As COVID-19 continues to stick around, everyone has had to change their lives in some aspect. The wedding industry has, of course, been greatly affected as well. Clients lost out on deposits in 2020 for cancellations; venues lost out on events; and planners, well, the entire industry ground to a halt. All that said, what is the average cost of a wedding in 2021? The answer may surprise you.
Now that things are starting to gear back up again, it is a sudden rush to the altar. Venues are booked out well into 2023, wedding flowers cost more than they ever have, and even small, intimate weddings are seeing a sizable price tag.
It’s not all bad, though. A lot of trends from the era of lockdowns and social distancing will continue to stick around because they actually became rather popular.
Weddings in a COVID-19 world are different in many ways, but when it comes to cost, they’re only getting pricier.
Here’s what you need to know as a wedding planner, as we approach the end 2021 and head into 2022’s wedding world.
Why are COVID Weddings More Expensive?
Before we get into the numbers, it’s important to understand exactly why COVID-era weddings are running up the tab. The economic implications of COVID-19 will be felt for many more years to come, but they’re particularly egregious right now.
Suppliers are low on manpower and on stock, and combined, this leads to endless delays, backorders, and outright cancellations of inventory. On the other side, vendors and venues are overwhelmed with rescheduled weddings and events and are trying their best to recoup their own losses while still keeping up with demand.
Supply Issues Are Affecting Every Industry
Everything is backed up right now. From meat to lumber, the supply shortage is being felt all over the globe. When it comes to common items needed for weddings, well, things are just as bad.
Paper is one industry that is severely backed up, and when it comes to invitations and other items that need to be printed on nice, quality paper, it is causing a major issue.
As Rhiannon Hale, owner and creative director at Paper and Home in Las Vegas, Nevada, explained to Wedding Wire, “I recently sat on the phone with one of my suppliers for quite some time while I ran through eight to 10 different options of stock as the original selection was unavailable. Out of that group, only a few of the papers were available and even then, the colors weren’t exactly right, or the weights weren’t what I was hoping for.”
Hale added, “If I had had time to wait for a restock, it would have potentially been a few weeks later when a shipment would come in, but there was no guarantee of that.” This notion of waiting for weeks is being felt industry-wide, so when talking options with clients, if you know there is a delay or backorder, make sure they are well aware of what that means.
A Big Backlog of the Weddings
In the 2020 Real Weddings Study [COVID-19 Edition], only 43 percent of couples who were scheduled to have a wedding in 2020 actually did. Of those surveyed, 15 percent pushed to have their wedding in 2021, while 32 percent rescheduled. Seven percent of those surveyed cancelled the wedding entirely.
This all means there is a massive influx of weddings happening in 2021 and into 2022. Venues are booked out into 2023, leaving couples scrambling for options. The backlog of weddings and trouble finding venues has led to the rise in pop-up weddings in particular.
Micro weddings have also become popular in a pandemic and post-pandemic world given their smaller size, smaller price tag, and ease of planning. It’s an option many clients are looking for, overwhelmed by the more traditional route.
When discussing venues with your clients, make sure to let them know of alternatives like pop-up weddings and micro weddings. They may be more amenable to them then waiting yet another year for their venue of choice.
What is the Average Cost of a Wedding in 2021?
According to a study by The Knot, the average cost of a COVID-19 era wedding is $19,000. Now, that is actually $9,000 less than 2019 numbers, but there are a few mitigating factors to include. Weddings are smaller these days, with people concentrating on more intimate ceremonies and guest lists with just close friends and family.
That said, as has been discussed, supply and demand is not in balance. Clients are having to spend more for things now than they would have before. Want that one particular wedding dress? You’re going to have to pay for a rush fee because it’s backed up for months. Clients want specific flowers? Probably not going to happen.
It will be important to work with your clients on a budget that is realistic and also flexible should regulations and supply change. Be upfront about the difficulties industry-wide, right from the beginning. It’s better to be prepared and paranoid, than naively optimistic and get a nasty surprise.
The Average Cost of a Wedding Dress in 2021
Our main question, what is the average cost of a wedding in 2021, starts with the bride.
Wedding dresses never came cheap, but right now there is a noticeable price increase. This is, again, because of supply issues as well as the backup of weddings. More brides than ever are looking for their perfect dress, and with issues with cotton and other textiles in terms of supply, things are moving slowly.
“Never in my 20 years in bridal has a designer given me a confirmation date and then just arbitrarily switched the date to two months later,” says Liz Sellassie, owner of bridal store Designer Loft in New York City, when speaking with Bloomberg.
That said, rush fees have doubled and designers are making a hefty chunk of change at the expense of brides and bridal boutiques. Definitely let your brides know that if they want to have their dress rushed, it is going to cost them hundreds of dollars extra.
Getting a dress turned around within three months is no easy task, and it is making many brides buy off the rack with minimal alterations. This is all due to short-notice weddings. With still so many unknowns, especially because of the Covid-19 Delta variant, many couples just don’t want to risk booking something six months out, only to have restrictions put in place again.
Some brides are looking to save money where they can and are buying pre-owned dresses from sites like PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com. If another bride has your measurements, it saves a lot of money, anxiety, and time.
What Will be the Cost of Wedding Flowers in 2022?
Just how much do wedding flowers cost? Well, it depends on where you are exactly. In general it is a lot more expensive now than it has been in years past.
During the pandemic, florists scaled back their work. The demand for fresh flowers wasn’t exactly high on people’s priority list in the height of worldwide lockdowns. This was especially true in countries like Australia, whose lockdown cut off all freight. Cargo space was prioritized toward healthcare supplies, not imported flowers.
Now that things are opening back up florists haven’t been able to keep up with the demand. Local florists are, in particular, having a hard time keeping up with the demand. Because of this, local flowers have doubled in price.
“We are not getting the kind of variety and price points that florists would usually get on the wholesale level,” explains Rebecca Chan, a Toronto-based wedding and event planner.
Couples will need to be flexible about their florals, unless they want to pay out the nose. Even then, however, it may simply not be possible. Using in-season flowers can help cut some costs, as well as using those local to the area.
Another way clients can mitigate the rising cost of fresh flowers is to go an eco-friendly or reusable route of silk flowers or even dried flowers, which are quite popular for bouquets.
The Average Wedding Decoration Cost in 2022
With the rise of price in florals as well as other supply issues, wedding decoration costs are also unfortunately higher than usual. Grand centerpieces are going to cost a pretty penny and may no longer be in your client’s budget.
This does present a unique opportunity, however: DIY brides are on the rise, and there are a lot of options for lower-cost decorations that don’t rely so much on vendors.
Autumnal weddings rely on a lot of natural elements, which are easily accessible. Minimalist-style weddings can also be perfect for couples who are more focused on the people and the moment than on the aesthetic.
Hiring a wedding decorator may be a good bet, as they are responsible for sourcing everything. While they do run the more expensive route, a packaged deal may save money in the long run.
Preparing Clients for a More Expensive Wedding
One of the most important things you’ll ever discuss with clients is their budget. The first question ever couple has is “What is the average cost of a wedding in 2021?”
In an ever-changing pandemic world, this is more important than ever before. Make sure they are aware of the price changes. Especially if they initially started with you pre-pandemic and are now picking up where they left off.
There are options to help them with cost. Plus, the flexibility and the willingness to compromise on their part will be a major help. Clients may not want to change their plan. However, which is understandable as many have been waiting up to two years to finally have their big day.
Just keep updated on supply chain issues and available dates, and keep in contact with your vendors. Make sure your clients manage their expectations and hopefully everything will even out sooner rather than later.