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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Wedding postponements during the coronavirus pandemic are dropping like petals from flowers past their prime. 

Why it matters: Weddings are a $74 billion industry, employing florists, reception venues and catering halls, photographers and videographers, clothing stores and more. But waves of cancellations are crashing over vendors, and currently engaged couples are apprehensive about scheduling future nuptials.

  • Per the New York Times, most weddings in spring were canceled or scaled down to small ceremonies. 
  • Wedding planners say they expect ceremonies in late summer and early fall — the wedding industry's busiest season — to be canceled as well. 

Wedding vendors and couples have widely used video conferencing to salvage the experience and their businesses.

  • Zoom marriage ceremonies have gained popularity, and some lawmakers are adjusting statutes to allow for them.
  • Governors in New York and California have issued executive orders to allow weddings to be licensed and officiated remotely during the pandemic.
  • Colorado's governor has also expanded access to marriage licenses by allowing mail-in applications.

Vendors are adapting their services to accommodate social distancing orders.

  • David's Bridal in April launched a "virtual stylist and virtual appointment experience," to accommodate remote shopping.
  • Smaller vendors are offering add-ons and adjusting dates to retain reservations.

Between the lines: The lull could significantly amplify an already shifting decline in weddings — both in frequency and size. 

  • Millennials prefer smaller, more intimate weddings to large gatherings, shrinking the demand for services. 
  • Debt-ridden millennials last year were taking out loans to cover wedding expenses.  

Marriage as an institution is in decline, with more couples opting to skip the formal union.

  • The rate of marriages in the U.S. sank to a record low in 2018 amid declining religious observances and growing acceptance of unmarried households.

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."