How Much Does a Wedding Cost: Breakdown of Wedding Expenses

Elopement Tips & Advice,
5 min read Oct 10, 2023

So, you’ve found the one, exchanged promises of forever, and now it’s time to plan your big day. Amidst all the excitement and joy, a question inevitably arises: how much does a wedding cost? Another question could be: why are weddings so expensive? Or, what is the average cost of a wedding?

We’re here to shed light on the intricacies of wedding expenses and offer some advice to navigate this journey without breaking the bank on your wedding day.

Factors Influencing Wedding Cost

Before diving into the nitty-gritty of numbers and your wedding budget, it’s essential to understand the various factors that play a pivotal role in determining the overall cost of a wedding.1 From the choice of venue, and the engagement ring, to the scale of the guest list, each element contributes to the financial landscape of your dream wedding. Here are some key influencers:

#1 Wedding Venue

Selecting the perfect wedding venue is like choosing the canvas for your masterpiece. Whether you opt for a grand ballroom with crystal chandeliers or a charming garden overlooking a serene lake, your venue choice significantly influences your budget. While a lavish, exclusive venue might be a dream come true, it often comes with a substantial price tag. On the other hand, a more modest setting can provide a beautiful backdrop without breaking the bank.

#2 Wedding Packages

Elopement wedding packages are a godsend for couples seeking simplicity and efficiency in their wedding planning. These packages bundle essential services like officiants, photographers, wedding videographer, musicians, and more, streamlining the entire marriage process. While they offer convenience, they also present an opportunity to control costs effectively. By choosing the right elopement package, you can have the wedding of your dreams without the stress of coordinating individual services.

#3 Guest Count

The number of guests you invite to your celebration plays a pivotal role in the wedding’s overall budget. A larger guest list means more mouths to feed, additional seating arrangements, and increased logistical complexity. While sharing your day with a large group of loved ones can be incredibly rewarding, it’s essential to be mindful of how it affects your budget. Intimate weddings often offer a more cost-effective and personalized experience.

Let’s plan your stress-free elopement. Start today!

#4 Wedding Dress and Attire

The bride’s gown, the groom’s suit, and the attire for the wedding party are essential components of your wedding’s aesthetics. While these choices allow for personal expression, they can also contribute significantly to the budget. Brides may find themselves captivated by designer dresses, while grooms seek out tailored suits. Allocating a portion of your budget for these sartorial choices ensures you can express your style without exceeding your financial boundaries.

#5 Wedding Vendors and Wedding Favors

Behind the scenes, a team of dedicated professionals, including photographers, videographers, caterers, florists, and more, work tirelessly to bring your vision to life. High-quality services can be worth their weight in gold, but they also come with a price tag. Investing in experienced and reputable vendors, or a credible wedding planner, ensures that every aspect of your wedding is executed flawlessly, but it’s crucial to account for these costs when budgeting for your big day.

Average Wedding Cost Breakdown

Now, let’s crunch some numbers. On average, weddings in the United States can range from a few thousand dollars to upwards of thirty thousand.2 Here’s a rough breakdown:

  • Venue: 30%
  • Catering: 20%
  • Photography and Videography: 15%
  • Attire: 10%
  • Wedding flowers and Decor: 10%
  • Entertainment: 10%
  • Miscellaneous (invitations, wedding favors, etc.): 5%

Remember, these figures are just a guideline. Your wedding as a couple is a canvas for your unique story, and you have the creative license to adjust these proportions as you see fit.

Regional Wedding Cost Variations

The cost of tying the knot can vary significantly depending on where you choose to say “I do.”3 Urban areas tend to be pricier, while rural or less-populated regions often offer more budget-friendly options for the wedding ceremony and reception. Additionally, a destination wedding can introduce a unique cost dynamic, with expenses like travel, accommodation, and local services potentially impacting the overall budget. It’s important to carefully consider the location in relation to your budget to ensure a celebration that aligns with your financial plan.

How Much Does a Wedding Cost

Tips for Setting Your Wedding Budget

Now that you have a sense of the financial landscape, it’s time to set a budget that aligns with your vision. Here are some tips to guide you:

  • Prioritize Your Must-Haves: Identify non-negotiable elements and allocate a larger portion of the budget to them.
  • Consider Alternative Dates and Times: Weekday weddings or off-peak seasons can often lead to cost savings.
  • Explore All-Inclusive Packages: These bundles and elopement packages can offer substantial savings compared to booking individual services.
  • Track Expenses: Utilize tools or apps to keep tabs on spending and ensure you stay within your budget

Save on Wedding Expenses

Now, let’s talk about practical strategies to keep cost in check without compromising the magic of your day:

  • DIY Decor: Get creative and add a personal touch to your decor. Handcrafted centerpieces or homemade favors can be both meaningful and cost-effective.
  • Opt for Digital Wedding Invitations: Save on paper and postage by sending out digital invites. It’s eco-friendly and budget-friendly.
  • Consider a Destination Wedding: Combining your wedding and honeymoon can lead to substantial savings, especially if you choose an all-inclusive resort. The guest count may also decrease, allowing you to save more.
  • Borrow or Rent Attire: Consider borrowing or renting formal wear. After all, it’s a special occasion, not a fashion show.
  • Non-Traditional Wedding Ceremony: For those looking to think outside the box and potentially save, exploring non traditional wedding ideas can offer unique and memorable experiences without the hefty price tag. Some ideas may include a vintage carnival, boho vibe, or nautical-themed ceremony.

How Much Does a Wedding Cost

Cut Costs With an Elopement

In the end, your dream wedding should be a reflection of your love story, regardless of the budget. With thoughtful planning and a touch of creativity, you can have the wedding of your dreams without a financial headache.

To reduce costs of a wedding, consider planning a small ceremony or elopement. This way, you can have control over your guest list, making for an intimate gathering in a unique venue. At Simply Eloped, we’re here to support you every step of the way, offering expert guidance and customizable elopement packages to make your big day shine. Because, after all, your love deserves nothing less.



Elopement Tips & Advice
Written by Karen Norian

Karen Norian is an elopement photographer and has photographed over a hundred elopements. Karen has also worked as an elopement planner for Simply Eloped. She's been quoted in the New York Times, Brides, Hello Giggles, Bustle, Yahoo, and more.