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For Richer or Poorer

The top 10 average wedding expenses for 2007.

Wedding Dress

Wedding Dress

Photo By Steve Eichner

About 2.4 million couples will get married in the U.S. this year — and spend more than ever: an estimated $27,490 each. Do the math and the industry is looking at bringing in roughly $66 billion for 2007. Theweddingreport.com, an online wedding statistical service, has provided this year's averages of top wedding expenses, and it's all about the party. Most of the top 10 expenses happen on the day of the wedding and during the reception that typically follows. Sharon Naylor, wedding expert and author of more than 30 wedding books, agreed. "Couples want to give their guests a show," she said. "They want to create an entire experience, especially when guests take the time to travel — couples are focused on making sure they love their food, they're well entertained and that they get the best of everything."

RECEPTION FOOD SERVICE

Average cost per couple for 2007: $9,400

According to Theweddingreport.com, the average number of wedding guests is 167. Sharon Naylor, a wedding expert based in Madison, N.J., pointed out that a recent trend is to bypass the typical dishes of chicken, beef or salmon and instead create combination platters of unique dishes that guests can't get every day. "Organic and ethnic dishes are becoming really popular — people don't want to serve what their guests have had at 10,000 other weddings," Naylor said. "The more creative you can be, the better. This is where the bulk of the money is spent — couples are cutting costs in places like flowers in order to make better, more extravagant food." Here's food for thought: Couples can save a fortune by planning a Friday night celebration, one earlier in the day on Saturday or a Sunday afternoon or evening.

ENGAGEMENT RING

Cost: $5,400

"Buying an engagement ring is one of the most significant decisions in a person's life and one of the biggest investments," Frédéric de Narp, Cartier North America president and chief executive officer, told WWD in May. Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels, both owned by Compagnie Financière Richemont, have opened bridal sections in their respective stores: Cartier in its New York boutique and Van Cleef in Paris. "Cartier's 607-square-foot room showcases the brand's classic bridal collections, which includes engagement rings, wedding bands, earrings, necklaces and bracelets, as well as its new band collections that start at $1,100," said WWD. Some couples who choose to stray from the very popular diamond solitaire standard have been opting for colored stones, such as sapphires and emeralds.

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