Daniel & Bethany
Daniel & Bethany

One of the first questions you’ll likely ask when starting to plan your wedding is: Okay, how much is this thing going to cost? Knowing how much a wedding costs is essential so you can create a budget, which will inform your decision-making, from choosing a venue to picking invitations, and more. Well, we’ve got the official answer for you. According to the brand-new 2020 WeddingWire Newlywed Report, couples spend an average of $28,000 on their ceremony and reception (and that doesn't include the engagement ring and honeymoon). That’s about $215 per guest. Sound steep? Remember that’s just an average, and wedding cost can vary widely depending on where you live, the size of your event, and more.

Here’s a deep dive into how much a wedding actually costs so you can start creating your budget.

Location plays a major role in the cost of a wedding.

Perhaps the biggest factor in determining how much you’ll spend on your wedding is where the event will take place. A wedding in a major city, like New York or San Francisco, will cost more than one taking place in a small town (check out the WeddingWire Cost Guide for more information on how much weddings cost in your area). And staying close to home can also help you save. According to the Newlywed Report, the average hometown wedding costs $27,000, while the average destination wedding costs $32,000. Good to know if you’re deciding where to host your big day!

Couples are spending the most on venue and food.

After figuring out how much a wedding costs near you, you can start to divide up your budget to reflect the different vendors you’ll need to hire. Turns out that you’ll likely spend the most on your venue and catering. On average, couples spend $10,500 on renting a venue, and $70 per person on catering. This really explains why the mantra “the more guests you invite, the more money you’ll spend” is so true. A wedding of 50 guests can expect to pay about $3,500 on catering, while a wedding with 300 guests may pay over $20,000 on food alone!

Couples pay for roughly half of the wedding themselves.

One of the most important parts of planning your wedding budget is figuring out who’s paying. These days, couples are sharing the costs with their parents. The Newlywed Report found that couples paid for 47 percent of their wedding, while their parents footed 52 percent of the bill. Nearly 60 percent of parents agree to pay for certain items (the venue, food, and music, for example), while about one-third write a check for the couple to spend at their discretion. When it comes to wedding planning, money equals control. So if your parents are contributing to your big day, talk to them about how much they want to be involved in the decision-making.

Millennials tend to spend more on their wedding.

The average millennial (those born between 1981 and 1996) tends to spend more than older Gen Xers (born between 1965 and 1980) on a wedding. In fact, the average cost of a millennial wedding is $31,000, while a Gen X couple only spends an average of $21,000. Why this disparity? Well, millennials tend to invite more people and include such amenities as an open bar and late-night snacks than their older counterparts.

More than half of couples increase their initial budget during the planning process.

While over 80 percent of couples are creating a budget as one of the first steps of wedding planning, more than half are increasing their initial budget for a variety of reasons. Couples are finding “must have” items during planning or realizing their initial budget was set lower than reality. That’s why it’s a good idea to give yourself some wiggle room so you don’t end up spending more than you can afford.