Ready to talk wedding budgets? The Knot 2017 Real Weddings Study has finally arrived to reveal how much it really costs to say “I do” (and why). We polled nearly 13,000 US couples married in 2017 and learned the national average cost of a wedding is now $33,391, excluding the honeymoon.
This is actually the first time we’ve seen a dip in the average cost per wedding compared to the previous year, but that doesn’t mean recent weddings are any less amazing than those of years past—it just means couples are prioritizing different details, namely personalization, guest experience and cultural elements.
In fact, couples are so excited to show their guests a good time that, while both the average spend and guest headcount have decreased, the average cost per guest has reached an all-time high at $268 (up from $194 in 2009). Custom guest entertainment has more than tripled, with up to 40 percent of newlyweds saying they splurged on fun reception amenities (think: sparklers, selfie stations, lawn games, candy bars and musical performances).
So what’s the why behind the lower overall spend? We’re seeing fewer formal and black-tie weddings—which are naturally pricier—as couples choose to tie the knot in nontraditional locations that let their unique story shine, require fewer embellishments and call for a smaller budget. Whether it’s a low-key barn venue or a historic library with tons of character, couples seem to favor sites that reflect their personalities. One couple followed their search for a quirky, industrial venue all the way to a boxing gym—and it looked seriously awesome.
Finally, while today’s couples have no problem tossing some time-honored wedding traditions (like the garter and bouquet toss), it’s still important to them to infuse their heritage, culture and/or religion into their day. Twenty-one percent of couples incorporated a traditional cultural element, including a Chinese tea ceremony, Irish bagpipers, Moroccan belly dancers and traditional Hindu ceremonies.
Now more than ever, couples are finding creative ways to please their guests while doing something meaningful for themselves, which makes for some incredibly beautiful celebrations. Here’s how much, on average, a wedding costs in each state across the US, plus a full a breakdown of how couples are allotting their budgets: