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The average wedding just hit $29,000





New York
CNN

Weddings are back, in full swing. That’s the good news. But engaged couples will pay a little more to get hitched in 2023.

The average cost of a wedding, nationally, this year is $29,000, up $1,000 from 2022, according to online wedding planning site Zola. And in some major American cities, the cost is $35,000 and up.

The price tag for a happy day is higher year over year for two reasons, Zola said — inflation and demand outstrip the supply of wedding-related goods and services. “The wedding industry’s suppliers have had to raise their prices because they are also paying more for goods and services such as food, flowers and labor,” Emily Forrest, Zola’s director of communications, told CNN.

Weddings began roaring back from a pandemic-induced halt to all manner of celebrations in 2022, and since then the industry has seen an increase in demand for venues, photographers, wedding planners, florists and wedding cakes. Add to that a Gen-Z era desire for highly customized weddings (hint: don your wetsuit), and the prices soar.

The Zola report was based on a survey of 4,000 engaged couples who married in 2023.

The report ranked New York City at the top of the list of the most expensive cities in the United States to host a wedding this year. A wedding in the Big Apple is expected to cost around $43,536, followed by San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose ($37,284), Boston ($35,902), Philadelphia ($34,111), Miami-Ft. Lauderdale ($33,622), Washington, DC ($33,199), Chicago ($32,281) and Los Angeles ($30,712).

The average guest list, according to the report, is expected to include between 130 and 150 invitees.

But Esther Lee, vice president of The Knot, a wedding planning and vendor marketing company, said the guest list for some weddings could be tighter.

“In 2022 we saw an average of 117 wedding guests, but in 2023 we discovered that 39% of couples trim the guest list. It’s no surprise that people may be prioritizing more intimate ceremonies this year, she said.

Less traditional can sometimes mean less expensive, experts said. David’s Bridal, a leading retailer of wedding dresses, said its business has been weighed down by the number of brides wearing casual or vintage dresses. But uniqueness can also increase costs.

“Unique weddings are having a moment with the dawn of hyper-personalization, meaning couples are pulling out influences that are most meaningful to them and infusing those details into their wedding day,” said The Knot’s Lee.

“For example, history buffs are, as of late, interested in an antiques-themed wedding or honeymoon that might involve an ancient book reading or coin motifs from the Byzantine or Roman Empire.”

Courtesy Water Bear Photography

Wedding photographer Kimber Greenwood specializes in underwater weddings and has seen a jump in interest from couples this year.

Pinterest said it has an indication of another trend. It said searches for alternative weddings – specifically underwater weddings – have increased by 305% on the platform. “Underwater weddings are a great example of the unconventional wedding searches we’re seeing happening on the platform right now,” said Jenna Landi, director of brand research at Pinterest.

“Although it’s a little challenging logistically, it should be interesting to see the data for underwater weddings in 2023,” she said. “It might be of sudden interest because of the live-action version of Disney’s The Little Mermaid. ”

Wedding photographer Kimber Greenwood, who specializes in underwater wedding photography, is booked to shoot 20 of them this year. “There’s been a huge jump in interest,” she said.

Greenwood, a trained scuba diver based in Gainesville, Florida, is providing a package through her adventure photography business, Water Bear Photography, that includes an officiant, a dress to wear to the event (but not to keep), flowers and photography for $3,000.

“I’ve never had a couple say they regretted the experience,” she said.

When asked who foots the bill for weddings, the Zola report found that 33% of couples said they contribute to their wedding budgets in some way, but a further 16% said they pay for the wedding entirely on their own.

The wedding industry should enjoy the recovery, because it may not last. Jewelers report that because many fewer potential brides or grooms met their partners during the Covid-19 quarantine period, the rate of recent engagements is way off.



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