Wedding costs rise as pent-up demand and inflation force couples to cut back

Wedding costs rise as pent-up demand and inflation force couples to cut back

Nicole Brandfon and her fiancé Adam Alonso are planning a wedding in Colombia, rather than Miami, because it was more affordable.

Source: Nicole Brandfon

Nicole Brandfon and her fiancé, Adam Alonso, will fly from Florida to South America early next year for a destination wedding. International travel was not their original plan, but it saves them money.

The couple, engaged since last June, dreamed of organizing their wedding in Miami, where they both work and live. But as they began to plan, the duo quickly realized that prices were out of reach and room availability was slim to none for the planned period of either late 2022 or early 2023.

“We spent three or four months exploring a lot of different places and realized we weren’t going to be able to afford Miami,” said Brandfon, a 29-year-old account manager at a public relations agency.

Brandfon and Alonso’s decision to marry overseas is just one example of how couples are getting creative to deal with the rising costs of planning a wedding. Sellers are overbooked with the pent-up demand created by the Covid pandemic. They are also facing headwinds in the supply chain leading to shortages. At the same time, inflation drives up the cost of everything from food to labor.

Read more: Soaring prices are forcing consumers to ask themselves: can I live without it?

As a result, many couples are compromising and rethinking their priorities – opting for the dreamy wedding dress or open bar over the extravagant floral arrangements.

Brandfon and Alonso will say “yes” in February in the Caribbean coast city of Cartagena, Colombia, at a fraction of the price they quoted closer to home. Now they can have a wedding planner and they plan to serve a variety of foods at a full dinner party, according to Brandfon.

“In Florida, or anywhere in the United States, really,” she said, “if we wanted anything more, it looked like it would cost another couple thousand dollars.”

Section line elements

Nearly 7 million couples in the United States are expected to wed in the next three years, according to industry research firm The Wedding Report. The pandemic delayed marriages for many and accelerated relationship times for others, spurring engagements between partners who spent more time together — and enjoyed the extra companionship — when lockdowns persisted.

This year, couples are expected to hold around 2.5 million weddings, a 30% increase from the previous year and a number not seen in four decades, according to the Wedding Report. Over the next two years, the number is expected to decline slightly, according to the National Trade Group, but not by much. Americans are expected to plan 2.24 million weddings next year and 2.17 million the following year.

The amount that couples spend to get married is also steadily increasing. In 2021, the average couple spent $27,063 on their wedding, according to the Wedding Report, compared to about $24,700 per couple in 2019. In 2020, near the start of the pandemic, many couples opted for smaller ceremonies with fewer frills and spent an average of $20,286.

As the celebrations resume, the couples find campaign elements they can cut.

More and more couples are choosing to have weekday weddings, said Kim Forrest, managing editor at WeddingWire. This helps with limited venue availability, but it also has a cost advantage: some venues offer discounts for events that take place on less busy days in the middle of the week.

The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, for example, is charging a $10,000 setup fee for the property’s Deerpark venue for a Saturday wedding this fall. For a Friday or Sunday, the fee will cost you $8,000.

The number of guests is also on the rise, and it will cost more.

Shane McMurray

founder of the marriage report

Forrest also noted that weddings held in the South tend to be less expensive than those in the Northeast, with cities like Boston and New York pushing up the national average.

Prices for major wedding expenses are expected to be “much higher” this year than in recent years, largely due to rising food, labor and transportation costs, Shane said. McMurray, founder of the Wedding Report. In addition, suppliers who see demand for bookings increase now have the option of naming their price, he said.

“These are the things people are most interested in – the food and the bar, the photography services and of course the venue,” he said. “The number of guests is also up, and it’s going to cost more.”

That means couples could make sacrifices elsewhere in the planning process, he said, which would be a loss for some sellers. Couples might not prioritize paying a wedding planner, for example, as long as they’re comfortable doing the extra work themselves.

Couples spend less money, on average, on beauty and spa services, a ceremony officiant and gifts for their wedding guests, according to data from The Wedding Report. There’s more flexibility with these items to find less expensive options that will still get the job done, McMurray said. Add-ons like a photo booth or videographer are usually removed to stay within budget.

“We are going to have to raise our prices”

Sellers feel the pressure try to be more accommodating, knowing that many couples feel strapped for time and money.

The 2022 wedding season is in “full bloom” on the heels of a pandemic-induced downturn, said Samira Araghi, founder and owner of San Francisco bridal boutique WildBride.

That means bigger business for WildBride, which offers a selection of bohemian-inspired wedding dresses from brands including Pronovias and Willowby through its website and in its only physical store on Fillmore Street.

There have been times during the pandemic when it felt like society was opening up again and couples were free to hold larger gatherings, she said. But the recovery has been bumpy thanks to periodic new spikes in virus variants.

“When the delta [variant] came, things were called off again. And then when omicron came along, things were undone again,” she said. “Right now, we’re definitely seeing a return to full-size weddings.”

The most pressing issue facing WildBride today is delivering finished goods by mail, Araghi said, noting that many suppliers have closed and several fabrics, dresses and styles have been discontinued. “Supply chain issues are a big deal right now,” she said.

WildBride, a San Francisco-based bridal boutique, is seeing an increase in demand for its dresses, coupled with increased supply chain complications.

Source: Photograph by Buena Lane

In search of solutions, WildBride began offering a “ready to use” selection during the pandemic. The dresses in the collection are either older styles or dresses that could easily be purchased in bulk from designers. Some of the dresses are discounted, depending on the condition.

It’s become an attractive option for women planning a last-minute walk down the aisle or facing logistical challenges while trying to get another dress before the big day, Araghi said. It’s also an option for more price-sensitive customers, so they don’t go shopping elsewhere.

Araghi said she has not yet been forced to raise prices for items amid widespread inflation, although she is aware this is happening at other sellers such as florists and jewelry stores. .

However, as shipping costs keep rising, she said it’s inevitable the company will have to make adjustments, potentially before the end of the year.

“I think it’s going to happen that, yeah, we have to raise our prices,” she said.

Post-boom downswing?

David’s Bridal managing director James Marcum doesn’t see the wedding boom or consumer sensitivity to higher prices dissipating anytime soon. That’s why the company invested in its digital loyalty program and a vertically integrated supply chain, so it could offer more benefits and make more dresses, he explained in a recent interview.

Marcum said he started noticing some brides were reluctant to spend thousands of dollars on a dress. The retailer offers quite a large selection, with prices ranging from $70 to $2,000.

“You start hearing rumors about budget sensitivity,” he said.

Of course, this does not mean that the bride will completely forgo a dress. She may well opt for a cheaper option, Marcum said. “You’re always going to see a tougher, brighter [wedding dress] business, but it really extends into 2022 and 2023,” he said.

Brides spent an average of $1,499 on a wedding dress in 2021, according to the Wedding Report. That figure is expected to reach $1,527 this year, according to the report.

By 2024, the Wedding Report predicts that the number of weddings in the United States will approach 2018 levels, at 2.14 million. Couples can rest assured that some places might be easier to find by then. But we do not know where the prices will be.

Victoria Cela and her fiancé Ricardo Goudie plan to wed in 2024.

Source: Victoria That

Victoria Cela, a 27-year-old account manager at a public affairs firm in Florida, is betting on a downturn.

Cela and her fiancé, Ricardo Goudie, got engaged in March. Instead of rushing to the altar, the couple are planning a wedding for early 2024 to give themselves enough time to save money to cover expenses, Cela said.

“Our parents will help us, but obviously we want to be involved as much as possible,” she said. “It’s a luxury because we have more time.”

They plan to hold their ceremony at a family member’s home in Coral Gables, just outside of Miami, a choice that will allow them to invest their money in other things outside of the venue.

This hopes seller prices won’t be so high by then.

“Every time I go to a website and evaluate their prices, I’m like, ‘Okay, maybe we need to increase the budget a bit more,'” she said.

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