Think your wedding was expensive? Be glad you didn’t get married here


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The average cost of a wedding in 2020 was $20,300, a $4,400 per-wedding decrease from the year before. Many factors combine to determine the cost of a wedding, including the size and location of the venue, the number of guests, the food and entertainment — not to mention additional costs that are up to the wedding party’s preferences.

Below, ValuePenguin lists the average cost of a wedding by state and metro, along with per-guest costs. Depending on location, the cost of a typical wedding varies by $18,063. Researchers also broke down the most and least expensive features that are commonly included in the overall cost of a wedding.

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The average cost of a wedding, by state

Depending on where you get married, the cost of your wedding can vary significantly. Across the country, the average cost of a wedding was $20,300, but the cost can vary by as much as $18,063 depending on the state in which the ceremony and reception take place.

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Some states are just more expensive than others

The most expensive state to get married in is Massachusetts, where the average cost of a wedding is $30,489. Along with New Jersey, these two states are the only places where the average cost of a wedding is more than $30,000. Conversely, the cheapest state to get married in is Arkansas, closely followed by West Virginia.

Many of the most expensive states to host a wedding are on the East Coast. Four of the five most expensive states — aside from the District of Columbia — are in the Northeast. California and Hawaii, the eighth and ninth most expensive states for a wedding, are the only states in the top 10 that are west of the Mississippi River.

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The cities where weddings are typically most expensive

Even among the 20 largest U.S. metros, the average cost of a wedding can vary significantly. The difference in the average cost of a wedding in the most and least expensive of the largest metros is $13,653.

Here are the 20 most expensive metro areas for average wedding costs:

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20. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Florida

Average cost: $20,044

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19. Washington, DC-metro area

Average cost: $21,158

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18. St. Louis

Average cost: $22,894

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17. Atlanta

Average cost: $23,593

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16. Detroit

Average cost: $23,726

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15. Phoenix

Average cost:  $23,856

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14. Houston

Average cost:  $24,087

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13. Chicago

Average cost: $25,752

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12. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington

Average cost: $25,786

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11. Minneapolis-St. Paul

Average cost: $26,456

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10. Riverside, California

Average cost: $27,278

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9. Denver

Average cost: $27,984

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8. Seattle-Tacoma

Average cost: $29,467

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7. San Diego, California

Average cost: $30,118

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6. Los Angeles

Average cost: $30,492

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5. Philadelphia

Average cost: $31,895

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4. Boston

Average cost: $32,451

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3. Miami

Average cost: $33,401

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2. New York

Average cost: $33,446

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1. San Francisco Bay Area

Average cost: $33,697

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Most expensive wedding features

The overall cost of a wedding depends on the scale of the ceremony and reception. While the average cost of a wedding in 2020 was $20,300, this cost can quickly rise as the wedding becomes more extravagant. The most expensive parts of most weddings are costs associated with the reception venue, including the cost of renting materials, including tables and chairs, and serving food or alcohol.

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1. Reception venue

The reception venue isn’t typically a single, large cost but a series of above-average expenses that add up quickly, especially if the bridal party opts for a package deal from their venue. Taken in sum, the costs of renting a venue, catering the event and providing other related necessaries makes this feature of weddings the most expensive. Common costs associated with a wedding reception venue include:

  • Venue rental: With thousands of dollars typically spent to reserve a venue for a wedding, it’s often one of the priciest components of a reception. The typical cost of a venue amounts to $9,261, making it among the most expensive costs related to weddings. When couples have to rent tables and chairs and other furniture to fill out a venue hall, the cost increases.
  • Catered food and drink: Making sure that guests are well-fed is one of the most expensive parts of any wedding — particularly if a wedding venue requires the couple to hire their own caterer. Expect to spend an average of $4,075 for a wedding of 66 guests — $62 a plate. As wedding sizes return to pre-pandemic sizes, the cost of food (per plate and in total) will rise. Of course, the cost of food is likely to increase for more extravagant weddings. But hosts could save on the cost of the venue by offering a cash bar as opposed to an open bar.

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2. Engagement ring

There may be more variability in price with engagement rings than almost any other wedding-related expense. The cost of an engagement ring averaged $5,204 per wedding, but the cost of a ring depends on the size and type of stone used, the cut, the manufacturer and other factors that could easily catapult the price of a ring into the tens of thousands of dollars, or even higher.

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3. Reception band

Musical entertainment is a mainstay of most wedding receptions. The decision to hire a band or a DJ for the reception can have sizable effects on the overall cost of a wedding. Hiring a band for a wedding reception can be one of the most expensive parts of the entire party. The average cost of having a band play at a wedding is $3,263. A DJ, by comparison, is typically more than $2,200 cheaper than a live band. Hiring one could be an efficient way to reduce the total cost of a wedding.

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4. Photographer

Having photos taken is expensive — researchers found that the cost was $2,117 on average per wedding. That’s not even including the cost of a videographer, which can cost an average of $1,588. Together, these services make up a combined $3,705.

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5. Florist and decor

Flowers and other decorations can quickly add up in terms of cost. The average cost of a florist is $1,764 per wedding. This figure can grow as the number of flowers needed for an event increases. Make sure to ask your venue what comes free so you don’t end up unknowingly doubling up on purchases or paying for a more expensive version of what they have.

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ValuePenguin researchers used data from The Wedding Report on the overall cost of a wedding over time. Researchers determined the average spend per wedding feature using per-item spending data from The Knot. Data related to the total number of weddings per year is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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