Courtnie Alvear-Beceiro and Alex Klebba have set aside $15,000 for their upcoming May 21 wedding.
They chose a friend’s brownstone in Manhattan as the venue because they thought it would help them stay on budget. But after meeting with vendors, the pair learned that rising inflation meant they had to spend more than double what they had budgeted for the 50-person event.
“Each salesperson had the same explanation as the last: ‘Due to COVID, we had to increase costs,'” said Alvear-Beceiro, 32, a director of brand marketing at Haven’s Kitchen in New York, a fresh sauces supplier.
Alvear-Beceiro and Klebba, 33, a radiologist, had already asked guests to save their date, so they kept it. But they moved their wedding venue to another location, a Brooklyn brownstone, which included catering, flowers and decorations in the booking fee. They also decided not to hire a DJ, instead asking their guests to include a song request with their response.
Although no extra was paid for food, decorations and music, the price was still over $30,000.
“It was disappointing at first,” Alvear-Beceiro said of changing their plans just to come up with a similar overall cost. “But the silver lining is that we get the wedding that we both wanted and the venue takes care of everything so it’s a lot less stressful.”
According to a study released in May 2021 by Zola, a wedding planning website, a third of the 468 participating wedding suppliers reported losses of $50,000 or more due to postponements in 2020. In February, another Zola survey of 16 suppliers across the country found, that about 13 have increased their costs since 2020, said Amanda Shur, a spokeswoman for the site.
The combination of customer cancellations and supply chain shortages caused by the pandemic has required raising the prices of their goods and services to make up for lost revenue and stay profitable, according to some business owners.
Amy McCord, the owner of Flower Moxie, an Oklahoma City business that sells flowers in bulk to people who would rather not hire a florist, said her company is not immune to the labor and logistical problems that are causing a global flower shortage would have led .
With flower farms and importers still not operating at their pre-pandemic levels, McCord said the price of flowers has increased three to four times the normal price, McCord said.
A large bridal bouquet now averages $300 to $450, down from about $250 before the pandemic, McCord said. Labor costs have also increased and it is difficult to find contract workers to help with large events, negatively impacting a florist’s bottom line.
“Of course, florists have raised prices appropriately, but the sharp rise has left couples with sticker shock and they’re looking at alternatives like making their wedding flowers at home,” she said.
Florists aren’t the only vendors whose bottom line has suffered over the past two years. Allison Depriestre, the owner of Modern Beauties Paris, a hair and makeup company in Paris, said she raised prices by 15% from 2021 to 2022 to cover the cost of cancellations.
Most of Depriestre’s clients hire them for their destination weddings, and if they cancel or reschedule an event due to new travel restrictions or regulations, their business loses money. “The time invested in the booking process, client meetings and Zoom calls is not compensated,” she said, “and an appointment that would normally always be booked is now open and left unbooked as most of our clients plan ahead.”
If cancellations don’t mess up prices, gas prices do, said Monina Wright, makeup artist and owner of Moderne Beauty Studios in the Bay Area.
Wright, which offers on-site makeup and hair services, has increased its prices by 20% since the 2021 wedding season, largely due to higher gas costs. She added that hair products and makeup have also become more expensive due to supply chain issues.
But even charging fees doesn’t always help a provider. Jesse Williams, a videographer and owner of Visual Event Films in Tarrytown, New York, said his profit margins remain slim even after a 10 percent increase in his rates.
“Due to supply chain bottlenecks, it has become more difficult to find the equipment needed to film weddings, as camera dealers are often unable to keep up with demand,” Williams said. “We are not willing to settle for inferior gear and are sometimes forced to buy gear from independent sellers at a premium.”
At the same time, the cost of living has risen, so he has adjusted his videographers’ wages accordingly.
While couples like Alvear-Beceiro and Klebba may be able and willing to spend more, others say they simply can’t afford the higher prices.
Shannon Bernadin, 29, a Seattle botanist who runs African Garden, a blog about flowers and plants, and her husband were married on December 11, 2021. After looking at the costs of halls, flowers, and caterers, the couple decided to hold their wedding at a friend’s house in New Hampshire. They wore outfits from thrift stores and used homemade paper flowers as decorations.
“It wasn’t how I imagined growing up, but it was beautiful,” Bernadin said, “and I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.”
Although most of the recent industry-wide price increases affect people planning weddings, some guests say they are now also spending more to attend events, especially if it involves travel.
Melanie Levin, 28, a wedding planner and travel consultant in Los Angeles, said she’s been paying more for lodging and transportation lately while still spending what she normally would for expenses like gifts.
“As a guest, it’s a little painful to buy a gift on top of the increased cost of travel and lodging,” Levin said.