The study polled around 16,000 brides and grooms to pick their wedded brains about budgets, guest lists and destinations. It found that the average wedding cost was up from $29,858 in 2013, while the average number of guests came in at 136, down from 149 in 2009. Yep — smaller weddings, more money.
Here's a look at how the costs break down:
Rounding out the data is the most expensive place to get married (Manhattan, $76,328 on average), the least expensive place to get married (Utah, $15,257 on average), the average marrying ages (29 for women, 31 for men), the most popular month to get married (June) and the average length of an engagement (14 months). And the cost of almost ever single factor has risen since last year.
This is kind of crazy. The $31,213 cost is roughly the same price as an Audi A3, one year of tuition at a private, four-year university or a three-bedroom home in Huntsville, Alabama. That sum could also get you three leather Hermès Birkin bags, 156 iPhone 6s, 1,249 packs of diapers and about 15 trips to Australia.
All for a single, highly stressful day in which the bride and groom are forced into the spotlight and made to perform an over-the-top and saccharine ritual that somehow passes for mankind's penultimate symbol for love. (At least, that's one way of looking at it.)
But while the steep price tag may be astounding, weddings remain one of the most deeply entrenched cultural traditions we have as human beings, one common to virtually every group you can think of. And as public celebrations of a couple's love, they can be valuable — a 2014 study found that the more guests a couple had surrounding them at their wedding, the higher the quality of their marriage.
Big weddings can cost more than just money. According to a 2014 study by two Emory University researchers, the cost of a wedding correlated with the likelihood of divorce. In fact, spending more than $20,000 on a wedding yielded a 46% higher chance of divorce, compared with spending between $0 and $1,000, which led to a 53% lower chance of divorce.
"Our findings provide little evidence to support the validity of the wedding industry's general message that connects expensive weddings with positive marital outcomes," the researchers concluded, according to the Atlantic.
Meanwhile, focusing all your energy on the big day may not bode well for your mental state. Postnuptial depression — the blue feelings that can pop up following your wedding — are a real thing and can be made worse by a flashier ceremony. "I put a lot of time and effort into the wedding-planning process," one bride told Time. "Where do you redirect your energy once it's over?"
In fact, a study this week found the happiest brides were the ones who "demonstrated a relational focus during wedding" as opposed to getting absorbed with their own stress over the wedding planning.
Don't worry too much. Weddings can seem like they're actually meant for everyone except the people getting hitched, but it doesn't have to be that way. Despite pressure from both the wedding industry and society at large, the big day needn't be a huge to-do (see: this awesome couple).
After all, a marriage license in New York outside of New York City is $40 — less than the cost of the plate of lukewarm chicken cacciatore guests would be forced to eat at a giant, fancy wedding.