What are couples spending on weddings? Well, it depends. The average cost of a wedding in 2023 is as varied as the couple tying the knot.
Estimating the average cost of a wedding is both art and science. How much is the average wedding? Well, it’s important to keep in mind that average wedding costs are just that — averages. While helpful, a wedding budget does not need to define a vibe or vision.
Average wedding costs vary for several reasons: the number of guests, location, day of the week, and even the seasonality of food served and flowers displayed. It helps to picture the day and think about what matters most to the two of you. Think of the wedding budget in pieces and priorities rather than imagining the whole thing at once.
Every year, we survey thousands of engaged couples to hear about their wedding-planning experiences. In our latest First Look Report, we learned that the average wedding expenses for couples getting married in 2023 total around $29,000, up slightly from $28,000 in 2022. Most couples will send invitations to 130–150 guests this year, making it quite the party. And inflation is also a factor because economic changes always impact the cost of goods and services.
The most important thing to remember is that an amazing wedding can happen on any budget, and along with your team of vendors, Zola is there to guide you along every part of the journey. And there is more than one way to pay for a wedding. Today, the majority of couples contribute to their wedding bills in some way, and we’ve found that in 2023:
Some wedding cost line items, like photography, are less dependent on guest count and more on other factors, such as services provided and time. But other line items, such as catering and decor, are greatly impacted by the size of the wedding.
Zeroing in on your estimated number of guests and the size of your wedding party early on in the wedding planning process helps when evaluating everything from venue size to catering.
If you’re unsure how many invitations you’ll send, our team found the average wedding guest list was 130–150 people, and about 75% of guests usually RSVP yes. This is a good starting point for budget conversations if you’re unsure where to begin. Have open and honest discussions with vendors about how your guest count may impact the pricing of their services, such as how the price of fifteen table centerpieces might differ from the price of ten. Vendors are there to support you and help you get the information you need to make decisions, after all!
As with all things, the average cost per person for a wedding has a lot of variables. But we can derive some data based on the size of your guest list.
Just as home, food, gas, and other prices vary by state, so do those for weddings. The cost of a wedding in our most expensive location is more than double that of our least expensive — though $19,000 is still a sizable investment!
Here is a complete breakdown of more than 4,000 couples and their projected average spending on weddings in 2023 by state.
Yes, big-city weddings often come with higher price tags than weddings in rural areas. Still, for the possible tradeoff of some budget items, you can get the urban sophistication of a New York City, Houston, Phoenix, or other metro area wedding. Metro areas are also travel hubs, meaning they’re accessible and offer cheaper flights and accommodations than remote locations. It’s all about what matters to you.
As of 2023, this is the average cost of a wedding in the largest American metros:
Once you nail down the major requirements — where, when, and who — you’re ready to begin conversations with vendors and decide how much to spend on each service. Your vendors will guide you in making budget-conscious decisions, such as selecting food and flowers that are in season or recycling ceremony decor for the reception. While you might not be able to splurge on every checklist item, what’s important is your wedding still feels like a reflection of your relationship and future together.
To help you and your soon-to-be spouse plan ahead, here are the national average wedding expenses for services in 2023, based on a total budget of around $29,000:
With so many considerations, it helps to start with a wedding budget breakdown. Here you’ll decide what you want to spend in specific categories or what dollar amount you’d earmark for expenditures. To help get you started, we’ve got six tips to help save money on your big day.
Couples told us they wanted an easy way to track their budget… so we created one! It’s simple to use. In Zola’s budget tool, currently available in the iPhone app, enter your maximum budget and how much you plan to spend on everything from your venue to your videographer. Our handy tool helps you keep tabs on your spending, get payment reminders, and see expert tips on budgeting.
Every couple and “dream” vision is different. For most, the priority is having all of their loved ones in attendance, and often other details fall into place. Sit down as a partnership and decide on the top three ingredients you must have and go from there, whether it be a live band, top-shelf open bar, videographer, or steakhouse meal. There are no wrong answers — only your answers for your wedding.
After prioritizing the essential pieces of your big day, search Zola for wedding vendors and venues based on price and other factors. We love social media for inspiration — but leave the planning to us. We can help you curate the most memorable and personalized wedding vibe.
Sending digital save-the-dates is an easy way to save. Zola’s digital save-the-dates are completely free!
Upcycling and thrifting have become second nature for many people in their everyday lives, but shopping secondhand is also a great way to save on wedding attire and decor. After all, doesn’t everyone need to find their perfect something borrowed?
In fact, we found that 19% of today’s couples upcycle to avoid excessive spending on tuxedos, wedding dresses, other white outfits, wedding party attire, and more.
The vast majority of couples today — over 80% — add personalized cash funds to their registry. Not only does this help the happy couple start their life together, but it also helps them afford other major expenses — the dream home, a home renovation, or a future family.
The wedding should be one of the best days of your life, but celebrate the steps to get there as well. The average wedding cost breakdown figures above are averages, and planning your big day comes down to prioritization and must-haves.
For that and everything else you need for your big day, Zola is here to help.