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SmartAsset: Best Cities for an Affordable Wedding - 2022 Edition

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many betrothed couples delayed their nuptials out of caution or in adherence to safety guidelines. Because of this, the wedding industry saw a dramatic fall in revenue (-35.7%) from 2019 to 2020, and average wedding costs fell 21.6% simultaneously. However, spending has since normalized. In fact, average wedding costs are on the rise and with 2.5 millions weddings predicted for the year, 2022 is expected to be historic.

In this study, SmartAsset took a closer look at wedding costs in the U.S., uncovering the best cities for an affordable wedding in 2022. Specifically, we data for 97 of the largest U.S. cities across nine metrics, which account for average costs, available venues, access to wedding vendors and crime rates. For details on our data sources and how information for the final rankings was pulled together, read the Data and Methodology section below.

This is SmartAsset’s sixth study on the best cities for an affordable wedding. Check out the 2021 version here.

Key Findings

  • Wedding costs are on the rise after a dip in 2020. Nationally, average wedding costs decreased from $24,675 in 2019 to $20,286 in 2020. However, that figure spiked to $27,063 in 2021, which is roughly a 33% increase from the year prior.
  • Southern and Midwestern cities dominate the top 10. Six of the top 10 cities are located in the South and the remaining four are in the Midwest. The average wedding cost in 2021 was less than $24,000 in half of these cities.
  • Access to wedding professionals varies widely. Across the top 10 cities, there is an average of almost 41 floral designers, photographers and musicians for every 100,000 residents. Meanwhile, the bottom 10 cities average only 15. Similarly, the average number of catering companies for every 100,000 residents is 5.3 across the top 10 cities, but 2.6 across the bottom 10.


1. Nashville, TN

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 about $26,800. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data shows that there are almost 80 floral designers, photographers and musicians for every 100,000 residents, which ranks best for that metric. The city also ranks second-best for the concentration of religious organizations (83.12 per 100,000 residents) and seventh-best for its dining and entertainment establishments density (401.71 per 100,o00 residents).

2. Omaha, NE

The Midwestern city of Omaha, Nebraska claims the second spot in this year's study. On average, residents here can expect to pay roughly $25,800 for a wedding. The city ranks fourth-best for the number of floral designers, photographers and musicians (nearly 49 per 100,000 residents) and fifth-best for the number of hairdressers, tailors, dressmakers and custom sewers (just about 156 per 100,000 residents).

3. New Orleans, LA

New Orleans, Louisiana ranks third-best for both the number of catering companies (roughly 10 per 100,000 residents) and dining and entertainment establishments (roughly 408 per 100,000 residents). Average wedding costs in New Orleans are fourth-lowest in our study, at about $21,300, and the city is home to ample parkland for couples looking to hold their ceremonies outside.

4. Richmond, VA

Richmond, Virginia ranks in the top 15 cities for four metrics. It has the highest concentration of religious organizations (86.37 for every 100,000 residents) and 12th-lowest average wedding cost ($23,640). Additionally, it ranks 13th-best for both the number of catering companies (6.54 for every 100,000 residents) and dining and entertainment establishments (348.83 for every 100,000 residents).

5. Lincoln, NE

Lincoln is the second Nebraska city in our top 10, with the average cost of a wedding coming in at just over $25,000. This city also ranks well for access to wedding professionals: second-best for the number of floral designers, photographers and musicians (roughly 63 for every 100,000 residents) and 13th-best for hairdressers, tailors, dressmakers and custom sewers (roughly 135 for every 100,000 residents).

6. Lexington, KY

The average wedding cost in Lexington, Kentucky is roughly $25,000, ranking 18th-best for this metric. The city also ranks in the top 25 cities for three additional metrics: 16th-best for its violent crime rate (320 per 100,000 residents), 17th-best for access to religious organizations (roughly 61 for every 100,000 residents) and 25th-best for the number of hairdressers, tailors, dressmakers and custom sewers (nearly 121 for every 100,000).

7. Cincinnati, OH

Cincinnati, Ohio moves up from 23rd place in 2021 to seventh this year. Average wedding costs in this city are $25,566, which ranks 23rd-best for this metric across the 97 cities we considered. Cincinnati also has the 16th-highest concentration of hairdressers, tailors, dressmakers and custom sewers (about 132 for every 100,000 residents) and 18th-highest concentration of floral designers, photographers and musicians (roughly 37 for every 100,000). There are also many religious establishments in the city for couples looking to take their vows in synagogue, mosque or church.

8. Louisville, KY

The average couple getting married in Louisville, Kentucky will spend about 23,800 on their wedding. This is the 13-lowest figure in our study. In terms of wedding venues, Louisville offers 28.35 acres of parkland for every 1,000 residents (19th-best) and 60.64 religious organizations for every 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 residents) and 21st-lowest violent crime rate (less than 346 per 100,000 residents).

9. Oklahoma City, OK

The capital of Oklahoma fell four spots from last year, ranking ninth this year. The city has the 16th-best number of religious organizations (nearly 63 for every 100,000 residents) and 21st-most parkland space (nearly 28 acres of for every 1,000 residents. It also boasts the second-lowest average wedding cost in the top 10 and sixth-lowest overall ($21,711) However, there are fewer available catering businesses and hairdressers. Oklahoma City ranks in the bottom of half of cities for those two metrics (catering companies per 100,000 residents along with hairdressers, tailors, dressmakers and custom sewers per 100,000 residents).

10. Kansas City, MO

Kansas City, Missouri rounds out our top 10. The average wedding cost is about $23,000, which ranks eighth-lowest in our study. This city also ranks in the top 15 for the number of religious organizations (roughly 69 for every 100,000 residents) and acres of parkland (nearly 37 acres per 1,000 residents). Finally, it ranks 16th-best for the number of floral designers, photographers and musicians (roughly 38 professionals per 100,000 residents).

Rising Wedding Costs

Beyond looking at the national increase in average wedding costs, we identified the places where wedding costs are rising the most. Specifically, we 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 registers the largest spike in wedding costs. In 2020, the average wedding cost in New York County was $28,000. In 2021, that figure topped $42,800, marking a one-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 areas, recent increases in wedding costs are more muted. Allen County, Indiana has the lowest percentage change in average wedding costs between 2020 and 2021, with an increase of 7.78%. In four other places, the one-year percentage change in average wedding costs falls below 11%. They include Tulsa County, Oklahoma; Sedgwick County, Kansas; Oklahoma County, Oklahoma and Lubbock County, Texas.

Data and Methodology

To find the best cities for an affordable wedding, we looked at data for 97 of the largest U.S. cities across the following nine metrics:

  • Average wedding cost. 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 parkland per 1,000 residents. Data comes from the Trust for Public Land’s 2021 Acreage and Park System Highlights.
  • Religious establishments per 100,000 residents. This includes the number of local synagogues, mosques and churches. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2020 Business Patterns Survey and is at the county level.
  • Catering companies per 100,000 residents. Data come from the Census Bureau’s 2020 Business Patterns Survey and is at the county level.
  • Dining and entertainment establishments per 100,000 residents. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2020 Business Patterns Survey and is at the county level.
  • Hairdressers, tailors, dressmakers and custom sewers per 100,000 residents. Data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2021 Occupational Employment Survey and is at the metro area level.
  • Floral designers, photographers and musicians per 100,000 residents. Data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2021 Occupational Employment Survey and is at the metro area level.
  • Property crime rate. This is the number of property crimes per 100,000 residents. Data comes from the FBI and is for 2020.
  • Violent crime rate. This is the number of violent crimes per 100,000 residents. Data comes from the FBI and is for 2020.

First, we ranked each city in each metric. From there, we averaged the rankings, giving a half weight to the two crime-related metric, a double weight to the wedding cost metric and a full weight to all remaining metrics. From there, we created an index and gave each city a score between 0 and 100. The city with the highest average ranking received a score of 100, while the lowest average ranking received a score of 0.

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Questions about our study? Contact press@smartasset.com

Photo credit: ©iStock/marchmeena29

Anja Solum Anja Solum is a data journalist at SmartAsset covering a variety of personal finance topics, including retirement and debt management. Before joining SmartAsset, she worked on both agency and in-house content marketing teams where she developed her love for data analysis and visualization. In her free time, she nurtures a passion for gaming, a recent addiction to anime & KDramas, and a mischievous labrador retriever. A bit of a nomad, she’s lived in Norway, Jamaica, and Denmark in addition to the U.S. but now resides in Raleigh, North Carolina.
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