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Spending And The Number Of Wedding-Related Events Soar

Brides magazine has released findings from the 2018 American Wedding Study, an annual survey of engaged and newlywed couples across the country that reveals key insights into the latest wedding trends, behaviors, and spending habits for weddings in America.

“In 2018, spending is way up across categories, proving that while couples are doing things their own way, they are still prioritizing celebrating their marriage,” said Lisa Gooder, executive director, Brides. “More than ever, couples are savoring the whole process, from engagement to honeymoon and beyond, by celebrating with more events, trips, and professional photos or videos to capture the moments.”

The average cost of a wedding is $44,105, an all-time high, and couples invested in expanding the celebration more than ever. Also in 2018, 9% of couples took a wedding-moon (pre-wedding trip) together; 31% of couples had multiday-event wedding weekends (up from 20% in 2017); 39% of couples had a post-reception after-party (up from 20% in 2017); and 14% of brides wore a second look for their after-party (up from 7% in 2017).

Key Costs

  • Average cost of a wedding: $44,105
  • Average cost of reception: $9,764
  • Catering: $12,242
  • Rentals: $2,920
  • Dress: $2,260
  • Veil: $316
  • Day-of-wedding beauty for bride and bridal party: $944
  • Groom’s attire: $602
  • Wedding planner fees: $2,481
  • Cake: $547
  • Flowers: $2,629
  • Other decor $1,183
  • Wedding day transportation: $1,275
  • Reception music: $2,380
  • Photography: $3,133
  • Videography: $2,180
  • Ceremony: $651
  • Favors: $422
  • Rehearsal dinner: $2,775
  • Post-wedding brunch: $1,503
  • After-party: $1,325
  • Engagement ring(s): $7,829
  • Wedding ring(s): $1,890
  • Invitations, announcements, thank-you cards, etc.: $917
  • Gifts to parents: $386
  • Gifts to bridesmaids: $419

Key Findings

  • Average age of bride: 28
  • Average age of partner: 29
  • Average number of bridal attendants: 5.4
  • Average number of groomsmen: 5.3
  • September and October are the most popular months to get married. (32%)
  • The majority of couples get married on Saturday (68%), followed by Friday (16%), and Sunday (9%).
  • Average number of guests: 167
  • 84% live together before getting married; 72% prior to engagement
  • 8% already have children, 2% have them together.
  • 17% of brides will wear something nontraditional (jumpsuit/colored dress, separates, etc.)
  • 83% of brides opted for a white/off-white wedding dress (down from 92% in 2017)
  • 14% of brides purchase a different dress/outfit for their after-party (up from 7% in 2017).
  • 17% of couples have a destination wedding.
  • 9% of couples took a wedding-moon (pre-wedding trip) in 2018, up from 7%.
  • 4% of brides purchased their wedding attire at a ready-to-wear/specialty store (vs. 2% in 2017).
  • 3% of couples took a buddy-moon. (a group post-wedding trip with friends and/or family)
  • 97% of brides say their fiancé is involved in planning the wedding, and of those, 36% are very involved.
  • Although 92% set a budget (vs. 90% in 2017), 45% of those who do spend more than they planned (vs. 34% in 2017).
  • 87% of couples went on a honeymoon/mini-moon, up from 77% in 2017.
  • More couples are taking engagement photos than ever, up to 80% from 66% in 2017.
  • More couples are having a post-wedding brunch; 41% vs. 31% in 2017.
  • Engagement parties are on the rise, with 38% of couples saying they had one, up from 32% in 2017.
  • 28% of couples got engaged on a holiday or special occasion, up from 12% in 2017.
  • December has the most engagements at 14%.
  • Wedding weekends (multiday events) are growing in popularity; with 31% of couples stating they had one, up from 20% in 2017.
  • The post-reception after-party is up to 39% from 20% in 2017.
  • 83% of couples began sharing expenses (i.e. rent/mortgage, utilities).

I And/Or My Partner Did/Will…:

  • Write our own vows: 49% (up from 42% in 2017)
  • Incorporate favorite food or drink: 48%
  • Incorporate DIY or homemade decorations: 46%
  • Incorporate signature cocktails: 41%
  • Incorporate a nontraditional wedding cake: 38%
  • Incorporate entertainment/performers: 30%
  • Incorporating ethnic/cultural family traditions (e.g., jumping the broom, Chinese tea ceremony, etc.): 28%
  • Choreographed first dance: 12%

Traditions Are Selected, A La Carte:

  • 76% took/plan to take their fiancés name when they get married (down from 82% in 2017).
  • 76% wear a veil.
  • First dance: 93%
  • Toasts: 88%
  • Cut the cake: 82%
  • Wear something old, new, borrowed, blue: 82%
  • Not see the partner until the ceremony: 49% (down from 61% in 2017)
  • Throw the bridal bouquet at the reception: 46% (down from 63% in 2017)
  • Traditional wedding vows: 44% (down from 50% in 2017)
  • The throwing of the garter: 32% (down from 50% in 2017)
  • Groom’s cake: 14%
  • Only 49% of couples had a ring bearer, down from 57% in 2017.
  • 15% chose to have a man of honor.
  • 11% incorporate their pets into their wedding party (up from 8% in 2017).
  • 6% have the best woman.
  • 88% of brides have a maid/matron of honor, and 85% of bridesmaids have bridesmaids.
  • 84% of grooms have a best man.

Ceremony/Reception

  • 28% of couples opt to marry in an event space/hall/banquet facility.
  • The number of couples that are married in a house of worship is down, at 23% (vs. 27% in 2017).
  • 10% of couples choose to marry in a resort/hotel or bed & breakfast.
  • 6% of couples marry in a historical building.
  • 5% marry in a country club or golf course.
  • 45% have a pastor, rabbi, or other religious officials perform the ceremony.
  • 36% have friends/family get ordained to officiate the ceremony.
  • 15% have a nondenominational officiant.

Social Media

  • 23% met their partner on social media, through a dating app, or an online dating site.
  • 82% report using social media to find inspiration/their wedding style.
  • 87% of brides report using Pinterest as an inspiration source for their wedding.
  • 76% of brides report using Instagram as an inspiration source for their wedding.
  • 20% of brides report using Facebook as an inspiration source for their wedding.
  • 70% use social media to find and follow vendors.
  • 60% follow wedding brands/products they’ve already purchased/booked.
  • 57% search social media by a hashtag to view photos of other weddings (up from 37% in 2017).
  • 48% use social to purchase items for the wedding (bridesmaids dresses, invitations, beauty products, etc.).
  • 46% post photos/updates/stories throughout the planning process (up from 40% in 2017).
  • 54% of brides say most of their friends learned of their engagement through social media (up from 54% in 2017).
  • 70% create a custom hashtag for guests to use at the wedding (vs. 51% in 2017).
  • 48% create a custom hashtag for their wedding-related events (i.e. bachelorette party) vs. 36% in 2017.
  • 35% create a custom Snapchat geo filter for their wedding (vs. 17% in 2017).
  • 9% ask guests not to post photos of their wedding on social media.

Wedding Tech

  • 94% of couples incorporate technology into their wedding planning in some way.
  • 80% create a wedding website for guests.
  • 67% use a wedding planning app (i.e. checklists, budget trackers).
  • 53% allow guests to RSVP to the wedding and/or wedding-related events via email or wedding site.
  • 27% send digital invites to wedding-related events (i.e. shower, bachelorette, engagement party, etc.).
  • 26% use high-tech devices for photographing their wedding (i.e. drones, GIF photo booths, GoPros, etc.).
  • 10% send digital invites as save-the-dates.
  • 7% have a live feed of wedding hashtag displayed at the reception (i.e. Instagram photos, tweets, etc.).
  • 6% send digital invites to the wedding ceremony or reception.
  • 5% live-stream their ceremony for out-of-town guests.
  • 4% offer charging stations for guests at their wedding.

Wedding Fashion

  • 83% of brides will wear a white/off-white wedding dress (down from 92% in 2017).
  • 17% of brides will wear something non-traditional (jumpsuit/colored dress, separates, etc.).
  • 76% wear a veil.
  • Top purchase locations for wedding-day attire:
  • 66% of brides purchased their wedding-day attire at a bridal salon.
  • 17% purchased their wedding-day attire at an independent local bridal salon.
  • 8% purchased their wedding-day attire at a national bridal chain.
  • 2% purchased their wedding-day attire at a department store.
  • 4% of brides purchased their wedding-day attire at a ready-to-wear/specialty store (vs. 2% in 2017).
  • 2% purchased their wedding-day attire at a sample sale.
  • 1% purchased their wedding-day attire at Etsy/or had it custom made.
  • 3% had it made by a dressmaker, relative, or self.
  • 1% purchased online directly from a website/e-retailer.

On Average, Brides Are Spending The Following On Wedding Fashion:

  • Dress: $2,260
  • Headpiece/veil: $316
  • Wedding-day jewelry: $316
  • Wedding-day accessories: $288
  • Day-of-wedding beauty: $944
  • Mother-of-the-bride dress: $362
  • Groom’s suit and accessories: $602
  • 53% of grooms wore a suit.
  • 43% wore a tuxedo.
  • 3% wore other
  • 57% bought formalwear.
  • 38% rented from a formalwear specialist.
  • 3% wore other.

Bridesmaids:

  • 48% of brides choose the color and let bridesmaids choose the style/designer.
  • 30% have all bridesmaids match in color/style.
  • 70% of brides are having mismatched bridesmaids (in style or color, or variety, etc.)
  • 7% choose the style/designer and let the bridesmaids choose the color.
  • 2% let them wear whatever they choose.
  • 12% are not sure yet or chose other (i.e. a color family, option to select between a couple different looks, etc.).