Apr 30

A Wedding costs HOW MUCH?!?!

cakeOn March 8th the love of my life proposed to me (aww). On May 9th, we announced the engagement to our excited friends and family. My mom was smiling from ear to ear and my grandfather joked, “It’s about time!”

Immediately thereafter we were bombarded with a slew of questions I was completely unprepared to answer:

  • Have you set a date?
  • Will you get married in Maine or New York (or do a destination wedding?)
  • Have you picked a venue?
  • Why type of dress do you want?
  • Will his family be able to make it (many of them still live in Manila, so we want to plan around them being able to come)
  • Who’s in the bridal party?
  • Will you take his last name or keep yours?

By the end of the first day of, “announcements” my head was spinning. After 6 years of dating I was thrilled just to be able to introduce Eric as my, “fiance”. It’s sort of funny because we’ve always been committed to each other (heck we have a, “fur baby” and even purchased a home together), we just didn’t have an external symbol (engagement ring) that perfect strangers could see.

Since he put that pretty rock on my finger, clients have been commenting and asking me questions about my relationship status (which is really pretty sweet and sometimes pretty funny. I.e. comments like, “You can’t be old enough to get married!”).

ice sculpture

Ice Sculpture Swans, not exactly our style!

A Wedding costs HOW MUCH??? Insert shocked face here!

A frugal, “bride in training”, once I told my family about the engagement, I immediately immersed myself in learning how to plan a wedding on a budget. I searched pinterest, etsy and wedding bee for inexpensive venues, flowers, cakes, caterers and wedding rings (holy cow… planning a wedding without spending a fortune is a full-time job! Now I know why some people happily hire a wedding planner to deal with all of this).

I looked up the average cost of an American wedding and, googled, “most expensive places to getting married”. Here’s the list I came up with-gulp:

Top 25 Most Expensive Places to Get Married

Based on average cost of a wedding in 2013:
  • New York City (Manhattan): $86,916
  • Long Island: $57,343
  • North/Central New Jersey: $51,287
  • Chicago: $48,449
  • NYC Outer Boroughs: $47,121
  • Santa Barbara/Ventura, CA: $44,214
  • Rhode Island: $42,469
  • Westchester/Hudson Valley, NY: $42,444
  • Connecticut: $41,745
  • Philadelphia: $40,350
  • Los Angeles: $38,735
  • South New Jersey: $38,620
  • Washington, DC/Northern Virginia/suburban Maryland: $37,487
  • Southern Florida (Miami, Fort Lauderdale and surrounding areas): $37,210
  • Boston: $35,512
  • Houston: $35,475
  • Louisiana: $35,008*
  • Lehigh Valley/Poconos, PA: $34,488*
  • San Francisco: $33,836
  • Orange County/Inland Empire, CA: $32,021
  • Baltimore: $31,964
  • Chicago Suburbs, IL: $31,489*
  • Detroit: $31,044*
  • San Diego: $30,885
  • Maine: $29,854*
*New to Top 25 List in 2013- Source: XO Group Inc.

Great…NYC is the most expensive place to get married, and Maine is the 25th most expensive. We certainly have no intention of spending anywhere near either figure. If I was 22, I’d probably want a huge fairy tale wedding with a chocolate fountain and a huge cake and a huge fancy ballgown. At 32, a small simple ceremony with good food and drink and very close friends and family is much more my, “speed” and we definitely have much better uses for $30-80k!

Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with other couples spending on their, “big day” if that’s what they want. We’d just rather save our money and use it towards other things.

Married? Tell me about your wedding. How many people did you invite? How much did you spend? Not married? What’s the most you’d spend on a wedding?


Image: Kurt Nordstrom, boscobridalexpos


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  1. I got married shortly after I came to the United States and didn’t have much money. Instead of going to the usual banquet halls my fiancee approached a small restaurant downtown Milwaukee and even though they did not normally host wedding they were all for it.

    It was a small wedding with mostly immediate family (mostly my finance’s) and those friends that were willing to come over from the Netherlands. There weren’t more than 45 guests. We actually had the wedding in the restaurant itself so no carting from church/city hall from one venue to the next.

    This was before the cellphone camera days so we did have a photographer but nowadays 60% of your guests will be shooting video or taking pictures. If I had to get married today I’d skip that.

    My wife only spend a couple of hundred dollars on the wedding dress and instead of spending hundreds on flowers she managed to get her hands on “discarded” flowers and used all the pebbles to decorate. It didn’t hurt that my wife was a wedding cake baker so that was taken care of by herself. Since we had our wedding downtown, instead of renting the restaurant all night we simply moved the party after the wedding to one of the local night clubs with an even more intimate group of friends.

    It’s not the things, food and entertainment that matter. it’s the company of family and friends that make the day special.

    I the end I don’t think the wedding ran us more than $5,000.

    Regardless of price it was one of our best days ever. There are however still plenty of other greatest days to follow if the love and commitment is real.

      • KK on May 3, 2015 at 11:48 pm
      • Reply

      That sounds perfect! You’re totally right, it’s the person you’re marrying and the company of friends and family that matter. Nobody is going to remember the details (what that cake was like, what the flowers were like etc.), except for you, anyway. Small and simple definitely appeals to me (and my wallet!).

  2. Ha, of course Long Island would be 2nd. Because the majority of my family and friends are still living there, we decided we’d be better off doing everything up there. I’m sure it would be cheaper down here, but we’re planning on sticking with something very low-key (a backyard celebration would be fine with me), so I highly doubt it will cost more than $10k. Those are crazy numbers to look at, but as you said, there are certainly ways to get around the costs!

      • KK on May 3, 2015 at 11:51 pm
      • Reply

      I wasn’t surprised to see Long Island so high on the list. A few of my friends grew up in Long Island and their weddings cost a fortune (even though they weren’t particularly “fancy” or over the top). The venues themselves are so expensive in NYC/LI that it drives the cost up right from the beginning. My sister got married in my parent’s backyard and it was one of the most memorable weddings I’ve ever been to. If we don’t like the venues we’re looking at this weekend, I’d certainly consider using my parent’s backyard for the reception (if they don’t mind all that fiasco again 😉 )

  3. Wow, this was a big surprise. And it is AMAZING to me how people are willing to pony up for these costs knowing that statistically, 50% of them will end up divorced anyway. As a married and divorced statistic myself, I would choose eloping. Not sure my next wife would appreciate that tho!

  4. I am not married yet. But, I am planning to hold it outdoor in Sydney. I would hopefully make it as memorable and personal as possible, only having close friends, family and relatives probably less than 40 persons would be great. I would ask for wedding help instead of wedding gifts and hire a family-owned restaurant.

  5. First, CONGRATULATIONS! Second, $86,000 is a painful number to look at. Wow. I have a friend who lives in NYC with her fiance and is getting married in Minnesota because it’s so much cheaper.

  6. Of course San Francisco is on this list! Geez! I totally relate to how overwhelming this whole process is.

  1. […] right? First of all I should start by saying that Eric and I are thrilled to be engaged! After dating for 6 years, we know each other really well and feel that we’re ready to make this […]

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