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Weddings Are Back In A Big Way, But They Have A Higher Price Tag

In the U.S., weddings are resurgent, but service providers are stretched and costs are climbing.
Posted at 9:02 PM, Jun 06, 2022

After more than two years of delays and cancellations, weddings are bouncing back with a bang.

Across the U.S. couples are racing down the aisle, eager to shake off the COVID-19 pandemic and finally tie the knot.

According to the wedding planning site The Knot, 2.6 million couples are estimated to say "I do" in 2022 — a roughly 18% jump compared to average pre-pandemic wedding years. Industry experts say this year will mark the most weddings since 1984, with October slated to be the busiest month.

"People are ready to celebrate," said Susan Cordogan, owner of Big City Bride in Chicago. "They're ready to get married, and this is the first time in two years that it is more normal as we know it in the wedding world."

Wedding planners say it’s all hands on deck as they work to balance backlogged weddings with new engagements.  

"People want the great American wedding," Cordogan said. "They want the big ceremony, the big dinner dance, all the fun that comes with it, and it is an absolute whiplash."

From multi-day events to colorful engagement rings, the LGBTQ+ wedding magazine Equally Wed says couples are not holding back on attention to details.

But while what looks to be a record number of couples are ready to get hitched this year, experts say the wedding industry isn’t quite ready to meet the demand.

One hurdle is finding a date and location for the big day. "Saturdays are booked for most popular places and most popular dates for at least a year to two years," Cordogan said. "Our industry is not set to level out until 2024.”  Some couples have no choice but to get creative.

"We're seeing a ton of Friday and Sundays," Cordogan said. "We've even had weddings on Tuesdays and Thursdays as of recently. We get calls from people who are not engaged, and they're not going to be engaged anytime soon. They want to book their venue; they know it's coming."

Even if couples have a date locked down, Corodgan says finding vendors to service the wedding can be tricky.

"A lot of people packed up their bags and got out of the industry, so our trusty caterer or florist or photographer, a lot of them have changed industries altogether, because they said, 'We don't want to be in an industry that is so volatile and that can be so overlooked in a time like the pandemic,'" Cordogan said.

Add in price hikes because of staffing shortages and supply chain disruptions, and Cordogan says couples will likely find themselves stuck with a bigger bill.

"For everything from fuel prices that affect the flowers and food and all the provisions that are flown in or trucked in — those prices are increasing, even shuttles for weddings and things of that nature," Cordogan said.

According to the trade group The Wedding Report, the average cost of a wedding in 2019 was $24,675. Industry experts say that number will likely climb, with some estimating it could reach as high as $30,000.

"We're sort of re-creating the new norm when it comes to planning the great American wedding," Cordogan said. "It's kind of a different ballgame when it comes to planning the wedding, budgeting the wedding and servicing it."

The best piece of advice wedding planners have for couples now is to set level expectations, with a valid budget, time frame and guest list.