True Cost of a Wedding

The true cost of a wedding continues to increase each year. In 2010, The Bridal Association of America estimated that an average wedding costs a whopping $38,500! There will always be more expensive and less expensive weddings that will change the average. This figure includes the engagement rings and the honeymoon, which on average amounted to $4,400 and $3,700, respectively.


As you can probably guess, the cost of the reception was by far and away the largest expense for a wedding. This amounted to over $14K or 37% of the expense. Depending on the number of the guests, catering for all the food was estimated to cost over $9,000! In addition, do not forget the alcohol. Having an open bar will increase the tab significantly. On average, couples spend over $2,800 just on beverages and bartenders. Other expenses include rent for the venue, the wedding cake, and hotel rooms.

Photo & Video

Making up an estimated 10% of the total is Photo and Video. If you want to capture those once in a lifetime moments, you will have to pay dearly. Nearly $3,700 in total. Do not forget to allocate $2,300 for the photographer and another $1,400 for the videographer. Not included in this total is an additional $953 for music and entertainment.


This is your big day and you want to look your best. However, this does not come cheap. In total, attire amounts to 7% of the total budget or $2,600. Nearly 60% or $1,500 of that total is dedicated towards the bride’s dress. Don’t forget the bride’s accessories, headpiece, and hair and make-up – that adds up to another $740. Not included in this total is an additional $2,000 for jewelry. The groom can look good in his tuxedo and a few accessories for under $400.


The Ceremony expenses come in at over $2,500 or about 7% of the total budget for a wedding. Nearly 50% of the cost of the ceremony is related to expense from the rehearsal dinner. Rehearsal dinners can easily exceed $1,000 with the average cost being $1,269. Site decorations, ceremony location, officiant, and other accessories round out the remainder of the costs for the category.


A wedding would not be complete without flowers. A couple can expect to pay nearly $2,000 to liven up the wedding with a pop of color. Flowers used as decorations is the bulk of the expense, with the remainder going to bridesmaid and bridal bouquets, corsages, and flowers for the flower girls.

Favors and Gifts

Last but not least are the favors and gifts presented to friends in family for sharing in this joyous occasion. Don’t forget to set aside an additional $1,100 for this expense. Gifts for your bridal party can amount to over $580. Wedding favors are an important tradition and cost an additional $400. Other small gifts for parents can also add to the bottom line.

Not included in this review is stationary and transportation – which add an additional $1,250 in expense.