Many Zola couples report that they have no idea how much a wedding costs, and that setting their budget is the most stressful part of planning for the big day. And it makes sense: if you’ve never planned a wedding before, chances are that you have little idea about what to expect in terms of pricing. To further complicate the matter, the answer to how much a wedding costs isn’t straightforward because it depends on a lot of factors.
While we can't throw out a magic “this is how much a wedding costs” number for you, we can give you a look at what couples are spending on average, what may impact costs, and what you can do to save on your wedding. See more on these topics below.
How Much Does a Wedding Cost?
The average wedding cost of a wedding (honeymoon excluded) is over $30K, but it’s important to bear in mind that averages don’t show you a complete picture. A few big-budget weddings can easily skew a national average to appear higher than what most couples are actually spending. For example, 32.85% of Zola couples share that they spent between $10,000 and $24,999 on their wedding while just 5% spent $100,000 or more. Treat the average cost as a helpful gauge of what to potentially expect, not an obligation of what you have to spend on your wedding.
Average Wedding Costs By Vendor
While the vendors you hire to help you pull off your big day do not account for all of your wedding expenses, they do make up the vast majority of your budget. Here’s a look at typical wedding vendor costs.
Wedding Venue: $2,000 - $10,000+ As you can see, the average price range for wedding venues varies widely. Many factors play into this cost, such as venue size, location, and if they include staff, rentals, or catering in their price. Nationally, most couples spend about $5,000 on their venue space.
Photographer: $1,200 - $3,000+ The price of the wedding photographer depends on many factors as well, such as the photographer’s experience, how many hours you’ve contracted them for, and what extras the packages includes (a second shooter, an album, prints, an engagement shoot, etc.). On average, couples spend $2,000 on wedding photography.
Wedding Planner: $1,000 - $2,500+ While a wedding planner may seem like an unnecessary extra expense, having one of these professionals in your corner goes a long way in helping you save money in other areas. They know all sorts of tricks for cutting costs, not to mention save you the hassle of managing all the wedding details on your own. The price of a planner is dependant on what type of planner you hire (full-service, month-of, or day-of) and the extent of the services they will provide. A full-service planner—a planner that helps you plan the entire wedding from beginning to end—usually costs between $3,000-$4,000. However, top-tier planners can be as much as $10,000 or more.
Catering: $2,000 - $7,000+ Catering costs depend on what type of food you serve (a plated steak dinner comes with a much higher price tag than a BBQ feast), how many guests you have, how the meal is served (plated, buffet, family style, or food truck), and what extras are included in your package, such as catering staff orrentalsc. Catering costs tend to be the hardest to nail down in terms of realistic averages, but most couples report that they spend $4,000 or more.
Videographer: $1,000 - $2,500+ As with all vendors on this list, your final wedding videographer costs will be affected by the vendor’s level of experience, the products they offer, and the number of hours you’d like them to film on the wedding day. While not all couples opt to hire a videographer, the typical average cost is around $2,000.
Cake: $300 - $700+ Often wedding cake prices are set by the slice rather than a per-cake rate. Typically you can expect $4 per slice for buttercream and $5 per slice for fondant, with most couples spending $500 overall. For more info, see our guide to wedding cake costs.
Flowers: $700 - $2,500+ The cost of wedding flowers ranges widely because the final total is influenced so heavily by your personal decisions: what flowers are used (some blooms are more expensive than others), how many different types of flowers are included in each arrangement, and how many centerpieces, bouquets, boutonnieres, etc. you need. The average bridal bouquet is typically around $150, while a bridesmaid’s bouquet tends to land at $75.
Band or DJ: $1,000 - $6,000+ You may notice that this price range is very broad. There’s a big reason for that: bands are typically thousand of dollars more expensive than DJs. Couples pay an average of $4,000 for a live band while a DJ typically has a price tag of $1,000.
Ceremony Music: $300 - $700+ If you opt to have live musicians play your ceremony music, you can expect to pay about $500 for their services. However, this price varies depending on whether it’s a soloist or a group, the length of time you’d like the musician(s) to play, and whether they need to learn any new songs specifically for your celebration.
Transportation: $500 - $1,000 What type of vehicle you choose, driving distance, and the hours of service are all details that factor into wedding transportation costs, but most couples share that they spend around $750.
Hair & Makeup: $150 - $600+ Hair and makeup pricing fluctuates a lot based on the intricacy of the makeup and hairstyle and how many individuals are being styled. On average, a bridal updo is about $95 and traditional bridal makeup is $100. Airbrush makeup applications will typically be $150 or more. Hair and makeup services for other members of your wedding party often costs $125 or more.
See our how to set your your wedding budget guide for advice on figuring out how much you can spend on your wedding.
What Impacts Wedding Costs?
As we mentioned earlier, there are several different factors that play a role in the final cost of a wedding. Every wedding is unique, so it’s impossible to truly know every detail that may influence what you ultimately pay for your celebration, but there are four key areas that typically have the biggest effect on wedding costs:
1. Guest List Size
The total number of guests you have at your wedding has the greatest impact on your overall wedding cost because many vendors and venues charge a per-person rate. If you want to keep expenses low, trim the guest list as much as you can.
2. Wedding Date
The season, day of the week, and popularity of your wedding date also plays a big role in the final cost of your wedding. Vendors are likely to charge more for their services when they are in high demand.
Where you get married matters a lot in dictating prices. More rural locations typically have much lower weddings costs than metropolitan areas, so keep that in mind as you select the city and venue where you plan to wed.
The more bells and whistles you include in your wedding, the more expensive it will be. A mostly-DIY wedding with minimal decor will likely be more budget-friendly than a glamorous celebration overflowing with florals, fine linens, and crystal details. Make sure this is top of mind as you decide on the style or theme of your day.
See our guide on how to plan a wedding on a budget for tips and tricks on cutting costs.