Wedding Spend Reaches All-Time High as Couples Look to Make The Ultimate Personal Statement, According to The Knot 2015 Real Weddings Study
The largest study of US couples married in 2015 by the #1 wedding resource, The Knot, finds that to-be-weds are spending more—and The Knot Concierge, a digital-plus-human service, helps couples select the right wedding pros for these high-consideration purchases
NEW YORK (April 5, 2016) – The Knot, the #1 wedding brand and marketplace, today released the results of The Knot 2015 Real Weddings Study. The ninth annual comprehensive report, the largest of its kind, surveyed nearly 18,000 U.S. brides and grooms married in 2015 to uncover the financial spending habits and trends of real weddings in America. This study includes national and local statistics including the average cost of a wedding, who pays, how couples budget and plan for their big day, the average number of wedding guests and other key statistics related to weddings in America.
Weddings continue to be one of the most important and most expensive events in couples’ lives. The average wedding cost has increased by more than $5,500 in the past five years with couples spending $32,641 in 2015. This year, the total wedding cost is being driven up by specific categories: reception venue (+$1,950), ceremony site (+$652) and reception band (+$545) saw the largest cost increases (compared to 2009). Couples are using their mobile devices more than ever to plan and search for wedding professionals who help create a personalized and unforgettable wedding. One of the biggest revelations from the study is that 89% of couples report using their smartphone to help plan their wedding, while comScore reports the US percentage for those that go online via a mobile device is actually lower at 73%.
“As the cost of weddings continues to rise to an all-time high, couples are looking on their mobile device for personalized planning solutions like The Knot Concierge to help them find the vendor within their budget who will create their perfect wedding,” said Mike Steib, CEO of XO Group, parent company of The Knot. “The Knot Concierge is a first-of-its-kind personal service that combines our data, technology, and a real wedding expert from The Knot—with whom couples can communicate directly—for spot-on recommendations and advice in advance of making high-consideration purchases.” (The Knot announced this service on March 24, 2016; click here to read more.)
Top 2015 Wedding Statistics
- Average Wedding Cost (excludes honeymoon): $32,641 (up from $31,213 in 2014)
- Most Expensive Place to Get Married: Manhattan, $82,299 average spend
- Least Expensive Place to Get Married: Alaska, $17,361 average spend
- Average Spent on a Wedding Dress: $1,469
- Average Marrying Age: Bride, 29; Groom, 31
- Average Number of Guests: 139
- Average Number of Bridesmaids: 5
- Average Number of Groomsmen: 5
- Most Popular Month to Get Engaged: December (16%)
- Average Length of Engagement: 14.5 months
- Most Popular Month to Get Married: October (17%) and September (15%)
- Popular Wedding Colors: Ivory/White (47%), Blue (39%), Pink (30%), Metallics (34%), Purple (21%)
- The popularity of metallic gold has more than tripled from 7% in 2012 to 22% in 2015
- Percentage of Destination Weddings: 21% (down from 24% in 2014)
Top 2015 Study Findings
MOBILE WEDDING PLANNING: Couples are using smartphones more than ever to plan their wedding and they expect personalized solutions. In 2015, the use of smartphones for wedding planning activities, be it researching and contacting wedding vendors, or creating and managing a wedding registry or personal wedding website, was 89%. In fact, 77% of couples accessed TheKnot.com from their smartphones. Couples expect personalized solutions much like The Knot Concierge, which combines high-tech with real local wedding experts to provide spot-on venue recommendations, and guides them through high-consideration purchases for a wedding. More than half of all brides (58%) browse wedding gowns on their mobile devices—and just as many couples look up and manage their vendor information. In addition to finding wedding inspiration and vendors, 16% of couples are also leveraging useful tools such as online RSVP services on their mobile devices, up from 7% in 2014.
THEMED WEDDINGS AND ETHNIC ELEMENTS CREATE A MEANINGFUL WEDDING EXPERIENCE: Couples are showing their unique style and paying homage to their heritage by incorporating diverse events into their wedding celebration. Ethnic, religious and local elements—ranging from bilingual music and Celtic hand tying, to Chinese tea ceremonies and jumping the broom—continue to be a strong part of wedding celebrations, with 19% of couples incorporating an ethnic or religious element into their wedding day. Some couples even embrace and include traditions outside of their own backgrounds. Themed weddings are also popular among couples, with 22% having a theme that reflects their personalities. Up from 29% in 2009, 40% of couples had a family member or friend officiate their ceremony, adding a deeply personal touch to a very meaningful wedding element.
COUPLES ARE SPENDING MORE ON THE GUEST EXPERIENCE AND ADDING PERSONAL TOUCHES: Guest spend goes up, but the number of guests are down. The average number of wedding guests in 2015 was 139, down from 149 in 2009, and the cost per wedding guest is up to $237, up from $194 in 2009. Spending is also on the rise when it comes to all reception categories, including catering costs, cake, music, flowers, photography, entertainment and more in 2015. Since 2009, custom guest entertainment that reflects couples’ personalities has more than tripled, from 11% to 36%, including cigar rolling stations, wine and liquor tastings, and live dance performers. Couples offering signature cocktails have nearly doubled at 22%, up from 12% in 2008.
COUPLES WED FAR FROM HOME: Fewer couples are having “destination weddings,” but more couples are hosting their wedding far from their home city. In 2015, 49% of couples were married 200 miles or more from where they lived at the time they were married, up from 21% in 2014. And for the 21% of couples who consider their wedding a “destination wedding,” (down from 24% in 2014) nearly 1 in 5 of them host a second party when they return home to accommodate friends and family who were unable to travel to their wedding destination. There are more than 350,000 destination weddings each year, 77% of which take place in the continental US and 23% at international destinations such as the Caribbean (32%) and Mexico (19%).
MORE COUPLES DEPEND ON PROFESSIONALS: Couples are spending on wedding professionals to help them plan a perfect day, and to ensure they have long-lasting memories. The study found that one in 3 couples are hiring professional videographers to capture their ceremony and reception, and nearly 9 out of 10 couples hire a professional photographer. Wedding planners are also becoming an integral part of the wedding planning process, with 26% of couples hiring a planning professional in 2015 (up from 19% in 2010). Professional DJs are also on the rise with 66% of couples hiring one (up from 61% in 2010).
SEASONAL SHIFTS: Summer is slowly making its way out of style as the signature wedding season. Summer has long been defined as wedding season. However, fall weddings are picking up steam and are well on their way to being the newly crowned king season for weddings. In 2015, only 33% of couples opted for summer nuptials, down from 39% in 2014. Fall has been making headway, with 39% of couples choosing to say “I do” in September (15%), October (17%) and November (7%), up from 31% in 2014.
MODERN DAY WEDDINGS COST A PRETTY PENNY: Tradition lives on, with parents paying for a large portion of wedding costs, but today’s couples are happy to contribute. On average, the bride’s parents contribute 44% of the overall wedding budget, the bride and groom contribute 43%, and the groom’s parents contribute 12% (others account for the remaining 1%). In 2015, 12% of couples paid for the wedding entirely by themselves, and 9% of couples don’t contribute any finances to the wedding budget.
In nearly half of all weddings, the bride pays for professional hair and makeup. Forty-four percent of brides, along with her parents, contribute to the costs for professional hair-styling, and 41% contribute to professional make-up for their bridesmaids. The average cost of professional bridal party hair and makeup services are $70 and $68 per person, respectively.
Top 25 Most Expensive Places to Get Married
Based on average cost of a wedding in 2015, couples spend the most on their weddings in the following areas in the US. Four of the five most expensive areas to get married are in the New York/Tri-State area.
- New York – Manhattan: $82,299
- Illinois – Chicago: $61,265
- New York – Westchester/Hudson Valley: $57,501
- New York – Long Island: $56,950
- New Jersey – North/Central: $55,389
- Massachusetts – Cape Cod: $54,334
- Rhode Island: $50,266
- New York – Outer Boroughs: $46,682
- California – Palm Springs: $44,646
- Louisiana – New Orleans: $44,178
- New Jersey – South: $43,223
- Pennsylvania – Philadelphia: $42,429
- Connecticut: $41,692
- Florida – Southern: $39,768
- California – Los Angeles: $39,492
- California – San Francisco/Greater Bay Area: $39,250
- Texas – Houston/East TX: $39,189
- California – Santa Barbara/Ventura: $38,570
- Vermont: $37,880
- Massachusetts – Boston: $37,799
- DC – Washington DC/Northern VA/Suburban MD: $37,034
- Maryland – Baltimore: $36,934
- Michigan – Detroit: $36,619
- Hawaii: $36,424
- California – Orange County/Inland Empire: $34,012
Top 10 Most Affordable Places to Get Married
Based on average cost of a wedding in 2015, couples spend the least on their weddings in the following areas in the US.
- Alaska: $17,361
- South Dakota: $18,890
- Texas – West Texas: $19,261
- Arkansas: $19,856
- New Mexico: $20,114
- North Dakota: $20,211
- Idaho: $20,245
- Montana: $20,322
- Oregon: $20,456
- Illinois – Central: $21,818
2015 Average Wedding Budget Breakdown
Figures based on respondents who hired a professional vendor for the service. Data also available for local U.S. cities and states.
|Category||2015 National Average Spend||2014 National Average Spend|
|Overall Wedding (excluding honeymoon)||$32,641 ↑||$31,213|
|Venue (reception hall)||$14,788 ↑||$14,006|
|Wedding/Event Planner||$1,996 ↑||$1,973|
|Reception Band||$3,833 ↑||$3,587|
|Reception DJ||$1,171 ↑||$1,124|
|Wedding Dress||$1,469 ↑||$1,357|
|Groom’s Attire and Accessories||$269 ↑||$254|
|Wedding Cake||$575 ↑||$555|
|Ceremony Site||$2,089 ↑||$1,901|
|Ceremony Musicians||$703 ↑||$637|
|Rehearsal Dinner||$1,296 ↑||$1,206|
|Engagement Ring||$5,871 ↑||$5,855|
|Catering (price per person)||$68||$68|
The Knot 2015 Real Weddings Survey can be broken down on a region-by-region basis across more than 80 markets. Regional highlights include:
- Cost of Weddings: Manhattan and Chicago have the highest average wedding spend ($82,299 and $61,265, respectively), and Alaska and South Dakota have the lowest average wedding spend ($17,361 and $18,890, respectively), excluding honeymoon.
- Marriage Age: New York City accounts for the country’s oldest brides, with Manhattan brides being 32.8 years old on average, and brides from the cities Outer Boroughs being an average of 32.2 years old. Whereas South Dakota and Idaho have the youngest brides (26 and 26.1 years, respectively), on average. The countries oldest grooms can be found in Manhattan (35.4 years old) and Nevada (33.8 years old), and the youngest grooms are in Idaho and South Dakota (27.9 and 28.3 years, respectively).
- Engagement Length: Couples from Toledo, Ohio, and Wyoming have the longest engagements (18.7 and 17.5 months, respectively), while couples in Utah and West Texas walk down the aisle a bit sooner after getting engaged (9.7 and 10.7 months, respectively), on average.
- Wedding Size: As in 2013 and 2014, Nebraska and Iowa couples have the largest number of wedding guests (219 and 211, respectively), and couples who tie the knot in Hawaii and Nevada still have the smallest number of wedding guests (71 and 74, respectively).
- Wedding Style: Montana and Alaska weddings are more likely to be casual than any other region in the US (54% and 41%, respectively), while Manhattan and Long Island have the most black tie weddings (38%, both).
- Wedding Dress Spend: As in 2014, brides in Manhattan and Long Island still spend the most on their wedding gowns ($2,710 and $2,239, respectively), while Montana and North Dakota brides spend the least ($967 and $990, respectively).
- Honeymoon: Couples from Rhode Island (87%), South New Jersey (86%), Utah (86%) and Kentucky (85%) are most likely to book a honeymoon, while couples in Montana (56%), Nevada (57%) and New Mexico (58%) are least likely to book a honeymoon.
- Gift Registry: Couples in Lansing, Michigan, and Vermont are most likely to register for wedding gifts (97% and 96%, respectively), while couples in Hawaii and Nevada are least likely to register (56% and 68%, respectively).
About The Knot 2015 Real Weddings Survey
The 2015 Real Weddings Survey captured responses from nearly 18,000 US brides married between January 1 and December 31, 2015. Respondents were recruited throughout the year from TheKnot.com membership, which represents nearly 80% of brides nationwide. Brides received survey invitations shortly after their wedding date and were asked a comprehensive series of questions about the event and their planning process. All qualified respondents attested that they were 18 or older and had a wedding in 2015.
Survey respondents represent a variety of ethnicities and educational and income levels, and are geographically dispersed across the country. The survey and data management partner for the study was Decipher Inc.
About The Knot
The Knot is the nation’s leading wedding resource with a marketplace that seamlessly engages, matches and connects couples with the right products, services and local wedding professionals they need to plan and pull off their wedding. The trusted brand reaches a majority of couples in the U.S. through the #1 wedding website TheKnot.com, its mobile apps, The Knot national and local wedding magazines and The Knot book series. The Knot has inspired approximately 25 million couples to plan a wedding that is uniquely them. The Knot is the flagship brand of XO Group Inc. (NYSE: XOXO), the premier consumer internet and media company dedicated to helping people navigate and enjoy life’s biggest moments—from getting married to moving in together and having a baby. Please visit The Knot online at TheKnot.com and follow on social media: Facebook.com/TheKnot and @TheKnot on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.
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