The average wedding costs HOW much?!

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The cost of a wedding has risen precipitously in the United States over the last few years, even bucking the trend of people cutting back through the Great Recession and uncertainty economic times. In fact, “For better or for worse, until death do us part,” has never come with a higher price tag. And it’s not just because of the rising cost of wedding halls, bands, cakes, and dresses have gone up; couples are choosing to customize their nuptials with luxurious and expensive options.

A 2014 report, The Knot Market Intelligence Real Weddings Study, collected data from 15,800 U.S. brides during that calendar year, which comprised an estimated 80% of all brides nationwide. They found some interesting trends about the cost of weddings, whether you’re the bride, groom, or just someone invited to attend. Here is a summary of their findings:

People spent an average of $31,213 on their wedding in 2014.

That’s up almost 5% from 2013, when people spent an average of $29,858. A 4%-plus rise in just one year is truly remarkable.

70 percent of all weddings cost somewhere between $10,000 and $65,000.

It wasn’t just affluent couples or over-spending bridezillas that drove the prices up last year; the increase in wedding costs was consistent across all income levels and even geographic regions.

Out of that cost, here were the biggest average expenses:

Venue: $14,006
Engagement ring: $5,855
Band: $3,587
Catering (per guest): $68
All of those expenses increased year-to-year in the Knot Market survey.

Interestingly, there were two items that actually went down:

Invitations: $439 (down from $443 in 2013).
Wedding favors for guests: $275 (down from $281 in 2013).

The drop in these two items is attributed to the increased use of social media and e-calendars people are using for save the dates, e-invites, and wedding websites.

The trend of using social media to document and celebrate weddings extends to new territory, as couples are now hiring social media wedding coordinators like they used to hire a photographer. The coordinators are setting up custom social media pages and accounts, tagging every photo, uploading videos to YouTube, registering custom hashtags, and even live tweeting the whole event.

The bride and groom are planning on more expense when it comes to the reception and cocktail hour than they did in past years, but a little less on the actual marriage ceremony.

In 2008, 20 percent of weddings were formal, black-tie affairs, but that number has dropped to just 16 percent as of 2014.

18 percent of people now describe their wedding as casual, compared to just 12 percent in 2008.

It begs the question: who paid for all of this?

As of 2014, the bride’s parents covered 43% of all wedding costs, while the couple getting married contributed approximately the same amount.

In the survey, an alarming 45 percent of newlyweds said they exceeded their budget on wedding spending, an 23 percent said they didn’t even bother setting a budget from the start. And we haven’t even talked about the honeymoon, yet!

So people in which cities or states are throwing the most elaborate – or cost effective – weddings?

No surprise that Manhattan comes in with the highest dollar amount per wedding, at $76,328, though that is significantly less than the $86,916 they spent in 2013.

Santa Barbara was the highest-priced wedding region to represent California, with an average of $44,214 per ceremony.

The least expensive was Utah, where they only spent $15,257 on the average wedding.
With that exorbitant amount of money being thrown around to get married, you may consider staying single and just witnessing your friends walk down the aisle. But the cost to be a guest at a wedding is climbing out of control, as well. Travel, hotel, parking, drinks, and other costs add up quickly.

Wedding guests now spend an average of $106 on a gift.

Consistent with the total costs, guests in New York spend the most, about $172 for a present in 2014. Floridians spend a respectable $148 and Californians $116.

Of course the closer you are with the bride or groom, the more you usually spend; guests spend $142 on family compared to only $90 for friends and coworkers, on average.

33 percent of guests will hand over an envelope with cash, while about 32 percent will buy something from the wedding registry.

And if you’re honored with an invitation to be in the wedding party as a bridesmaid, groomsmen, or even maid of honor or best man, the cost is nothing to scoff at. It’s estimated that it costs about $1,500 to be in someone else’s wedding party.

That includes buying a dress for bridesmaid, tuxedo rental for men, perhaps having it altered, the matching shoes, hair, make up, throwing the bridal shower, bachelor or bachelorette party, as well as all of the regular guest costs of travel, hotels, and buying a gift.

If all of these high costs area little overwhelming but you still want to get married, you can join the increasing number of couples who choose to elope, bypassing the extravagance and paying $150 at the courthouse to make their marriage official!

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