It’s the day you’ve waited for your whole life. You’ve never looked better, your best friends are by your side, and your family and friends eagerly await your arrival. You can’t wait to lock eyes with your soon-to-be-spouse coming down the aisle. Everything is perfect—until the unexpected happens.
Maybe you get to the church and your rings have been stolen, your florist is a no-show, or gifts are ruined in transit between the ceremony and reception. Maybe a natural disaster, family emergency, or sooner-than-expected military deployment keeps your big day from happening altogether. Maybe a dancing guest trips over the DJ’s cords and is injured, and sues the venue, DJ, event planners, and bride and groom, leaving the newlyweds to begin married life with a lot of headaches and potential debt.
These aren’t things that anyone wants to think about, but they are very real scenarios. And when the cost of an average wedding exceeds $25,000, the unplanned disasters can mean a loss of a lot of money, not to mention additional time and emotional distress.
”You’d have insurance on a car or a house, and you’re spending the same amount on a wedding as a car, so why wouldn’t you insure your wedding?” said Greg Palomino, creative executive officer of award-winning CRE8AD8, an event planning service based in San Antonio. “When you’re spending that kind of money, to me, it’s a no-brainer.”
Types of Wedding Insurance
Steve Lauro, who manages the WedSafe insurance program, said while the wedding insurance market is more mature in Europe, in the U.S., only about 2% of weddings are insured—but that percentage is growing as awareness increases.
There are two types of wedding insurance, Lauro said. Venues, especially museums and other places that are not in the wedding business per se, often require liability insurance, which covers property damage, an accident that causes injury, and any alcohol-related claims filed against the bride and groom or the venue.
Event cancellation insurance applies to weddings that are canceled due to unforeseen circumstances, such as a death, natural disaster, or unexpected deployment, and also to vendors who do not show up or do not perform. For event cancellation insurance to apply, events must be out of the control of those involved, though some providers offer a “change of heart” coverage option.
Claims run the gamut, Lauro said. The most common claims are for non-performing vendors, and the more extreme claims such as natural disasters are rare.
Through wedding insurance providers like WedSafe, Protect My Wedding, Wedsure, and private event insurance companies, consumers can pick and choose options that meet their budgetary requirements and coverage preferences, buying both liability and event cancellation insurance or only one type of plan, and often receiving a discount for purchasing both types.
Cost of Wedding Insurance
When planning a wedding on a tight budget, it can seem difficult to justify any expense that doesn’t get you prettier flowers, nicer photos, or an additional tier of wedding cake. But it can also seem pretty easy to justify buying something that protects all of those things.
Liability insurance is offered for amounts ranging from $500,000 to $2 million, including coverage for property damages. Event cancellation insurance, largely based on the total wedding budget, breaks down the coverage one would receive based on the problem that occurs. An event cancellation policy through WedSafe for a $25,000 event offers $2,000 each in coverage for photography and videography, gift damage, special attire, special jewelry, and loss of deposits; $750 for professional counseling after-the-fact; and $6,250 for any extra expenses that may be incurred. Parties can choose to increase or decrease certain coverage limits within a policy level.
Across different providers, the cost of a $1 million liability policy and cancellation insurance for a $25,000, 250-guest Texas wedding ranges from about $350 to $500.
Wedding insurance can be useful before the big day, on your wedding day, and after-the-fact, in some cases. While it can often be purchased up until shortly before the event, waiting that long is not recommended.
”You can’t buy fire insurance on a house that’s already burning,” Lauro said. “Once you’ve started placing deposits, you are potentially at risk of losing them. To get the most of your coverage, we recommend (buying insurance) as soon as you start spending money.”
And while the services of a non-performing vendor can’t necessarily be recovered on the wedding day, having insurance money can still be helpful for peace of mind and potential re-dos.
“If a photographer botches every photo, you can’t get your photos back from that day,” Palomino said. “But you use the insurance money to go get your hair and makeup done, reenact what you can, and take new photos.”
Vendors and Insurance
Lauro and Palomino have nearly identical recommendations when it comes to dealing with wedding vendors.
“Check your contracts,” Lauro said. “Make sure you only use reputable vendors and venues. And use a credit card whenever possible, because you have more recourse if your vendor goes out of business.”
Palomino believes clients should only use the services of vendors who have their own separate insurance policies.
“Ask to see the insurance policy of any planner or vendor,” he said. “Don’t believe them if they say they’ll get it in time for the wedding. They didn’t have it before, why should they get it now? Remember that when it comes to weddings and vendors, you get what you pay for.”
Palomino, who recommends insurance to all of the clients served in his $82 million-per-year business, and instructs each of his 35 wedding planners to discuss insurance with clients, admits wedding insurance still might not be for everyone.
“If your wedding costs less than your insurance policy, you probably don’t need it,” he said. “Otherwise, you need it. If you don’t cover yourself, you’re really leaving yourself out there.”