Now that you’ve set your wedding date, your plans for the big event are underway in earnest. While you’ve probably imagined your dream wedding for some time, the image of what the day represents and the cost of bringing it all to fruition can be mutually exclusive. Indeed, a wedding today is often an expensive endeavor. When all of the elements, from attire to the ceremony to the reception are tallied, the real question is this: How much does a wedding cost?
The Average Cost of a Wedding
Taking a little time to research this matter, you’re likely to find countless statistics floating around. For instance, an often quoted fact is that the average wedding in the United States today costs approximately $27,000, which is actually down from a high point of $28,082 in 2008, according to a USA Today article referencing Brides magazine. However, if this sum sounds a bit exorbitant, just bear in mind that “average” is actually a relative term.
As it turns out, the $27,000 figure is derived from the same arithmetic means you learned in school: Simply divide the total amount of money spent on weddings annually by the number of annual weddings. The result is the average or mean amount, which Brides calculates at precisely $26,989, rounded up to $27,000. The interesting twist is that most brides spend substantially less than $27,000.
This cost differential relates somewhat to the median cost of a wedding. The median figure is right in the middle of all the wedding totals, representing the amount at which 50% of the weddings cost more and 50% cost less.
While an average can be significantly skewed by an outlier, the median represents the place where half the population is above and half is below. For example if we have a group of 10 employees of which 9 make $50,000 a year and one makes $2 million, their average salary will be around $250,000 while their median will be around $50,000: a place where 50% of people make less than the median and 50% make more, which obviously will be much more representative of the salary the vast majority of people of that group make
Right now, the median cost of a wedding is $17,500, according to the popular wedding site The Knot. A closer look at a few details reveals that the median price is a good deal closer to the typical wedding cost than the $27,000 average.
Average vs. Median
Far more typical than the so-called average wedding is the median wedding. To understand the difference between the two, a few more statistics might be helpful. For instance, that $27,000 average is in large part due to a small number of brides. Considering that only 16% of brides spend more than $30,000, including 5% who exceed $75,000, these brides contribute disproportionately to the average sum of $27,000, making the total wedding cost considerably higher than it would otherwise be.
Here’s another bit of information you should know: “The Wedding Report” issued in August 2012 indicates that 38% of brides plan a budget of only $10,000 or less for their weddings. Additionally, 28% spend between $10,000 and $20,000 on their weddings. Together these percentages constitute the overall cost for a median wedding, making that $27,000 average suddenly no longer seem typical.
Delving a bit deeper into these figures, another fact to consider is the number of brides in that 28% statistic. Evenly distributed, 14% would spend between $10,000 and $15,000 while another 14% would spend between $15,000 and $20,000. Adding the first 14% to the 38% who spend $10,000 or less, a full 52% of brides spend $15,000 or less on their weddings. At a mere 55% of the official average, this certainly alters the perception of how much most brides spend. Clearly, median weddings are the predominant type.
The fact is that many beautiful weddings take place in the United States each year for far less than the supposed average cost. Indeed, “The Wedding Report” indicates that 18% of brides pay between $20,000 and $30,000. Assuming the same even distribution of brides, only about 9% of these brides will spend in the range of $25,000 to $30,000, which of course, includes the $27,000 average figure.
Regional Cost Variations
Of course, while the statistics presented are overall totals in the United States, a couple of influential factors cause wedding prices to vary significantly. Among these are the seasons. With in-season flowers being more costly, for instance, and outdoor wedding locales having a higher price during temperate weather, seasons are an element with an indelible impact on wedding prices. However, the most significant factor is region.
Photography prices throughout the country are a good example. Varying widely from the pricier areas of California and New York to the southeast’s considerably lower prices, the general cost for wedding photos in the United States is $2,735.To put this in perspective for you, a review of average prices in a few Metropolitan areas reveals how much you might expect to pay for photography:
• In San Jose, Sunnyvale, and Santa Clara, an area of California, wedding photos average $5,171.
• New York City, Northern New Jersey and Long Island, NY form an area with an average wedding photo price of $4,210.
• In the Texas cities of Austin, Round Rock and San Marcos, wedding photos have an average price of $2,934.
• Atlanta, Sandy Springs and Marietta comprise an area of Georgia where wedding photos cost an average of about $2,758.
• North Carolina’s cities of Charlotte, Gastonia and Rock Hill have wedding photos that average $2,605.
With photography in California costing nearly double the price of North Carolina, it’s understandable that overall wedding costs may reflect the same regional variations. Therefore, determining the cost of your wedding will largely depend on where you live.
Regardless of whether your wedding plans encompass an extravaganza or a charming little affair, about a third of brides surpass their anticipated budget. So if you are doing a “sanity check” to determine whether your wedding expenses make sense, remember that the “average” is a number that has little to do with what most people actually spend. With the wedding market being extremely regional and even seasonal, the national averages will actually mean very little to you and sometimes may misrepresent what you might pay in your own region.
What you want most is a beautiful wedding that provides lovely memories for many years to come. Despite budgetary constraints, selecting only the wedding items that mean the most to you will make your wedding special without expenses that last for years to come