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The average wedding costs $35,000. Why are they so expensive?

Posted at 3:07 PM, Feb 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-03 18:07:32-05

We all know weddings can be expensive, but now couples are shelling out more than ever to tie the knot. The national average cost of a wedding is now more than $35,000. But there's a surprising shift in how that money is being spent.

It has only been a few weeks since Charlie asked Stephanie Ross to marry him. And for this bride to be, it's still a little surreal.

"I was shocked when he proposed," Ross says.

Now what's shocking is how much their wedding might cost, even though her friends have warned her.

"They said pick your budget and then double it that's going to be what it's going to end up costing you," Ross says. "So it's scary."

The Knot found the average cost of a wedding nationwide is $35,329 not including the honeymoon. That's up $2,688 from last year and it's the highest average since The Knot started tracking average wedding costs 10 years ago.

So what's behind the jump? The study found couples are splurging on total personalization and creating the ultimate guest experience.

Wedding planner Brynn Swanson of First Look Events says it's a trend she's seeing first hand.

"I think people realize that it's one day and they want to create an experience that is totally them," Swanson says.

There were velvet menus for a wedding she recently planned where guests had personalized macaroons and blankets, and an interactive nine-course meal.

"We actually had the chef come out and introduce all of the nine courses," Swanson says. "And every course had his own spin. So the soup course was poured table side. The duck course was encapsulated in a jar and when the guest opened the jar, smoke actually came out."

The wedding cake was even hung from the chandelier.

But the guest list? Only 42, reflecting another trend. The study found the average number of wedding guests is going down.

"That's a tough one because we have a lot of friends," Ross says.

It's a lot for Ross to consider when planning the perfect day.

"I don't want to go so crazy that I can't believe I spent that much money in one day," Ross says. "But I also want it to be memorable and I don't want to regret not doing certain things because it was one day that I am ever going to do that."

Researchers say this is just an average cost and where you get married matters. For instance, a wedding in Manhattan could cost around $80,000 while an Arkansas wedding will add up to around $20,000