February 17, 2010

The Knot Unveils 2009 Real Weddings Survey Results

Annual survey of 21,000+ recent brides across the country reveals detailed insight into American weddings, from spending to style preferences and trends.

NEW YORK, NY (February 17, 2010)-The Knot Inc. (NASDAQ: KNOT), the premier media company devoted to weddings, babies, and everything in between and the owners of The Knot Wedding Network (including the top two most-trafficked wedding websites and communities, TheKnot.com and WeddingChannel.com), releases its annual Real Weddings Survey of over 21,000 US couples married in 2009 to capture detailed feedback on wedding spending, style preferences, event characteristics, and other key information related to the bridal demographic.

The fourth annual The Knot Real Weddings Survey, the largest survey of its kind conducted in the bridal industry, was administered by third-party research firm Decipher.

In 2009, $28,385 was the average wedding budget in the US (not including the honeymoon) reflecting less than a 5% decrease from 2008.

“As the economy continues to affect consumer spending, brides remain committed to planning a memorable event and are thoughtfully cutting back,” said Carley Roney, editor in chief of The Knot Inc. “Approximately one third of brides who had a wedding in 2009 said that the economy had impacted their overall wedding plans.”

Category * Average Spend 2009
Reception Venue $12,838
Reception Band $3,288
Reception DJ $892
Photographer $2,444
Videographer $1,481
Wedding/Event Planner $1,728
Wedding Gown $1,134
Florist/Decor $2,093
Invitations $509
Wedding Cake $559
Ceremony Musicians $451
Catering (cost per head) $63
Wedding Day Transportation $692
Favors $292
Rehearsal Dinner $1,163
Engagement Ring $5,847

*Respondents who hired professional vendor, purchased items, or had them professionally made

(Data typically does not change year over year)

  • Number of guests: 149 (nearly the same as 2008)
  • Number of bridesmaids: 5
  • Number of groomsmen: 5
  • Length of engagement: 13.4 months
  • Most popular month to get engaged: December (16%)
  • Most popular month to have wedding: June (17%)


1. TOP PRIORITIES: Venue, Band/ DJ and Photography: The bulk of the average wedding budget is still dominated by the reception venue ($12,838); followed by the reception band and or DJ ($3,288 and $892 on average); and photography ($2,444 on average).

2. WEDDING-RELATED EVENTS: Extra Parties and Extra Price Tags: Weddings continue to become multiple-day affairs (average is three days). Approximately 87% of couples had arehearsal dinner costing $1,163 on average and nearly 30% of couples hosted an after-party the day of their wedding (an increase over 11.5% over 2008).

3. BUDGETS: Everyone’s Contributing: In today’s challenging economic climate, the bride’s parents are contributing somewhat more to the wedding budget, on average (46% of the budget, a 4.5% increase over 2008) followed by the bride and groom (40% of the budget). Grooms’ parents also contributed (12% of the budget).

4. MUSIC: Couples Want a Bit of Everything: In 2009, couples who hired a band chose a mix of music styles, including oldies and pop (26%) followed by rock and ’80s (24% and 17%).

5. FORMALITY: Weddings Remain More Casual: Weddings continue to be less formal with only 20% of weddings in 2009 being characterized as “formal/black tie.”

6. PLANNERS: Brides Still Turn to Professional Help: Of the 19% of brides who hire aprofessional wedding planner, the results were split fairly evenly between day-of coordination (48%) and full service (41%).

7. CAKE: Inventive New Flavors: Although traditional flavors like vanilla and chocolate remain most popular (50%), couples are also choosing more unusual flavors for their wedding cakessuch as lemon, cream cheese, and red velvet (13%, 10%, and 10% respectively).

8. COLORS: Brides Chose More Jewel Tones: Taking a cue from the fashion runways, brides are increasingly incorporating more jewel tones, like purple, into their weddings (a 50% increase over 2008) and forgoing historically popular shades like brown (a decline of 19% over 2008).

9. WEDDING THEME: Brides Make It Unique: Over 29% of brides incorporate a wedding logo or monogram into their wedding day details; 15% include special signature cocktails at the reception (a 25% increase from 2008).

10. DIY: Most Brides Have at Least One DIY Element: The average number of DIY elements was three; the top DIY categories were ceremony programs (54%), favors (50%), and escort cards (44%).


This annual Real Weddings Survey can be broken down on a region-by-region basis across more than 60 markets.
Regional highlights include:

  • New York City and Long Island have the highest wedding budget ($56,999 and $55,877 respectively). Arkansas has the lowest wedding budget ($15,073), followed by Idaho and Utah ($15,276 and $16,030 respectively).
  • Northeast brides have the longest engagements (15 months), while brides from Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Mississippi have the shortest (12 months).
  • Rhode Island, North and Central New Jersey, and Philadelphia couples are most likely to go on a honeymoon (93%, 92%, and 91% respectively).
  • Iowa and Nebraska couples still have the largest weddings, with more than 200 guests. Hawaii and Las Vegas have the smallest number of wedding guests (96 and 68), largely due to the high proportion of destination weddings in these regions.
  • Hawaii and Cincinnati have the most casual weddings, while North and Central New Jersey and Long Island have the most formal (black tie).
  • Couples from Toledo, Columbus, and Minnesota are most likely to register (97%).

About the Survey: More than 21,000 US couples — of mixed ethnicities, education, and income levels — were polled across 50 states. Wedding dates of those polled fell between January 2009 and December 2009.

For more statistics, or to speak with an editor or with brides in your area, please contact The Knot Press Office at pr@theknot.com. High-resolution photos and visuals can be provided.
About The Knot Inc.
The Knot Inc. is the premier media company devoted to weddings, pregnancy, and everything in between, providing young women with the trusted information, products, and advice they need to guide them through the most transformative events of their lives. Our family of premium brands began with the industry’s #1 wedding brand, The Knot, and has grown to include The Nest and The Bump. Our groundbreaking community platforms and incomparable content have ignited passionate communities across the country. The Knot Inc. is recognized by the industry for being innovative in all media — from the web to social media and mobile, to magazines and books, to television and video. For our advertisers and partners, The Knot Inc. offers the consummate opportunity to connect with our devoted communities as they make the most important decisions of their lives.