Sara K. James
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American wedding costs soar 16% in four years

If wedding costs are an indicator of consumer confidence, Americans must be feeling pretty good about their finances right now.

The average cost of a wedding last year exceeded $31,213, up 4.5% from $29,858 the previous year and an increase of 16% from a recent low of $26,984 in 2010, according to a survey of 15,800 brides by wedding website The Knot. The most expensive place to get married last year was Manhattan (an average cost of $76,328) — five times the cost of getting married in Utah, the least expensive place (where the average wedding cost just $15,257). Long Island, N.Y. ($55,327), North-Central New Jersey ($53,986), Westchester County and Hudson Valley, N.Y. ($52,954) and Chicago ($50,934) also topped the list of the most expensive places to get hitched.

Of the $31,213, the highest since The Knot began tracking wedding costs in 2007, Americans will spend $14,006 on a venue, $3,587 on a reception band, $5,855 on an engagement ring, $2,556 on a photographer and $2,141 on a florist or decor.

The rest goes to such things as a wedding dress ($1,357), rehearsal dinner ($1,206) and invitations ($439) and even party favors ($275). “This shows that people are feeling better about the economy,” says Sreekar Jasthi, analyst with personal finance site NerdWallet.com. “But our research shows that the least-expensive counties spend a greater portion of their income. That’s concerning.”


Before spending so much money on one day, there are a few considerations couples might want to take into account. First, the cost of getting married in the U.S. also happens to be exactly the same — give or take $92 — as a 15% down payment on a median-priced home worth $208,700 in the fourth quarter of 2014, according to data from HSH.com, the Riverdale, N.J.-based mortgage-information firm. And, second, nearly one-fifth (17%) of couples who get married will decide to marry again (15% twice and 4% three or more times), according to a report, “Remarriage in the United States,” released this week by the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

And nearly one-quarter are destination weddings, The Knot found, which also pushes up the cost of attending — including travel and accommodation — for guests. In fact, guests spend around $592 per wedding, according to a 2014 survey by American Express. And as the cost of attending weddings increases, so does the volume of RSVPs marked “Declines with regret.” Some 43% of Americans say they’ve declined to attend a wedding for financial reasons, while 36% of people say they’ve gone into debt to attend a friend’s wedding, according to a separate 2013 poll by American Consumer Credit Counseling, a non-profit financial advisory in Auburndale, Mass.

Quentin Fottrell