Today’s couples are inviting fewer guests to their weddings, but they’re spending more than ever on the events.
A new report from wedding planning site The Knot found that the average cost of a wedding in 2016 hit an all-time high of $35,329. With an average guest list of 141 people, the spending per guest has increased to $245, up 26 percent from 2009.
The increased spending may reflect a stronger economy. Nine in 10 couples say that the economy didn’t affect their spending plans, and nearly half said that they went over budget on their big day.
That money is going toward entertainment experiences that go beyond the wedding band, with extras like photo booths, games, and fireworks all gaining popularity. Technology has also become a major trend (and cost driver) for the modern wedding. Couples are attaching video cameras to their bridal bouquets, using drones for aerial footage, and live streaming the event for guests who can’t make it. Nearly three-quarters of guests used a wedding hashtag to help organize photos and other social posts from the event.
Some traditions remain, however. The majority of couples get financial help for their nuptials from their family, especially on the bride’s side. On average, the bride’s parents cover 44 percent of the wedding costs and the groom’s chip in for 13 percent. One in 10 couples paid for their wedding on their own, and 8 percent didn’t use any of their own cash for the event.
No matter who’s paying, there are ways to keep costs in check. Click through for a list of the most expensive budget elements, according to The Knot survey, and tips on how to save on them.
Average cost in 2016: $16,107
How to save: The wedding venue comprises nearly half your budget, so the more you save on that, the lower your overall costs will be. Consider having the party at a private location like a backyard or garden. If you opt for a more traditional space, avoiding Saturday night will also yield savings.
Average cost in 2016: $2,783
How to save: Purchase digital prints only. Then you can upload the images to an online photo site and make your own album and prints for a fraction of the cost.
- Wedding/Event Planner
Average cost in 2016: $2,037
How to save: Go with a wedding coordinator instead. You’ll have to do all the upfront planning work, but the coordinator will be there on your big day to handle the details and make sure everything runs smoothly.
- Reception Band
Average cost in 2016: $4,156
How to save: Go with a smaller group. You pay by the piece, so a six-person band will cost a lot less than a 10-person band.
- Reception DJ
Average cost in 2016: $1,245
How to save: Use a playlist and a friend. Tap a friend (or two) to serve as MC for big moments like your intro or the bouquet toss, and then use a pre-programmed song list to provide the tunes.
Average cost in 2016: $2,534
How to save: You’ll save the most by skipping the florist entirely and enlisting some crafty friends to help you make the centerpieces. Either way, stick with greenery and in-season, larger blooms for lower prices.
Average cost in 2016: $1,995
How to save: Skip it. Consider whether you’ll really go back and view a lengthy video. If not, ask friends to capture important moments like your vows and your first dance with their camera phones and send you the footage.
- Wedding Dress
Average cost in 2016: $1,564
How to save: Sign up for email lists from your favorite designer and keep an eye out for trunk shows. Remember that the price for wedding gowns is often negotiable, so be sure to ask the seller whether they can do better on the price.
- Groom’s Attire and Accessories
Average cost in 2016: $280
How to save: Go for a nice suit, rather than a tux. He’ll be able to don it more often in the future, driving down the cost-per-wear considerably.
- Wedding Cake
Average cost in 2016: $582
How to save: The taller your cake, the higher the price. Use a small, two-tiered cake for your photos and the cutting ceremony, and then buy a sheet cake to serve to the guests.
- Ceremony Site
Average cost in 2016: $2,197
How to save: Stay put. Arrange to have your ceremony in the same location as your reception.
- Ceremony Musicians
Average cost in 2016: $755
How to save: Ask your wedding band whether they can spare a member or two to provide music for the ceremony. An iPad and speakers will also suffice.
Average cost in 2016: $462
How to save: Go paperless. Email invitations are better for the environment and your wallet. Plus, it’s easier to keep track of RSVPs and update guests.
Average cost in 2016: $859
How to save: Check daily deal sites like Groupon to see if you can get a discount on your limo. Having your wedding reception and ceremony in the same place will cut down on the cost of transportation from one place to the other.
Average cost in 2016: $268
How to save: Skip them. No one really wants another heart-shaped wine stopper anyway.