The Wedding Report released its 2018 report this week. It found that the average amount spent on an engagement ring in 2018 was $3,388, while The Knot has it at about $5,800. This ring from Just Jules in 14-karat white gold with a rose-cut diamond retails for $4,100.
Tucson, Ariz.—There was no spike in engagement ring spending in the United States last year, part of an overall trend of couples tightening the belt on their wedding budgets, a new survey shows.

On Sunday, The Wedding Report, a Tucson-based research company that tracks and forecasts spending and trends in the wedding industry, released full-year 2018 data.

The data is based on 6,792 surveys collected between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2018 and includes both couples who were already married and those who had spent money on their wedding but hadn’t yet tied the knot when they took the survey.

Overall, The Wedding Report found the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. slipped 4 percent, from $25,764 in 2017 to $24,723 in 2018.

It was the first time since 2009 that the average cost of a wedding has slipped below $25,000 in The Wedding Report’s year-end survey and was on par with what consumers spent in 2008, when the average was $24,100.

Spending across almost aspects of the ceremony and reception declined or was flat, including spending on engagement rings and wedding bands.

According to the survey, the average amount spent on an engagement ring in 2018 was $3,388, down less than 1 percent from $3,402 in 2017.

Spending on the wedding band for her was $775, down only slightly from an average of $782 in 2017. The average amount spent on men’s bands was $454, virtually unchanged from $455.

Spending for other wedding jewelry—bracelets (average of $174), earrings ($151) and necklaces ($199)—also was flat year-over-year.

The engagement ring figure from The Wedding Report is always lower than what The Knot reports in its various surveys; the latest figure from the popular wedding planning website had average engagement ring spending at $5,764.

The Wedding Report founder and CEO Shane McMurray said Monday he believes the difference is that people who use The Knot are, for the most part, planning large weddings with bigger budgets and, therefore, have more money to spend on engagement rings.

His survey, meanwhile, cuts across a broader socioeconomic swath, encompassing everyone from couples getting married at the courthouse and holding a reception in the backyard to those planning a more traditional, higher-cost ceremony.

While the numbers might be different, both The Wedding Report and The Knot’s 2017 Real Weddings Study (the 2018 version is due out later this week) are reflective of the same trend: Consumers are starting to spend a little bit less on their big day.

McMurray attributes the change to two factors.

First, there is what he calls “lifestyle creep”—all the little things that people want or feel they need today that add up and eat into budgets, like that daily latte from the local coffee shop, the latest smartphone, drinks and dinners out with friends, styling and subscription services like Stitch Fix and Rent the Runway, and fees for the premium versions of streaming services like Hulu, Netflix, Spotify, etc.

All of these little things “just keep adding up,” McMurray said.

Second, there’s rising rents, and not just in big cities like New York, Los Angeles or Chicago; McMurray noted that rents in his town, Tucson, are increasing too.

Both these factors have consumers cutting back on “traditional wedding expenditures,” like limos, live bands, videographers and wedding albums.

There were a few areas, however, where demand picked up in 2018: event spaces, food and decorations. This points to couples “looking for an experience, not a traditional wedding.”

“The reality is people’s priorities are changing,” McMurray said. “They’re different.”

To see The Wedding Report’s tables on spending in 2018 vs. 2017 visit TheWeddingReport.com.

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