The COVID-19 pandemic is constantly changing and continues to impact communities all over the world. We are committed to continuing to support couples who are navigating their wedding at this time with inspiration and information on how to wed safely. As always, please be sure to consult official health departments for local restrictions and guidelines before making any final arrangements.
If you’re planning a wedding right now, you’re probably really tired of hearing about the “wedding boom,” inflation, and how everything is so much more expensive. Add to that the stress of pandemic postponements, family drama, and actually paying for your wedding, what's meant to be a fun, exciting time has been a whole lot more complicated for the couples of 2022 and beyond.
Which is why we polled a whole bunch of you—567 to be exact—to find out exactly what is going on with weddings these days. Are micro-weddings still a thing, or are people finally in the clear to have that 100+ person blowout? Is everyone else spending well beyond their original estimates too? Are couples paying for weddings themselves, or getting help from family members? And how are couples managing to pay for their weddings when everything’s suddenly more expensive, and so many deposits are required up front?
The good news is, we got you. Your most pressing and often-uncomfortable questions answered in order to, at the very least, give you an idea of how other couples are navigating these times. Share it with your partner, your parents, your friends who are newly engaged, whomever! We just hope this gives couples a little bit of context—or negotiating power, if that’s what you really need!—to make planning 2022 weddings—or 2023 weddings, for that matter—just a little bit easier.
Big Weddings Are Back
While micro-weddings and petite parties may have reigned supreme during the height of the pandemic due to gathering restrictions and an abundance of caution, larger-format weddings have made a big return, with a whopping 75% of couples planning to host 100+ guests, and 13% expecting between 76 and 99.
Indoor Weddings Have Returned
No surprise, al fresco weddings were a popular option (weather allowing) long before indoor gatherings were put on pause. But while, anecdotally, many parts of the country saw a large shift to exclusively outdoor weddings, 49% of couples now indicate that their celebrations will be a combination of outdoors and indoors, while 29% of weddings will be entirely outdoors and 22% entirely indoors.
Wedding Costs Have Gone Up
Oh gee, as if you weren’t already feeling that. But it may be some reassurance to know that it’s not just you—97% of couples believe that the costs for 2022 weddings have increased.
Inflation and Supply Chain Issues Are Affecting Wedding Costs
Your other favorite topic, both worldwide inflation and ongoing supply chain issues are making planning and paying for your wedding that much more difficult, according to 78% of couples surveyed. And vendors agree: “There is a good 15% increase from pre pandemic pricing, and I don't see this going away anytime soon,” notes Connecticut-based wedding florist Yumiko Fletcher of Hana Floral Design. “So in other words, 2019's $10K on flowers is really $15K for 2022 weddings.”
Practically Everyone Is Going Over Budget
It can be really hard to map out an informed wedding budget when prices aren’t what they used to be—and continue to change—which is why 79% of couples we surveyed are already expecting to go over their original set budget. Trying to account for some of these wedding cost surprises can help, and couples mapping out their budgets for 2023 weddings may want to allocate a larger contingency amount than might have been the pre-pandemic norm.
Wedding Photographers Are the #1 Splurge
While average wedding costs for every type of vendor vary enormously based on where you’re getting married and what caliber you’re looking for, we asked couples what their priority would be if they they were to go over budget on a single item: the #1 splurge-worthy category was wedding photographers, followed closely by wedding venues and catering.
Reducing Guest Count Is the Top Way to Lower Costs
While the 100-person wedding may have returned in full force, when push comes to shove, cutting a few fringe friends and distant relatives from the guest list is the most common way that most couples are working to stay within budget. Entertainment (wedding ceremony musicians, live bands, DJs, etc.) is another area in which some couples are willing to make sacrifices to meet their budgets—which doesn’t necessarily imply a Spotify wedding, but may mean opting for a string trio vs. a quartet, or a smaller live band vs. a 20-piece brass band.
Catering Can Be Costly
With guest counts on the rise—and being one of the biggest variables—it’s not surprising that 51% of couples indicated that the food and beverages at their wedding will be the largest expense. The next most-expensive line item listed was the wedding venue, and since catering is frequently provided by the wedding venue, it makes sense that these would be the two most costly categories on couples’ lists.
Wedding Venues Can Cost Upwards of $50,000
As discussed, wedding venues can be one of the largest costs associated with your wedding—especially if your venue is providing catering for the event as well. How much that cost is, of course, depends enormously on where the venue is located, and how many guests are attending, if catering pricing is included. But we found it interesting to learn that the most common price range quoted from desired wedding venues is upwards of $50,000, according to 29% of couples surveyed.
Real Wedding Budgets are Higher than “National Averages”
But understanding a $50,000 price quote for a wedding venue is only really helpful when viewed in the context of the full wedding budget. So we asked! How much are couples expecting to spend on their weddings? The answer may surprise you based on other average wedding cost studies, but we actually weren’t shocked to learn that 40% of couples have a projected total wedding budget of more than $76,000.
This may be because wedding costs typically fall into six tiers, ranging from intimate weddings that cost $1,000 or less to “ultra luxury” weddings with overall costs of $500,000 or more—and an “average” wedding cost number gets skewed by how many couples fall at each end of the spectrum.
The Vast Majority of Couples Are Getting Some Financial Help
So with higher costs than before the pandemic, price increases due to inflation, and budgets that are getting blown out of the water, how the heck are couples paying for their 2022 weddings? The answer is simple: with some help. A whopping 80% of couples surveyed indicated that they have family-members who are contributing to the wedding costs. Another popular method (22%) is putting expenses on credit cards that can be paid off at a later date, while a small handful of couples (less than 3%) are taking out bank loans to pay for their weddings. All in all, 82% of couples say they're getting some sort of financial help.
It’s Going to Be a Very Busy Wedding Season
Of course, not only are couples busily navigating their own 2022 weddings—they’re also attending them as wedding guests—and lots of them. From 2020 postponements, to people who held off through 2021, to newly engaged couples eager to wed before 2023 (and before inflation and wedding costs get any higher), 48% of couples said they anticipate attending 3-5 weddings in 2022—and a solid 14% are attending 6-10!
So be sure you’re budgeting for the expenses that come with celebrating your loved ones too!
Carats & Cake's 2022 Weddings Survey was conducted in May 2022. Click here to download and share the full infographic below.