Elopement Wedding

If Eloping Isn’t In Your Plans, This Company Will Take The Stress Out Of Paying For Your Wedding

2.5 million couples will be saying “I do” this year – that’s a 15% bump in the number of weddings compared to a typical year.

Covid, and its seemingly never-ending list of variants, derailed the plans of millions of happy couples, forcing them to cancel, reschedule and often reschedule again. The good news is, we are now in the middle of what NPR calls “the busiest season in 40 years.” Couples, emerging from “postponement fatigue,” are forging ahead – masks, boosters and all.

That’s great news for the millions of happy couples looking to start their happily ever after. And the even better news is that there is now a company that makes paying for this (hopefully) once-in-a-lifetime celebration a piece of cake.

Taking the BNPL Model to New Verticals

Buy Now Pay Later, a financing option that has gained incredible popularity over the past few years from companies such as Affirm, Afterpay and Klarna, allows consumers to purchase items today and pay for them over time, typically in four equal, monthly, interest- free payments. The flexible payment option is particularly popular among Gen Z and Millennials, many of whom could not afford to make the purchase outright, are reluctant to take on credit card debt and/or pay credit card interest or may not even have enough credit history to qualify for credit in the first place.

But BNPL is no longer just for retail. Consider B Generous, a donate now pay later platform that gives people the financial freedom to donate to nonprofits. Consumers can now also find similar flexible payment options when paying for almost anything – veterinary care, healthcare, travel and many other big ticket and everyday purchases.

Book Now Pay Later

But what about the event space? Weddings are one of the biggest expenditures in a consumer’s lifetime, right up there with a new car purchase or a college education, and yet remain one of the only large expenditures without a flexible payment option.

Jess Conroy, a venture capitalist turned entrepreneur, saw this as a real blue ocean opportunity. Having originally started her business Carats & Cake as a platform to connect prospective wedding couples with the best businesses in the industry, she quickly saw an even bigger opportunity. “I had 40 million monthly users on my site, and I learned that the single biggest challenge isn’t actually planning a wedding, it’s paying for one.”

And so, she pivoted. Working directly with venues, Carats & Cake (which raised nearly $20 million in December of last year) now offers prospective couples (as well as bar and bat mitzvahs, sweet 16s, family reunions, corporate events – really any part of the $100 billion event industry) the ability to book an event and pay for it over four months, interest free.

An Industry Ripe for Innovation

Event venues tend to focus on event execution, not transacting. Carats & Cake has found a way to modernize the business of events, both for couples and for venues.

For a wedding, for example, 70% of a couple’s overall budget will typically go to the venue. Couples get engaged and often think they have 12-18 months to come up with the money and are usually surprised to learn that a large upfront deposit (sometimes 50%!) is often required just to hold the date. “So, the next thing you know, you’re spending 70% of your budget in the first 30 days of planning,” says Conroy. Venues working with Carats & Cake can now offer couples the ability to pay this large lump sum over four months, without incurring additional interest charges. “We’re helping couples spend smarter,” says Conroy.

The venues are benefitting too. “For venues, their biggest challenge is not executing the design plan, it isn’t making sure their venue is booked every single Saturday – it’s how you do more efficiently invoice, collect payment and transact,” says Conroy. “Most of the venues we work with were collecting a paper check or sending a pdf or Word doc and asking you to fill out your information.”

So, the company built an entire software stack for venues that includes digital invoicing and one-click contract signature software, allowing the brands to consistently deliver custom, branded invoices, payment links and contract links.

Conroy says her company is creating “a ton of operational efficiency” on the business side. “On average, for venues that use our software, 85% of payments are on time or early. And outside of our system – what we call manual transactions where someone brings in a paper check or calls in a credit card number – 85% of those payments are past the due date.”

Carats & Cake is a win/win for couples and their venues. “We’re giving consumers more power over how they spend but we’re also giving businesses more flexibility in how they charge and the prices they’re able to command.”

Making a Wedding a Family Affair

“The day you agree to spend the rest of your life with someone, you create a new financial family unit,” says Conroy, referring to the blending of the bride’s and groom’s families. A recent survey conducted by the company revealed that more than 80% of respondents will rely on family and friends to help pay for their wedding. But dividing up what each party owes – and collecting payments – can be tricky and awkward. With Carats & Cake’s digital invoicing and one click payment options, they make it easier and less uncomfortable for families to come together and spend.

“Previously it was all very messy as multiple parties attempted to pay for one event,” says Conroy. “Planning a wedding is inherently stressful. We’re making the occasion more joyful by making the finances less messy.”

Paying for a wedding is often the biggest pain point for couples, and one that casts a shadow over an otherwise blissful experience. And with inflation at the highest rate in 41 years, paying for the big day will only become more challenging. Carats & Cake has found a way to bring the buy now pay later trend to the event space, allowing couples to focus more on the “I do” and less on the “I owe.”

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