You won’t believe how much an average wedding in America now costs

March 13, 2015, 9:53 AM UTC
Bride dancing with father at reception
Photograph by Roberto Westbrook — Getty Images/Blend Images

The price of weddings has jumped to a new all-time high, reaching an average $31,213 in 2014, new research says.

Surveying around 16,000 American couples, the Knot 2014 Real Weddings Study also found that 45% of weddings exceed a couple’s budgets and, more worryingly, 23% lack a budget altogether (but hey, if you don’t have a budget, you can’t break it, right?).

Brides spent an average of $1,357 alone on their wedding dress.

At the same time, guest lists are shrinking even as costs rise. “The average wedding now has 136 guests, down from 149 in 2009,” says the Knot’s Rebecca Dolgin.

One clear trend is that couples are spending less on the ceremony itself (bad news for the organist and pianist profession) and more on the reception (good news for the wine & spirits trade, and for musicians and DJs). Another trend seems to be a drift towards more personalized venues, something that’s benefiting the owners and operators of historic buildings and, perhaps a little surprisingly, farms at the expense of hotels and banquet halls.

And, as with everything else in life, it seems that wedding planning is going mobile. The Knot said that 61% of brides accessed its site from mobile devices in 2014. That’s nearly doubled in three years from 33% in 2011.

The cheapest place to tie the knot was Utah, where couples spent only $15,000 on the big day in 2014. The most expensive place for nuptials was Manhattan (no, really) at $76,328.

As regards the burden-sharing, the bride’s parents and the happy couple chip in an average of 43% each, while the groom’s parents contribute an average of 12%.

(Sabrina Toppa at Time contributed to this report)

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