Written by: Elizabeth K.B. DiPietrantonio, J.D.

The pandemic has changed absolutely everything. Including the way we hold meetings, the way we work, live, communicate, travel, educate children and even for many the way we get married. A lot of people have cast aside the lavish celebrations for simple intimate gatherings, others wait -deposits on hold, to have the day they imagined before Covid. It is not an easy time to be wedding planning but financially there is a dazzling revolution. I have no envy for those faced with this decision but I hope to provide a perspective that may guide some to their ultimate perfect day, whatever that may look like. According to theknot.com the average cost of a Wedding in the USA in 2019 was $28,000 and the average cost in 2020 was $19,000. This startling drop was of course caused by venue capacity restrictions, decisions to minimize, elopements and more. Many people have been financially devastated by this pandemic and simply have had a change of priorities and budget. What are the elements for a successful wedding, what are the associated costs and what is necessary? How much should you really spend, who do you have to invite? The beauty of a pandemic wedding is much of the societal pressure is pushed aside. You can throw convention and tradition out the window and do what makes you happy! Below are tips to cut costs and have a successful wedding that won’t financially devastate you in 2021.

  • Marry now- party later. Not crazy about a socially distanced reception? Have dreams of a 2019 style dance floor? It is perfectly okay to have a very simple ceremony (at city hall, church, your home, or elsewhere) and have a reception later. You can put aside your planned wedding funds and invest them in a conservative fashion, or continue to save if you do not yet have the money together. This provides you time and you will still be married which is of course the ultimate goal!
  • Do not go into debt. I repeat do not go into debt. Now is the time where it is okay to have a small affordable wedding where you are not racking up credit card debt or taking out a loan.
  • Elope- we are in a global pandemic. You will not be offending anyone. You can generally elope for less than $500. Think of what you could do with the money you will save.
  • Cut the guest list. With ongoing limited capacity at venues, Covid concerns and travel being cumbersome now is a great time to reevaluate if you really want a 300 person event. Prioritize those you can’t imagine having your wedding without.
  • Flowers- DYI is so in. Do you really need fresh flowers or can you make centerpieces? Flowers can cost $1,500 or more. It can be a great way to save.
  • Backyards are so hot right now- have your wedding at home (or your parents, or friend’s home)! Venue fees can be so costly and we have all been stuck at home so long you might as well get married there.
  • Zoom, YouTube, live stream…all perfectly acceptable, safe, make people feel included while saving costs!
  • Opt out of a sit down dinner. A socially distanced event can make this easy to do and it will save you a small fortune!
  • Dresses- the possibilities to save here are endless. Do your research. Check out different websites, look for sales, get a secondhand dress, you can have something that is perfect without breaking your budget. The same goes for suits.
  • Alcohol- get a good price per head, see if you can provide your own, and the options for pricing here can save in surprising ways.
  • Fly away. Travel is opening up again and the deals for destination weddings may surprise you.
  • Be flexible with dates. There have been so many cancellations you may just be able to slide into a venue you never thought financially possible if you are willing to compromise.
  • Keep an open mind…weddings do not have to look a certain way. There is not a set pattern or right or wrong these days. If you are flexible with music, photography, and more you may be able to save.

The goal of a wedding is to be married. Do not lose sight of this. There is also nothing wrong with simply postponing your wedding until you are financially or safety wise in a position to have the wedding you imagined. There is no right way to celebrate. If you had a wedding planned that had to be postponed because of Covid, it is okay to let your deposit sit at the venue and wait until it is safe. Do what makes you happy, doesn’t put you in financial peril, and is safe, affordable, and as stress free as possible in an impossible time! There are so many possibilities and of course with increased vaccinations there is an end in sight. I think a lot of the changes to weddings brought on by the pandemic are here to stay. A wedding is a very special thing and financial stress brought on by external pressures to conform to a certain standard can put a damper on that. The pandemic has put a lot of things into perspective and people going into debt over their wedding is one of those things. Have a wedding you can afford and enjoy, you won’t regret it.