Weddings are pricey, and if you live in California, they can be especially so. While your wedding doesn’t need to cost $30,000, wedding expenses add up quickly – and one of the most decisive factors in the cost is (of course) location.
Here’s how stark the difference can be: While the average price for a wedding in California is about $8,500 (excluding any venue rental fees), that exact same wedding in one city can cost twice as much in another city, just a short drive away.
So what are the most and least expensive places to get married in California? Every month, thousands of brides and bridegrooms use Thumbtack to throw their wedding in California, so we analyzed data from almost 100,000 price quotes in California for the most popular wedding services to find out what couples typically pay. To get a sense at the full cost of the price of a wedding, we looked at costs in nine wedding-related categories:
We then calculated the average cost by city for each of these categories and generated an overall average wedding cost for each city by summing these up. With these results, we found that seven of the 10 most expensive cities to get married were in Southern California in very wealthy enclaves like Camarillo, Beverly Hills, Malibu and Rancho Palos Verde. The exceptions were three cities in Northern California: Napa and Santa Rosa (wine country) and Pleasanton, an area just outside of San Francisco that is ranked one of the wealthiest mid-sized cities for many years by the U.S. Census Bureau.
San Francisco and San Jose ranked 12th and 14th most expensive, while Los Angeles came in at number 21 overall.
The least expensive cities to hold a wedding in California? All of them were in Southern, California – and many of them just a short drive from the most expensive cities. Still, these cities tended to have higher proportions of middle-class families when compared to those with the most expensive weddings. Their average household income among these ten cities is 14 percent lower than in the 10 cities at the top of this list. And, as the map below shows, weddings are typically more expensive the closer they are to the coast.
Overall, the most expensive part of a wedding in California, regardless of location (and not including the cost of the venue), is feeding your guests. The average cost to cater a wedding in the Golden State is $1,607.95. Other pricey items were wedding florist (average cost of $1,339), videographer ($1,215), photographer ($1,037), wedding planner ($1069), and the DJ ($668). One of the least expensive parts of a wedding in California is ironically the one to seal the deal: Wedding officiants charge an average of just $227 in California per ceremony.
Curious how your California city stacks up? You can explore the average cost for a wedding in the top 90 cities in California in the interactive map below. The darker the green circle, the more expensive it is for a wedding in California; the bigger the circle the more wedding services are in the area.
Top Image: Hi/low Beverly Hills wedding via Inspired by This