Here in late summer, we are right in the thick of wedding season. According to, three of the top five most popular wedding months of the year are on the horizon with August, September, and October accounting for a sizable 42 percent of all weddings in 2017.

Considering the fact that the average couple takes about one year to plan their wedding, here are some of the most significant wedding expenses that you and your family may encounter on the big day and ways to save.

Reception venue

Often the largest expense of most weddings, the average cost of a wedding reception venue in 2018 was $15,439 according to the Knot’s 2018 Real Wedding Study. With the average total wedding cost coming in at $33,931, that means the reception venue makes up 45 percent of the total wedding cost alone.

Of course, this cost is also one of the most variable as it depends on factors such as location, time of year, and what will be included at the reception venue. If working with a wedding planner, start hunting down reception venues as early as possible to try and secure lower pricing. Additionally, look out for headcount minimums that some venues may require.

Food and drink

On average, the amount spent on both food and drink for guests will be the second-largest expense on your big day. That being said, this number can vary even more so than the cost of the reception.

There are many options for what type of food you will serve, whether you will have an open bar, how long the bar will be free for guests, and the number of guests that will be attending.

Looking at average figures, a plated meal comes in at an average of $40 per person according to WeddingWire. For an open bar, the Bridal Association of America reports an average of $2,800 for the U.S. wedding average of 170 guests. The food costs and the total for food and drink comes to an average of $9,600.

Food costs can vary widely depending on what type of dish is being served and can drop significantly for buffet-style catering.

Photo and video

With all the effort and money placed into ensuring your big day is something special, remembering it for years to come is important. The Knot found in its 2018 study that the national average cost for a wedding photographer is $2,679, while the average cost for a videographer is $2,021 – a total of $4,700 to keep those wedding day memories for a lifetime.

This is a category where you can score a deal by doing some research. Competition in this space is tight and even some lower-cost photo and video teams can produce excellent results. Also, consider asking family and friends for recommendations on who they used for their wedding.


Once the ceremony is over and your guests have gathered at the reception, it is time to have some fun. Whether it be family dances or keeping the party going, a dedicated source for music is key. There are two main options: hiring a band or hiring a DJ. Live bands are the more expensive option, considering there is often more than one member and more equipment involved than a DJ. Expect hiring a live band to rock your reception to cost an average of $4,019, while hiring a DJ to come in at $1,231.

How much you spend in this category depends largely on your desired taste of music for the reception. While a band can be more entertaining and have more personality than a solo DJ, the range of music they offer will typically be minimal in comparison.

Ceremony Venue

While it is the core piece to an entire day of wedding activities, the amount you spend on the ceremony may come in much lower than the rest of the day’s expenses. This is because the ceremony is often far shorter than the reception, there are usually fewer people in attendance, and there are no extra fees for things like entertainment or catering.

The Knot lists the 2018 national average for a ceremony venue as $2,382 – which like the reception venue, varies widely depending on location, time of year, and total attendees. More often, couples are choosing to hold more intimate ceremonies consisting largely of immediate family and close friends, while more a more extended group gathers for the reception.


There is no denying that you want to look your best on this special day, and the average cost of wedding-day attire represents that. While the cost of the bride’s dress is certainly the most substantial at an average of $1,631, do not overlook the costs of the groom’s attire, hair and makeup for the bride, and accessories for both. Add these categories together and a couple’s wedding-day attire comes in at $2,139 on average.

Though you wish to have a perfect dress that is unique to you, many brides are choosing to purchase resold dresses or wear one passed down from a family member. This is an area where doing some hunting will likely help score a deal.

Wedding planner

Lastly, with the number of details involved in pulling off a wedding and keeping everything running smoothly on the day-of, a wedding planner will be a beneficial investment. Like the price of photo and video, planner fees can vary widely, and their cost structure can be dependent on several factors. Some planners will charge a simple flat fee, some a percentage of the total bill, or some based on hours. At the end of the day, the Knot found the 2018 average wedding planner cost to total $2,002.

Again, this is a great category to ask for referrals from friends and family – who will have experience with the costs involved and the planner’s style. In fact, hiring a planner can lead to savings in other areas thanks to their extensive connections and expertise. Some planners also now offer photo and video all-in-one package services that can help you save.