The wedding boom is suffering from some of the worst cases of inflation and supply chain crises
WEdge planners are weary as the pandemic fades in the rear-view mirror and couples flock to walk the aisle, and the industry is a microcosm of the headwinds of spiraling inflation and the supply chain hitting the economy at large.
When COVID-19 began causing businesses to close across the country in March 2020, wedding and event planners were left scrambling to figure out what to do. After a bumpy 2021, which was marked by weddings and small celebrations held back, 2022 proved to be a landmark year for the industry.
Kate Edmonds is founder and president of Kate Edmonds Events, which has been in business for over two decades.
A Manhattan-based wedding planner told Washington Examiner That her phone has been ringing nonstop this year as couples look to tie the knot. After months of patchwork restrictions and changing routing, a sense of normalcy is back in the industry, and people are rushing to get married.
“And we can’t take them all in and do really high-level work,” Edmonds said of the deluge of planned weddings, noting that demand is outpacing the bandwidth of her business. “It’s a high-impact career where every nuance – every conversation, every choice.”
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“People haven’t been partying with friends and family for a long time,” Edmonds said, noting that couples will be going “everything” this year.
About 2.5 million weddings are expected this year, the most ceremonies since 1984, according to The Wedding Report, an industry trade group. That’s nearly double the number of weddings held in 2020 and half a million more than last year.
The present moment of high demand for weddings has been a long time coming.
Gallup polls showed that around April 2020, about 90% of people in the United States said they wanted to avoid events that saw large crowds. That number fell to 60% a year later, and as of March of this year, it’s down to 41%.
Melissa Emberman, president of Event of a Lifetime, described her work on the pandemic as “part triage, part healer,” as plans collapsed and the coronavirus spread across the country.
Emberman, who is based in Chappaqua, New York, explained that those first few weeks of postponement and adjustment quickly turned into months of not working at all. Everything has stopped with many venues and vendors for weddings out of business.
A year into the epidemic, when vaccinations began to spread and the weather was warm in the summer of 2021, business began to pick up because outdoor venues were available for weddings. However, planners still faced logistical problems. For example, the guidelines for how many people could congregate at one time quickly changed and caused guests to be killed at the last minute.
Emberman said to Washington Examiner for weddings last year.
Now, with the COVID-19 restrictions over, the real wedding boom has begun. Even with the influx of new marriages, wedding planners have taken months to remove lists of weddings that have been postponed, in some cases multiple times, during the worst of the pandemic.
It’s taken nearly two years, but Edmonds said her business recently finished her last wedding, originally booked for March 2020, which has been postponed due to the pandemic.
While a return to normalcy is welcome, some things have changed and may remain that way for years to come.
For example, technology has allowed more people to participate in marriages without being there physically. From work to play, many events during the pandemic have been moved to Zoom and other virtual spaces, leading to institutional acceptance of the technology.
Some weddings earlier in the pandemic relied so heavily on technology that friends and family, whose appearances might violate various states’ restrictions on attending the event, can still be part of the ceremony.
This default component may have remained constant because it allowed people who lived too far away to attend a wedding or sick people who still saw events unfold live. Due to the general acceptance of technology and knowledge on the part of wedding planners, many weddings this year will have some form of virtual items.
Another recent change has been hyperinflation in the country. Consumer prices rose 8.3% in the twelve months to April, near the fastest pace since 1981. Rising prices made weddings less expensive to attend.
A survey by Bankrate found that nearly a quarter of adults who attended or attended festive events this year feel pressure to spend more money than they are comfortable with. Despite the explosion of weddings, fewer people reported that they attended or were planning to attend festive events this year.
“The cost of fun can be expensive, especially with rampant inflation. It’s important to come up with a good plan before committing to these kinds of events,” said Ted Rosman, industry analyst at Bankrate.
Edmunds said that while the demand for extravagant weddings by hosts has increased, the average size of weddings has declined. Before COVID-19, she said, the average wedding for her business included 250 to 300. Now, many only have 75 to 150 guests.
Weddings are also affected by the snarls of global supply chains, particularly with regard to event products sourced from China, which is facing the most severe shutdowns since the start of the pandemic. Additionally, wedding planners report that lack of paper and fabrics causes problems and increases costs.
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Another problem is the shortage of workers. The people working on the events themselves were more difficult to reach. Thus, the wages of these workers increased, which increased the pressure on the price of the couple’s big day.
Despite the challenges and obstacles, millions of couples are expected to go ahead and tie the knot this year in places finally free from the restrictions of masks, guest restrictions and other obstacles.