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.

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

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

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.

Wedding biz boost from same-sex marriage

"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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