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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.

Go deeper

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.

Officials warn 5 key tech sectors will determine whether China overtakes U.S.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

U.S. intelligence officials responsible for protecting advanced technologies have narrowed their focus to five key sectors: artificial intelligence, quantum computing, biotechnology, semiconductors and autonomous systems.

Why it matters: China and Russia are employing a variety of legal and illegal methods to undermine and overtake U.S. dominance in these critical industries, officials warned in a new paper. Their success will determine "whether America remains the world’s leading superpower or is eclipsed by strategic competitors."