Bad news for anyone with wedding planning in their future (or, alternately, good news for lovers of luxury): In just the last year alone, average wedding costs have skyrocketed. In 2017, a wedding typically set couples and their family members back about $27,000, but in 2018, that number increased to more than $44,000, according to the Brides 2018 American Wedding Study.
Though the overall cost nearly doubled, the way that $44,105 breaks down actually hasn't changed much—implying that, rather than placing greater importance on different aspects of a wedding, couples are simply spending more across the board. For example, the proportion of the total wedding cost spent on things like the wedding cake, favors, rehearsal dinner, after-party, and stationery all remained the same from 2017 to 2018, and most other proportional costs saw only slight increases or decreases. The biggest shift occurred in terms of the engagement and wedding rings, with the price of engagement rings making up 14 percent of the total wedding cost in 2018, down from 17 percent in 2017, and the wedding rings adding up to 3 percent this year, compared to 5 percent in 2017.
The actual costs in every single one of the categories surveyed, however, shot way up, contributing to the more than $16,000 average increase in wedding spending since 2017. The amount spent on flowers, for one, more than doubled, from an average of $1,274 in 2017 to $2,629 in 2018, per the study. Reception music, photography, and rehearsal dinners also saw major increases in costs, and the average day-after brunch doubled in price, from $691 to just over $1,500. And even as the proportion of the wedding budget dedicated to rings dropped between 2017 and 2018, their prices still increased: from $5,023 to $7,829 for an engagement ring, on average, and from $1,650 to $1,890 for wedding bands.
These massive increases come even as almost every couple reported setting a budget for their nuptials—perhaps because nearly half of those also reported going over budget. (Oops.) To make up for that difference, 35 percent of those surveyed said they have cut down on other costs to save for the big day, but another 24 percent said their overall purchases, even those not wedding-related, had increased since getting engaged. (Double oops.)
So who, exactly, is paying for all this? According to the American Wedding Study, the number of couples who get their parents involved in the bottom line has hugely increased since 2017, with many of those lovebirds completely removing themselves from the payment plan. In 2017, nearly three quarters of the couples surveyed contributed in at least some way to their wedding costs—with about half paying for the whole thing themselves—while the rest left it all up to their parents. In 2018, though, those numbers have almost completely flipped: Just 27 percent of couples said they'd fully paid for their wedding, while 42 percent handed off that responsibility to their parents. Overall, just 58 percent of those surveyed contributed to their own nuptials, a nearly 20 percent decrease from 2017.
To sum it all up, people are now planning more expensive weddings that, on average, they can't even afford to pay for themselves—so it might be a good time to refer to our when to splurge and when to cut back budgeting guide.