The 1 Reason Why You Don’t Want to Get Married in This Big U.S. City

Your wedding is supposed to be the happiest day of your life. For many, it’s one of the most expensive as well. If you get married in these 15 cities or states, you’re starting your life of love in one of the priciest places to get married in the U.S.
These places may have some of the best venues, views, and amenities, but they also have the power to break the bank. Plus, the one city that beats the rest in cost by $20,000 (page 15).

15. Santa Barbara

The historical Santa Barbara Courthouse

Santa Barbara’s historic courthouse is a popular spot for weddings. | Rod Rolle/Getty Images

  • Average cost: $38,025

The coastal California city is a picture-perfect wedding destination. The city lies between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, offering the best of both views.

The Knot’s 2018 ‘Best of Wedding’ category declared the private Riviera Mansion its 2018 winner. The self-described “majestic 1800s mansion” located in downtown Santa Barbara offers free parking, but that’s about it in terms of savings. Renting the space itself costs $4,000 per 50 guests. Additional food, drink, and miscellaneous amenities cost per guest.

14. Hawaii

Married couple on beach

A dream Hawaii beach wedding won’t come cheap. | Image Source/Getty Images

  • Average cost: $38,984

The U.S. destination wedding location is expensive: you pay for the beautiful views, as well as the travel cost of getting to the island (unless, of course, you’re a native). Most Hawaii weddings are semi-formal or casual, so you may save on dress and decorations.

A 2016 survey of Hawaii wedding costs found that the average party pays $85 per guest. You can shirk an expense by keeping the guest list tiny, however, it’s possible to have a large wedding in Hawaii if you’d like.

Next: One of the most expensive cities to live in is pricey for your nuptials as well

13. San Francisco

Same-sex couple Amber Weiss and Sharon Papo stand in line to receive their marriage license before getting married

A couple wait to receive their marriage license before getting married at San Francisco City Hall. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

  • Average cost: $39,329

The median household income for San Francisco is nearly $80,000 a year, so prepare to spend about half of that on your wedding if you choose the Bay Area for your special day.

The average ceremony site costs over $2,500 — compared to the national $1,901 — and an officiant costs nearly $100 more than other popular U.S. cities. The music won’t come cheap, either; the average ceremony musician cost in San Francisco is the 8th most expensive nationwide.

Next: You can make your wedding as cheap or pricey as you’d like in this city

12. Washington D.C.

A couple has their wedding photos taken in Lafayette Park across from the White House i

A couple pose for wedding photos in Lafayette Park across from the White House in Washington, DC. | Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

  • Average cost: $39,465

It costs on average $320 per guest for a D.C. wedding. Three D.C.-based couples showed The Knot how it was possible to keep a wedding in the capital special with any budget. One couple kept their wedding under $20,000 with 150 guests, while another went a bit bigger with a $65,000 budget for the same number of attendees.

Next: Beach weddings aren’t as common as you’d expect

11. Southern Florida

Black-tie weddings are more common in Florida, one reason the average couple in this states spends more than $40,000 to get married. | Kzenon/iStock/Getty Images

  • Average cost: $40,634

Southern Florida sees the largest number of black-tie weddings in the state (29%), which may account for the cost — fancier weddings tend to have higher price tags than more casual affairs. Southern Floridians tend to spend the most on every cost statewide: from photographer and venue to planner and cake.

Next: If you want the harbor, it’ll cost you

10. Boston


Boston is one of the most expensive cities in the U.S. | Eli77/iStock/Getty Images

  • Average cost: $40,667

Boston is the third most expensive city to live in in the U.S., so it makes sense that a wedding there will cost you a pretty penny as well. Two Boston, Massachusetts, wedding destinations make The Knot’s “Hall of Fame,” including the Boston Harbor Hotel (around $40,000 for 200 people) and the New England Aquarium (around $4,000 for the venue during peak season).

Next: You may be better off visiting this city for the beignets instead of a bridal shower

9. New Orleans

Landrum Hughes and Julie Hughes celebrate their wedding with a 'second line' parade through the French Quarter

A wedding in New Orleans’ French Quarter could cost more than $40,000. | Mario Tama/Getty Images

  • Average cost: $41,167

The venue, dress, and engagement ring are all hefty costs for a NOLA wedding. It’s that good old New Orleans entertainment that puts most weddings over budget: the average cost is $5,000.

In 2016, holding a wedding in New Orleans was 35% more expensive than the average cost for the U.S. in general.

Next: This pricey city is an expensive wedding destination, too

8. Los Angeles

Atmosphere at the McKenzie Westmore and Patrick Tatopoulos marriage at the Chateau Le Dome, Saddlerock Ranch Winery

A picture perfect Malibu wedding isn’t cheap. | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

  • Average cost: $44,142

It probably doesn’t shock anyone that the City of Angels makes the top 10 most expensive U.S. wedding cities. Los Angeles is one of the priciest places to live in America, so a lavish wedding is like a rite of passage.

The cost to get married in L.A. has risen by about $4,000 each year: in 2015 it cost around $32,000, and the 2018 average cost is speculated to reach $45,000. This is an average, however, so remember that extremely lavish $100,000 weddings will offset the city’s average.

Next: You’ll pay a lot for Brotherly Love

7. Philadelphia


The average bride and groom in Philly spend more than $46,000 on a wedding. | iStock/Getty Images

  • Average cost: $46,211

The average wedding cost for the City of Brotherly Love nears $50,000, while the median household income barely exceeds that at around $60,000. Cost per head in Philly averages $109 — nearly $40 more than the country in general.

Expenses including reception location, decorations, bands, transportation, and officiants all rank in the top 10 for the cost. Philadelphia residents voted The Ballroom at the Ben and The Old Mill in Rose Valley among the best wedding venues.

Next: You probably won’t be surprised this state makes the list

6. Connecticut


A Connecticut wedding costs an average of $47,000. | Alain Jocard/AFP/Getty Images

  • Average cost: $47,435

The state of Connecticut makes the top 6 most expensive wedding locations at a little over $47,000 on average per occasion. It also has a reputation for being one of the most beautiful states — regardless of the season — making it the perfect choice for a wedding at any time of the year.

The three most popular Connecticut cities to marry at are Bridgeport, New Haven, and Stanford. If you’re trying to keep your Connecticut wedding on the cheaper side, Wedding Reports provides a venue search based on price.

Next: The Windy City is a popular wedding city

5. Chicago

US President-elect Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, held their wedding reception at the South Shore Cultural Center

A Windy City wedding at a venue like the South Shore Cultural Center (where Barack and Michelle Obama married) could cost more than $50,000. | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

  • Average cost: $52,332

Chicago has pricey venues — on average around $21,000 — around the same price as other city’s overall wedding cost. The median household income is $60,564, but that doesn’t stop Chicago residents from spending around $50,000 on their special days.

The priciest amenities for a Chicago wedding are floral arrangements, decorations, and ceremony musicians. You can opt for a high-cost venue like a lavish country club or go “off-beat” at locations like the Adler Planetarium.

Next: It has one of the smallest populations and one of the largest wedding costs

4. Rhode Island

Couple wedding

Small state, big wedding expenses. | Brook Mitchell/Getty Images

  • Average cost: $52,777

The small state is home to some of the biggest wedding expenses, The Knot reports. Newport is a popular destination for mansion weddings that allow regular Americans to marry alongside the likes of the rich and famous.

History buffs rejoice at the opportunity marry at older venues like the Eisenhower House, the 34th president’s summer house, or the Aldrich Mansion where John D. Rockefeller, Jr. was married. Rhode Island residents spend over half of their budget on venues but play it safe on expenditures like the wedding planner.

NextGetting married in this seaside spot will cost you more than $55,000.

3. Cape Cod, Massachusetts

two fences frame the pathway to the beach at Provincetown Massachusetts

A New England beach wedding is worth it for some couples. | UpdogDesigns/Getty Images

  • Average cost: $55,083

The owner of Cape Cod Celebrations, a premier event-planning company, believes it’s the destination Cape Cod weddings that have the highest price tags. “The Cape is a very dense market for weddings,” Jamie Bohlin said, “The wedding industry here is not going to go away.” Ninety-eight percent of the weddings her company plans are for couples traveling to the Cape.

Turns out the wedding industry actually helps the Cape Cod economy. The Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce estimated it put $10 million into budget per year.

Next: This state has some of the most expensive (and hidden) wedding venues.

2. New Jersey (North/Central)

Ivanka Trump & Jared Kushner wedding

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump married in New Jersey, one of the most expensive places to host a wedding in the U.S. | Brian Marcus/Fred Marcus Photography via Getty Images

  • Average cost: $62,074

Surprised that North/Central Jersey is the second most expensive place to get married in the U.S.? So were we, until we saw over 20 extravagant New Jersey wedding destinations.

You can have a nearly-royal wedding at The Farm House at the Grand Colonial ($20,000 for 200 guests) or marry in style over the pool at The Borgata Water Club in Atlantic City ($205 a head plus a venue fee and pool fee).

Next: The most expensive place to get married in the U.S.

1. Manhattan

Whitney Edwards and Tim Randall kiss on the 86th Floor Observatory of the Empire State Building

Prepare to pay big for a Big Apple wedding. | Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images

  • Average cost: $76,944

Not only is the concrete jungle the most expensive place to live, it’s the most expensive place to marry — by nearly $20,000 more on average than 13 other states on the list.

The average cost of a reception venue is $30,401 — what most people pay on average for their entire wedding. The average cost per head is $181 (more than twice the U.S. average of $68). However, this high average factors in couples who choose to get married in exclusive locations like the Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Center or the Boathouse in Central Park.

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