Local brides stretching budgets during inflation

DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) – Emma Kalb, 20, was one of the hundreds at the Dubuque Bridal Expo Sunday, looking for ideas and options for their weddings that fit within their budget.

Kalb has about $20,000 to spend. She said she thought it would be easy to stay under that threshold, but once she started the planning process, she learned the money gets used quickly.

“It all adds up really fast,” Kalb said.

Erin Kluesner is the event manager for The Barn on Heron Hill, a venue in Elkader which has been open for three years. Kleusner said at first, their business was from couples coming out of the pandemic who had been waiting to get married and were ready with lump sums. However, with the inflation that followed COVID-19, the venue started allowing payment plans.

“Couples who book, their struggle is needing full payments for all their vendors,” Kluesner said. “Of course, as a business, we’re waiting for those payments to roll in each month so that we can continue to invest in things.”

Kluesner added the business has less liquid cash now even as inflation is impacting their spending, as well.

“Our advertisement cost with The Knot and The Wedding Wire went from $4,800 to $6,200″ per year, Kluesner said.

The rise in the business’ cost is why they’ve raised their own prices, from $2,500 to $3,500 for a three-day package.

Tessa Sutton owns the wedding decor company Borrow my Vintage. She said her rental fees haven’t changed much, but delivery fees have thanks to rising fuel costs. So much so that, like Kluesner, she’s made a new option for customers.

“We’ve started to allow customer pickup from the warehouse,” Sutton said. “That is an option we’ve been exploring for the past year because those delivery fees are just so high.”

As for Kalb, she was faced with a lot of options at the expo, but she had a plan for finding what would work for her.

“I think just giving yourself time to get everything together and save the money and not have to go into debt to have a nice wedding,” Kalb said.