Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many engaged couples have delayed their nuptials out of caution or following safety guidelines. For this reason, the wedding industry experienced a dramatic drop in revenue (-35.7%) from 2019 to 2020, and the average costs of a wedding dropped by 21.6% simultaneously. However, spending has since normalized. In fact, average wedding costs are on the rise and with 2.5 million weddings expected for the year, 2022 is set to be historic.
In this study, SmartAsset took a closer look at wedding costs in the United States, uncovering the best cities for an affordable wedding in 2022. Specifically, we have data for 97 of the largest US cities on nine metrics, which take consider average costs, available venues, access to wedding vendors and crime rates. For more details on our data sources and how the information for the final rankings was put together, read the Data and Methodology section below.
This is SmartAsset’s sixth study of the best cities for an affordable wedding. Discover the 2021 version here.
Wedding expenses are on the rise after a decline in 2020. Nationally, the average wedding expense rose from $24,675 in 2019 to $20,286 in 2020. However, this figure jumped to $27,063 in 2021, an increase of approximately 33% compared to the previous year.
Cities in the South and Midwest dominate the top 10. Six of the top 10 cities are located in the South and the other four in the Midwest. The average cost of a wedding in 2021 was less than $24,000 in half of those cities.
Access to wedding professionals varies widely. In the top 10 cities, there are on average almost 41 floral designers, photographers and musicians per 100,000 inhabitants. Meanwhile, the lowest 10 cities average only 15. Similarly, the average number of catering businesses per 100,000 people is 5.3 for the top 10 cities, but 2.6 for the last 10.
For another year in a row, the famous Music City ranks as the best place for an affordable wedding. The average cost of a wedding in Nashville is around $26,800. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that there are nearly 80 floral designers, photographers, and musicians per 100,000 people, which ranks highest for this metric. The city also ranks second in concentration of religious organizations (83.12 per 100,000 population) and seventh in density of dining and entertainment establishments (401.71 per 100,000 population).
The city of Omaha, Nebraska in the Midwest ranks second in this year’s study. On average, residents here can expect to pay around $25,800 for a wedding. The city ranks fourth in the number of floral designers, photographers and musicians (nearly 49 per 100,000 population) and fifth in the number of hairdressers, tailors, dressmakers and designers (about 156 per 100,000 population). ).
New Orleans, Louisiana ranks third in the number of restaurant businesses (about 10 per 100,000 population) and dining and entertainment establishments (about 408 per 100,000 population). The average cost of a wedding in New Orleans is the fourth lowest in our study, at around $21,300, and the city is home to an extensive park for couples who want to hold their ceremonies outdoors.
Richmond, Va., ranks in the top 15 cities for four measures. It has the highest concentration of religious organizations (86.37 per 100,000 population) and the 12th lowest average wedding cost ($23,640). Additionally, it ranks 13th in the number of catering businesses (6.54 per 100,000 population) and catering and entertainment establishments (348.83 per 100,000 population).
Lincoln is the second Nebraska city in our top 10, with the average wedding cost just over $25,000. This city also ranks well for access to wedding professionals: second for the number of floral designers, photographers and musicians (approximately 63 per 100,000 inhabitants) and 13th for hairdressers, tailors, designers and dressmakers (approximately 135 for every 100,000 inhabitants).
The average cost of a wedding in Lexington, Kentucky is around $25,000, ranking 18th for this metric. The city also ranks among the top 25 cities on three additional metrics: 16th best for its violent crime rate (320 per 100,000 population), 17th best for access to religious organizations (about 61 per 100,000 population), and 25th best for the number of hairdressers, tailors, seamstresses and dressmakers (nearly 121 per 100,000).
Cincinnati, Ohio drops from 23rd place in 2021 to seventh this year. The average wedding fee in this city is $25,566, which ranks 23rd for this metric out of the 97 cities we considered. Cincinnati also has the 16th highest concentration of bespoke hairstylists, tailors, seamstresses, and seamstresses (about 132 per 100,000 people) and the 18th highest concentration of floral designers, photographers, and musicians (about 37 per 100,000). There are also many religious establishments in the city for couples wishing to take their vows in a synagogue, mosque or church.
The average couple getting married in Louisville, KY will spend around $23,800 on their wedding. This is the 13th lowest number in our study. In terms of wedding venues, Louisville offers 28.35 acres of parkland per 1,000 residents (19th best) and 60.64 religious organizations per 100,000 residents (20th best). Louisville is also a relatively safe city, with the ninth lowest property crime rate (about 1,441 per 100,000 population) and the 21st lowest violent crime rate (less than 346 per 100,000 population).
Oklahoma’s capital fell four places from last year, finishing ninth this year. The city has the 16th highest number of religious organizations (nearly 63 per 100,000 residents) and the 21st largest park space (nearly 28 acres per 1,000 residents). It also has the second-lowest average wedding cost in the top 10, and however there are fewer catering businesses and hairstylists available. Oklahoma City ranks in the bottom half of cities on both of these measures ( catering companies per 100,000 inhabitants as well as hairdressers, tailors, tailors and bespoke sewers per 100,000 inhabitants). inhabitants).
Rounding out our top 10 are Kansas City, Missouri. The average cost of a wedding is around $23,000, which ranks eighth in our study. This city also ranks in the top 15 for number of religious organizations (about 69 per 100,000 people) and acres of parks (nearly 37 acres per 1,000 people). Finally, it ranks 16th for the number of floral designers, photographers and musicians (about 38 professionals per 100,000 inhabitants).
Beyond the national increase in average wedding costs, we’ve identified where wedding costs are rising the most. Specifically, we’ve ranked the counties with the largest percentage increase in average wedding costs between 2020 and 2021.
During this one-year period, New York County, New York records the largest increase in wedding costs. In 2020, the average cost of a wedding in New York County was $28,000. In 2021, that figure surpassed $42,800, marking a year-over-year percentage increase of 52.84%. The Big Apple is followed by Honolulu County, Hawaii (48.57%) and the city of Virginia Beach, Virginia (47.67%).
Notably, in some regions recent increases in wedding fees are more moderate. Allen County, Indiana has the lowest percentage change in average wedding costs between 2020 and 2021, with a 7.78% increase. In four other locations, the year-over-year percentage change in average wedding expenses falls below 11%. They include Tulsa County, Oklahoma; Sedgwick County, Kansas; Oklahoma County, Oklahoma and Lubbock County, Texas.
To find the best cities for an affordable wedding, we looked at data from 97 of America’s largest cities across the following nine metrics:
Average cost of a wedding. This metric includes the cost of everything from food and decorations to entertainment and wedding venue. Data is from www.theweddingreport.com and is for 2021.
Acres of public park per 1,000 people. Data is from the Trust for Public Land’s 2021 Acreage and Park System Highlights.
Religious establishments per 100,000 inhabitants. This includes the number of local synagogues, mosques and churches. Data is from the Census Bureau’s 2020 Business Model Survey and is at the county level.
Catering enterprises per 100,000 inhabitants. Data is from the Census Bureau’s 2020 Business Model Survey and is at the county level.
Eating and entertainment establishments per 100,000 population. Data is from the Census Bureau’s 2020 Business Model Survey and is at the county level.
Hairdressers, tailors, dressmakers and dressmakers per 100,000 inhabitants. Data is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment Survey 2021 and is at the metropolitan area level.
Floral designers, photographers and musicians per 100,000 population. Data is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment Survey 2021 and is at the metropolitan area level.