Special Feature:
Major Moments Full coverage
Ka-ching! Wedding price tag nears $30K
Survey: Bridal spending tops $125 billion; parents less likely to foot ballooning bill.
By Grace Wong, CNNMoney.com staff writer

Raising a family
The rising cost of saying 'I do'
Couples today spend more than double on their wedding photography and videography than their counterparts did in 1999.
Category2005 average costChange from 1999
Engagement ring$4,14639%
Photography/
videography
$2,570103%
Ceremony/
reception music
$1,25068%
Rehearsal Dinner$1,15351%
Flowers$1,12145%
Source: The Fairchild Bridal Group
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - Engaged couples can expect to hear more than the "bling bling" bouncing off the bride-to-be's ring -- they'll also hear the ka-ching of the cash register as the average cost of a wedding soars to $26,327, according to a new survey.

A total of $125 billion -- about the size of Ireland's GDP -- will be spent on 2.1 million weddings in 2005, according to the "American Weddings" study conducted by The Fairchild Bridal Group. Fairchild surveyed more than 1,000 brides.

Tying the knot used to involve a trip to the altar and a simple reception, but low-cost affairs are increasingly a thing of the past as brides and grooms flex their consumer power and buck tradition. The average price tag that is fast approaching $30,000 represents a 73 percent increase during the past 15 years, according the study.

"The bridal industry is now a life stage that encompasses fashion, travel, home furnishings and more," Daniel Lagani, vice president and publisher of the Fairchild Bridal Group, said.

Furthermore, brides and grooms -- who on average range between the ages of 27 and 29 -- are older than their counterparts were 15 years ago. As more experienced, sophisticated consumers, they know what they want and are willing to stretch their budget to get it.

Nearly half of all couples will end up spending more than they originally budgeted. But customizing a wedding to meet individual tastes doesn't always mean breaking the bank, the survey found.

For example, about 9 percent of couples will hold a "destination wedding," which involves the entire party traveling to a special location for the celebration. These couples spend on average 41 percent less on their receptions than those who have an average wedding, according to the survey.

When the party's over, someone has to pay the bill -- and with age, comes greater responsibility. This year only a quarter of brides will count on mom and dad to pick up the tab. Instead, nearly one-third of brides and grooms will forgo tradition and foot the entire bill themselves.  Top of page

sponsored by NASDAQ

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.