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Wedding spend up by 90% in 2021

The annual National Wedding Survey from reveals that after a difficult period during the pandemic, weddings were back with a bang in 2021. The report has uncovered the latest trends, insights and cost of weddings from couples who tied the knot in 2021, thanks to a survey of more than 2,000 British newlyweds.
Wedding costs in 2021
The average cost of a wedding increased post-pandemic by a staggering 90%. Last year we saw British newlyweds spending an average £17,300 on their big days, compared to just £9,100 in 2020.

It seems couples didn’t set out to spend this much though, with almost half of those surveyed (48%) revealing that they had gone over budget, and just 9% managing to spend less than they thought they would.

Family support played a huge part in how weddings were paid for in 2021, with two thirds of couples (66%) receiving money from their family to fund their nuptials, and parents footing 61% of the total wedding cost.

Couples spent the majority of their budget on the venue (£7,600), catering (£4,680), wedding dress (£1,300) and photographer (£1,200), with groom’s attire (£500) also featuring in the top five costs. Spend on the venue and photographers increased by 40% and 4% respectively compared to 2019, suggesting setting and mementos of the day have become more important to couples.

The vast majority of couples (81%) said that their guests’ experience was the biggest priority for them when planning their wedding, and guest safety was also on their mind as over half (52%) of weddings in 2021 included hand sanitiser, and a third (33%) of couples required their guests to take a Covid test ahead of the event.

Trends and traditions

British couples were getting more experimental with their weddings in 2021, with one in ten couples choosing to follow the new teetotal wedding trend by having an alcohol-free celebration. Another 12% of couples chose to adopt the American tradition of the ‘first look’ – made popular to TikTok, where the happy couple share a moment alone to see each other ahead of the wedding ceremony.

The introduction of eco-friendly and sustainable elements also proved popular, with 22% of couples including them in their wedding. 11% of couples stated their wedding attire was rented in 2021, showing that environmental considerations are becoming a bigger part of wedding planning.

Long-standing traditions such as the first dance (83%), cake cutting ceremony (80%) and having something old, borrowed and blue (62%) continue to be important features of a UK wedding.

Increasing in popularity, 80% of marriages saw at least one person change their last name, up from 75% in 2019. Falling out of favour, the tradition of the bouquet toss only featured in 12% of weddings in 2021, compared to 43% in 2019.

Instagram vs reality

A quarter of all weddings that took place in 2021 are thanks to dating apps – but whilst digital dating is proving to be successful with a 2% increase compared to 2019, you just can’t beat old-fashioned meeting in real life, with 18% of couples meeting through work, 14% meeting through friends and a further 14% meeting in a social setting such as a bar, concert or a party.

No matter how they met though, couples were turning to social media to share their big moments, with 59% announcing their engagement with a post on social media, and 28% doing it by changing their relationship status on their social profile.

Zoe Burke, Editor of Hitched, commented, “This year’s National Wedding Survey has given us wonderful insight into what the average wedding in 2021 looked like. 2021 saw the restrictions on weddings being lifted, so it’s no surprise that couples wanted to spend more and make the most of their chance to celebrate with loved ones after so long apart.

“Not only did we see couples willing to invest more in key details like their venue and photography, but we also saw them place guest experience at the top of their list of priorities, showing that when weddings came back, they came back for everyone.

“It’s also heartening to see that sustainability is becoming more of a priority for wedding planning couples – with over a fifth of those surveyed saying they included eco-friendly factors, this is an emerging trend we’re big fans of at Hitched!

“For those looking for ways to personalise their wedding, or for tips on budgeting, the Hitched app is the perfect place to start, with plenty of helpful advice and a dedicated budget planning tool that can be synced to your wedding checklist and used on the go.”

For couples looking to both start or continue their wedding journey in 2022 and beyond, the Hitched app is available to download for free on iOS and Android, for tools, news, tips, trends and ideas to make their big day a success.