Data Shows American Weddings Are Really, Really Expensive


This just in: Weddings are expensive. All right, fine, you probably knew that. But the latest data from WeddingWire’s 2015 Newlywed Survey breaks down just how expensive they are, the priciest cities to have your wedding in, and where all that money is going. If you’re thinking about getting hitched, you may not want to read this—unless you’re one of those people who likes to know what they’re in for.

WeddingWire sent surveys to 6000 couples across the United States, asking how, when, and where they spent their wedding budgets. Analysis of the results showed that the average cost of an American wedding in 2015 was about $30,000—a staggering figure, but one that’s not much higher than the 2014 average (between $27,000 and $31,000, depending on who you ask). Couples reported spending about $250 for each guest.

Here's how it all breaks down: The average cost of engagement rings was $4748. The top 10 ceremony and reception expenses, in order of average cost, were:

Venue for ceremony and/or reception: $8798
Catering: $6877
Band: $3848
Photography: $2435
Rehearsal dinner and other non-reception meals: $1935
Wedding rings: $1825
Flowers: $1814
Rentals: $1725
Wedding dress: $1671
Videography: $1658

But these costs varied widely by age, personal history, and region. People in their 30s spent about $10,000 more than younger couples did. Couples who had never been married before spent about $30,700, while people who were on their second trip to the altar averaged $21,000. And there was a difference of more than $12,000 in average wedding costs between the No. 1 and No. 5 most expensive metro areas:

New York City: $47,153
San Francisco/Oakland: $43,119
Chicago: $37,153
Boston: $36,621
Philadelphia: $34,982

Having heart palpitations? Take a breather. These numbers do not necessarily apply to you or your wedding, even if you’re in your 30s and live in New York City. For one thing, the survey was only distributed to WeddingWire users, which excludes a huge number of average Americans. Second, these numbers included items and elements you may not want or need for your wedding. Third, these are averages—that means that lots of people spent less.

Also: If you’re looking for ways to cut back (other than eloping), check out A Practical Wedding.

ATM Fees Reach a New Record High

You have good reason to flinch every time you withdraw cash from an out-of-network ATM. The cash machine operator and the bank each hit you with a separate fee for these withdrawals, and both types set record highs this year, according to a new Bankrate survey.

In Phoenix and Atlanta, grabbing cash from an out-of-network ATM will set you back more than $5. But even the cheapest metro area isn’t actually much less expensive: In San Francisco, the average fees are now $3.90. “The national average is $4.57, which means stopping at an out-of-network ATM for $20 will cost nearly 23 percent in fees,” says Greg McBride, CFA, Bankrate's senior vice president and chief financial analyst.

To skirt the fees, stay in network. Virtually any bank will let you withdraw money from its own ATMs, of course. But if you want easy, low-cost access to more cash machines, ask your bank if they participate in a larger ATM network. Some do, to provide their customers with more widespread access.

While ATM fees climbed higher in 2016, one type of bank fee actually broke its 17-year streak of increases: overdraft fees. The average is now $33.07 (yikes!), but that's 0.1 percent below last year’s average. It’s probably too soon to celebrate the downward trend, says McBride. Overdraft fee increases still outnumbered decreases by 5 to 1 in the national survey.

McBride’s best advice for avoiding the hefty penalty? “Sign up for email and text alerts that let you know when your balance is getting low, so you can proactively move money into the account,” he says. “And keep tabs on your available account balance through online and mobile banking—particularly before initiating transactions.”

Which State Has the Most Millennials Still Living at Home?

Escaping your parents’ home doesn’t seem to have quite the same urgency it once did. According to Time, recent Census data indicates that a substantial number of Millennials—typically considered to be those 18 to 34 years of age—are choosing to remain in their childhood residences, with one state in particular crowding out the rest.

The winner? New Jersey, which has just under 47 percent of that demographic living at home. Eastern state neighbors New York and Connecticut each have roughly 40 percent choosing to stay in the nest, a significant spike from the national average of around 33 percent. That’s up from 23 percent in 2000. (The state with the lowest percentage of Millennials rooming with their 'rents? North Dakota, with just 14.1 percent.)

It can be difficult to extrapolate why some states have more clingy kids than others. The price of real estate might be one explanation (rent is much more expensive in New Jersey and New York than it is out West); the trend of Millennials getting married later in life might be another. Without the need for their own mortgage, utility bills, and consumer spending, it’s possible that the homebodies may even be contributing to an economic downturn.

Then again, who can resist free laundry? “There’s the comfort of someone to help you out at all times,” college student Irsia Khan told in June 2016. “Having your meals ready and your laundry done for you takes the load off on the rest of the things you go through in college.”

[h/t Time]


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