If you’re planning a wedding this year, you’re in good company.
A record number of weddings — about 2.5 million — are expected in 2022, the most since 1984, according to wedding market research firm The Wedding Report. That’s up from 1.9 million in 2021 and 1.3 million in 2020.
Much of the increase is due to the fact that couples who postponed their nuptials due to Covid-19 are finally finding a window of opportunity to schedule their big day.
“It’s not really growth; it’s actually just pent up demand,” said Shane McMurray, CEO of The Wedding Report.
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The bulk of weddings this year are expected between summer and fall, according to The Knot.
Yet professionals who work in the wedding industry are already feeling the increased demand.
“Literally everybody in the wedding business is texting each other saying it’s a tidal wave,” said Carla Ruben, founder of Creative Edge Parties, a catering and event planning company that counts Serena Williams and Jennifer Gates as clients.
Adding to the competition for everything from venues and florists to photographers and music are record high inflation and supply chain shortages.
Altogether, that could push up the total tab. In 2021, couples spent $28,000 on average on their ceremony and reception, according to The Knot.
But experts say there are ways to cut costs and still have the event of your dreams.
“Everybody does have a budget,” said Lauren Kay, executive editor at The Knot. “It’s a worthwhile exercise to determine what you as a couple want to prioritize.”
Start with your must haves
In some ways, the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the approach people are taking to planning their weddings.
“We’re seeing couples really want to celebrate with their guests,” Kay said.
One side effect of that is longer guest lists, according to McMurray. “People are frustrated by not being able to be together, and so [they’re saying] ‘let’s just invite everybody,'” he said.
That celebratory spirit could get a reality check as couples scramble to secure a venue, florist, caterer, photographer and other services before they’re booked solid.
“My advice would be for couples to think about what’s most important to them, and that looks different for every couple,” Kay said.
You may decide it’s a dream venue, amazing caterer or photographer you follow on Instagram.
“Take one or two of those things and let them help guide your planning, in how much you’re willing to spend and where you’re prioritizing those efforts,” Kay said.
Make adjustments as necessary
If you get a high quote from a vendor you have your heart set on, don’t give up.
“Many times, someone will say, ‘I love this band, but I can’t afford them,” Ruben said.
But if the band costs $2,000, for example, it may be possible to come up with that sum by trimming spending elsewhere.
“You won’t notice it if we take a little bit from several areas and now you can have your band,” she said.
Some possible areas where couples can save money include décor or transportation, though Ruben emphasized it’s important never to make cuts to areas that directly affect the guest experience.
One way couples can save is by cutting the champagne toast, Ruben suggested. Often, only half the room will drink the champagne, and toasting with whatever guests are already drinking works just as well.
It also helps to be flexible, Kay noted. That may mean scheduling your wedding for a Thursday night instead of a Saturday in order to get your desired venue.
Amid a flower shortage, you may be able to save money if you are willing to accept a substitute for white roses, for example, she said.
Consider an insurance policy
For each vendor you book, there is an associated risk. Buying an insurance policy can help hedge that risk, according to Todd Shasha, managing director at Travelers Personal Insurance.
“As soon as you start outlaying deposits, that’s the ideal time to buy a policy,” Shasha said.
That starts with core coverage, which can cover cancellation if the venue goes out of business or a vendor fails to show up, for example. You may also want to add on liability and liquor liability coverage, to protect against additional unforeseen circumstances, such as damage to the venue.
Prices will vary depending on the size of your wedding. A $35,000 cancellation policy from Travelers starts at $300, Shasha said.
Notably, there are exclusions. You generally can’t buy a policy 14 days before a catastrophic weather event, nor will you be covered for a change of heart.
Moreover, if a Covid-19 outbreak forces you to cancel your wedding, that will not be covered. Instead, you will have to negotiate with your vendors to reschedule or obtain a refund.
If you postpone your wedding, generally the insurance policy can be extended out to the new date, Shasha said.