Nearly $30,000 for a wedding? How to avoid sticker shock

Cost of venue, food, DJ's, photography continue to rise
Posted at 6:12 AM, Jun 23, 2023

Anyone close to tying the knot knows that endless details go into a wedding, and none are more important than the budget. That's especially important now that the cost of the average wedding in 2023 is nearly $30,000.

But savvy brides and grooms are finding ways to cut those costs and stay within their budget.

Tierra Balleu is one of them. This bride-to-be planned ahead.

"I booked my venue a year ago to save money," she said.

But despite that, she was still hit with a case of sticker shock.

"Everything is really inflated. It's really expensive," she said.

How to keep costs in line

Katie Meckstroth is a wedding planner with Simply Designed Events.

She says a combo of pandemic-postponed weddings and inflation have made everything from venues to DJs to flowers much more expensive.

So she says couples need to decide where to splurge and where to trim.

"What is your priority for the day as a couple? Is it food? Is it entertainment? Is it your dress?" she said.

She also says to be careful with one of the hottest trends this year: barn weddings. She says those can actually be more expensive than a banquet hall or event center.

"At a barn," she said," you usually have to rent your own tables and tablecloths, then hire caterers and everything else."

Wedding planning site Zola recently released its "First Look Report," where it said the average wedding in 2023 is just over $29,000, up $1,000 from 2022.

Zola says couples spend most of their money on the following:

  • Wedding venue: $6,500 - $12,000
  • Catering: $6,500 - $10,00
  • Band or DJ: $2,000 - $7,000

Ted Rossman with Bankrate says couples should always be mindful and stay within their budget.

"You're just starting your life together," he said. "You don't want to be saddled with really expensive credit card debt."

To save on your big day, Rossman says to be selective about timing.

“A Sunday afternoon wedding as opposed to a Saturday night," he said, "or maybe you could do Friday night instead."

Zola offers these tips based on recent trends:

  • Shop secondhand for wedding attire and decor.
  • Send out digital save-the-dates, or even invitations, saving several hundred dollars.
  • Include a cash fund in your registry instead of listing gifts you'll never use.

Katie Meckstroth's last tip: Provide only beer and wine, not pricey liquor. Plus, that prevents guests from getting too drunk. And order a small wedding cake for yourselves, providing slices of a sheet cake for everyone else.
"Order a very simple cutting cake," she said, "Then do a lot of cake from places like Costco."

That way you don't waste your money.


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