Aug 6, 2021 - Economy

The crazy, backed-up wedding industry

Illustration of a ticket dispenser with a bouquet of flowers on it

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

After a long, pandemic-induced wedding drought, the industry is busier than it has been in decades — and venues, vendors and planners are feeling the squeeze.

Staggering stat: There will be an estimated 2.5 million weddings in 2022, which is the most the U.S. has seen since 1984, according to The Wedding Report, a market research firm.

  • To put that in context, there were about 2.1 million weddings per year before the pandemic and just 1.2 million weddings in 2020, due to pandemic cancellations.
  • "The surge is really coming on next year," says Shane McMurray, founder of The Wedding Report.

What's happening: While some couples had Zoom weddings, most postponed their celebrations because large, unmasked gatherings were not allowed in most states. On top of that, many more couples got engaged during the pandemic and are now planning weddings, too.

As a result, venues are booked up through 2022, and even into 2023, and florists, photographers and planners are working overtime.

  • "It’s not sustainable for human beings to do this," says Laine Palm, a wedding planner and coordinator based in Minneapolis. "We’re tired, and we can’t keep doing three weddings in a weekend, which is what we’re doing now."
  • Palm says she's increasingly seeing weddings spill onto Thursdays and Sundays as venues run out of Fridays and Saturdays. She even did a Monday wedding this summer.
  • She's booked through the end of next year and has started getting so many inquiries for 2023 that she has decided to not even field them until January 2022.

Wedding budgets are also back up, after a dip in 2020. Couples are spending an average of $22,500, up $3,000 from 2020, and roughly equal to 2019 levels, CNBC reports, citing data from the wedding website The Knot.

But, but, but: This is just a bubble for the wedding industry, experts say. "To be honest, this isn’t really growth," says McMurray. "This is pent-up demand."

  • Overall, the number of weddings has been trending down in the U.S. as more and more couples choose not to get married or not to have a pricey celebration, and that trend will continue post-pandemic, he says.
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