Wedding bells are ringing — and the bills are piling up.
According to TheKnot.com's annual Real Weddings Study, a survey of 13,000 brides and grooms who tied the knot last year, average wedding costs hit an all-time high of $29,858 in 2013 — up 5 percent from the previous year. Further, only 20 percent of the couples surveyed say the economy had an impact on their wedding budget; that percentage has gone down steadily from a record-high of 34 percent in 2009.
The biggest factor in how much a couple shelled out for their big day? Location, location, location. Unsurprisingly, Manhattan takes the cake (which costs a national average of $546, by the way) for most expensive, with an average wedding bill of $86,916. Idaho ranked last at $16,159.
These figures don't include the couple's honeymoon, but do account for other typical wedding expenses, such as the photographer, wedding dress, and reception music — all of which have increased in average cost since 2012.
The study also identified another trend on the rise: weddings as the ultimate form of self-expression. "Couples are more focused than ever on creating a unique, personalized and once-in-a-lifetime experience for their guests," The Knot co-founder Carley Roney said in a press release. Couples are opting for personal touches, such as signature wedding cocktails, interactive food stations, photo booths,and officiants who are friends or family members.
Incorporating many of these "extras" isn't cheap. So if you're looking for ways to slash your wedding bill without compromising your big-day vision, try these fun ways to save on wedding costs or get inspired by Jane Bianchi, who found creative ways to trim $21,000 off her wedding budget.
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