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Average Wedding Cost: How Much Do Americans Pay for a Wedding? – USA TODAY

6 minutes, 22 seconds Read

It’s no secret that weddings can be expensive — and the larger the wedding, the higher the price tag. But the big day itself isn’t the only cost to consider; engagement rings, wedding bands and honeymoons can also add up to a sizable sum. Total costs can also vary based on other factors, including the vendors you work with, location and more.

We surveyed 2,000 Americans who got married between 2021 to 2024 to gain insight into average costs. If you’re planning a wedding now or in the near future, here’s what to expect.

Key findings:

  • On average, 52% of Americans spend less than $10,000 on their wedding.
  • Nearly half (44%) invite 50 guests or less to their special day.
  • On average, 69% of Americans spend $5,000 or less on their engagement ring.
  • The majority of Americans (47%) spend less than $1,000 on their wedding ring.
  • Half of American couples spend less than $10,000 on their honeymoon while 28% don’t take a honeymoon at all.

Average wedding cost in America

The majority of respondents (52%) said their big day cost less than $10,000. Just 20% of those surveyed spent more than $30,000 on their wedding. Only a relatively small percentage had sticker shock about costs, with 12% expressing regrets about how much they spent. On the whole, though, 86% were comfortable with their total wedding costs.

Average wedding size

Our data suggested that couples favored smaller weddings over larger ones, perhaps due to some lingering concerns after the pandemic. From 2021 to 2024, 44% percent of couples opted for intimate gatherings of fewer than 50 people.

Out of the couples who had a larger number of guests, 23% hosted 51 to 100 while only 19% had more than 100 people at their weddings.

Average engagement ring cost

Engagement ring costs vary widely depending on the style and gemstone of choice as well as the size and quality of the gemstone.

For insight into costs, we asked survey respondents how much they spent on their engagement rings. Based on their responses, 69% spent $5,000 or less on their ring. Fifteen percent spent $5,001 to $10,000, and only 4% paid more than $10,000. Some cost-conscious respondents (8%) opted not to purchase a ring at all.

Average wedding ring cost

Our survey indicated that wedding bands cost less on average than engagement rings. The majority of respondents (47%) spent less than $1,000; 20% spent $1,001 to $2,500; and 14% spent $2,501 to $5,000.

Only 11% of respondents spent more than $5,000, and 6% said they didn’t purchase a wedding ring at all.

Average honeymoon cost

Honeymoons also represent a sizable line item in the wedding budget. They often amount to several thousand dollars, depending on your destination, timeframe and other factors.

Per our survey, half of American couples spent less than $10,000 on this post-wedding vacation while 28% didn’t take a honeymoon at all. Ten percent of respondents said they spent $10,001 to $20,000, and only 9% spent more than $20,000.

How do Americans pay for their weddings?

Paying for a wedding can be challenging — but if your big day is coming up soon, you’ve got some options. Most Americans (79%) chose to cover their costs in cash, while 33% used credit cards. Only 2% reported financing their special day with a personal loan.

Of those surveyed, 52% said their wedding was self-funded, while 44% received cash gifts from family or friends to partially or fully offset the costs.

Should you consider a loan to pay for your wedding?

While most of our survey respondents paid for their weddings with cash or credit cards, a few opted to take out a wedding loan. Here are some of the pros and cons of going this route if you’re considering financing your big day.

Other ways to cover wedding costs

While personal loans can work for some couples, they aren’t always the right choice to pay for your wedding. If a personal loan doesn’t fit your needs, here are some alternatives to consider to help fund your special day:

  • Savings: Using your savings to pay for your wedding is a popular choice. Many couples start putting money aside before or after they get engaged.
  • Investments: If you have a taxable brokerage account, you might consider selling some investments to fund your big day. Note that while it might be tempting to borrow from your 401(k) or other retirement savings, this generally isn’t a good idea. This is because you could derail potential investment gains and jeopardize your future nest egg.
  • Credit cards: Some credit cards offer a 0% introductory annual percentage rate (APR) for a set period — often six months to a year, depending on the card. Applying for a card like this could help you avoid interest charges if you repay your balances within the introductory period. However, keep in mind that if you can’t pay off the card in time, you could end up paying a large amount of interest.
  • Cash gifts: Alternatively, you could ask close family or friends for help. Many parents, for example, are willing to pitch in to cover wedding costs. Ensure you outline your preferences, set a budget and understand how much you can put toward your day before starting the conversation.
  • Wedding registry: While wedding registries have traditionally been reserved for bridal gifts, some registries let family and friends make cash contributions that couples can use to offset their wedding or honeymoon costs. Popular choices include Zola, The Knot and Honeyfund. Just ensure you research potential fees before signing up for a registry that supports cash gifts.

How to save money on wedding costs

Most of our survey participants spent less than $10,000 on their weddings. If you’re looking to keep costs in the four-figure range or below, there are several things you can do to accomplish this goal.

  • Create a budget. Before you start planning, set a wedding budget. Research potential costs for the venue, food, flowers, DJ, photographer and other essentials — and then stick to that budget as closely as possible.
  • Set money aside. Every little bit helps when it comes to paying for a wedding. Look at your overall household budget and see how much you can comfortably set aside. Also, consider making regular contributions to a high-yield savings account to earn more interest.
  • Prioritize your costs. Consider your priorities as you allocate funds. Does your menu matter more than your centerpieces? If so, consider allocating more of your budget for food.
  • Opt for a weekday wedding. Saturdays tend to be the most expensive days to get married. If it works for your schedule, consider opting for a weekday wedding to save.
  • Keep your guest list small. Trimming your guest list can be tough, but opting for a small wedding could save you a sizable sum.
  • Choose a non-traditional venue. Many traditional wedding venues charge a premium for space and food. Consider opting for a non-traditional venue, such as a small local museum, park or even a backyard to save money.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

The biggest wedding expenses are often the venue, food and drinks, though costs vary depending on your preferences. For instance, those who opt for a wedding in a hotel ballroom will likely pay more than those who host their ceremony and reception in a family member’s backyard.

Couples typically pay for a wedding with cash, credit cards or gifts from family and friends. A smaller percentage choose to take out a personal loan to finance their big day. Weigh the pros and cons of each option when choosing how to pay for your wedding.

Lingering inflation is impacting the cost of everything, from groceries to wedding vendors. Per a recent study from the wedding website Zola, wedding costs increased by nearly 14% from 2023 to 2024.

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