The fact that weddings are expensive isn’t exactly breaking news. However, brides are spending big coins to make sure their wedding day becomes a moment in time.

The Knot‘s 2019 Real Weddings Study surveyed over 27,000 couples who got married in 2019 and found that the average national cost of a wedding in 2019 (including the engagement ring but not the honeymoon) was $33,900. That’s close to the average national cost of one year at a private four-year college, which is $35,830 according to College Board’s 2018 Trends in College Pricing Report.

New Jersey came in as the most expensive state to get married in (with a state average cost of $53,400), followed by Rhode Island ($49,800), New York ($48,600), Massachusets ($43,600) and Connecticut ($41,000).

The fascinating study tells us that it’s quality over quantity these days. While marrying couples are generally whittling down the number of guests on the invite list (average guest list number went from 141 in 2018 to 131 in 2019), they’re increasing the focus on delivering a top-notch party. Seven out of 10 couples said the guest experience was their number one priority while wedding planning. Nearly 50% (up from 38% in 2018) of couples surveyed hired additional entertainment—not only musical performances (25%) but bonfires and fireworks (17%), and wine or liquor tastings (6%). There’s even been an uptick in more interesting food services like food trucks.

Personalization is also growing by the year. The study claims couples are creating their own identity and bringing their individuality into the fold. 30% of couples said they served a signature named cocktail at their reception (up from 15% in 2010), and nearly 4 in 10 couples (37%) decided to have coed wedding parties. As with any successful wedding, it takes a village. That’s why nearly a third of couples hired some form of a wedding planner (either a day-of coordinator or a full-service planner.)

Overall, the national average for wedding costs seems to be rising year over year. In 2016, The Knot annual study couples spent an average of $35,309 on wedding costs. In 2015, couples averaged $32,641. The average cost of weddings in 2014 was even less —coming in at $29,858.

See more emerging trends from The Knot’s wedding study here.

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