Anyone who has planned a wedding knows that endless hours and a good chunk of change can go into it. So, leading up to the big day, one of the last things you want is for something unexpected to derail your wedding — leaving you stuck with the bill.
“Most couples would rather not imagine something going wrong at their own weddings, but the reality is anything can happen,” says David Berke, founder of eWed Insurance, a wedding insurance company.
In fact, the coronavirus pandemic and increasing government restrictions on social gatherings have forced many people to rethink any weddings scheduled over the next few months. Engaged couples are struggling with the difficult decision to keep, postpone, or cancel their wedding dates.
“It’s better to be prepared than to be blindsided by something that can very easily ruin everything you’ve planned for with such care,” Berke says.
So, how can you prepare? For many couples, wedding insurance provides that peace of mind.
What Is Wedding Insurance?
Wedding insurance, also known as special event insurance, covers couples against losses due to circumstances outside of their control. Depending on the type of coverage you purchase, you can protect yourself financially from a wide range of circumstances, such as problems with vendors, illness or injury, extreme weather, military deployment, lost or stolen gifts, and damage to wedding attire.
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Emilie Dulles, owner of Dulles Designs, which prints custom stationery and invitations, recommends wedding insurance to 100% of her clients. For one, many venues require couples to show proof of insurance in case they become liable for bodily injury or property damage. It’s also a relatively small price to pay for protection against the unknown, according to Dulles.
“It should be factored into every wedding budget as a line item right up there with venue, invitations, flowers, food and beverage, etc.,” she says.
What Does Wedding Day Insurance Cover?
In 2010, a Dulles Designs client was planning a formal wedding at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort near Charleston, South Carolina, when the unexpected struck.
“We had designed and letterpress-printed her beautiful wedding invitations and were ready to hand-cancel and mail her calligraphy-addressed envelopes out to all invitees,” Dulles says. However, right as the team was stamping the envelopes, it learned via local news that the client’s wedding reception venue was on fire.
“Sadly, the River Course Clubhouse was so severely damaged in the fire that it was clear no wedding would be taking place there anytime soon,” Dulles says.
The good news was that the bride had wedding insurance. Not only was she able to switch venues, but her initial investment in custom stationery was also protected. Dulles Designs printed a new reception insert card explaining the change in venue and mailed everything to her guests as quickly as possible.
That’s just an example of how wedding insurance protected one couple leading up to their big day. However, what’s actually covered by insurance depends on the policy you purchase. There are two types of wedding insurance, according to Berke.
Wedding liability insurance
Berke says liability insurance is typically required by your venue. It safeguards both you and the venue in the event of damage caused by your party, or if there’s an injury that you’re responsible for.
These insurance policies often include host liquor liability insurance, which is necessary if you’re catering the wedding yourself or if the venue or catering company doesn’t have it. Host liquor liability insurance protects you in case alcohol consumption at your wedding leads to any charges.
Liability insurance usually covers a 24- to 48-hour period that ends once the reception is over. So, while you may be able to insure the rehearsal dinner, your post-wedding brunch likely won’t be covered.
Wedding cancellation insurance
Cancellation insurance protects you from unforeseen events that could force you to postpone the wedding and lose your deposits.
“Examples are extreme weather, a fire or flood at your wedding venue, vendor no-shows, loss or damage of wedding day photos and videos, replacement bridal dress, rush alterations, stolen or damaged gifts, and more,” Berke says.
What’s Not Covered By Wedding Event Insurance?
Wedding insurance covers many things, but understand that you aren’t protected in every instance. Most importantly, you should know that you won’t be covered if you call off the wedding due to a change of heart, according to Berke. So, if you get cold feet and decide to pull the plug on your big day, you’ll be fully responsible for the costs.
Additionally, while wedding insurance may cover your wedding rings, your engagement ring might not be protected. Considering that the average cost of an engagement ring was $5,900 in 2019, according to WeddingWire’s 2020 Newlywed Report, it’s possible that you’re worried about potential damage, theft, or loss of your ring. In that case, purchasing separate engagement ring insurance could help give you peace of mind.
Finally, jewelry and watches worn by the wedding party and guests might not be covered by wedding insurance, according to The Knot.
How Much Wedding Insurance Costs
What you’ll pay for wedding insurance is influenced by a few factors, including the number of guests in attendance. General liability insurance providing $1 million in coverage will cost about $185, according to The Knot. However, the final cost of your wedding insurance policy could end up being much lower or higher, depending on your situation and the amount of coverage you buy. Of course, adding cancellation insurance will bring the cost up. A basic policy covering losses such as photos and videos, gifts, wedding attire, rings, and various deposits typically runs from $155 to $550.
Choosing the Right Wedding Insurance Policy
Insurance is generally purchased as soon as you start paying deposits to your venue and vendors, according to Berke. “This is the time you start to be at risk for a loss,” he says.
Deciding on the best wedding insurance policy for your situation might seem overwhelming. But don’t stress — there are a few steps you can follow to determine the coverage you need.
1. Start with the venue
The first thing you should do is go over your venue’s contract. Find out if the venue has its own liability coverage or if you’ll need to buy it.
“Liability insurance can be purchased closer to the event date, once you have final details and guest counts confirmed,” Dulles says.
Either way, liability insurance isn’t something you want to skip, as a major injury or damage to the venue could leave you with a bill for thousands of dollars.
2. Decide on liability, cancellation, or both
Next, figure out what type of policy you’ll need based on the losses you want to protect against. We’ve established that wedding liability insurance is important to have, but you’ll want to carefully weigh the decision to add cancellation insurance. After all, shelling out a few hundred dollars for this type of coverage might mean you’ll need to trim the budget for flowers or cut a couple of people from the guest list. Most couples purchase insurance in an amount roughly equal to their wedding budget, Berke says.
When deciding whether to get cancellation insurance, consider different factors at the time of your wedding. Are snowstorms a possibility, or is it during hurricane season? Could you or your future spouse be deployed before getting the chance to tie the knot? What would you do if an important member of your family became ill and couldn’t make the ceremony?
If you decide to purchase cancellation insurance, Dulles says you should do so before making any big payments, such as purchasing the dress, booking the venue and band, or designing and printing the invitations. This helps ensure that each payment receipt or invoice date is well within the coverage period.
3. Find the right insurance company
Once you’ve decided on how much coverage to get, it’s time to pick an insurer. There are plenty of wedding insurance companies out there, so how do you choose the best one? Like with your policy, the right insurer for your situation will change depending on several factors, like the size of your wedding, the venue location, and existing coverage.
“You should research wedding insurance with your existing insurance provider and also inquire from large nationwide companies that might have more competitive rates,” Dulles says.
Below are wedding insurance companies that were highly rated by Reviews.com as of November 2019. After the site evaluated 20 policies based on three hypothetical wedding scenarios, these four providers came out on top in terms of coverage, transparency, and communication:
- Markel Specialty: Best overall coverage
- Travelers: Best for destination weddings
- Wedsure: Most customizable policy
- WedSafe: Best for liability insurance
The Bottom Line
No matter your budget, your wedding day is usually a memorable one. Make sure you remember it for all the right reasons by protecting yourself against life’s unknowns. Whether you want to cover the bare minimum or protect every possible aspect of your wedding, there’s a policy out there that’s right for you.