NEW YORK (CNNMoney) – Want one more sign the economy is improving? Couples spent an average of $30,000 on their wedding last year – a record high.
Wedding budgets have grown for the past two years, with newlyweds (or their families) shelling out an average of $29,858 for the big day in 2013, up 5% from the previous year, according to a survey of 13,000 brides and grooms by wedding website TheKnot.com.
Last year, 20% of couples said the economy affected their wedding budget compared to 34% in 2009, when the recession was in full swing. Meanwhile, nearly 15% of couples spent more than $40,000 on their wedding and related events, not including the honeymoon.
Beyond the wedding venue and catering, which cost an average of $13,385 in 2013, other big-ticket items included engagement rings (at an average of $5,598), reception bands ($3,469), flowers and other decor ($2,069) and wedding photos ($2,440).
Of course, much of the cost depends on location. “If you live in a big city you can expect weddings to cost more,” said TheKnot site director Anja Winikka.
Couples who got hitched in Manhattan spent the most, at an average of nearly $87,000, up $10,000 from the year before. Meanwhile, newlyweds in Utah and Idaho spent the least, with average spending in both states falling below $17,000.
One surprising trend: Even though total spending is up, couples are inviting fewer guests, said Winikka. Instead couples are throwing more extravagant affairs, with a variety of additional entertainment and wedding weekend events.
Last year, 30% of couples provided additional guest entertainment, such as a photo booth, compared to only 11% in 2009. Couples also spent more on rehearsal dinners, after parties and morning-after brunches, which can easily add thousands of dollars to the total wedding bill.
“I think every couple fears that their wedding is going to be boring or look like everybody else’s,” Winikka said. “Adding a photo booth is a way to make sure their guests remember it.”
By Melanie Hicken