If you’re planning a wedding in the midst of a global pandemic, you deserve a serious pat on the back. It’s a hard time for everyone, but especially those trying to plan the most important and momentous day of their life. If you feel like you’re meeting resistance every step you make throughout the planning process, you’re far from alone. The wedding industry has had to make drastic pivots to not only keep their client’s plans in motion but also to keep their jobs afloat.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, weddings came to a sudden halt (as did everything else!) and couples were forced to postpone, and some cancel, due to not being able to host their original guest count,” explains Erica Estrada, San Francisco-based wedding planner, and designer. “It was an extremely sad and, quite frankly, stressful time for so many with many losing large amounts of money that had already been paid toward executing their wedding day.”
Meet the Expert
- Erica Estrada is a San Francisco-based wedding planner, and designer.
- Oniki Hardtman is a wedding planner and owner of Oh Niki Occasions in South Florida and New York City.
- Jamie Chang is a destination wedding planner at Mango Muse Events in Los Altos, California.
- Ashley Mason is a wedding planner and owner of Saunter Weddings in Dallas.
Now that we have a better grasp on how to handle planning during a pandemic, as well as an understanding of how to execute safety precautions such as from temperature checks and sanitation stations to rapid COVID tests, planning has become a bit more streamlined. But as a result of all of these added concerns, new areas of attention, and financial losses from the 2020 season, some vendors are raising their costs. “Flower farms lost acres and acres of product for the weddings that were not allowed, then causing an increase in florals to pay farmers and an increased demand of flowers once weddings began to resume,” explains Estrada. “Just like any other profession, most wedding vendors work in this industry full-time and having months with no weddings and the turn of the industry for the foreseeable future, price increases to make a living may be the only way many will be able to sustain during this time.”
While there’s an expected increase in prices from one year to the next in any industry, including weddings, the pandemic has especially opened the eyes of vendors in the industry. “We now realize that we have to be even more profitable in order to run a business that is sustainable through unprecedented times,” explains Oniki Hardtman, a wedding planner and owner of Oh Niki Occasions in South Florida and New York City, who also points out the supply-and-demand effect of such situations as the pandemic on business.
“As many weddings from 2020 were postponed into 2021, that automatically created a very full wedding calendar for 2021, which created a situation where vendors will be stretched to their limits in the upcoming wedding year,” she says. “It will take additional staffing and manpower to be able to support a robust calendar of weddings and events in the 52 weekends in the year.”
If you’re in the midst of planning your 2021 or 2022 wedding, it’s true that you might be facing higher prices than if you were wedding shopping in 2019 pre-pandemic. (According to the 2020 Brides American Wedding Study, the average cost is $28,964.) But that doesn’t mean you have to spend your life savings on your wedding. Here are some expert-approved tips on how to cut costs on planning a wedding post-pandemic.
Hire a Wedding Planner, Stat!
While forgoing a wedding planner and attempting to coordinate all of the planning that goes along with your big day yourself might seem like a good way to cut costs, it’s actually a fast way for them to add up.
“Wedding planners have relationships with vendors so they can not only better negotiate on your behalf, but also utilize their industry discounts,” says Jamie Chang, owner, and destination wedding planner at Mango Muse Events in Los Altos, California. “You'll also save money because your wedding planner has the experience and insider knowledge to guide you through all your decisions and what your best options are including what's cost-effective and/or a good value and what you may not need at all.”
If you give your wedding planner a budget, they are more likely to stick to it than you would alone because of their enhanced knowledge of how to plan a wedding.
Reduce Your Guest Count
Will be safe for 50 or more people to gather when your wedding date rolls around? Cutting your guest list ahead of time will certainly help you cut costs, notes Chang.
“So much of the planning process is guest-count related, so when you reduce your guest count, all those costs also go down, since you need less space, less food, fewer drinks, fewer rentals, fewer centerpieces, fewer favors, etc.,” she says. “In these new wedding times, however, reducing your guest count can also mean doing a virtual wedding or a hybrid wedding instead, and having virtual guests is a great way to reduce your overall costs without reducing the actual guest count.
Pick a Less "Desirable" Date
Sure, a Saturday night wedding might be optimal, but it will also cost you the most money when compared to any other day of the week. To help cut down on costs, Chang recommends choosing a date that is lesser in demand.
“A weekday, for example, will many times save you money on not just your venue, but with other vendors as well because weekends are in high demand,” she says. “In addition, picking a wedding date in the offseason for the area you're getting married in will also help your costs as those dates will also be in low demand.”
Book Based on the Minimum Guest Count
Hardtman reminds her clients that they can always upgrade, but they can’t downgrade once a contract is signed. She recommends securing your venue based on your minimum guest count, lowest catering package, or minimum dollar amount based on the specific space that you want to secure.
“This way you have the option to grow into your truly desired number of guests when the time comes, but you won’t need to worry about meeting a certain number which you may not be able to have (for the various reasons we saw unfold this year),” she says.
Choose a Venue That Offers Flexibility
If you haven't yet decided on your venue, Ashley Mason, wedding planner and owner of Saunter Weddings in Dallas, suggests looking for a space that offers some flexibility.
“It may be that they allow you to supply your beverages to the bar versus purchasing a bar package at an all-inclusive place,” she says. “If you have a small guest size, it could be challenging meeting high food and beverage minimums so keep your eyes open for a venue that doesn't have one if it is better for your budget.”
Try Splitting Costs With Other Couples
Here’s a creative way to save some costs: Try coordinating with another couple getting married at your venue or in the local vicinity that you can share certain items with.
“For example, flowers are very often thrown out after a wedding but your venue, planner, and floral designer, may know of another couple with a wedding the next day or previous day that can utilize the same design and you can share the costs,” says Hardtman. “Or, if you are considering a destination wedding and flying out your dream team is one of the expenses you have to factor in, find out if they already have any other weddings booked in that same location.” This, she explains, can save on the expenses of their travel at the very least.