Average Wedding Costs--Which is Closer to the Truth?

This evening I was watching the Food Channel’s Unwrapped episode about wedding stuff. At the end of the show, Mark Summers, the host, said that the average wedding costs about $18,000.

Afterward, I happened to switch to HGTV, where they were starting Design on a Dime’s wedding special. Right off the bat, the hostess said that the average wedding costs about $30,000!

I understand that the data these two shows obtained probably came from different sources but for averages, how can these figures be so vastly different? Which is nearer to the actual average for an American wedding?

It may be a case of deciding what gets included. Do you count the gifts from the guests, their travel costs if they are from out of town, bridal shower, bachelor party, etc.

I didn’t think about that. I was assuming they meant the actual cost of things associated with the wedding ceremony and reception. Bridal showers, gifts and such wouldn’t count in my mind but maybe in whatever statistics they used, those were included.

That is what they mean. There are many many options, and many levels of posh.
You can a lovely wedding cake for $500.00, or you can get an incredible once for $5000.00. Your wedding dress can be a few hundred or $30,000.00

Search is your friend: The average cost of a US wedding is $ 26,000?

My wedding 13 years ago cost about $3K, if that. We rented a cheap hall and IIRC, the food was only about $8 per head. Very cheap for about 75 guests. It wasn’t the most beautiful procession, but served the purpose and provided the end result just the same. My dress was approx $300 off the rack, no alterations.

Several thousand dollars only adds posh to the party. I guess it all depends on who exactly you’re trying to impress. I’m easily impressed and was quite happy with what was provided ('specially since the folks paid for everything).

OP: Which centralized government authority do you suppose is collecting these statitistics? Does every wedding turn in their form WC-8937a which contains a detailed breakdown of costs?

Of course not. Milions of individuals buy stuff, hold a party & call it a wedding. Thousands of business sell stuff consumed at those parties.

How could anyone, governmental or otherwise compute an actual average? How would the they get the data? Answer: they can’t.

What you’re left with is various magazines & industry pundits guessing. There may be more or less judgemental rgor behind the guesswork, but guesswork it is.

Well, they could do surveys, collect statistics, etc. You don’t need to ask everyone just to get a good idea of where the averages lay. If you were careful about things like getting a good cross sampling of different income groups, cultures etc I think you could be able to get a pretty good view.

I’m not saying that this is what happened in the surveys mentioned above, since I have no information about them, but I am just saying that I do not believe it is an impossible task.

And, of course, do they count those wedding in with no significant cost at all?

Still, there’s enough of a wedding industry out there that once you have a "real’ wedding, the costs can be tracked or estimated fairly well.

The survey which claims that the average cost of an American wedding in 2005 was $26,327 was done by a company called the Fairchild Bride Group, which mostly publishes magazines for brides. They don’t explain how they get their figures. I find them very dubious. For all we know, they just put a survey form in their magazines and counted the results from the forms that were sent in. This would not remotely be a scientific survey. I believe that the readers of bride’s magazines are distinctly upscale, and the people who send in forms would probably also be upscale even in comparison to the readership. Till we know that someone has done a scientific survey of a truly representative sample of American weddings in some year, we will have to say that no one truly knows what the average cost is.

The average cost of a wedding for 250 guests is approximately $22,000 (per San Diego Wedding Pages, June 2003).

cite (with cost breakdowns)