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Average Wedding Cost Breakdown

If you’re read­ing this, chances are that you’ve recent­ly got­ten engaged. Con­grat­u­la­tions! You’re about to begin one of the most mem­o­rable, unique, and emo­tion­al­ly ful­fill­ing times of your life. Wed­ding plan­ning is also one of the most com­pli­cat­ed and detail-ori­ent­ed endeav­ors that you will ever embark on— and it’s cru­cial to stay orga­nized.

What’s the biggest key to plan­ning a wed­ding with­out any mishaps, last-minute pan­ic, or for­got­ten ele­ments? In our opin­ion, it’s the cre­ation of an air­tight bud­get, one that you will stick to no mat­ter what. 

To cre­ate a real­is­tic bud­get, it’s help­ful to have a ball­park idea of what each ele­ment of your wed­ding is going to cost. If that sounds daunt­ing, don’t wor­ry— our team is here to help. At Gen­er­a­tion Tux, we have years of wed­ding expe­ri­ence under our belts, and we’ve tru­ly seen it all. We know that plan­ning and orga­niz­ing your wed­ding bud­get requires a sol­id under­stand­ing of what an aver­age wed­ding cost break­down should look like.  

One impor­tant detail: your aver­age wed­ding cost will change depend­ing on where you’ll be get­ting mar­ried. A three-tiered wed­ding cake in New York City is prob­a­bly going to cost three times as much as one of the same qual­i­ty in Lin­coln, Nebras­ka. Sad­ly, we can’t do any­thing about this. How­ev­er, no mat­ter where your wed­ding may be, it’s help­ful to look at what per­cent­age of a typ­i­cal bud­get goes to which ele­ments. 

Here’s an aver­age wed­ding cost break­down, start­ing from the high­est bud­get items and work­ing our way down to the low­est:

More Bud­get Tips

Reception Venue

Your recep­tion venue is most like­ly going to be the largest cost in your wed­ding bud­get, and for good rea­son: your venue is where the mag­ic hap­pens! 

Accord­ing to a study con­duct­ed by The Knot, one of the most pop­u­lar wed­ding plan­ning web­sites, most cou­ples spend up to 45% of their wed­ding bud­get on their recep­tion venue. In many cas­es, venues include oth­er ele­ments, like in-house cater­ing, into your total cost. If your venue does not include cater­ing, you should plan to spend approx­i­mate­ly $70 per guest.

Engagement Ring

Most engage­ments come with a beau­ti­ful ring. Tra­di­tion­al­ly, it’s been said that an engage­ment ring should cost approx­i­mate­ly three months of your salary; how­ev­er, this rule is quick­ly becom­ing out­dat­ed.  That being said, plen­ty of peo­ple do invest a fair amount of their hard-earned cash in order to pro­pose to their part­ner with a beau­ti­ful ring. Accord­ing to The Knot, engage­ment rings are often the sec­ond-high­est wed­ding expense— tak­ing up rough­ly 16% of a total wed­ding bud­get.

Wedding Band (Reception)

Think­ing about hav­ing a live band for your recep­tion? This is a fan­tas­tic choice— not only will it add a spe­cial ele­ment to your par­ty, but you can work with the band to play your favorite songs or to pull off a spe­cial sur­prise for your fiancé. Yes, bands tend to be more expen­sive than a DJ, but they will cre­ate a tru­ly unfor­get­table expe­ri­ence. If you’re think­ing of going with a band for your big day, you’re not alone. Many cou­ples choose this option, and accord­ing to the Knot, most cou­ples are will­ing to spend up to 12% of their bud­get on a good wed­ding band.

Wedding Photographer

We can­not stress enough how impor­tant it is to hire a good, expe­ri­enced wed­ding pho­tog­ra­ph­er with a strong port­fo­lio and good ref­er­ences. You only have one chance to get the per­fect wed­ding shots— and since your big day will be a blur of emo­tions and activ­i­ty, it’s impor­tant to have phys­i­cal reminders of all the work and love that you put into this event. Pho­tos are so impor­tant that cou­ples are will­ing to ded­i­cate more than 7% of their total wed­ding bud­get to pho­tog­ra­phy. 

View Our Wed­ding Gallery

Flowers and Decorations

We often speak about the impor­tance of dress­ing the humans at a wed­ding, but dress­ing the venue is just as impor­tant. With­out flow­ers and dec­o­ra­tions, your venue will end up look­ing like an emp­ty room, not a wed­ding site. Flow­ers play a num­ber of sig­nif­i­cant roles in a wed­ding, from bou­quets and bou­ton­nieres to pro­vid­ing the essen­tial fin­ish­ing touch­es that tie your event aes­thet­ic togeth­er. 

Accord­ing to the 2018 Knot study, most cou­ples bud­get around 7% of their wed­ding funds for flo­ral arrange­ments and oth­er dec­o­ra­tions. 

Ceremony Venue

Whether you choose to say “I do” at the beach, on the bimah of your child­hood syn­a­gogue, or in the mid­dle of the col­lege quad where you and your part­ner first met, there are like­ly a few fees involved, from reser­va­tion and book­ing fees to fur­ni­ture rentals and cer­e­mo­ny flow­ers. While these costs don’t usu­al­ly add up to very much— you should still plan to allo­cate approx­i­mate­ly 7% of your wed­ding bud­get to your cer­e­mo­ny and cer­e­mo­ny site.  

Wed­ding Venue Guide


Lots of cou­ples choose to hire a video­g­ra­ph­er along with their pho­tog­ra­ph­er to cap­ture the sights, sounds, and feel­ings of their spe­cial day. Wed­ding videos are a won­der­ful keep­sake that will be trea­sured for gen­er­a­tions— and this makes hir­ing a video­g­ra­ph­er worth far more than 5% of your wed­ding bud­get, which is what the aver­age cou­ple allo­cates to this expense.

Wedding Planner

A wed­ding plan­ner isn’t a must-have, but for those cou­ples that do choose to use a wed­ding plan­ner, they tend to be life­savers. Wed­ding plan­ners are there to han­dle all of your pre-wed­ding prepa­ra­tions and remain on-hand to tack­le any­thing that goes wrong day-of, from a bro­ken brides­maid dress strap to a guest’s pre­vi­ous­ly unmen­tioned shell­fish aller­gy. A good wed­ding plan­ner will ensure that any poten­tial issues are tak­en care of before you even know some­thing is wrong. On aver­age, this incred­i­ble ser­vice tends to cost around 5% of your total wed­ding bud­get. 

Wedding Dress

Here comes the bride…all dressed in what­ev­er she choos­es! Whether a bride goes with lace or satin, white or bright, long or short, flowy or tai­lored, one thing’s for sure: this is an invest­ment worth tak­ing a fair amount of time and mon­ey. In gen­er­al, most brides allow for about 4% of their total wed­ding bud­get to go towards their gown.

Rehearsal Dinner

The rehearsal din­ner is a spe­cial night for just the two of you, your fam­i­lies, and your A‑team: close friends, your wed­ding par­ties, and beloved out-of-town­ers. Unlike your wed­ding day, which will have a much larg­er guest list, your rehearsal din­ner is a chance to have one-on-one time with your clos­est guests. Rehearsal din­ners are often a great chance to bring your loved ones to your favorite restau­rant or local dive. On aver­age, most cou­ples allo­cate around 3% of their total wed­ding bud­get to this spe­cial meal.

Reception DJ

A good DJ will get every­body on the dance floor and will help you cel­e­brate your big day in style. Music is a big part of what makes a great wed­ding great, and most cou­ples are will­ing to put around 3% of their total wed­ding bud­get into hir­ing a DJ that they love.


Unless every­body in your par­ty is stay­ing at the wed­ding venue, you will prob­a­bly have to orga­nize some form of trans­porta­tion. Trans­porta­tion options range from lim­ou­sine to par­ty bus; the choice in vehi­cle is com­plete­ly up to you. On aver­age, most cou­ples allo­cate around 2% of their total wed­ding bud­get to trans­porta­tion for the big day.

Ceremony Musicians

The music which you walk down the aisle to will for­ev­er remind you of the first steps you took into your mar­riage. Due to this fact, many cou­ples skip the sound sys­tem and hire a musi­cian to play live music for their pro­ces­sion and cer­e­mo­ny. If you choose to have live music at your cer­e­mo­ny, be pre­pared to allo­cate approx­i­mate­ly  2% of your total wed­ding bud­get to this expense.


For some, the mere men­tion of the word “wed­ding” con­jures up images of beau­ti­ful, mul­ti-tiered cakes. Your wed­ding cake will always hold a spe­cial place in your heart (and stom­ach). Some cou­ples even freeze a slice to eat on their first anniver­sary! Unless you’re going for a cake dipped in gold, wed­ding cakes nor­mal­ly com­prise around 1% of your total wed­ding bud­get.

Dis­cov­er Cake Alter­na­tives


Wed­ding invi­ta­tions are an ele­gant and per­son­al way to invite your guests to your spe­cial day. Many peo­ple even hold onto their invite as a keep­sake to remem­ber your spe­cial day. Invi­ta­tions will, of course, have their price, but in the scheme of things, they aren’t a high bud­get item. Accord­ing to the 2018 study, under 1% of most wed­ding bud­gets tend to go towards invi­ta­tions. Not bad!


If you are using a friend or fam­i­ly mem­ber to offi­ci­ate your wed­ding, chances are this ser­vice will come free-of-charge. How­ev­er, for those cou­ples opt­ing for a reli­gious leader or oth­er ordained pro­fes­sion­al, be pre­pared to allo­cat­ed rough­ly 1% of your total wed­ding bud­get to this ser­vice.

Groom Attire

Shock­ing­ly enough, the groom’s attire is one of the least expen­sive parts of your entire wed­ding— and with mod­ern online rental options, it’s also one of the eas­i­est. Groom­swear often com­pris­es under 1% of your total wed­ding bud­get— yet it’s a key part of your big day. Look­ing for a way to skip out on the stress and has­sle of find­ing the per­fect groom­swear for your Big Day? At Gen­er­a­tion Tux, grooms can build their wed­ding looks online and every­thing will be shipped direct­ly to their door four­teen days before the Big Day. There’s even a free Home Try-On peri­od months before the actu­al wed­ding so that grooms can make sure they select­ed the right look and request any need­ed changes far in advance of their walk down the aisle. 

Pick Your Look Now

Hap­py plan­ning!

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