Couples need deeper pockets for dream weddings in the DC area

Tying the knot has couples not only saying “I do” to one another but also “I do” to increasing wedding bills.

From staffing shortages to the cost of food going up, Michele Palmer, president of Event Planning DC, said couples are facing bills more than 30% more than couples who got married before the pandemic.

“Things are definitely more expensive than they were before COVID,” Palmer said.

Inflation is driving the cost of food and floral arrangements up, and with staffing shortages, more and more caterers are charging extra to secure the number of people needed to serve the dinners and fill champagne glasses.

Palmer said for most people, they come prepared to pay more but there are situations where people are just not familiar with how to plan such an event.

“I think people come to you with unrealistic budgets quite often because they haven’t planned a wedding before,” Palmer said.

She said the price per person is not just the cost of the meal for the guest, it’s the cost of the entire wedding divided by the number of guests. So, for some couples, cutting down the guest list can get them to their desired budget.

“Is your vision is more important than having the number of people there? If you can limit the number of guests, I think that’s extremely helpful,” she said.

For others, they might not have ability to increase their budget but don’t want to touch the guest count, so with venue costs rising, look for cheaper venues further out in the D.C. area or beyond.

“Closer to D.C. is going to cost more,” she said.

In one case, Palmer said, a client chose to delay her wedding until 2025, so they can have the wedding they dreamed about.

“She wants to have that vision and she said ‘I’ll wait,'” Palmer said.

More often than not, a couple could pay around $125,000 for a wedding in D.C.

“You can go higher, but that’s doable in the D.C. area,” Palmer said.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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