In my time in the wedding world, I’ve noticed lots of talk about the average cost of a wedding- both online and offline. The thing about this is that every wedding is different- just as every couple is different- so it’s really quite difficult to make an overarching “average cost of a wedding” statement. Today I’d like to chat about these differences, and how they relate to what weddings cost.
Usually, whenever I hear the words “average cost of a wedding”, I immediately think of the year-long survey I did on that particular subject, surveying wedding professionals about what their average brides spent with them. I conducted this survey last year because if there’s anything that I learned when planning my own wedding, and then several others professionally, it was that brides usually have no idea about what things should cost. This unfortunately leads to surprise and disappointment when you hear what things will cost for you wedding, thus taking the fun out of wedding planning- and quite frankly, planning a wedding should be an enjoyable experience!
As I’m sure you know, I’m all about brides gaining knowledge about weddings, and brides, I think that you deserve to have some kind of expectation of what to expect things to cost. Many of the surveys that are out there reporting on the “average cost of weddings” include data of weddings that range from one spectrum to the other. If you know anything about data, having such a big variant in numbers doesn’t really end up giving an accurate average. In my opinion, these “average cost of wedding” surveys are totally unrealistic, and reporting this inaccurate information is a disservice to brides all over!
[Editor’s note: When I was a wedding planner, I rarely planned weddings with a budget of less than $35,000. My couples used professional vendors, they and their parents contributed to their wedding costs, and they wanted their guests to have a great time. These are the weddings that I myself know, and this is why I provide the information on Every Last Detail in the way that I do.]
Image by Concept Photography
So now let’s talk about the *difference* that exists among weddings. Every wedding is different because every couple’s story, budget, life, etc is different- no two weddings are the same. This is common sense, right? But the issue is that this difference makes it quite difficult to gather statistics about weddings and report about them. Whether we’re talking about money, decor, food, or even attire- it’s really hard to lump one wedding in with another.
For example- a DIY backyard wedding is way different than a wedding taking place at a luxury Palm Springs hotel. There’s nothing at all wrong with either of those weddings- they’re just different! The fact that people have their own personalities, likes, and style translates into couples wanting something in particular for their wedding, and to me, that is a beautiful thing.
As I mentioned in the example above, since weddings are different, you can’t really compare a luxury wedding to one that is more economical. There are so many elements involved in each- it’s like comparing an apple to an orange! You really can’t compare a $20,000 wedding to a $80,000 wedding. I know you want to, but just don’t do it- it’s not fair to yourself!
Now I know we all hate talking about numbers and budgets and pricing, but the truth of the matter is that money is what makes (most) weddings happen. In my time in the wedding industry, I’ve learned that weddings can often times be divided into different budget “categories”. These budget differentiations are primarily why in The V List, I have members organized into pricing categories based on the total budgets of their average brides- so brides know that they are looking at vendors who are in their budget. These categories are explained on the vendor search page, but I’ll also point them out here:
$ = Total wedding budget up to $35,000
$$ = Total wedding budget $35,000-$80,000
$$$ = Total wedding budget $80,000+
So my big question is this:
Why are we lumping all of these different types of weddings in with each other when we talk about the “average cost of a wedding” and “what weddings cost”?
The answer to this question is that we shouldn’t be talking about weddings like they are all the same- because thankfully, they’re not! So when it comes down to it, you really can’t rely on the numbers out there indicating the “average cost of a wedding”.
With all of this said, vendors AND brides, I’d like to invite you to help me establish the averages for these different types of weddings by taking part in a survey that I’m conducting. Brides, I want to know what your expectations are and what you think. And vendors, I want to know what your average bride is spending with you!
Thank you all for your input- I can’t wait to report on this data!
Want more insight on wedding costs? Check out these posts:
What Does A Wedding Cost? What To Expect When Using Professional Vendors
Wedding Budget 101
Why Do Weddings Cost So Much?!
A version of this post was originally published in August 2013.