The cost of living crisis is something we are all painfully aware of and just like the other hurdles we had to overcome in the hospitality industry over the past few years, it has had a noticeable impact on weddings. Our 2023 Wedding Industry Report shows that while couples are still getting married and planning the weddings of their dreams MANY are keenly focused on cost.
During our 2023 Ultimate Survey, 29% of couples in Ireland and 30% of couples in the United Kingdom felt the cost of living crisis had impacted their wedding budget. While trying to stick to a tight budget couples are doing their research and making sure they’re getting a good deal for their money. This means that some wedding traditions like formal sit-down dinners are being substituted with more cost-effective options like canapes or buffets.
IRISH COUPLES FIND A WAY TO MAKE THEIR BIG DAY A REALITY
2022 marked the largest shifts WeddingDates has seen in wedding budgets, particularly around venue spending at the higher end of the budget. According to Ciara Crossan, CEO and Founder of WeddingDates, COVID gave couples more time to save and the end of the pandemic sparked a splurge mentality last year. This year, we are seeing a slight drop in overall wedding budget spend, down 5% from last year. 47% of couples told us they are now spending over €20,000 on their big day. Simultaneously, the number spending under €10K has risen by 4%.
The majority of the budget is being spent on the venue and the meal for their guests. Among our brides and grooms, the average venue spend was 54% of the couples’ total budget
Our Ireland report shows 46% of couples are now spending over €80 per head on the meal, up 4% from last year. In the €100+ bracket, spending has doubled since 2020. How are couples funding all of this amidst rising concerns about the cost of living? The number reporting they are taking loans to pay for their wedding is at an all-time high of 30%, having nearly tripled from the previous high of 10% in 2020.
SLASHING THE WEDDING BUDGETS IN THE UK
In a significant rise of 12% from last year, 50% of couples in the UK are now spending less than £10,000 on their big day. 52% of couples are now spending under £65 per head, a considerable shift from last year, and a discernible effect of cost of living concerns. According to our data, 51% of couples plan to invite between 51 and 100 guests and 34% plan to invite less than 50 guests to their wedding.
“In the UK last year we saw a substantial swing from the bottom to the top, and this year we’re seeing the spending swing from the top back to the bottom again. While couples paying over £100 per head remain unmoved at 16%, the key £65 – £100 bracket has fallen by 7%, and those spending under £50 per head have increased to almost one-third of couples,” explains Crossan.
WHEN COSTS RISE
One of the most significant issues couples are facing is planning for potential price increases. 13% of survey respondents in Ireland and 7% in the UK reported that their venues had increased their prices even after contracts had been signed. Despite only 11-13% saying they would increase their budget when faced with a theoretical price rise, almost half of those who faced an actual price rise opted to simply increase their budget to address rising costs.
It is notable that among these couples, 0-3% of respondents opted to change venues, well below the 13-15% of those who have not been faced with this issue said they would change if their venue increased price.
“It is likely that while most couples are theoretically deeply opposed to price increases when confronted with price hikes they are also forced to consider the enormous effort of finding an alternative venue, rebooking suppliers, and informing guests of the change of plans,” explains Crossan.
COUPLES ARE CUTTING BUDGETS, AND THEY’RE MORE AWARE OF COSTS BUT WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR YOUR BUSINESS?
While couples haven’t stopped getting married, they aren’t spending as much on their big day as they used to. That means your team has to work harder than ever before to create personalised ceremonies that will make them feel like they got everything they wanted out of their wedding day without breaking the bank.
A tremendous 78% of engaged couples surveyed in the UK mentioned value as important when choosing a venue. This presents a unique opportunity for you to leverage added value to seal the deal. If they’re looking at other venues offering the same thing, how are you going to convince them that your services are worth paying more for?
There are some surefire ways you can stand out; in the UK couples are willing to pay more for exclusivity, so why not offer that option as a paid upgrade? In both Ireland and the UK the majority of couples are planning their wedding on their own, so featuring your wedding coordinator’s experience and expertise as part of your packages will give couples peace of mind and help secure the booking.
Our report uncovered that couples want to make sure every penny spent goes toward something they’ll actually use and enjoy. While intimate wedding celebrations with fewer guests are increasingly the norm, we’ve seen a steady demand for a two-day affair. This allows your venue to put together base packages with options to upsell, handing control over the proceedings and final costs to the couple while selling the dream to them.
It is worth noting that while they are keenly aware of costs they don’t want to compromise on quality. Couples want to see value for money and transparency is key for this demographic. If you do have to increase your prices, communicate clearly to couples the reasons why – reassure them and consider ways you can add value in other ways to ensure a positive experience for all.
This data and so much more can be found in our 2023 Wedding Industry Report. It is compiled based on the results from our recent couples Ultimate Survey where more than 2500 engaged couples in Ireland and the UK shared the highs and lows of planning their wedding. It is a must-read for anyone in the wedding industry as it will offer a peek into what brides and grooms are looking for and how the current climate has changed their approach to wedding planning.
WedPro, our powerful sales pipeline management software allows venue owners and event managers to deliver more revenue, improve efficiency and give visibility of ROI on marketing spend. If you want to hear more about how WedPro by WeddingDates can help your venue maximise your business, book a call or demo with our team today.
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