Average wedding bill hits $30,000

wedding cost

Want one more sign the economy is improving? Couples spent an average of $30,000 on their wedding last year -- a record high.

Wedding budgets have grown for the past two years, with newlyweds (or their families) shelling out an average of $29,858 for the big day in 2013, up 5% from the previous year, according to a survey of 13,000 brides and grooms by wedding website TheKnot.com.

Priciest spots to get hitched
Location Avg. cost of wedding
1 New York City (Manhattan) $86,916
2 Long Island $57,343
3 North/Central New Jersey $51,287
4 Chicago $48,449
5 NYC Outer Boroughs $47,121
6 Santa Barbara/Ventura, Calif. $44,214
7 Rhode Island $42,469
8 Westchester/Hudson Valley, N.Y. $42,444
9 Connecticut $41,745
10 Philadelphia $40,350
11 Los Angeles $38,735
12 South New Jersey $38,620
13 Washington, DC/Northern Virginia/suburban Maryland $37,487
14 Southern Florida (Miami, Fort Lauderdale area) $37,210
15 Boston $35,512
Source: TheKnot.com 2013 Real Weddings survey

Last year, 20% of couples said the economy affected their wedding budget compared to 34% in 2009, when the recession was in full swing. Meanwhile, nearly 15% of couples spent more than $40,000 on their wedding and related events, not including the honeymoon.

Related: Weddings and the art of parental wrangling

Beyond the wedding venue and catering, which cost an average of $13,385 in 2013, other big-ticket items included engagement rings (at an average of $5,598), reception bands ($3,469), flowers and other decor ($2,069) and wedding photos ($2,440).

Of course, much of the cost depends on location. "If you live in a big city you can expect weddings to cost more," said TheKnot site director Anja Winikka.

Couples who got hitched in Manhattan spent the most, at an average of nearly $87,000, up $10,000 from the year before. Meanwhile, newlyweds in Utah and Idaho spent the least, with average spending in both states falling below $17,000.

Related: Honeymoon hotspots

One surprising trend: Even though total spending is up, couples are inviting fewer guests, said Winikka. Instead couples are throwing more extravagant affairs, with a variety of additional entertainment and wedding weekend events.

Last year, 30% of couples provided additional guest entertainment, such as a photo booth, compared to only 11% in 2009. Couples also spent more on rehearsal dinners, after parties and morning-after brunches, which can easily add thousands of dollars to the total wedding bill.

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"I think every couple fears that their wedding is going to be boring or look like everybody else's," Winikka said. "Adding a photo booth is a way to make sure their guests remember it."

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