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Don’t Try This at Home: What it Costs to Throw a Royal Wedding

May 18, 2018

  • The Royal Wedding will cost an estimated $43 million
  • The average U.S. wedding costs $33,000
  • Weddings are much more affordable in states such as New Mexico and Utah
2 min read

Royal watchers everywhere will soon be tuning in to the wedding of British Prince Harry and U.S. entrepreneur, activist, blogger, and actress Meghan Markle, slated for Saturday morning.

By all accounts, it will be an extravagant affair, costing an estimated $43 million when everything is counted, including security and accommodations for guests, not to mention food and entertainment.

Prince Harry, the brother of Prince William, is now the sixth in line to the throne. In 2011, William married Kate Middleton, in an event that cost about $34 million. Middleton’s dress alone, designed by London icon Alexander McQueen, cost an estimated $400,000.

In 1981, Harry’s mother, the late Princess Diana, wed Prince Charles in nuptials billed as the Wedding of the Century, replete with fairytale glassed-in carriages, and liveried footmen, and a wedding dress with a 25-foot train, embroidered with 10,000 pearls, which soon became the most famous wedding dress in the world. (An estimated 1 billion people tuned in to watch the ceremony.)

In inflation-adjusted dollars, the dress cost around $150,000, and the wedding cost $110 million.

How people in the U.S. plan their weddings

Coming back to the earth’s stratosphere however, we wondered how these royal weddings stack up compared to most people in the U.S.

It turns out the average U.S. commoner spends about $33,391 on wedding costs, according to industry research. While that may sound modest compared to the royals, it’s still a tidy sum for most families to manage without proper budgeting and planning. Nearly three-quarters of couples either pay for or contribute to the cost of their own weddings.

So what’s the most expensive place in the U.S. to get married? New York City, of course, where the average wedding costs a gob-smacking $77,000. It’s followed by New Jersey, with an average costs of $63,000. Los Angeles, by way of comparison, seems like a steal at $44,000.

If you want affordability, however, head to New Mexico and Utah, where average wedding costs run about $18,000.

What people are spending their money on

So what are people spending all their money on? Perhaps unsurprisingly, the reception hall tends to eat up half of the expenses, running about $15,000 on average.

Another big expense is  the live band, which runs about $4,000, similar to engagement rings: total cost around $5,000. And let’s not forget about honeymoons, which run about $5,000.

Oh, and that wedding dress: the average cost is $1,500. By the way: Markle, who is said to have amassed her own fortune worth about $5 million, is reportedly paying for her own dress, rumored to cost about $135,000.

Say I do (to not going broke)

Experts recommend contributing to a separate savings account for all those wedding expenses and creating a spreadsheet to track all expenditures.

Other ideas to rein in costs: Consider an off-season wedding, cheaper venues such as barns or lofts, and mercilessly editing down your guest list.

And remember, you can avoid “wedding markup” by eloping and throwing a party when you’re back in town. It’s all about the memories, not the money you’re spending.

Start saving for your wedding (or any royally awesome event!) now.

By Jeremy Quittner
Jeremy Quittner is the senior writer for Stash.

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