According to wedding-focused website The Knot, the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is $33,900. There are some cities, though, where you still can have the wedding of your dreams for much less, which might free up funds towards other financial goals, like a new home or retirement savings.
To find the best cities for an affordable wedding, SmartAsset looked at data on 95 of the largest U.S. cities. The most recently available data reflects pre-coronavirus conditions. We considered the following nine metrics: average wedding cost, number of religious organizations, amount of parkland, number of catering businesses, number of grooming clothing professionals (hairdressers, tailors, dressmakers and custom sewers), number of wedding service providers (floral designers, photographers and musicians), number of dining and entertainment establishments, property crime rate and violent crime rate. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, check out the Data and Methodology section below.
This is SmartAsset’s fourth study on the best cities for an affordable wedding. Read the 2019 version here.
- Music City leads again. Nashville, Tennessee tops our rankings for the third consecutive study in a row. Pick your favorite honky tonk, and be ready to line dance.
- California Love? Not so much. Many California locales may be beautiful places to hold a wedding, but the Golden State can be expensive. The four bottom cities in our study – Riverside, Bakersfield, Sacramento and Fresno – are all in California. They all rank in the bottom 25% of the study for their low rates in three metrics: religious organizations, catering businesses and dining & entertainment establishments – all per 100,000 residents.
1. Nashville, TN
Nashville, Tennessee has the highest number of religious organizations in our study, at almost 83 organizations for every 100,000 residents. Music City also has the 10th-highest amount of parkland – at 49.63 acres per 1,000 residents – and the eighth-highest number of catering businesses per 100,000 residents – at 6.93. The average cost of a wedding in Nashville is $23,038, the 20th-lowest rate for this metric across all 95 cities in the study.
2. New Orleans, LA
The average cost of a wedding in New Orleans, Louisiana is $19,471, the fourth-lowest amount in our study. The Big Easy has the fifth-highest number of dining and entertainment establishments per 100,000 residents, nearly 372. It also places fifth-highest in terms of catering businesses, with more than eight for every 100,000 residents.
3. Omaha, NE
If you get married in Omaha, Nebraska, you can expect to pay around $26,799, which ranks 46th-lowest out of the 95 cities we looked at. Omaha’s best ranking is for its high rate of hairdressers, tailors, dressmakers and custom sewers, at 184.73 per 100,000 residents – the seventh-highest rate in the study. Omaha also ranks in the top 30 of the study for a number of other categories, including its 22nd-highest rate of dining and entertainment establishments, at 266.55 per 100,000 residents.
4. Jacksonville, FL
Jacksonville, Florida is the city in the study with the least expensive average wedding cost – just $17,497. Jacksonville also has the fifth-highest amount of parkland of all 95 cities we studied – at almost 75 acres per 1,000 residents – ideal if you’re looking for an outdoor space for your ceremony or reception. Jacksonville ranks in the top 25 of all 95 cities for its prevalence of religious organizations: There are more than 58 of them for every 100,000 residents.
5. Indianapolis, IN
Nuptials in Indianapolis, Indiana run an average of $21,547, the ninth-lowest cost for weddings in the study. The city also has the 15th-highest number of religious organizations, at almost 65 organizations per 100,000 residents. There are also more than 50 floral designers, photographers and musicians per 100,000 residents, the 26th-highest rate for this metric in the study.
6. Henderson, NV
Henderson, Nevada is right next to Las Vegas, which means that your guests will have no shortage of entertainment options. Weddings in Henderson cost $20,564 on average, the fifth-best price in this study. Henderson has the fourth-highest rate of floral designers, photographers and musicians per 100,000 residents, at 68.56. The violent crime rate in Henderson is also the seventh-lowest in the study.
7. Toledo, OH
Toledo is the first of two Ohio cities in our top 10. A wedding in Toledo will cost, on average, $18,658, the second-lowest amount for this metric in the study. Toledo also ranks 22nd-highest out of all 95 cities in terms of religious organizations – there are more than 59 of them for every 100,000 residents. Additionally, the city ranks 25th-highest in terms of floral designers, photographers and musicians per 100,000 residents, at 53.08.
8. St. Petersburg, FL
The average cost of a wedding in St. Petersburg, Florida is $21,769, the 11th-lowest amount for this metric in the study. St. Petersburg, located on the Gulf Coast, also has the 21st-highest number of hairdressers and clothing professionals per 100,000 residents, at more than 155.
9. Denver, CO
A wedding in Denver, Colorado runs $25,147 on average, which places it 34th out of 95 for this metric. The Mile High City has 5.86 catering businesses per 100,000 residents, the 15th-highest rate for this metric in the study. Denver ranks ninth-best for both its high number of dining and entertainment establishments per 100,000 residents and its high number of hairdressers and clothing professionals (i.e. tailors, dressmakers and custom sewers) per 100,000 residents – at about 348 and 177, respectively.
10. Cleveland, OH
Cleveland is the second Ohio city on this list. The average wedding here will cost $23,497, the 24th-lowest amount for this metric in the study. Cleveland ranks second-highest across all 95 cities we looked at for its number of hairdressers and clothing professionals, with about 216 per 100,000 residents. Additionally, it ranks 12th-highest for its number of catering companies per 100,000 residents, at about six.
Data and Methodology
To find the best cities to plan an affordable wedding, we looked at data for 95 of the largest U.S. cities across the following nine metrics:
- Average cost of a wedding. This metric includes the cost of everything from the food and decorations to the entertainment and the wedding venue. Data is from www.theweddingreport.com and is for 2019.
- Religious establishments per 100,000 residents. This factor includes the number of local synagogues, mosques and churches. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 County Business Patterns Survey.
- Acres of public parkland per 1,000 residents. Data comes from the Trust for Public Land’s 2019 City Park Facts report.
- Catering companies per 100,000 residents. Data come from the 2017 Business Patterns Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau.
- Hairdressers, tailors, dressmakers and custom sewers per 100,000 residents. Data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2019 Occupational Employment Survey.
- Floral designers, photographers and musicians per 100,000 residents. Data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2019 Occupational Employment Survey.
- Dining and entertainment establishments per 100,000 residents. Data comes from the 2017 Business Patterns Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau.
- Property crime rate. This considers the number of property crimes per 100,000 residents. Data comes from the FBI’s 2018 Uniform Crime Reporting Database.
- Violent crime rate. This measures the number of violent crimes per 100,000 residents. Data comes from the FBI’s 2018 Uniform Crime Reporting Database.
First, we ranked each city in each metric. From there, we averaged the rankings, giving a half weight to the two crime-related factors, a double weight to the wedding cost factor and a full weight to the remaining factors. We then created an index and gave each city a score between 0 and 100. The city with the highest ranking received a score of 100, while the lowest ranking received a score of 0.
Tips for Managing Your Money
- Reassess your budget if possible. Unless you plan on throwing a Zoom wedding, your nuptials are going to cost you a pretty penny. Using a budget for your regular expenses can help you put aside money for your wedding. Check out our budget calculator here to strategize how much you need to save.
- A new place for this new chapter. If you and your betrothed are considering buying a home, make sure you understand how much house you can afford.
- Seeking a financial partner? Consider getting a financial advisor to help. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool connects you with financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. If you’re ready to connect with local advisors, get started now.
Questions about our study? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Vadym Pastukh