Expensive Ever After: Wedding Costs Soar In High-Inflation Environment
wedding couple
Peter Cade/Getty Images

Couples are slashing their wedding budgets amid rising inflation and other economic phenomena.

According to industry research company The Wedding Report, American couples are slated to hold 2.5 million weddings in 2022 — a 30% hike from the previous year amid the relaxing of COVID-19 restrictions, CNBC reported. Like many other industries, couples preparing to say “I do” must navigate vendors seeking to deal with pent-up demand, supply chain bottlenecks limiting the availability of key items, and rampant consumer price inflation.

According to data from The Wedding Report, spending for weddings increased to $27,063 in 2021 — a 25% increase from $20,286 in 2020. The price increase also corresponds with average guest count rising from 107 to 124.

Between 2020 and 2021, a number of key wedding components saw double-digit price increases:

  • 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%

Earlier this year, The Knot’s 2021 Real Wedding Study found that couples spent $28,000 on their ceremony and reception. The 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.

CNBC interviewed a couple that plans to hold their wedding in Cartagena, Colombia, instead of their native Miami, Florida, to save money. 

“We spent three or four months looking at a lot of different venues and realized that we weren’t going to be able to afford Miami,” Nicole Brandfon said about her upcoming ceremony with fiancé Adam Alonso. “Florida, or anywhere in the U.S., really… if we wanted anything extra it seemed like it was going to be another couple thousand dollars.”

Beyond weddings, inflation has outpaced nominal increases in pay, producing a nearly 3% decline in real wages — stretching Americans’ budgets with respect to food, gas, housing, and other necessities. Experts predict that inflation will continue to plague the American economy.

“Inflation, as we all know, when it gets in the system, it’s very hard to get it out,” billionaire investor David Rubenstein said on Fox News. “It takes a long time to get it out, can take a couple of years.”

“So now I don’t think the inflation rate this year will be what it was last month or so. I don’t think we’re going to have 8% annualized rate of inflation, but I suspect something around 5% is probably not unlikely, maybe even 6%,” he added.

To curb rising price levels, the Federal Reserve increased interest rates by a half point on Wednesday — which marked the largest rate hike since May 2000 and followed a quarter point increase from near-zero levels two months ago.

“Inflation is much too high,” Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said at a news conference. “We understand the hardship it is causing, and we’re moving expeditiously to bring it back down. We have both the tools we need and the resolve that it will take to restore price stability on behalf of American families and businesses.”

Broadly speaking, inflation has eroded Americans’ approval of President Joe Biden. A recent poll found that 94% of Americans were either “upset” or “concerned” about the impact of skyrocketing inflation, while a slim 28% approved of Biden’s approach toward price levels.

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