Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve seen couples trend toward longer engagements due to a prolonged industry shutdown, group size mandates, limited vendor availability, and other factors. Yet, as the nation returns to “business as usual,” many couples are left wondering: Is it worth waiting until COVID is a distant memory? A “long” engagement is generally considered one year or longer from proposal to vows, but COVID has pushed many engagements further—even as long as 24 months or more. So with vaccines readily available, event pros experienced with COVID, and more people willing to gather together, you may be ready to tie the knot as soon as possible. Still, there are many considerations to keep in mind as you select the perfect wedding date. Fortunately, we asked industry experts to clear the air once and for all—here’s what they think about long engagements during COVID.
The wedding boom is keeping industry professionals extra busy this year, so waiting to say, “I do” can ensure you get to book the best vendors possible. Laura Maddox of Magnolia Celebrates explains, “As long as you get started right away, you usually have the "pick of the litter" of vendors since you're booking in advance of anyone else for that specific date. You also are often able to lock in pricing for that year, saving a certain percentage as most vendors do mark their prices a bit higher each year.”
You may have noticed an increase in weddings on social media. Or perhaps you’ve received save-the-dates or invitations from friends! With so many weddings taking place in the next few years, Tonya Hoopes of Hoopes Events suggests that picking a later date will limit conflicts. “Many guests are being invited to more weddings than normal. If they need to travel or take time off to attend these weddings, they are having to pick which ones to attend. Waiting and planning your wedding longer out allows your guests to place your wedding on their calendar and make plans to ensure they can attend.”
Weddings come with a price tag, and a longer engagement typically means more time to budget for the perfect wedding without breaking the bank. Timeless Event Planning’s Sandy Brooks confirms as much. “If you're squishing all these payments into one year, you will often feel some financial pressure. Being able to spread out these payments will certainly relieve that stress. Another plus is that you will most likely be able to afford that high-end vendor with payments being spread out throughout 18+ months.”
For many couples, too much time means too many decisions. People’s interests and tastes change, and a long engagement could allow more confusion. As Cathy O’Connell of COJ Events says, “There is time to change your mind (always allowed but can be nerve-wracking if it happens a lot!), and there is time to overthink things. Just like most decisions, the first one is often the right one, but if you have too much time to rethink things, you might start second-guessing yourself!”
Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve seen prices increase across the industry due to high demand. With a future that remains uncertain, it’s possible that a wedding in 2024 will cost considerably more than a wedding in 2022. “One of the biggest issues with long engagements revolves around inflation,” explains Meredith Ryncarz of Meredith Ryncarz Photography. “Couples who have long engagements tend to wait to book their vendors. Unfortunately, the longer a couple waits, the more expensive a vendor tends to get due to rising costs and demand.”
In an ironic twist, EVL Events’ Sam Nelson reveals that long engagements often lead to a greater rush at the end due to procrastination. “Couples see that they have 2-2.5 years to plan their wedding and they tend to put things off because they have so much time. In the end, they end up rushing or falling behind and in turn become stressed.”
With all of that said, is it worth the wait to extend your engagement and hold out on your wedding? Well, that’s entirely up to you and your partner—there is no right or wrong answer in this case! As Jennifer Sulak of Weirdo Weddings suggests, “you should move forward at the pace you see fit for you both. There is nothing wrong with adjusting your plans to do something sooner rather than later. I always ask couples to evaluate where they are, what they truly want, and then why not just do it?” On the other hand, Sulak says, “There is also a joy in waiting out the time together to enjoy a celebration free from added world stress, where you have almost everything you would want AND have a good time doing so. You can make your day now or later, the point is to love each other, celebrate each other, and make it yours.”
If you do plan to host your wedding sooner rather than later, rest assured that it’s entirely doable! Wedding pros have plenty of COVID experience under their belts by now, so they’ll know how to execute a wedding that is safe and enjoyable. “Planning a wedding during this time can work,” assures Simeon Traupe of Meadows Event Center. “Smaller affairs are easier to plan than those with more traditional headcounts. And a couple needs to factor in the travel and health considerations of their guests as well as keep up on any restrictions.”
Regardless of engagement length, allow your wedding planner to be your guiding light throughout the process—whether it’s six months or two years. “Hire a planner to help guide you through the process,” encourages Nora Sheils of Bridal Bliss and Rock Paper Coin. “He/she/they will simplify the whole process for you from breaking down your budget, finding a venue, booking your vendors, and also getting you the best pricing available. And, if you are planning for an extended period, your planner will keep you on track so nothing falls through the cracks.” Remember, you can have the perfect wedding this year, next year, or later. Love isn’t on a timer, so as long as you and your partner are on the same page, your big day will be just as you imagine it—no matter when it is!
We partnered with Meghan Ely to bring you these important wedding tips. Meghan Ely is the owner of the wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast. As always, thanks for supporting our sponsors!