Wedding prices will vary depending on where and when you're getting married and you have to remember that these average numbers include everything from city hall weddings to million dollar affairs.
You need to be realistic in what you can afford to spend and what a wedding will cost in your area. Don't just wake up the day after you get engaged and say to your self, "This wedding will cost me $30,000 because the average is $26K and I can go a little over that."
You may soon find out that you can't even get a recepion hall in your area for less than $25,000.
When trying to figure out what the wedding will probably cost, ask friends and relatives who have recently gotten married and find out what they spent on the various vendors. You may be surprised with what they tell you. And don't ask someone who was married several years ago or longer, because the prices have probably gone up since their wedding.
A photographer we met with on the recommendation of a friend who hired her few years before we got engaged paid $5,000. When we met her the price was $7,500 and now -- 8 years later -- it's well over $12,000.
Now, I'm not saying that you should let the average cost in your area dictate what you spend, but it's important to know what you should expect to spend as you start meeting with and signing contracts.
And as always, don't forget to save 10% of your budget -- or add 10% to it -- for emergencies and last minute add-ons.