Y’all – we already know that weddings are expensive AF, but let’s be real here: the cost of getting married has been on the rise for years, and it shows no signs of slowing down. According to The Knot’s Real Weddings Study, the average cost of a wedding in the United States in 2022 was $28,000 and while this was down slightly from years prior, more than likely due to the impact of covid on large events, this number is expected to climb significantly in 2023. While there are many factors that contribute to this increase, one of the most prevalent reasons, and the one that resides on the tip of everyone’s tongue, is a nasty little word called inflation. Here are a few things you need to know about planning an event in today’s environment, taking into consideration 2023 wedding costs and inflation.

Need a primer? Aren’t completely sure what inflation is? It’s the reason your Whole Foods bill went from $100 a week to $130 this past year.  Basically, inflation is a measure of how much prices for goods and services have increased over time. It’s usually expressed as a percentage, and it’s calculated by comparing the price of a basket of goods and services today to the price of the same basket in the past. For example, if the inflation rate is 2% per year, it means that on average, prices are increasing by 2% each year. Although the rate has finally been slowing to closer to 7%, at its peak last year the US inflation rate was a whopping 9.1%!

While a little bit of inflation is a natural and normal part of any economy, and it’s driven by a variety of factors, including the cost of raw materials, labor, and production, as well as economic growth and demand. Inflation can have both positive and negative effects, but it’s generally considered to be a negative force when it comes to wedding budgets and for those of us who rely on income from luxury services like wedding photography and it’s going to have a serious impact on 2023 wedding costs.

A San Antonio backyard wedding 2023 wedding costs and inflation

One of the main ways that inflation affects wedding budgets is by increasing the cost of goods and services. As prices for things like food, flowers, and venue rentals go up, it becomes more expensive to put on a wedding. This is especially true for couples who are planning their weddings several years in advance, as the longer the planning period, the more time there is for prices to increase. That prime rib you wanted to serve may have doubled in price in the last 6 months without you planning for it.

Another way that inflation affects wedding budgets is by eroding the purchasing power of money. When prices go up, the same amount of money doesn’t buy as much as it used to. For example, if you had $10,000 saved up for your wedding and the inflation rate was 2%, the purchasing power of that money would decrease by 2% each year. After 10 years, your $10,000 would only be worth about $7,400 in today’s dollars, even though you haven’t spent a single penny. This erosion of purchasing power can be especially challenging for couples who are trying to save for their weddings over a long period. Even if they’re able to set aside a certain amount of money each month, the value of that money may not go as far as they hoped it would when it comes time to start paying for wedding expenses.

Nestldown Wedding Photographer

Looking to mitigate the impact of inflation on your 2023 wedding?  First off – make sure that you start with a budget!  Budgets don’t’ mean that you’re trying to be cheap, necessarily, but it does allow you to really visualize how much everything will cost and where you may have wiggle room.  As Karie MacLeod from She Said Yes Events pointed out just the other day, “make sure you have your misc fund in the budget! You know, for the unexpected rainy day tent.” A misc fund is a great way to make sure that you don’t bust your budget when a price jumps unexpectedly.

Another option to combat rising 2023 wedding costs and inflation is to consider ways to cut costs without sacrificing quality. Look for ways to reduce the guest list or choose less formal venues, catering, or a shorter length of time for your photography coverage. I promise that you can get a LOT done and covered in 2-6 hours.

Ultimately, the biggest takeaway is that you should set a budget and stick to it. This can be challenging, especially if you have other financial obligations, but it’s important to be realistic about what you can afford in the new landscape of wedding planning.  It’s easy for expenses to get out of hand.

Lauren Lindley - South Lake Tahoe Photographer

While there’s no way to completely avoid the impact of inflation, couples can take steps to minimize its effects and stay within their budget. BUT, I have a little tough love reminder: your wedding day shouldn’t be the “best day of your life.”  Specifically, I believe that every day AFTER your wedding day should be the best day of your life – because you are starting on a journey and building a partnership and future with the person you decided was most important to you. Your wedding day is just the beginning.  Don’t lose sight of that your partnership and relationship are the most important piece of the puzzle and the very thing you are planning to celebrate. I can assure you that even if you’re trying to downsize your wedding without downsizing your expectations, that intimate, small and budget friendly weddings are special (and some of my personal favorites).