Study: Wedding Costs and Regrets, Couples’ Financial Priorities

"I wish I'd spent less on the wedding venue." That's the most common spending regret of recently married people. We asked 500 people married within the last five years about their wedding costs, spending regrets and financial priorities for the future. We surveyed people in their 20s and 30s -- ages at which people typically have many important financial decisions ahead.

More than one-third (36%) wish they had spent less on the venue. Other top spending regrets were the cost of flowers and decorations (30%), food and drinks (28%) and the ceremony (28%).

Just under a quarter of people (24%) said they would spend the same amount on their weddings if they could do it again.

If you could do it over again, what would you spend less on for your wedding?

The venue 36%
Flowers & decorations 30%
Food & drinks 28%
The ceremony 28%
The cake 23%
The band/DJ/entertainment 22%
The bride's dress 19%
Photography/video 19%
Transportation 17%
Other 2%
I would spend the same 24%
Source: EverQuote survey 500 people married within the last five years. Survey respondents could choose up to three items they wish they had spent less on.

Interestingly, the ceremony and food and drinks also topped the lists from people who wish they had spent more on certain items. The top three categories that people wish they had spent more on were:

  • Food and drinks: 31%
  • The ceremony: 30%
  • Photography/video: 29%

Average wedding cost

A third of people (33%) said they tied the knot for under $20,000. About half of weddings (52%) cost less than $30,000. And the majority (80%) cost less than $50,000, according to EverQuote's survey results.

Half spent more than they planned

Even with an estimated cost in mind when wedding planning starts, future brides and grooms should be prepared to spend more than they anticipate. Only about a quarter of people (26%) we surveyed said their weddings cost what they expected. Almost half (49%) said their weddings cost more than they expected, with 25% of people putting the unanticipated extra cost at $1,000 to $5,000.

There were even those who had a pleasant surprise: 25% said their weddings cost less than they anticipated.

Problems at the wedding

With money, time and anticipation invested in a wedding day, you want things to go right. We asked people what problems they experienced at their weddings. Half (50%) of those surveyed pointed to at least one problem. The most common issue (for 23%) was that an important person could not attend the big day.

Wedding insurance can reimburse you for problems like this. For example, a policy can reimburse you for deposits lost if a vendor (such as a florist or caterer) or venue goes out of business. Or a policy could pay out if the wedding has to be postponed due to severe weather or because an important person (like immediate family, the officiant or an attendant) can't attend because of health or an injury.

Some wedding receptions venues even require that a bride and groom have their own liability insurance. Liability insurance is typically available in a wedding insurance policy.

Over half of people we surveyed (54%) didn't know that wedding insurance exists.

Did you know that wedding insurance is available?

No, I didn't know 54%
Yes, I've heard of it 31%
Yes, I had wedding insurance 15%

More: Wedding insurance: Do you take this policy?

Financial priorities after getting married

A wedding can put a big dent in your wallet just as much bigger financial commitments loom. Buying a house, saving for retirement and putting away money for a child's college expenses typically require financial planning and diligent saving. Life insurance can also be an important part of a personal finance plan when spouses rely on each other financially.

Our survey respondents were age 21 to 39, years that are important in building financial foundations.

It can be easy to fall short of financial goals:

  • Retirement: 29% of households with a head of household age 55 and older have no retirement savings or a defined benefit plan for retirement, according to the Government Accountability Office.
  • Saving for a house: 62% of Millennials would find it somewhat or very difficult to save for a down payment on a house, according to the 2018 National Association of Realtors' Aspiring Home Buyers Profile report.
  • Net worth: 32.4% of householders under age 35 have zero or negative net worth, according to 2013 data from the Census Bureau (the latest available).
  • Life insurance need: Over 20% of life insurance owners think they don't have enough coverage. In addition, 39% wish their spouses or partners had more life insurance, according to the 2017 "Insurance Barometer Study" from industry groups LIMRA and Life Happens.

More: Here's what happens to debts when you die

Survey respondents said their biggest financial priorities were saving for retirement, saving for a house or condo, and building an emergency fund. Also high in importance was saving for a vacation.

Here's a look at how couples' financial priorities stacked up, ranked by the highest priorities.


EverQuote commissioned a national survey of 500 people age 21 to 39 who were married within the last five years (in 2013 or after) and are still married. Respondents were 60% female and 40% male. The survey was conducted in April 2018.

Posted June 4, 2018