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The average bridal couple in the U.S. spent $6,163 on the engagement ring in 2016 — an increase of 5% compared to 2015, according to The Knot’s 10th annual Real Weddings Study. The engagement ring remains the second-highest-priced item on the list of wedding expenses. The reception venue easily claimed the top spot at $16,107, which was nearly 9% pricier than in 2015.
The Knot, which surveyed nearly 13,000 U.S. brides and grooms married in 2016, reported that the average total cost of a wedding (excluding the honeymoon) has reached an all-time high at $35,329. That's $2,688, or 8.2%, more than the total tallied in 2015.
Overall, The Knot concluded that couples are spending more per guest — even though the average number of guests are down — to create an unforgettable experience, which often includes a photo booth, musical performances, games and even aerialists.
“Wedding spend continues to rise, but at the same time, guest lists are shrinking as couples spend more per guest to create an unforgettable experience for those closest to them,” said Kellie Gould, editor in chief of The Knot. “Couples are also using their wedding day to make their first big statement as a couple. From invitations to the reception band, couples are spending more to put their personal stamp on every detail.”
Other key findings from the survey include the following:
• Most Expensive Place to Get Married: Manhattan, $78,464
• Least Expensive Place to Get Married: Arkansas, $19,522
• Average Spent on a Wedding Dress: $1,564
• Average Marrying Age: Bride, 29 ; Groom, 31
• Average Number of Guests: 141
• Average Number of Bridesmaids: 5
• Average Number of Groomsmen: 5
• Most Popular Month to Get Engaged: December (15%)
• Average Length of Engagement: 15 months
• Most Popular Month to Get Married: October (16%) and September (16%)
• Popular Wedding Colors: Dark blue (29%), gold (28%) and light pink (28%)
• Percentage of Destination Weddings: 20%
The average number of wedding guests in 2016 is down to 141, compared to 149 in 2009, while the cost per wedding guest is up to $245, compared to $194 in 2009, according to the survey. Forty-one percent of respondents said they ordered "custom guest entertainment," such as photo booths (78%), games (18%), musical performances (12%) and fireworks (8%). The portion of couples demanding custom guest entertainment has skyrocketed from 11% to 41% since 2009. The Knot advises: Don’t be surprised to see aerialists, acrobats, live painters or gospel choirs this year, as 2017 wedding trends reach new heights in guest entertainment.
On average, the bride’s parents contribute 44% of the overall wedding budget, the bride and groom contribute 42% and the groom’s parents contribute 13%. (Others account for the remaining 2%.) In 2016, 10% of couples paid for the wedding entirely by themselves, and 8% of couples didn’t contribute any finances to the wedding expenses. Exactly 47% (up from 42% in 2011) admitted going over budget.
These are the average costs of key bridal services: reception band ($4,156), photographer ($2,783), florist/décor ($2,534), ceremony site ($2,197), wedding/event planner ($2,037), videographer ($1,995), wedding dress ($1,564), rehearsal dinner ($1,378), reception DJ ($1,245), transportation ($859), ceremony musicians ($755), wedding cake ($582), invitations ($462), groom’s attire and accessories ($280), officiant ($278), favors ($268), wedding day hair stylist ($119) and wedding day make-up ($100). Catering averaged $71 per person.
The 2016 Real Weddings Study captured responses from nearly 13,000 U.S. brides and grooms married between January 1 and December 31, 2016.
Credits: Image by BigStockPhoto.com. Infographics courtesy of The Knot.