Prices are on the rise and shortages abound in the United States – and as a result, couples planning their weddings in 2021 are seeing their budgets take a hit.
After many canceled, postponed and rescheduled weddings in 2020, couples getting married this year face rapidly rising prices in a number of categories, including labor costs for waiters and bartenders, equipment rental and food. The Consumer Price Index recorded its biggest jump across all sectors from April 2020 to April 2021 since 2008, affecting event-related industries, such as shipping and food.
Some couples will ignore classic crab cake appetizers due to the crab shortage, cut back on flowers because small business florists went bankrupt during the pandemic, forgoing bar packages and big rentals because labor and delivery costs have doubled, or paying excessively for a site trying to make up for losses in 2020.
Sites tend to be one of the first and biggest budget items a couple sets aside in the planning process. While it’s common for a venue to increase its fees by a small percentage per year, wedding planners notice price increases for weddings in 2021 and 2022 in the range of 30-40%.
“There is such a demand right now due to the number of people being postponed and the number of people who have gotten engaged since then, combining two years of marriages into one,” says Jenna Culley, owner and event planner at Jenna Culley Events in Minneapolis and St. Paul. “The sites see it as an opportunity to make up some of the revenue they lost last year, and the demand is there – people are going to pay for it.”
There are few budget items that are unaffected by the price increases, but wedding planners say couples also need to prepare for shortages and increased competition.
“Flowers have been a big issue this year in terms of cost and availability,” says McKenna Shano, owner of McKenna Katherine Weddings in Phoenix. “Venues were also booked very quickly, especially here in Arizona, which is a popular destination for weddings, so find and book your venue early in the process.”
Additionally, Culley says couples will likely pay more than what would be typical for rentals and the associated labor and delivery costs.
“A lot of my favorite vendors can waive the late night sales charge, but they just can’t this year; they have to charge it because they either have to pay more for staff or hire more staff to host all the weddings and events that are going on this year, ”she said.
The coronavirus pandemic has certainly contributed to the rising costs of weddings, but Katy Turchich-Martin, owner of Coastal Coordinating in Florida, says weddings have been getting more expensive for years. Couples may also just be ready to do everything and splurge after having to delay wedding plans during the pandemic.
“I’ve been a planner for 15 years, so I can tell you that in the last six years the prices have almost doubled,” Turchich said. “Weddings have become a huge industry and there is so much to do in a wedding now than there were years ago. There are so many additions and ways couples want to make this 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 budgets increase and 68% admit their budget was lower than realistic. The survey also noted that most couples said they simultaneously save for other financial goals, such as a house or retirement, while saving for their marriage.
To stay on track in 2021 and 2022, wedding planners say couples may need to include even more cushioning for unforeseen costs this year than would be typical.
“Look at what are the most important parts of their overall budget and their wedding experience, and let’s put that money there,” Culley says. “It’s about prioritizing where they’re spending their money this year more than ever.”