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For couples ready to take that giant leap into matrimonial bliss, the golden coastlines and picturesque vistas of the United States offer countless backdrops for the perfect wedding day. But as any newlyweds will tell you, the price tag on saying “I do” can sometimes take the breath away more than the romantic sights themselves. Below, we unpack the data to reveal the 10 states where the average wedding cost means those three little words come with a not-so-little price tag.

The “Marriage Tax”: Why Do Weddings in Some States Cost More?

What’s Included in the Average Wedding Cost?

The figures provided are based on the ‘average wedding’, a term which encapsulates venue, catering, attire, entertainment, and decor. Specifics can range from an extravagant soirée at a downtown hotel to an intimate gathering in a forest glade – each with its own price considerations. Tax and gratuities are additional, so the final cost will often exceed these estimates.

Local Market Dynamics

Vendors – including photographers, florists, and bands – adjust prices according to demand and the local cost of living. The price hike can be significant in areas with a thriving wedding industry.

Venues – A charming barn in rural New Hampshire will cost less to book than a historic estate in Massachusetts, and trendy locales like California may have higher overall market prices.

Regulation and Licensing Fees – Every state has its own requirements and associated charges for obtaining a marriage license, adding to the regional cost variance.

Guest Expectations

In regions where high-cost weddings are the norm, there is often social pressure to match or exceed these expectations, making it challenging to cut costs without encountering resistance or judgment.

Unveiling the Top 10

1. New Jersey

  • Median Household Income: $96,346,
  • Avg. Wedding Cost: $55,000

New Jersey tops the list with a whopping average wedding price of $55k—that’s more than half of the state’s median household income. Whether it’s the Garden State’s close proximity to New York City or its posh beach towns, something sure is driving up the cost for Jersey couples.

2. New York

  • Median Household Income: $79,557
  • Avg. Wedding Cost: $49,000

The Empire State’s big-ticket venues and high service demand make it the second most expensive state to tie the knot. With the iconic landmarks and an artistic zeitgeist, it’s no wonder that the New York wedding dream comes with a lofty price tag.

3. Connecticut

  • Median Household Income: $88,429
  • Avg. Wedding Cost: $44,000

Neighboring New York, Connecticut’s verdant landscapes and charming estates attract couples looking for a wedding akin to a fairy tale. However, such a narrative doesn’t come cheap; the average wedding cost in Connecticut is $44,000—half of the state’s median household income!

4. Maine

  • Median Household Income: $69,543
  • Avg. Wedding Cost: $44,000

Maine’s rustic, New England charm lures many to its shores for a nuptial celebration. Wedding costs here can soar despite a median household income below the national average.

5. New Hampshire

  • Median Household Income: $89,992
  • Avg. Wedding Cost: $44,000

The “Live Free or Die” state is home to breathtaking mountains and serene lakes, setting an idyllic scene for a matrimonial milestone – but at a cost that rivals its picturesque backdrop.

6. Rhode Island

  • Median Household Income: $81,854
  • Avg. Wedding Cost: $44,000

Tiny Rhode Island packs a punch when it comes to wedding expenses. Its colonial charm and historical landmarks set an opulent stage that resonates with many engaged couples.

7. Vermont

  • Median Household Income: $73,991
  • Avg. Wedding Cost: $44,000

Vermont’s expansive countryside and natural beauty are a draw for eco-conscious couples. However, expenses stack up quickly, making it one of the pricier states to exchange vows.

8. Massachusetts

  • Median Household Income: $94,488
  • Avg. Wedding Cost: $42,000

With its rich history and cultural significance, Massachusetts offers a tapestry of wedding options. From its iconic cities to its bucolic settlements, the state’s venues and vendors cater to a wide range of tastes at a premium.

9. California

  • Median Household Income: $91,551
  • Avg. Wedding Cost: $41,000

California, a state celebrated for its diversity and natural treasures, also offers a diverse range of wedding styles. But with great variety comes great cost – an average price that frequently exceeds the national average.

10. Delaware

  • Median Household Income: $82,174
  • Avg. Wedding Cost: $39,000

Last but not least, the First State rounds out the top 10 with wedding costs that are still well above the national average. Even though Delaware is relatively small, its charm and appeal to over 600,000 residents don’t come without a hefty bill.

The Double-Edged Sword of High Costs and Everlasting Memories

While the price of a wedding can be astronomical, it’s crucial to remember the long-term value of the memories made on that special day. Sometimes, the high price may be justified by the genuinely unique experience a couple and their guests share.

Supporting the Local Economy

Weddings are a significant economic driver, especially for small, local businesses. Spending a little extra on a big day can mean a lot to a community, not to mention potentially higher quality and more personalized service.

The Legacy of Generosity

For some couples, investing in a lavish wedding is an opportunity to create a moment of joy and celebration that will be remembered and cherished by all who attend. It can also reflect a broader culture of generosity and community support.

Personal Values vs. Societal Pressures

An expensive wedding isn’t always the result of societal pressure. For some, the cost reflects deeply held personal values around tradition, family, and the expression of love in a celebratory setting.

Mitigating Costs Without Compromising on Joy

DIY Elements

Weaving in personally crafted or sourced elements can add a sentimental touch and reduce costs. From handcrafted invitations to designing your own centerpieces, a DIY approach can be both economic and charming.

Venue Considerations

Choosing an off-peak season or day of the week for the wedding can dramatically reduce venue costs (average costs below, provided by The Knot).

  • Average cost for January-March wedding: $34,900
  • Average cost for April-June wedding: $33,900
  • Average cost for July-September wedding: $35,600
  • Average cost for October-December wedding: $34,700

Another avenue is to select a venue that allows outside vendors, potentially opening up more affordable options. According to The Knot, couples planning their wedding hire an average of 14 vendors for their big day. And as their data shows, vendors aren’t cheap:

  • Average cost of reception venue: $12,800
  • Average cost of wedding photographer: $2,900
  • Average cost of wedding/event planner: $2,100
  • Average cost of live band: $4,300
  • Average cost of reception DJ: $1,700
  • Average cost of florist: $2,800
  • Average cost of videographer: $2,300
  • Average cost of wedding dress: $2,000
  • Average cost of wedding cake: $540
  • Average cost of catering: (price per person): $85
  • Average cost of transportation: $1,100
  • Average cost of favors: $450
  • Average cost of rehearsal dinner: $2,700
  • Average cost of engagement ring: $5,500
  • Average cost of wedding invitations: $530
  • Average cost of hairstylist: (price for one to-be-wed): $150
  • Average cost of makeup artist: (price for one to-be-wed): $140
  • Average cost of officiant: $250
  • Average cost of alcohol: $2,800
  • Average cost of additional jewelry: $360
  • Average cost of ceremony ensemble: $900
  • Average cost of additional, non-musical entertainment: $1,200
  • Average cost of event rentals: $2,000
  • Average cost of lighting and decor: $1,900

Guest List Strategy

According to The Knot, your guest list can quickly increase your wedding cost.

  • How much does a wedding with 1-50 guests cost on average?: $16,700
  • How much does a wedding with 50-100 guests cost on average?: $28,300
  • How much does a 150-person wedding cost on average?: $45,600
  • How much does a 200-person wedding cost on average?: $60,800

The guest list often has the most significant impact on cost. While it can be challenging to narrow down, a more intimate gathering might enhance the closeness and personal touch of the day—while saving you a few pretty (and precious) pennies!

Morgan Hughes

Morgan Hughes

Dallas native Morgan is your sassy and authoritative guide through the ever-evolving realms of fashion, beauty, bargain hunting, and family wisdom. As a family aficionado, she offers invaluable advice about the wonderful chaos of households.