Why are weddings so expensive?


Angeline Janor , Staff Writer

There’s a good chance you’ve been to a wedding. And while your attention was probably on the bride and groom, you likely noticed the rings, the cake, the flowers, the DJ or band, the bouqeuts of flowers, the meal, or the centerpieces. These things all cost money–a lot of money.

According to Business Insider the average wedding cost in Cleveland, Ohio is $22,000.  That’s half of the average  person’s yearly earnings. (In New York City, the average wedding cost is nearly double at $50,000.)

Most people go way over-budget when planning a  wedding. The drive to impress guests leads many people to decide to invest in a wedding planner. But some wedding planners encourage couples to buy and do more, which makes them end up spending more money.

At times, it seems that all weddings are about is money. They may seem more like an elaborate party than an exchange of vows of love. Do the bride and groom sometimes forget about why they are having the wedding because of how much pressure is put on them when planning for it?


A wedding cake, depending on how big it is, ranges from $350-$450. According to MarthaStewart.com this is because these cakes are made with high end-ingredients, include complex flavors, and often involve the transport of a 50 pound cake. There is more time and effort put into making a wedding cake, but the ‘high-end flavors and ingredients’ are usually normal grocery store ingredients bought in bulk. These ingredients are also used for party cakes the same size, weight, and amount of detail. But wedding cakes come at a higher cost. The reason for this is because couples are paying for a “wedding cake” and not a party cake; just adding wedding to the name gives the cake twice its value.

Wedding dresses are often one of the larger expenses in a wedding–the lace, the train, the veil, etc. But these dresses cost anywhere from $500-$15,000 for a single dress that is only used for one day! According to WeddingWire, a wedding dresses’ price is most impacted by the amount of beads, the quality of the fabric, and most notably, who created the dresses’ design. Designers like Monique Lhuillier charge about $5,640 for a fuller looking wedding dress, but fuller dresses that are not made by known designers are roughly $300 or less. Some wedding places like David’s Bridal have an array of different designers and prices; their dresses range from $200-$5000, which makes possible for people on a lower budget. 

Bridesmaid dresses usually come in at $150-$500 per dress.  As claimed by WeddingWire “For the most basic dresses, $150-$200. Crazy, those dresses would probably cost $50 at Macy’s if ‘wedding’ wasn’t attached to it.” 

Wedding rings are usually simple gold rings which represent two peoples’ love for each other.  Though they exist simply as s symbol, many spend a great deal on them.  Wedding sites recommend spending about two months’ salary on a wedding ring. If a person makes $1000 a month then they are expected  to spend $2000 on a ring, but the average cost is $4000. Engagement rings are even more expensive, $6000 being the average for one ring.  Wedding sites recommend the groom-to-be spend four months of income on an engagement ring!

According to the Knot.com, the most-common wedding expenses and their average costs are below:

  • Reception Venue: $15,439
  • Photographer: $2,679
  • Wedding/Event Planner: $2,002
  • Reception Band: $4,247
  • Reception DJ: $1,292
  • Florist/Décor: $2,411
  • Videographer: $2,021
  • Wedding Dress: $1,631
  • Groom Attire: $283
  • Wedding Cake: $528
  • Ceremony Venue: $2,382
  • Ceremony Musicians: $797
  • Officiant: $286
  • Catering (price per person): $70
  • Transportation: $856
  • Favors: $245
  • Rehearsal Dinner: $1,297
  • Engagement Ring: $5,680
  • Invitations: $386
  • Hairstylist: $123
  • Makeup Artist: $102

Considering the above list, the only item that is necessary for the exchange of vows is an officiant–$286–yet according to Business Insider, 43% of couples go into debt for their weddings, taking out loans or using credit cards to cover the costs. People want to splurge on a wedding because it is their big day–perhaps the one time both families will be together–but splurging may requires starting their new life together in financial strain.