Photo Booths and Fireworks: Why Wedding Costs are Skyrocketing

June 16th 2017

Wedding season is in full swing, and both couples and attendees are feeling the financial toll more than ever

According to research from The Knot, average wedding costs went up more than eight percent between 2015 and 2016, with the average cost of a wedding hitting an new high of $35,329.

A big reason? Perks for the guests.

Since 2009, "custom guest entertainment" at weddings has more than tripled.  A figure made more staggering by the fact that the average number of attendees has actually dropped. 

“Couples are personalizing their weddings in a way that we haven’t seen before, and that’s a trend that has been up-and-coming for the last five or ten years,” Stephanie Cain, an editor at The Knot, told ATTN:. “It’s not cookie cutter anymore. Couples aren’t just going to the banquet hall down the street and asking for a basic package. They really want to put their own personal stamp on every aspect of their wedding.”

From photo booths to musical guests to fireworks, couples are seeing the bills stack up as they attempt to give their guests an individual experience.  

As Christen Moynihan, editorial and account manager for the bridal blog, Broke-Ass Bride, told ATTN:, “People are starting to hold themselves to that same standard whether it’s actually economical for them or not.”

They've become more expensive for the guests too. 

Wedding attendants currently spend an average of $177 per wedding, a pretty sizable chunk, especially when the summer-to-fall wedding season can result in several ceremonies close together.

As Moynihan explained, rising costs for guests are a natural byproduct of increased spending overall. “The higher price the couple pays, the more guests are going to end up paying. Whether it be a destination wedding, or what the couple’s registering for, money begets money and big affairs beget big affairs.”

"money begets money and big affairs beget big affairs"

So....what can you do? 

For guests, Cain recommends splitting big-ticket gifts with friends, and carpooling or splitting hotel rooms to cut down on costs. And above all, remember your own needs. “Just because you’re invited to a wedding, doesn’t mean you’re obligated to go,” Cain said. “I think all guests need to be honest with what actually makes financial sense for them, and be okay with saying ‘i’m really sorry, I can’t attend’ and then send a gift… as a way to still celebrate with the couple.”

Couples may also need to make tough calls when it comes to cutting down on wedding expenses.

“Choose your top three things and then sit down and hash it out together so that you have a good idea of what your exact priorities are and then put the vast majority of your money towards that,” Moynihan said. “The rest can be stuff you can either DIY or you can spend very cheaply for, or you can just forget about all together.”

At the end of the day, Moynihan adds, all of these concerns should play second fiddle to the purpose of the wedding itself. “No matter what you do, it’s going to be enough, because it’s not about the party. It’s about the marriage. It’s about saying your vows to the person you love in front of the people you love and making a lasting commitment to one another, and just enjoying that aspect of it.”

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