Virginia wedding

The Cost of a Wedding

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True Cost of a Wedding: Where to Save, Where to Splurge

Originally posted on NerdWallet   Everyone knows weddings are expensive, but they don’t have to be. There’s a lot you can save on the details — such as the venue, flowers and even Save the Date cards — leaving more room in your budget to spend elsewhere. We created an interactive tool to compare a range of factors and costs for locations across the U.S. To use our tool, enter a county or ZIP code in the spaces below for a side-by-side cost comparison. Adjust the sliders to see how spending more or less on any of the different categories changes your costs. Napa or Sonoma? Destination wedding or down the street? You decide. Don’t stop there. Scroll down to find even more data. We’ve analyzed wedding costs and income across the country to find how much of your paycheck will go to the Big Day. Hint: It’s a lot. With nearly 2.2 million unions last year, the wedding industry in the U.S. has a market value of $54.3 billion, making the event momentous and expensive. September is one of the most popular months for weddings, so in honor of those nuptials, we crunched data from our friends at The Wedding Report and found the average wedding in the U.S. can cost well over $25,000.   There are some interesting takeaways when looking strictly at the raw numbers:

  • Southern states: All of the 10 least expensive counties for weddings are in Missouri, Kentucky or Mississippi.
  • Costly coasts: At the other end, the 10 most expensive counties to get married are in New Jersey, New York or California.
  • Double down: The most expensive places to get married (Hunterdon or Somerset counties in New Jersey) are almost double the cost of the average wedding in Hickory County, Missouri, the cheapest county in our study.

SO HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU SPEND? But a dollar might not be a dollar when it comes to looking at wedding costs against yearly income. Will you overspend or enter married life feeling thrifty? To find the true cost of a wedding across the U.S., we calculated total wedding costs as a percentage of median household income in 2,870 of the nation’s counties, which resulted in some interesting findings:

  • Most affordable: Five of the 10 most affordable counties for weddings belong to Virginia, where relatively high median household incomes mean wedding bills are a smaller percentage of a couple’s paychecks.
  • Least affordable: Five of the 10 least affordable counties are in Kentucky because low average incomes in the state mean higher true costs.
  • Holy matri-money: There are 500 counties in the U.S. where couples will spend more on their weddings on average than they will make in an entire year.
  • Going big in Texas: Couples spend as much as 161% of their combined income on their wedding in Brooks County, Texas (the least affordable county for weddings), which is four times less affordable than the true cost of a wedding in Loudoun County, Virginia (the most affordable).

Check out the counties with the lowest and highest true costs of a wedding in the tables below.

20 Most affordable counties for a wedding

Rank County Median household income Total cost of a wedding Total wedding cost as a percentage of income
1 Loudoun, VA $122,068 $51,281 42.01%
2 Los, Alamos, NM $106,426 $48,443 45.52%
3 Fairfax, VA $109,383 $49,806 45.53%
4 Arlington, VA $102,459 $48,230 47.07%
5 Douglas, CO $101,108 $47,943 47.42%
6 Howard, MD $107,821 $51,480 47.75%
7 Stafford, VA $96,355 $46,948 48.72%
8 Prince William, VA $96,160 $47,441 49.34%
9 Williamson, TN $91,146 $45,833 50.29%
10 Scott, MN $84,571 $43,475 51.41%
11 Summit, UT $86,515 $44,593 51.54%
12 Fauquier, VA $88,687 $45,767 51.61%
13 Charles, MD $93,063 $48,029 51.61%
14 Montgomery, MD $96,985 $50,297 51.86%
15 Delaware, OH $90,499 $47,205 52.16%
16 Carver, MN $83,275 $43,475 52.21%
17 Hunterdon, NJ $105,880 $55,374 52.30%
18 Forsyth, GA $87,585 $45,864 52.37%
19 Calvert, MD $92,395 $48,426 52.41%
20 Washington, MN $80,747 $42,983 53.23%

20 Least affordable counties for a wedding

Rank County Median household income Total cost of a wedding Total wedding cost as a percentage of income
1 Brooks, TX $21,445 $34,580 161.25%
2 Jefferson, MS $20,281 $32,329 159.41%
3 Wolfe, KY $21,168 $31,935 150.86%
4 McCreary, KY $21,758 $32,230 148.13%

The author: Angeline Frame

Angeline is the owner/publisher of Virginia Bride Magazine and the show producer for The Greater Virginia Bridal Shows. She has a degree in Public Administration and Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University. A former model and wedding venue owner- she loves all things wedding , fashion and decorating. In her spare time she likes to write, travel and get new ideas to share with brides.