Average Wedding Now Costs $31,213, Even As Guest Lists Shrink

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If you’re debating whether or not to cut the odd cousin or two from your wedding invite list, you now have a solid financial justification. A new study claims that the cost of weddings is at a five-year high even though the number of invited guests is shrinking.

This is according to wedding website The Knot, which says that the average nuptials now run $31,213; and that’s not including the honeymoon.

While there are a number of ways in which soon-to-be-married couples can save a few bucks on their special day – from renting bridesmaid dresses to buying a cheaper, but just as beautiful wedding dress – cutting the guest list isn’t necessarily a big help, according to The Knot’s eighth annual comprehensive wedding report.

In all, The Knot found that in 2014 guest lists shrank to an average of 136 people, down from 149 in 2009.

While having a few less mouths to feed might mean a slightly smaller catering bill, the report found that any savings from that change likely wound up going to other aspects of the wedding.

Nearly every category of wedding spending saw an increase in 2014, with couples spending the most on catering, musicians and cake. The average cost of a cake now comes in at $555, while catering is $68 per person on average. Reception bands topped out at $3,587, and DJs cost an average of $1,124.

The only two categories to see decreases were favors and invitations, which now cost $275 and $439, respectively.

With mostly increased prices across the board comes the chance that couples might go over budget, which they certainly did in 2014. According to the 16,000 brides surveyed by The Knot, 45% of couples went over budget, while just one in four stayed within their allocations.

While $31,213 is the average cost of weddings through the entire U.S., weddings in some cities cost more than double that figure.

The biggest spenders hosted weddings in Manhattan, where the average wedding cost $76,328. Next up was Long Island with a cost of $55,327, followed by New Jersey ($53,986) and the Westchester/Hudson Valley area ($52,954) of New York. Chicago weddings rounded out the top five with an average cost of $50,934.

Arkansas and Utah recorded the lowest-cost weddings for 2014, with the average shindig costing $18,031 and $15,257, respectively.

For tips on how to, you know, not suck at planning your wedding and losing your entire savings in the process check out Consumerist’s tips on big-ticket items, costly little extras, honeymoon ideas, and what to do after the big day.

The Knot, The #1 Wedding Site, Releases 2014 Real Weddings Study Statistics [The Knot]