You probably automatically assumed, since you had little money for the wedding, that you should keep it within your city. Depending on where you live, this may or may not be true. The average wedding cost varies dramatically from state to state. In fact, there was more than $12,000 difference between the highest and lowest cost state in 2012: An average wedding in South Dakota cost $20,204 while a similar one in New Jersey was $32,327 (data source: TheWeddingReport.com).
Before you get heart palpitations, I do want to point out these are averages, which are inherently misleading. It’s like saying the average family has .9 child–the average doesn’t actually happen. In “real life” you, personally, are most likely to have either considerably less or more. Since you are reading this, your budget is probably around $15,000 or lower, regardless of where you live.
So what use is this to you? No matter where your budget falls compared to your state average, unless you are lucky enough to live in one of the lowest cost states, there are potential savings. I created a heat map (in the title graphic) for you to easily see where your state falls in cost. The darker the green, the higher the average cost. This will, of course, depend on your situation and how accessible the lower cost areas are to you; added travel costs could cancel out whatever you save. But, if you live in any of the “top 10” states and can get to a “bottom 10,” your potential to save is very real.
Top 10, most costliest, states to have your wedding: New Jersey, California, District of Columbia, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Maryland, Alaska, Washington, Pennsylvania
Bottom 10, most economical, states to have your wedding: South Dakota, Montana, West Virginia, Arkansas, Iowa, North Dakota, Idaho, New Mexico, Nebraska, Kansas
Also, in most cases the costliest states have high averages because of one or more large metropolitan areas, which tend to have higher prices than suburban or rural areas. So if you find yourself in a high-price city, try looking 30-100 miles or more outside the urban area and you may be surprised at what you find. Take a look at 76 Unexpected Wedding Reception Venues for inspiration.