March 26, 2023

Expect to Pay More This Wedding Season

Prices are on the rise and shortages abound in the U.S. – and as a result, couples planning their 2021 wedding are seeing their budgets take a major hit.

After many canceled, postponed and rescheduled their 2020 weddings, couples getting married this year face fast-rising prices in a number of categories including labor costs for servers and bartenders, equipment rentals and food. The Consumer Price Index posted its largest jump across all sectors from April 2020 to April 2021 since 2008, affecting industries relevant to events, such as shipping and food.

Some couples will be skipping the classic crab cake hors d’oeuvres because of the crab shortage, cutting back on flowers because small business florists went under during the pandemic, forgoing bar packages and big rentals because labor and delivery costs have doubled, or paying excessively for a venue that’s trying to make up for 2020 losses.

Venues tend to be one of the first and biggest budget items a couple reserves in the planning process. While it’s typical for a venue to raise its fees by a small percentage annually, wedding planners are noticing price hikes for 2021 and 2022 weddings in the realm of 30% to 40%.

“There’s such a high demand right now because of how many people postponed and how many people have gotten engaged since then, combining two years of weddings into one,” says Jenna Culley, owner and event planner at Jenna Culley Events in Minneapolis and St. Paul. “Venues are looking at it as an opportunity to make up some of that revenue that they lost out on last year, and the demand is there – people will pay it.”

There are few budget line items not touched by price increases, but wedding planners say couples also need to prepare for shortages and heightened competition.

“Florals have been a big issue this year in terms of cost and availability,” says McKenna Shano, owner of McKenna Katherine Weddings in Phoenix. “Venues have also been booking up very quickly, especially here in Arizona which is a popular destination for weddings, so definitely find and book your venue early on in the process.”

In addition, Culley says couples will likely pay more than would be typical for rentals and the labor and delivery costs associated with them.

“A lot of my preferred vendors might waive late night vendor fees, but they just can’t this year; they have to charge it because they’re either needing to pay more for staff or hire more staff to accommodate all of the weddings and events happening this year,” she says.

The coronavirus pandemic certainly contributed to the rise in wedding costs, but Katy Turchich-Martin, owner of Coastal Coordinating in Florida, says weddings have been getting more and more expensive for years now. Couples may also simply be willing to go all out and splurge after having had to delay wedding plans during the pandemic.

“I’ve been a planner for the last 15 years, so I can tell you in the last six years prices have close to doubled,” Turchich says. “Weddings have become a huge industry and there’s so much that goes into a wedding now than years ago. There are so many add-ons and ways couples want to make the day unique.”

And when planning a wedding, it’s common for couples to go over budget.

An April Wedding Wire and Grow survey found that two-thirds of couples saw their budget increase and 68% admit their budget was lower than was realistic. The survey also noted that most couples reported they are simultaneously saving for other financial goals, such as a house or retirement, while saving for their wedding.

To stay on track in 2021 and 2022, wedding planners say couples may need to include even more padding for unexpected costs this year than would be typical.

“Look at what are the most important elements in their overall budget and wedding experience, and let’s put that money there,” Culley says. “It’s about prioritizing where they spend their dollars this year more than ever.”

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