As COVID-19 restrictions are being lifted, many couples now hope to reschedule weddings postponed during lockdown. However, increased wedding costs may prove a difficult barrier to overcome.
While the nation is beginning to recover from the pandemic, certain effects still linger. The lockdown not only caused many weddings to be postponed, but it also affected vendors who are now struggling to meet the increased demand for weddings in 2021 and 2022.
There was some demand for weddings in 2020, according to Cherie Meadows, owner of Amour Floral & Decor in Cleveland, Ohio, but those weddings were kept small. This year, she has received double the number of bookings.
Just over a third of all couples who had weddings planned in 2020 postponed their date until 2021 or later, and of those who still got married in 2020, a third are planning a larger celebration now that social distancing measures are decreasing, according to The Knot, a wedding planning website.
While the cost per guest increased in 2020, the average wedding cost dropped to $19,000 from $28,000 in 2019, due to mandatory downsizing during COVID-19, according to The Knot 2020 Real Weddings Study. In 2021, Weddingstats.org estimates the average cost to be between $29,000 and $31,000, depending on size and location. These numbers are expected to increase over the next few years as vendors attempt to recover from the financial losses suffered in 2020 and 2021.
The increased demand for weddings in 2021 poses a problem for vendors due to a decrease in supply and availability of products. This problem is particularly evident in the flower industry.
“Farms have closed down. The weather was bad in Ecuador and Columbia [major sources of flowers sold in the United States]. There are not a lot of flights from those countries, so the product is not able to get to us,” said Meadows. As a result, these suppliers’ prices have increased 25-45 percent.
Despite that, many vendors — including Meadows— are still honoring the original pricing on pre-pandemic contracts, and they will suffer a loss due to the increased cost of supplies and the need to hire more staff to accommodate increased demand. Prices are likely to then rise for new clients in 2022 as these businesses try to stay afloat.
Other wedding-related vendors are already increasing their prices this year.
“Some of our prices were locked in, but catering is about 50 percent higher and other services aren’t even open because they don’t have enough staff,” said Marjorie Thompson, who is planning a July wedding in Virginia. “We had our venue paid last summer, so it was the same, but our flowers were higher by a couple hundred dollars.”
To afford the increase in expenses, Thompson’s parents, her fiancé’s family and the couple themselves are pooling their resources. For other couples without such support or savings, increased costs may be a major hurdle.
In planning a post-pandemic wedding, Meadows counsels flexibility. For example, a couple might not be able to get the exact flowers they wanted, but they can instead focus on the overall color scheme and adapt as necessary.
There can even be some advantages in planning a wedding after COVID-19, due to the required social distancing measures that remain in effect in many places.
“At our venue, they had three rooms: One small room, one big room and one extra room that you could add to the big room,” said newlywed Christian Bell, who got married in June in Avon, Ohio. “Normally, the big room was an extra $2,000, and the extra room was another $500. This year, due to COVID, we could get the big room and the extra room for no extra charge. However, this was because we weren’t allowed to have as many people in each room.”
Although lowered restrictions may open more possibilities for wedding planning, costs will likely continue to rise until the world is able to recalibrate after the pandemic.
In the meantime, everyone is simply doing the best they can.
“Trust your vendors and give them grace, especially florists, because we have no control over the current industry the way it is,” said Meadows. “Just trust you are hiring a reputable company, and we are doing our best, just as you are.”
(Edited by Matthew B. Hall and Judith Isacoff)
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