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Put A Ring On It? Saying “I Do” Will Cost You More This Year

Note: This article may contain commentary or the author's opinion.

Americans are looking for creative ways to stretch budgets as they discover the walk down the aisle is costing more due to runaway inflation, supply chain bottlenecks and constrained demand following the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Couples are expected to host 2.5 million weddings in 2022, a 30% increase from 2021, according to The Wedding Report as reported by CNBC. It costs more to put on these lavish events, 25% more just last year, and the elements that make a wedding and reception saw double-digit increases between 2020 and 2021:

  • Wedding cakes — 48.5%
  • Wedding venue food — 36.5%
  • Live bands — 37.9%
  • Videographer — 35.5%
  • Wedding venue flowers and arrangements — 33.4%
  • Hotel rooms for after reception — 27.3%
  • Tuxedo rentals and purchases — 20.5%
  • Wedding dresses — 16.5%

The median cost for a wedding was $28,000 in 2021 according to The Knot’s Real Wedding Study and couples are paying more per guest. But guests are also paying more to attend a wedding, according to the reportThe total cost for attending a wedding increased from $430 in 2019 to $460 in 2021. Couples’ spending per guest also increased from $214 to $266 over the same period.

Couples have to contend with trade-offs, nixing elaborate floral arrangements or settling for a vendor lower on their lists. Weddings postponed in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic are taking place in 2022 and competition for vendors and venues is fierce. Creative couples have come up with ways to reduce costs, even holding their special day abroad. Nicole Brandfon and her fiance, Adam Alonso, realizing that holding their wedding in Miami was cost-prohibitive and their desired venue was booked through 2023, moved the event to South America:

Brandfon and Alonso will say “I do” in February in the Caribbean coastal town of Cartagena, Colombia, at a fraction of the cost they were quoted closer to home. Now they’re able to have a wedding planner, and they intend to serve a variety of foods at a fully seated dinner, according to Brandfon.  “Florida, or anywhere in the U.S., really,” she said, “if we wanted anything extra it seemed like it was going to be another couple thousand dollars.”

Other ways to reduce wedding costs include deprioritizing items that have become almost standard, such as guest party favors or reception photo booths. Wedding planners also suggest holding weddings and receptions during a weekday or a Friday or Sunday as many venues offer discounts.  One property, The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, charges a $10,000 facility fee for the property’s Deerpark venue for a Saturday wedding this fall. For a Friday or Sunday, the fee will run you $8,000.

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Wedding dresses have not been spared the inflation and supply chain crunch, and many brides-to-be are nixing bespoke and specialist for off-the-rack. Part of the reason for this shift is that retailers cannot get products in stores as suppliers have either shutdown or are backlogged and fabrics and styles discontinued. WildBride, a bridal boutique in San Francisco, provided off-the-rack selections during the pandemic and continues this option in 2022:

The dresses in the collection are either older styles or ones that could easily be bought in large batches from designers. Some of the dresses are discounted, depending on the condition. It’s become an appealing option for women planning a last-minute walk down the aisle or encountering logistical challenges while trying to secure another dress before the big day, store owner Samira Araghi said.

Still standing as the cheapest option is the quick trip to City Hall, which has never gone out of style.