It’s hard to imagine something as vibrant, widespread, and booming as the global wedding industry coming to a screeching halt, but it did last March as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. It is only recently, thanks to mass vaccinations and restrictions being lifted on large gatherings, that weddings are being given the green light to resume and return to a more familiar degree of normal.
Yet, even in the face of a resurgence of weddings, including those postponed, cancelled, and planned during the pandemic, the wedding industry faces yet another unforeseen challenge: a literal “wedding boom.”
What is a Wedding Boom?
After a year of postponed and downsized weddings, the wedding industry is seeing a surge of couples looking to plan 2021, 2022, and 2023 weddings. As a result, experts say the demand for venues, vendors, and goods such as flowers and attire has never been higher.
“This year with the rollout of the vaccine and states opening up, weddings are coming like a tidal wave,” notes Tzo Ai Ang, planner and owner of Ang Weddings and Events in New York City, who received more inquiries in 2021 than ever before and sadly had to turn away many couples hoping to work with her. “With the good news coming out, couples who have been sitting and waiting, are now ready to start planning their weddings,” she says. “The couples that had to have their 2020 weddings rescheduled are ready to plan their 2021 or 2022 dates in earnest and feel hopeful that their celebration can finally happen!”
This year, with the rollout of the vaccine and states opening up, weddings are coming like a tidal wave.
Jaclyn Watson, a New England-based wedding planner, has also seen this steep rise in couples wanting to plan their wedding ASAP and has not only noticed a pent-up demand for gatherings, especially weddings, but also for spending money. “This past year, no one could go on vacation, have a large gathering or even entertain family and friends, so couples planning their weddings as well as their wedding guests are eager to let loose at all costs,” she says.
With Demand, A New Set of Challenges
While it’s undoubtedly an exciting time to get married and to attend weddings, the situation places wedding professionals as well as couples in a very challenging situation. It’s almost as if weddings were on pause for the past year and someone just hit “play.” The struggle of finding new staff and reliable help, carrying out multiple postponements, and having to take on new clients with already-full schedules to bring in new income are just a few of the issues wedding professionals face as they work tirelessly to please the clients that were quiet as crickets for nearly a year, explains Watson.
Venues, vendors, and wedding items like attire are all going to be in massively high demand in ways we’ve never seen before, Jamie Chang, owner and destination wedding planner at Mango Muse Events in Los Altos, California, points out. “There are way more engaged couples vying for the same dates and services, but there are only so many weekends in a year and only so many vendors,” she says. “The demand greatly outweighs the supply and this is resulting in the importance of alternative options and couples needing to be flexible.”
How to Plan During a "Wedding Boom"
If you’re planning a wedding in 2021, 2022, 2023, or beyond, you’re certainly in good company, which means major competition for all the resources you’ll be looking to come by to ensure your big day is as magical as you dreamed it would be. Here are expert recommendations for how to plan a wedding when it seems like everyone is doing the same.
Get Ready to Make Decisions
With everything in high demand in the wedding boom, making decisions quickly is going to be important, notes Chang. “You shouldn’t be making rash decisions, as venues and vendors should still be vetted and fit what you’re looking for, but it’s more important than ever to act quickly because waiting can result in the loss of a good option and result in you having to search all over again or settle for something less,” she says. “If someone or something is the right fit, move forward, and by moving forward you’ll also be moving your planning forward too which is helpful during this impacted time.”
Prepare for Inflated Costs
Given the fact that wedding purchases of all kinds are going to see a major increase and as a result of the fact that so many vendors were pretty much out of work for the majority of 2020, couples should prepare for higher costs. It’s also worth mentioning that some wedding vendors were hit harder than others, namely wedding florists who were unable to access many flowers from both domestic and international farms. “With the large boom in weddings and massive demand for flowers, things are going to be more challenging for floral designers to procure and at a higher cost,” says Chang. She urges couples to try and be flexible with their designers and their wedding vision to achieve the best prices for their wedding.
Book Your Wedding Planner First
Even if a wedding planner wasn’t in your original wedding plans, there’s no better time to hire one than right now. “Wedding planners have access to tons of insider info on vendors as well as venues and know the right questions to ask, the most desirable dates, and how to manage the entire process,” says Oniki Hardtman, a wedding planner and owner of Oh Niki Occasions in South Florida and New York City. “An experienced wedding planner is going to be your biggest advocate to navigate this fast-paced and exciting process at all times.”
Be Flexible With Dates
One of the hardest parts of planning a wedding during the wedding boom, according to Chang, is going to be finding a wedding date. For this reason, she urges couples to be flexible with their date. “This means considering non-Saturday dates, offseasons, and alternative event times,” she says. When talking with potential venues, she recommends asking about all the date options so that you know what the possibilities are. “By being flexible, you’ll have way more options to choose from and it can even save you money in the end,” she adds.
Consider Your Guests
As a result of the wedding boom, your guests will likely be invited to more weddings than usual, which may mean your guest list might be smaller than you intended. With this in mind, Chang recommends getting save-the-dates out as soon as possible along with information about your wedding. “This will give guests as much time as possible to make a decision and plan ahead if they are attending your wedding,” she says.
Don’t Forget that COVID Still Exists
While it’s certainly a relief to know that the vaccines are doing a great job at protecting people against this terrible disease, it’s important to keep in mind that it is still prevalent. “People are still getting sick, there are contagious variants and we have not reached herd immunity,” says Chang. She urges couples to make smart decisions that keep their guests safe, whether that’s requiring vaccinations, negative tests, having an outdoor wedding, serving plated meals, or seating by households. “Take into account your guests, your location, the situation, and people’s comfort level and make sure you’re planning with safety in mind,” she says. “You don't have to do everything, but you'll still need to plan with COVID in mind.”