The walk down the aisle continues to get more expensive.
Couples spent an average of $31,213 on their big day last year, according to latest study from The Knot, up more than 4% from $29,858 in 2013. The venue eats up the biggest portion of the budget with an average of $14,006, followed by the engagement ring at $5,855 and the band at $3,587. The average catering price per guest rang up at $68 in 2014.
Of the 19 budget items The Knot surveyed, two categories went down in spending compared to 2013: invitations ($439 compared to $443) and favors ($275 from $281). The rise of electronic save-the-dates and invitations and use of wedding websites to distribute information are reasons for the drop in invitation spending, according to Dhanusha Sivajee, executive vice president of marketing for The Knot.
Couples tying the knot in Manhattan faced the biggest tab, the survey showed, spending an average of $76,328, but that’s a lot less than the $86,916 average in 2013. Those in Utah spent the least with an average of $15,257.
When it comes to footing the bill, the bride’s parents covered 43% of the costs last year with the couple also contributing the same amount, according to Sivajee.
Couples may be spending more on their weddings, but guests have reduced their gift spending recently.
This year, an attendee will spend an average of $106 on a gift, according to research from American Express Spending & Saving Tracker. That’s less than 2014 average of $109.
Guests in New York will spend an average of $172 on a gift this year, while those in Florida will dish out $148 and Californians will expend $116.
Gifts also depend on the guest’s relationship to the couple. Invitees will spend an average of $142 on family, and $90 for friends and colleagues, according to American Express.
One third of guests plan to gift cash to the newlyweds while 32% will pick something off the registry. Gift cards, non-registry gifts, money for the honeymoom or a donation also made the gift-giving list.
With wedding season just around the corner, experts said guests can expect more personalized ceremonies and receptions.
“[Couples] are looking for ways large and small to make their wedding their own,” said Lauren Iannotti, executive editor at Brides magazine. “Oftentimes, that means re-inventing things.”
She said some couples are hiring artists to paint a custom backdrop for the ceremony or reception or a local artist to “live paint” the party. And there’s a new metal infiltrating the wedding scene. “Wedding markets are often affected by the home market, and the copper craze in homes, we are now seeing in weddings.”
Wedding cakes are also getting upgraded. It’s not enough for the outside to look good. “Creative cake interiors are something we are seeing,” said Iannotti. “Ombre insides or something artful underneath the frosting.”
But as couples strive to create a bespoke wedding day, that doesn’t mean they don’t want to share the special moments with the world. According to Kim Forrest, editor at WeddingWire, couples are hiring social media consultants to make sure photos are getting up and tagged properly.
WeddingWire recently launched a hashtag generator that uses information about the couple and their wedding to come up with 26 hashtags. “You can live tweet the wedding,” said Forrest.