2021: Budgeting for the year of rescheduled weddings

With so many gatherings being pushed back due to COVID-19 safety concerns, you might have a busy wedding (and travel!) season on the horizon next year. Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re budgeting for all that extra celebration.

Tags: Budgeting, Savings, COVID-19
Published: July 06, 2020

COVID-19 has led to the cancellation of many large events you may have been looking forward to this year: one of the most common of those being weddings. Many couples have pushed their big day out to 2021, which means next year’s busy wedding season will be even busier than usual. This affects both wedding guests’ and engaged couples’ yearly budgets. Whether you’re the guest of a wedding looking for ways to save next year, or a couple trying to avoid lost deposits and extra fees as you make new plans, these strategies will help you navigate an unprecedented situation as smoothly as possible.

For guests: create a wedding budget

While you might be excited for a season with lots of opportunities to celebrate, it’s important to plan a realistic budget for all of your events in advance. In 2018, the average wedding guest spent nearly $628 on a close friend or family member’s wedding. And if you’re attending more than one ceremony in a season, that number is likely to grow. From airfare, to shower gifts, to bachelor and bachelorette parties, there are lots of expenses to take into account when creating a financial plan for wedding season. Plus, planning with a budget allows you to make the most of that much-needed time with friends and family, and allows you to avoid worrying about overspending in the moment. Here are some things you can plan to set money aside for when invitations start arriving in the mail:

  • Travel: Things like airfare, car rentals and gasoline can add up when you’re going out-of-state for a wedding—especially if you have multiple destination weddings in one season.
  • Accommodations: If you’re planning to stay in a hotel or an Airbnb, check the lodging prices in the area you’re traveling to immediately, so you have an idea of what it will cost once you’re ready to book.
  • Gifts: The average wedding guest in America will budget $128 for gifts for a close friend or family member, with millennials budgeting up to $180. If there’s a registry available to view, consider choosing something ahead of time so you don’t have to worry about overshooting your budget when the wedding rolls around.
  • Entertainment: The cost of additional events like bachelor and bachelorette parties can add up. Set a budget for what you want to spend on food, drinks and transportation ahead of time so you don’t overspend.

Send gifts ahead of time

If a couple has already released their registry, consider sending them a gift ahead of time to avoid doubling down on expenses next year. The average registry gift costs $71—lower than what that average guest will spend—so you might end up saving money in the long run.2 Plus, the couple who had to reschedule their big day will be excited to get a gift in the mail that will help them feel celebrated in the meantime.

Reuse items for next year

Items you’ve already paid for can often be reused for next year’s round of weddings. Many airlines offer vouchers for flights cancelled due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Rather than getting a refund, use that voucher for a flight you’ll be taking to the rescheduled event. Hold onto gifts or wedding-related items you’ve already bought to use next year—for the same events, or for different ones. It’s also a good idea to avoid unnecessary purchases you might normally make during wedding season. Buying something fun to wear for each wedding you attend is fun, but it can put a big dent in what might be an already-large budget.

For couples: Make the most of your deposit

If you’ve had to reschedule your wedding, you might be facing some financial blowback as you begin planning for your new date. Deposits on expenses like venues, photographers and caterers are usually non-refundable, so feeling nervous or stressed about losing a large sum of money is understandable. Luckily, there are several ways to avoid or diminish these losses.

Being flexible is key: More often than not, the businesses you’re working with will allow you to use your deposit on the same services at a later date. However, you’re at the mercy of their schedules, and the schedules of couples that have already booked in for 2021.  Between 20,000 and 30,000 weddings take place every weekend in the United States, so it’s important to prepare yourself to make compromises.  You might not get the exact dates you want, but you’ll avoid losing out on the money you spent on your initial deposit. Plus, choosing an off day, like a Friday or Sunday, can considerably lower the cost of things like live bands, DJs and venues.

There’s no doubt that COVID-19 has thrown a financial wrench in the wedding industry. Whether you’re a couple who’s had to reschedule their wedding, or a guest prepping for lots of events in 2021, navigating the future, and the budget that future requires, can be tricky. But by planning ahead and practicing some flexibility, you and all your loved ones will still get to enjoy a special day together, even if that day looks different than you initially planned. 

Navigate your financial well-being throughout the COVID-19 situation here.