As we head into a new year of engagement announcements and wedding planning, we take a look at the ever-changing average cost of a wedding in the UK.
It’s no secret weddings are an expensive business. According to research carried out by Bridebook‘s Wedding Survey, the average cost of a wedding in 2021 was £24,000 – though this is lower than 2019, when it rose to around £30,355 – likely due to the impact of COVID-19 and the rise of the micro-wedding and smaller, more intimate celebrations.
The costs of weddings over the decades have consistently risen, proving huge budget gaps between our own, our parents’ and our grandparents’ generations when it comes to wedding planning.
The Average Cost of a Wedding Over the Decades
Wedding costs are up 3000% since the 1950s and set to reach an all-time high in the 2020s.
Average Cost of a Wedding: 1950s
Our 1950s bride is Jean. Her whole family helped with all the wedding preparations, as she had just two weeks to plan the big day.
- Average weekly wage – £9.55
- Cost of the wedding – £70
- Cost of the wedding dress – £8
- Number of guests – 60
- Location of the reception – South Hackney Church
- Food Served – A cold buffet and dessert
Janet married in the 1960s. Her total wedding costs were just £60 and her charming wedding pictures perfectly reflect the swinging era.
- Average weekly wage – £18.25
- Cost of the wedding – £50
- Cost of the wedding dress – £20
- Number of guests – 60
- Location of the reception – The local railway club
- Food Served – Chicken salad
In the 1970s, Bernie managed to achieve her dream day with weddings costs totaling just £100. Intimate and rather rock n roll, Mr and Mrs Shortt served steak and chips in the local pub.
- Average weekly wage – £34.64
- Cost of the wedding – £100
- Cost of the wedding dress – £30
- Number of guests – 15
- Location of the reception – The local pub
- Food Served – Steak or chicken, and chips
With the 1980s economy booming we saw more brides spending a higher percentage of their wages on their wedding celebrations. Nicky, spent 7 times the national weekly wage – something very familiar to brides today. In true 80’s style she served Black Forest gateaux – a staple pudding of the decade.
- Average weekly wage – £145.88
- Cost of the wedding – £1,150
- Cost of the wedding dress – £120 (Hired)
- Number of guests – 150
- Location of the reception – A dance centre
- Food Served – Prawn cocktail, chicken, potatoes, black forest gateaux
Our 1990s bride, Claire, had a lot to live up to. The nation had become wedding obsessed, with films such as Four Weddings and a Funeral and Father of the Bride breaking box office records.
This is also the first time we come across weddings venues changing from local pubs or clubs to the larger and more glamorous hotels and country houses we recognise today.
- Average weekly wage – £340.18
- Cost of the wedding – £5,000
- Cost of the wedding dress – £690
- Number of guests – 80
- Location of the reception – A countryside hotel
- Food Served – Soup, duck or chicken and cheesecake
Our millennium bride is Holly Dunham. She spent four years planning her big day saving for the mounting wedding costs.
She was the only one of our brides to receive no financial help with her wedding costs.
- Average weekly wage – £532.34
- Cost of the wedding – £17,000
- Cost of the wedding dress – £825
- Number of guests – 96
- Location of the reception – Family home
- Food Served – Hog roast
Average Cost of a Wedding: 2010s
Wedding costs continued to grow as we settled into the 2010s, with average total costs reaching over £26,000 in 2019. By 2018, The Independent revealed this cost had hit £30,355 – yet Bridebook found that in 2021 the cost was £24,000, suggesting the effect of COVID-19 with the rise of the micro-wedding and couples opting for smaller, more intimate ceremonies.
Average Cost of a Wedding in 2021
Bridebook found the cost of a wedding was £24,000 in 2021 – lower than its £31,000 2019 counterpart, in part due to the effect of COVID-19.
And it’s not just the cost of the actual wedding ceremony set to rise, the prices of honeymoons and added extras are also growing.
According to WeddingPlanner.co.uk, at least half the cost of a wedding in the UK is attributed to costs such as catering, guest spend, hair and beauty, photography and the whole host of added extras couples pull in to make their big day stand out.