What is the average cost of a wedding in the US?

Rocket Loans breaks down the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. today, from the dress to the venue and more.

Miranda Crace
Posted 5/20/24

Rocket Loans breaks down the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. today, from the dress to the venue and more.

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What is the average cost of a wedding in the US?

Rocket Loans breaks down the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. today, from the dress to the venue and more.


A couple engaging in a discussion with a wedding coordinator inside a wedding venue.

LightField Studios // Shutterstock

First came love and now you're getting ready for marriage. But before you can start your life together as a married couple, there's one more thing you have to do: Make it official – and, if you so choose, throw one heck of a party. If you decide to have a wedding, expect that you might be paying a pretty penny to celebrate your love.

According to The Knot's 2023 Real Weddings Study, the average wedding cost in the U.S. in 2023 was $35,000. That means the average couple pays more than half of the country's average yearly income to celebrate their big day.

In this article, Rocket Loans helps answer the question: Why do you need to know the average wedding cost in the U.S.? Because this number will help you prepare for your own big day by giving you a baseline to budget the right amount of money in each category. That way, your vows won't have to include the phrase "till debt do us part."

Average Wedding Cost Breakdown

Image showing the three biggest wedding expenses, on average.

Rocket Loans

When it comes to weddings, there are six expenses that take up the majority of a wedding budget. Read on to find out the average cost of:

  1. Wedding Dress
  2. Wedding Photographer
  3. Wedding Flowers
  4. Wedding Cake
  5. Wedding Rings
  6. Wedding Venue

The Real Weddings Study was used to report these costs.

Average Cost Of A Wedding Dress

Seeing the bride in their dress is one of the most anticipated moments of a wedding – for their future spouse, guests and for the wearer of the gown. On average, a wedding dress costs about $2,000. And while they may only wear it for one day, they may remember how they felt in it forever.

How To Save On A Wedding Dress

From shopping at alternative places or borrowing the garment to choosing simple designs or a whole new color, there are ways to save some money on a wedding dress. 

  • Buy discount at trunk shows, sample sales or consignment shops.
  • Buy the floor sample dress.
  • Make it your "something borrowed."
  • Do away with tradition and wear a colored dress.
  • Stick to your budget.
  • Buy a simple dress and more ornate accessories.
  • Lessen need for alteration by buying corset style and taller shoes.
  • Use less expensive fabrics, like blended and synthetic.

Average Wedding Photographer Costs

Your wedding day will be a blur, and you may even miss some special moments. That's why wedding photography is so important.

How much would you pay to revisit your special day years later? According to the study, the average couple pays about $2,900 for a photographer.

How To Save On A Wedding Photographer

When looking for ways to save, consider what you actually want captured that day – and remember to continue to keep quality in mind when you're trying to cut costs.

  • Book less time.
  • Shop around and compare prices and packages.
  • Get a package that includes engagement photos.
  • Hire a "less established" professional.
  • Ask about discounts for early booking, referral and off-season weddings.

Average Cost Of Wedding Flowers

On average, couples spend around $2,800 for wedding flowers. However, many factors play a role in the cost of fresh blooms.

How To Save On Wedding Flowers

The time of year, the type of flowers you choose, the size of your wedding party and how you're using the flowers all help decide how much you'll pay – and provide ways to save.

  • Choose in-season blooms.
  • Use fake flowers.
  • Add more greens.
  • Grow your own flowers.
  • Forgo flowers altogether by making a bouquet of brooches, fabric, origami flowers, crocheted flowers, candy or cupcakes.

Average Wedding Cake Costs

The cutting of the cake is a time-honored wedding tradition that guests love – mostly because they get the spoils at the end of it. On average, this dessert will cost about $540.

How To Save On A Wedding Cake 

Nothing's sweeter than being able to save money on your wedding dessert. Luckily there are several ways to cut costs.

  • Choose a simple wedding cake with less elaborate details.
  • Skip sculptures and hand painting and opt for sprinkles, fresh flowers or greenery.
  • Choose a cake made of buttercream instead of fondant.
  • Use a small cake for cutting and sheet cake for guests.
  • Opt for cupcakes, a candy station, doughnut walls or dessert platters instead.

Average Wedding Ring Costs

The exchanging of rings is one of the most important parts of a wedding ceremony, symbolizing the couple's devotion to one another for a time that, like the ring's circle, has no beginning and no end. According to the Knot's 2023 Jewelry and Engagement Study, on average, this symbolic piece of jewelry costs $1,000. This cost does not include the engagement ring (also not included in overall wedding costs) – which the study found to be about $5,500 on average.

How To Save On Wedding Rings

If your ideal ring isn't set in stone – literally and figuratively – you can save money by changing up your ring style, where you bought it or where it was made. 

  • Choose lab-grown diamonds.
  • Buy used rings from an antique store, pawn shop, thrift shop or estate sale.
  • Shop around for the best deal.
  • Buy your rings online.
  • Consider ring metals, gemstones and diamond size.

Average Wedding Venue Costs

Image showing the percentage which is 36.5% of a wedding budget is dedicated to the venue.

Rocket Loans

The place where you'll host your reception will likely be the most expensive part of your wedding. According to the study, the average cost for a wedding venue is about $12,800, about 36.5% of a $35,000 wedding budget.

Many venue prices include other expenses like catering, alcohol, tables, chairs and linens. When comparing prices, see what each venue includes and see where you get the most bang for your buck.

How To Save On A Wedding Venue 

The more people you have at your wedding, the more expensive it will be. Of course, if you want to share your day with as many people as possible, you may be able to find other ways to cut back on your venue costs.

  • Trim your guest list, if possible.
  • Pick an off-season date.
  • Choose buffet-style dinner over plated or family-style.
  • Choose a low-tier alcohol package (well drinks) or make it a cash bar.
  • Choose a venue package that includes catering, tables, chairs, linens and more.

Other Wedding Costs To Consider

While the wedding expenses listed above are the ones that will take up the majority of your budget, there are other costs you need to remember. Here are several others – with The Knot's suggested budget percentages:

  • DJ – 5%
  • Videographer – 7%
  • Stationary – 2%
  • Ceremony officiant – 1%
  • Transportation – 3%
  • Wedding hair and makeup – 3%
  • Wedding planner – 6%
  • Wedding favors and gifts – 1%
  • Lighting and decor – 5%

Start by visiting wedding expos to save on various wedding costs. Most vendors offer discounts and contests for expo attendees so they can stand out from competition.

Paying For Your Wedding

Setting a wedding budget is the most important thing to do before you even start picking out colors, dresses and cakes. Knowing the type of wedding you want (casual, formal, elopement, destination, big party or intimate setting) will help you find out how much you'll need to budget. From there, decide where the money will come from.

Are families contributing to the expenses or will it be all on you and your future spouse? Are you giving yourselves enough time to save up all the money you need or will you need to consider alternative payment options, like a personal loan? When creating your budget, make sure you both agree on the numbers and the sacrifices it may take to stick to them.

Remember The Wedding Return On Investment (ROI)

Weddings can be expensive, but the good news is you may get a return on some of your investment.

It may seem wrong to think about ROI when we're talking about love, but when you're spending all that money on your big day, it can be a bit of a reprieve to know that you might get at least some of that money back to start your life together. And here's how:

Receiving Wedding Gift Money 

Of course, the reason you invited your loved ones to your wedding was to share in your special day, not to get presents. But receiving wedding gifts is definitely an added bonus.

The amount you receive will depend on your guests and when you have your wedding. If you have your wedding close to the holidays, people may be a little more strapped for cash. If your guests are young and just starting out in their careers, they may not have the means to give you any gift other than their presence (which should be enough anyway). The amount of money guests may gift you will also depend on how close they are to you and how much they spend traveling to your wedding.

When it comes to wedding money, don't base your spending on the assumption you'll get money back. Instead, just assume you're getting back $0 and anything beyond that is a nice surprise. 

Returning Registry Items

Maybe you got duplicates or maybe you went a little reckless with the scanning gun and asked for things you'll never use. Either way, there's a good chance you'll need to return a few items from your registry, which will give you money back or store credit.

Selling Your Wedding Stuff

Another great way to get some of your money back is to sell any wedding stuff you don't want to hold on to. That could include your dress or accessories, centerpieces and any ceremony decorations.

Final Thoughts

Is the thought of potentially paying $35,000 for your wedding making you think twice about saying "I do"?

Don't fret just yet. You can still have a dream wedding without spending half or more of your yearly salary. Remember that this number is the average wedding cost, calculated by adding up the costs of thousands of couples across the U.S.

Just because it's the average wedding cost for American couples, doesn't mean it has to be yours. The cost of your wedding will depend greatly on the location, the date, the size of your guest list and how frugal and strategic you want to be when it comes to saving money.

This story was produced by Rocket Loans and reviewed and distributed by Stacker Media.