U.S. Couples Spent Average of $27,000 on Weddings in 2011

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Here comes the bride -- and the hole in your wallet. A survey published this week shows that the average wedding budget is $27,021 and has grown, year over year, for the first time since 2008.

In a survey of 18,000 U.S. couples who married in 2011, respondents listed their expenses in 16 categories. The survey showed that the average amount spent per guest was $196.

Overall wedding spending, which excludes the honeymoon, increased from $26,985 in 2010 and $28,385 in 2009. Two wedding sites, TheKnot.com and WeddingChannel.com, conducted the annual survey among members who were 18 or older and had a wedding in 2011.

TheKnot.com's site editor, Anja Winikka, said the slight uptick in spending could be attributed to a change in attitude in wedding spending related to the perception of an economic recovery. According to the survey, fewer brides (29 percent) said the economy affected their wedding budget, compared to 31 percent in 2010 and 34 percent in 2009.

"Of course it's an individual, case-by-case basis, but even if you had the money in the past, you may have not wanted to spend it," she said.

New York City brides also spent the most on their weddings overall ($65,824) and on their dresses ($2,403). Brides in North and South Dakota spent the least on their dresses: $745. Couples said the wedding venue or reception hall was still the most expensive expense at $12,116, compared to $12,124 in 2010 and $12,838 in 2009.

Here are the seven areas around the country where couples spend the most on their weddings:

PHOTO: Empire State Building in Manhattan, New York City, New York
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1.
New York City (Manhattan)

The average cost of a wedding in Manhattan was $65,824 in 2011, according to the survey. Brides in New York City had the highest average wedding budget, $65,824, while those in Virginia had the lowest at $14,203.

The luxury wedding segment, or those spending more than $100,000, accounted for 85,000 weddings in 2011. They represent a $9 billion industry.

PHOTO: General view of State Street in Chicago, Illinois
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2.
Chicago

Brides in Chicago spent the second highest amount on their weddings with an average of $53,069. Luxury weddings are more formal, with 46 percent of those events categorized as black-tie compared to 15 percent in the non-luxury market. Luxury weddings are also larger and longer, with 204 guests compared with 137 guests attending non-luxury weddings, and 74 percent of couples hosting three or more days of events.

PHOTO: Wedding Rings
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3.
New York Metro (Long Island, Hudson Valley and New York City's Outer Boroughs)

The average wedding in Long Island, N.Y. cost $50,087, while weddings upriver in the Hudson Valley cost $46,560. Weddings in New York City's outer boroughs averaged $40,356.

Long Island had the most formal weddings, with 37 percent as black-tie.

Hawaii had the most frequent "casual" weddings, 48 percent.

PHOTO: Wedding dress
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4.
New Jersey

Brides in northern or central New Jersey spent an average of $46,600 on their weddings, while those in the southern part of the state spent an average of $38,103.

Mid-Atlantic brides in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania have the longest engagements (16 months), while brides from Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and Mississippi have the shortest (12 months), on average.

PHOTO: The Breakers Mansion in Newport, Rhode Island
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5.
Rhode Island

Rhode Island brides spent an average of $41,307 on their weddings last year, the fifth highest.

Overall, the second highest cost after the wedding venue or reception hall was the engagement ring, which averaged $5,130, down from $5,392 in 2010 and $5,847 in 2009.

PHOTO: Bride and groom walking on beach
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6.
Santa Barbara/Ventura, Calif., and Los Angeles

The average weddings in Santa Barbara, Calif. and Los Angeles cost $37,823 and $37,690, respectively. While many brides may enjoy having a summer wedding in coastal regions like those, overall, fall weddings became more popular across the country.

The survey indicated 37 percent of weddings took place in the summer months, down from 41 percent in 2010. Meanwhile, 36 percent of weddings took place in the fall, up from 30 percent in 2010.

PHOTO: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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7.
Philadelphia

Philadelphia weddings cost $37,014 on average, not far off from the costs in other northeastern areas where wedding costs were high, according to TheKnot.com and WeddingChannel.com's survey.

Overall nationally, spending on wedding dresses increased 2 percent, and costs for wedding planners increased 4 percent. Music costs went up 3 percent, and the cost for ceremony locations went up 14 percent.

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