Research Shows the Cost of the Average Wedding is Rising

Weddings are well-known for being expensive affairs, a fact most people accept as a natural condition of celebrating a new stage in a friend or family member’s lives. However, research is now showing that the average ceremony is not only costly, but growing even more exorbitant with time. Even worse, the study doesn’t even include the cost of the honeymoon! Fortunately, the Motley Fool, a multimedia-based financial services company, has a number of tips for reducing your expenses, from inexpensive wedding flowers to favors for your guests.

Recently, the wedding-focused company The Knot surveyed 16,000 brides and grooms in the United States. The organization found that the average bride was 29 years old, while the typical groom was 31. The standard wedding, meanwhile, featured 136 guests, including four to five bridesmaids and groomsmen. But while these ceremonies sound fairly traditional, the cost of the average event was $31,213. If you think this number is astounding, you wouldn’t be alone: The Knot reports that this amount is 4.5% more than the year before, equal to $1,344.

However, it is worth noting that the number is a national one, combining averages from less expensive areas with those from more extortionate locales. Compare Utah and Manhattan, for example: according to The Knot’s recent data, the typical wedding in the Beehive State costs around $15,257, while weddings in the Big Apple average about $76,328. Moreover, the study pool consisted entirely of people connected to The Knot, a wedding company, which might attract more people from certain backgrounds and income levels than others, which could skew the results.

However, when it comes to the average prices of different aspects of the wedding ceremonies, the image created is still somewhat unnerving. For example, reception halls generally cost around $14,006, making this detail the most expensive by far. The reception bands and photographers came next, costing the happy couples an average of $3,587 and $2,556. Florists and decor took the fourth most expensive slot, an unsurprising fact given that the U.S. florist industry grew by an estimated 0.6% annually from 2009 to 2014, which likely gives many brides and grooms more options to choose from. The rest of the expenses, which include videographers, DJs, and wedding garb, range in price from $1,973 (the cost of a wedding planner) to $555 (for cake). However, other costs, such as the officiant and the rings, were not listed.

To reduce their expenses, The Motley Fool recommended that soon-to-be brides and grooms set a serious budget before anything else. Once this number is established, the company says there are plenty of ways to cut costs by paying attention to the timing and looking for discounts. For example, holding a wedding in the off-season on any other time than a Saturday evening can dramatically reduce costs, while looking for in-season flowers can be significantly cheaper. Likewise, The Motley Fool recommends looking for cheaper solutions, such as a public park for the reception or an online retailer for wedding favors. Finally, the company strongly encourage people to negotiate. While planning an affordable wedding might seem like a challenge, they point out that the less you spend, the more money you can spend on your honeymoon or as a down payment on a home!

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