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This Is the Shocking Average Wedding Cost (& How to Budget for Yours)

Adam Sisson
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Your wedding day is about much more than money. But money does play a big role in putting together the event of your dreams.

Imagine getting married, going on a honeymoon adventure, and starting your new chapter together — while still having extra funds for other goals.

By being aware of your wedding finances — and opportunities to save — you can have the wedding day you’ve always wanted and be ready for whatever life throws at you next.

The average wedding cost

$33,900 — that’s the average cost of a wedding across the country (including the price of an engagement ring) according to industry powerhouse, The Knot.

They gathered data from over 27,000 couples and the results are pretty staggering.

Don’t elope yet, though. This number factors in all kinds of weddings with varying budgets, locations, guest numbers, menus, and extras.

The important thing is to keep your own financial limit in mind. Know what you’re comfortable spending and don’t go overboard.

Based on your budget, here are some tips for planning your perfect wedding while cutting costs along the way.

Wedding Budget 101: What you’ll need

There are certain must-haves for any wedding day — and some things that are fun, but not essential.

Here’s a list of common wedding needs and wants, along with their estimated prices. Although some of these items could end up costing you $0 (like if you use your backyard as your venue), they’re still necessary to think about and plan for.

Wedding needs

  • Engagement ring – $6,000
  • Wedding bands – $1,600
  • Wedding dress – $1,600
  • Hair and makeup – $200
  • Groom’s suit and attire – $300
  • Save the dates and invitations – $400
  • Ceremony and reception venue(s) – $18,000
  • Flowers – $2,400
  • Food and drink – $70 per person
  • Cake or some type of dessert – $500
  • Music like a DJ or band – $1,300 to $4,200
  • Photographer – $2,700
  • Officiant – $300

Wedding wants

  • Wedding planner – $2,000
  • Rehearsal dinner – $1,300
  • Transportation – $900
  • Videographer – $2,000
  • Photo booth – $500
  • Dance floor – $200
  • Extra lighting or special effects – $200
  • Table extras like candles – $100
  • Food extras like hors d’oeuvres – $20 per person
  • Top shelf or craft drinks – $20 per person
  • Gifts for guests – $200
  • Other stationary like place cards or signs – $200

Ways to save on your wedding

Not every wedding has to be an all-out extravaganza. Romance and charm come in all sorts of packages — and at different prices.

It all comes down to your personal style, tastes, preferences…and budget, of course.

Be flexible with your wants

It’s okay to splurge on extras here and there, if your budget allows it. You also may be able to cut some things entirely to make room for important extras — like a high-quality photographer or killer band.

Be smart about your guest list

This can be tricky, but try to be as lean as possible with your guest list. Of course, some people simply can’t be left off. We all have family and friends who absolutely must be there. Depending on your family size, that non-negotiable number can get high.

But one area that can usually be trimmed is the number of plus-ones. It might be tempting to be generous with giving people guests, but it’s okay to cut them out if needed. Your loved ones will still have a blast.

Research and compare

For absolutely everything on your list, it’s vital to browse options and compare prices. Once you have lists of your favorite vendors, check their costs and choose the best bargain if all else is equal.

For certain services, seasonality and day of the week can play a major role. Consider those things as well while getting quotes from venues, photographers, and DJs.

Try to negotiate

In the right circumstances, haggling may be on the table. Just remember to be appropriate and respectful. If you feel comfortable, give it a try and you could get a price drop. If not, that’s alright, too.

Talk to your family

Don’t be afraid to ask your family for financial support. Open communication is the key to knowing how much they’re able to help and which costs they could cover.

Ask your friends or relatives

Have a best bud who DJs on the side? Or a cousin who moonlights as a graphic designer? Check with people close to you if they’d like to help. You might be able to score ultra-cheap music, invitations, photos, or video.

Get recommendations

Vendor recommendations from people you know can go a long way. It can help make your search much simpler, and you could even get a word-of-mouth deal. Plus, at the very least, you’ll know your vendor is coming to you highly rated from a personal experience.

Do-it-yourself

Not everything at your wedding has to be a lavish selection or one-of-a-kind masterpiece. Instead, use your own creative flair and feature some homemade decorations. Make your own place cards, centerpieces, or flower arrangements and showcase your own personal touch.

Use your credit cards (smartly)

Taking advantage of credit card rewards and cash back perks on big wedding purchases can be an excellent way to save. Just remember to use your cards strategically and don’t charge more than you can pay back quickly.

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How to put away more for your wedding

While wedding planning, it’s easy to forget about your other money or life goals. It takes so much time, effort, and focus that other financial plans can be put on the backburner.

A great example? Student loans.

If you have student loan debt, refinancing to a lower interest rate could be a smart solution to save some much needed cash on a monthly basis. You could also refinance to a longer repayment term, dramatically lowering your monthly student loan payments — while giving you more room to save for your perfect wedding.

Similar to choosing wedding vendors, it’s crucial to shop around first. Use Purefy’s Compare Rates tool to see your best refinance rates from top lenders — all in one place with no credit check required.

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