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Wedding Budget Tips in the Time of COVID-19

by Ashley Chorpenning
couple dancing wedding reception

Planning a wedding budget can be stressful enough, but now many couples are adding a global pandemic to their list of stressors. Mixing these two extremely stressful events may leave you feeling like you’re creating a cocktail for disaster. If you planned to get married in 2020 or are planning your nuptials in 2021, you’re not alone. There are plenty of brides that are gracefully navigating the wedding planning chaos amidst the turbulence of COVID-19.

So, while your wedding plans may have taken a detour, you can still have the wedding of your dreams with a few minor adjustments. COVID-19 is allowing brides to hit the reset button and change the course of how they celebrate their wedding. However, it’s leaving people to wonder how their budgets will be affected. By using a few simple tips to revise your wedding budget, you can create a glorious bonafide bash, even amidst a pandemic.  

Decide What’s Most Important to You as a Couple

“When navigating a new wedding budget, it’s important to sit down with your soon-to-be spouse and decide what’s important to you as a couple. You may discover that there were a lot of categories on your budget that are not important to you as a couple,” said Anais Favela, February 2021 Wedding.

Taking the time to evaluate what you want for your wedding as a couple will help ensure you’re spending the wedding budget the way you want. Often when planning a wedding the opinions of friends and family members can hijack the direction of your big day. Therefore, deciding how you want to allocate your budget will help you avoid money wasters and focus on what really matters.  

Send Digital Invites 

Did you know that wedding invitations typically cost a few hundred dollars, even for a small wedding? In fact, according to recent research, the average couple spends $223 on their wedding invitations and RSVP cards. This amount doesn’t include save-the-dates, postage, ceremony programs, and other stationery used for the big day like menus, which can amount to an astronomical amount. While sending a formal invitation in the mail is nice, the money might be better spent elsewhere. 

Instead of sending your invites in the mail, you might want to use digital wedding invitations. You can use a service such as Joy’s online wedding invitations to streamline the invitations process. Some digital invite companies, like Joy’s, allow you to match your wedding theme, customize your RSVP questions, and send announcements and reminders. 

Therefore, not only are you saving money, but you’re simplifying your communication with your guest list. 

Reconsider Food Options 

Catering is probably one of the most significant expenses included in any wedding budget. From an open bar to sit-down plated meals, catering tabs can increase to large amounts. The average wedding catering cost per person varies depending on factors such as the number of guests and service style. Plated meals usually average around $100-$200 per person, and the average buffet cost is $50-$100 per person.

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, buffets might be out of the question. However, you can get creative with how to serve food for your wedding attendees without busting your budget.  

“We decided to do a picnic-style wedding during the day. We purchased individually wrapped fruit cups, chips, condiments, and sandwiches to ensure everyone wasn’t sharing germs,” shared Dr. Laura Reed, June 2020 wedding.

Even if you don’t want to have a picnic, try to get creative with how you serve food to your guests. While you may have dreamed of a BBQ buffet with finger-licking ribs, an economical plated meal might be a better solution to keeping your guest safe during COVID-19.

Cut the Guest List 

With the new social distance requirements, you may have to reconsider the number of guests on your guest list. While a venue might have been able to accommodate 300 hundred guests in the past, they may now only be able to accommodate half that amount to maintain a proper social distance

“With the new safety precautions, our venue could no longer accommodate the number of guests we had originally intended to invite. So, we cut our guest list in half, which helped us save money and meet the requirements of our venue,” said Favela.

If you want to have a big wedding, determine if your guest list is still realistic. If not, this is the perfect opportunity to cut back on your guest count. After all, the more guests you have, the more you can expect to spend. Slashing your guest list can free up some cash to put towards another wedding budget category that you might be more passionate about. 

Include a Live-Stream 

In addition to cutting your guest list, you may want to consider hosting a virtual event via live stream. This way you can include people who either don’t feel comfortable attending or those you had to cut from your list. Live events allow you to have an inclusive wedding at a lower cost. 

Whether a live stream was a part of your original wedding plans or not, make sure your guests have all the details. Again, to ensure invites don’t break the bank, try sending online invitations or change the dates through Joy to your guests with the information for your virtual celebration.

During this time, you’ll also want to determine your live stream platform based on your guest count and the estimated length of your event. Keep in mind, that different streaming services may have varying fees and requirements. No matter what streaming service you choose to use, it’s wise to do your research in advance and plan accordingly.

You can conveniently live stream your wedding directly through your Joy wedding website via YouTube or Vimeo integrations. This simplifies the guest access to your event by allowing them to visit your website before the ceremony takes place.

Incorporate a Line Item for Safety Measures 

From sanitizer at each wedding table to health checks and masks at the door, taking health safety precautions need to be a line item in your budget. In the past, there might not have been safety regulations that you needed to keep in the forefront of your wedding planning. Now, every state has different guidelines weddings must follow to minimize the virus’s exposure. 

To help keep guests safe and make them feel comfortable, brides are coming up with creative ways to implement safety precautions. 

Dr. Reed said, “We asked a friend to greet guests at the door and take their temperature upon arrival. Asking a friend to help allows us to save money while keeping our guests safe.” 

“We also had masks available and sanitizer at every table to keep our guests healthy,” Dr. Reed adds. 

When planning your wedding, talk to your venue about ways to keep your guests safe and healthy. Your venue may have creative solutions for maintaining your wedding visions while staying compliant with health standards.

Postpone a Honeymoon

According to recent research, the average couple spends roughly $5,000 on their honeymoon. One in every ten couples will spend over $10,000 with the majority pulling from their savings to pay for the trip (60%).

With the uncertainty of what’s to come in the travel industry, you may feel uncomfortable traveling soon. Therefore, it might be wise to postpone your honeymoon. Not only will postponing give you peace of mind, but it gives you more time to replenish your savings to pay-in-full for the honeymoon of your dreams. 

Instead of using the time and energy to plan your honeymoon, you can use your brainpower to devote more effort to your wedding. 

Planning a wedding budget during COVID-19 doesn’t have to be stressful. Like with any event, it’s important to be adaptable and have back-up solutions when things don’t go the way you planned. As you navigate planning your unique event, remember that downsizing and making other changes can help you save money to reallocate money towards things that really matter to you as a couple. When you pull off the wedding of your dreams, even during COVID, you’ll have accomplished a huge milestone together that may even bring you closer.

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