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Wedding trends and spends

Wedding budgets have risen to an all-time high — to an average of more than $28,000 — according to the Real Weddings Survey, which explores bridal industry trends for TheKnot.com and WeddingChannel.com.

"Couples are increasingly less concerned with the economy and are comfortable investing more than ever in the once-in-a-lifetime experience of planning their wedding and making it a fabulous experience for their guests," said Carley Roney, cofounder of The Knot.

Here are a few of the top wedding trends from 2012, the latest year for which the survey was held:

  • Perfection is pricey when it comes to the gown. On average, brides spent $1,211 on wedding dresses in 2012. Brides in Manhattan spend the most on their dresses, $2,877 on average, while Idaho brides spend the least, $878.
  • The average wedding cost grew over 2011, hitting $28,427. In this vein, fewer brides, 26 percent, say the economy affected their wedding spend — a statistic that has continually decreased year over year, from 29 percent in 2011, 31 percent in 2010 and 34 percent in 2009.
  • Spending per guest increased to $204 in 2012, up from $196 in 2011. In 2012, more than 1 in 4 brides provided additional guest entertainment, compared to 22 percent in 2011, 15 percent in 2010 and 11 percent in 2009. Additionally, while the number of brides who throw a rehearsal dinner, after-party or morning-after brunch has remained steady, brides are spending more money on these events. More than 1 in 4 are even providing shuttles and buses for guests to attend their weddings.
  • For the first time, the study looked at same-sex wedding statistics. It found that same-sex couples have longer engagements and are older at the time of their weddings, compared to traditional couples. They're more likely to have a casual wedding and report having fewer wedding guests. Same-sex couples spent slightly more on their overall wedding costs and more per guest. They're also less likely to host a bridal shower, bachelorette or bachelor party, but more likely to have an after-party, engagement party and couples party.
  • Religious institutions were chosen less frequently for the wedding ceremony. Only 35 percent of brides opted to hold their wedding in a house of worship in 2012, down from 41 percent in 2009. Additionally, more couples are opting to have a friend or family member officiate the ceremony. In 2012, 33 percent of couples chose a friend or family member to officiate, a number that has increased slightly each year since it was recorded at 29 percent in 2009.
  • Blue is the most popular wedding color, with 1 in 3 brides opting for the hue. Dark blue has doubled in popularity since 2008, when only 10 percent chose the color. Purple continues to be popular, with 22 percent picking it in 2012. Gray is also gaining steam, with 11 percent choosing the color in 2012, up from 7 percent in 2011.

Wedding trends and spends