Not to rain on your wedding day, but the price tag that comes with getting married in Chicago is one of the highest in the country. This is according to an annual study by The Knot, which surveyed almost 13,000 couples about their big-day spending. Chicago ranked as the fourth most expensive city for getting hitched.
With an average of 2.4 million weddings performed each year, The Knot reports that the average 2016 wedding cost $35,329, increasing by $2,688 from 2015. Manhattan bent the curve quite a bit, taking the top spot with a $78,464. Long Island checked in second, costing the average couple $67,831, and was followed by New Jersey, costing $62,606.
Then there was Chicago, where the average wedding costs $60,035, still almost double the national average. In fact, according to the Federal Reserve, the average cost of a Chicago wedding is actually higher than the average income in the United States, which was $56,516 as of 2015.
According to The Knot, the increase in wedding costs is due to heightened attention to detail, not the number of wedding guests. While the average wedding has 165 guests, couples are focusing more on guest experience.
“Wedding spend continues to rise, but at the same time, guest lists are shrinking as couples spend more per guest to create an unforgettable experience for those closest to them,” Kellie Gould, editor in chief of The Knot, said in a press release. “Couples are also using their wedding day to make their first big statement as a couple. From invitations to the reception band, couples are spending more to put their personal stamp on every detail.”
A 2014 study by The Knot shows that the average engagement lasts 14 months. This time is now up to 15 months, according to the most recent survey, giving couples one extra month to plan every detail of their expensive big day. According to The Knot’s press release, couples are investing portions of their budgets on details like signature cocktails, photo booths, and fireworks. The Knot also mentioned that live painters, aerialists, and acrobats could be among the top 2017 wedding trends.
Couples are also spending an average of $16,107 on a venue, an investment that is making its mark in Chicago as well. In a statement to Chicago Tribune, Charlene Liang, owner and planner of Sweetchic Events, said that some of the most popular city locations are The Ivy Room, Ovation, and The Chicago History Museum.
“We are lucky to have such a variety of venues in the city, but they are expensive to rent,” she said.
As these results continue to make headlines, some lifestyle writers are pointing out potential flaws in the data. Anthony Todd speculates in the Chicagoist that the survey results could be exclusive to more privileged demographics, skewing the results upwards significantly.
“Is it possible that the data is wrong? Well, it’s from TheKnot.com, which means that the only respondents were the type of wedded folks who would use TheKnot.com: a large chunk of people, but one that I’d guess skews upward in terms of economic status,” he writes. “It also assumes that the average couple is buying a $6,000 engagement ring, and factors that into the cost of the wedding. In other words, before you feel bad about not keeping up with the (very expensive) Joneses, know that this data might be a bit flawed.”