, for weddings, the catering service tends to charge a bit more.
They’re treated more like corporate events which see around $70 a person.
That means that if your wedding has 100 guests, you can expect to pay around $7,000 for your catering service.
Weddings are expensive because catering services can become expensive.
There are two main choices when it comes to providing entertainment for your guests.
As weddings have turned more toward providing a great experience for everyone, rather than focusing primarily on the couple, many couples end up spending more of their money on entertainment.
The two choices for entertainment include hiring a DJ or hiring a live band.
The average price of hiring a DJ is $1,000.
It can be as cheap as around $700 or more expensive at around $1,500.
If the DJ has a lot of experience and a reputation, then they’re likely going to be more expensive since there’s more demand for them.
Hiring a DJ who isn’t as well-known or doesn’t have as strong of a following because they’re new to the scene might save you a bit of money.
DJs are expensive because they bring all their own equipment.
That includes their sound booth and usually speakers as well.
They may even bring their own lighting equipment to enhance the dancing experience.
A professional DJ takes care of everything, and their cost reflects that.
A live band is another big expense.
Depending on the popularity of the band, you could face an expensive bill.
Some bands charge around $2,000 to $3,000 for their services.
If you can find a band that is still building its name, then you might be able to get a cheaper bill.
Regardless, the entertainment portion of your wedding takes up a large portion of your budget.
5. Wedding Photographer
One of the staples at any wedding is the wedding photos.
Couples want to remember their wedding for years to come.
Candid photos, while fun and certainly part of the experience, won’t do on their own.
They need professional photos taken, too.
That’s why you can almost always find a wedding photographer at a wedding.
These are professionals who have expensive camera gear and do their best to capture memorable moments throughout the ceremony and reception.
There’s also usually a moment between the ceremony and the reception in which the couple and photographer take a few photos to show off the newly married couple.
The expense of hiring a wedding photographer varies, but it can become quite expensive.
The average price of a wedding photographer is between $3,000 and $4,000.
However, some photographers can even charge rates as high as $10,000.
Taking professional photos isn’t easy.
It requires a certain eye to find shots that don’t look as though anyone could have taken them.
The job of the photographer doesn’t end after the shoots either.
Once they’ve collected the photos, usually well over a hundred stills, they have to go over each one at home.
After they’ve condensed their work, they then spend hours editing the photos with expensive software to make them look their best.
When they’re done, then they usually print the photos on expensive paper or give you a digital scrapbook, depending on your desires.
Because the work is extensive, wedding photographers cost a lot of money.
You can usually tell the difference between a professional wedding photographer and someone just taking photos, too.
That’s why many couples choose to take on the higher expense of hiring a professional wedding photographer.
If you see a professional taking photos at the ceremony and reception, then you can likely expect that the couple paid a good amount for their services.
6. Wedding Dress
One of the main events of a wedding is the reveal of the wedding dress.
In most cases, the bride tries to hide the dress from friends and family until she walks down the aisle.
It creates a big “wow” moment that only makes the ceremony that much more special.
Because the wedding dress becomes such a big deal, brides tend to spend a lot of money on the perfect dress.
The price of the dress often varies based on where the bride bought it.
If it came from a boutique store or a designer store, then it’s going to cost a huge amount.
If it came from a standard dress shop, then it’s probably going to be a bit cheaper since it’s mass-produced.
The average cost of a wedding dress is around $1,600.
This also includes alterations that most brides take on to ensure the dress fits them perfectly.
However, the price of the dress can quickly skyrocket if the bride wants to buy a dress directly from a designer.
Some of the top designers of wedding dresses charge a high amount on their dresses.
They tend to start at $5,000 and only go up from there.
Brides who want a dress specifically made for them, as in a one-of-a-kind dress from a designer, can easily expect to pay around $10,000 or more.
Working with designers makes buying dresses more expensive because you’re paying for their time and service.
They’re usually running fashion empires or designing for celebrities.
However, for the right price, you can sometimes have a unique dress made just for you.
You can just expect that price to be extremely high and make your wedding even more expensive.
7. Wedding Planner
If there are a lot of details to handle in your wedding, then you may not want to keep track of them all.
This is when a wedding planner can really help.
Some couples will hire a wedding planner to help keep their wedding running smoothly.
The planner not only helps them find the best venues and handles various aspects of designing the wedding, but they also act as a general manager when it comes to the actual wedding.
They’re always in the background and handling problems that arise.
This ensures that the couple can have fun and focus on themselves and their big day.
If any problems occur, then the wedding planner handles them.
The cost of hiring a wedding planner can become expensive, too.
The average cost of a wedding planner is around $2,000.
This type of wedding planner will take care of most of the design elements for your wedding, but they might not handle everything.
If you want a planner who will take care of everything and practically be your assistant throughout the event, then you can usually expect to pay around $4,000 for higher-end planners.
Wedding planners who only charge a few hundred dollars tend to only take care of a single part of your wedding.
They may take charge of the venue or the catering.
They offer their services to manage the wedding itself but won’t take part in the design process.
Depending on the type of help that you want, you may find that hiring a wedding planner makes your wedding even more expensive.
Another important aspect of a wedding is the decorations for both the wedding and the receptionist.
A key part of the decorations is flowers.
Flowers can create a theme that carries from the wedding to the reception.
Most brides also carry a bouquet which also plays an important role later in the tossing of the bouquet during the reception.
The design of the bouquet as well as the design of the floral decorations at the ceremony and reception come down to the florist.
A high-end florist can create incredible works of art through their flowers.
They can completely change how a venue looks with their work.
That’s why many couples end up spending a lot of money on their florists.
The average price of hiring a florist and buying decorations is around $600 to $800.
Hiring a high-end florist, however, can sometimes soar as high as $2,000.
The florist spends a lot of time designing the bouquets and various other decorations.
Since most of the designs are created by hand, they take a lot of time and effort.
Even if the florist has a team helping them, it’s still going to take time to design everything, then bring them to the venue.
The flowers, especially if they’re real, don’t last that long.
A high-end florist will usually make the design a day or two before the event to ensure their decorations look vibrant.
For situations that require a lot of floral decorations, it usually means the florist and their team end up working extended hours.
The amount of pay they expect reflects the hard work they put into the design.
Weddings are expensive if couples decide to use ornate and unique floral decorations in their venue.
9. Wedding Cake
One of the highlights of the reception is taking part in the wedding cake.
Not only do the cakes usually look unique and reflect the couple, but they’re also delicious and a great dessert for those who are able to get a slice.
The problem with wedding cakes is that they add to the price of a wedding and make it expensive.
Standard cakes bought from the grocery store will hardly increase the price of a wedding.
Couples who go to a baker and have their cakes designed for them, however, tend to spend a lot more.
The average price of a wedding cake is around $300.
If you want a professional wedding cake that’s also high-end, then you can expect to pay around $700.
The price only goes up from there if you have a lot of guests to feed, want something extremely flashy, or you’re ordering from a celebrity baker.
There are usually two variations of a wedding cake.
There’s a smaller cake that has a design that honors the couple.
If they serve this type of cake, then there are usually other cakes made as well for the rest of the guests to enjoy.
Then there are huge wedding cakes that everyone can enjoy.
Both tend to cost about the same since the baker is making the same amount of cake, more or less.
However, the smaller cakes tend to be more expensive since it’s usually intimate and a lot of detail goes into making them.
The cake that the guests receive tends to be standard cake.
Larger cakes, however, can sometimes outprice a smaller cake if the couple wants the baker to use all their creativity and skill.
If given free rein, then the baker may use some expensive ingredients or other materials to create a one-of-a-kind cake.
Depending on how extravagant the couple wants their wedding cake to be, it could make the wedding even more expensive.
10. Wedding Day Preparations
A final reason weddings are expensive has to do with the preparations that take place on the big day.
In particular, the bride and groom usually undergo some form of spa treatment or makeup routine.
The bride, in particular, spends a good amount of time at the hairstylist or having their makeup professionally done.
Both these services cost money, especially if they’re done by an experienced professional.
The cost of styling hair or having makeup put on by a professional can cost anywhere from $100 to $300.
The bride and groom will look their best, but it makes the wedding more expensive as a result.
There are a lot of different costs associated with a wedding.
While there are always ways to make those costs cheaper, many couples decide to splurge since it’s a special day.
With each cost potentially becoming expensive, it makes the wedding extremely expensive, overall.