By Jesse Berman and Heather Ross
Those who grieved over the emptiness of their pandemic-era social calendars are enjoying a better 2022 — a boom time for weddings.
More than 2.4 million weddings are expected for 2022, according to the Wedding Report, a trade group that gathers data on the industry. According to The New York Times, if that prediction holds up, that would be the most weddings since 1984.
“Client load has increased. Everything feels crazy and busy,” said Rachel Lassoff, owner of Dream Day Events, a Haverford-based company that plans events like weddings and bar and bat mitzvahs. “It’s hard to explain, but yeah, things everywhere have increased. More clients, more questions, more what-ifs. More money because inflation is killing us all!”
The majority of the celebrations planned in 2022 represented events that were rescheduled over the past two years, the Times reported, while much of the remainder was couples who got engaged during the pandemic.
Heidi Hiller, the CEO and creative director of Innovative Party Planners, an Owings Mills, Maryland-based wedding planner, also saw a significant uptick in the number of weddings being organized this year. She concurred that it is a result of restrictions put in place during the pandemic.
“During the height of the pandemic, many of our couples couldn’t get married,” said Hiller, a Jewish resident of Pikesville, Maryland, and an active volunteer at the Pearlstone Conference & Retreat Center in Reisterstown, Maryland. “They wanted to celebrate, and whether it was [that] the venue was shut down due to the COVID restrictions … there were just too many risks that they didn’t want to take for themselves, for their families, for their guests.”
Many of Hiller’s clients thought about their wedding long before ever meeting their significant other, she added, and a wedding with COVID restrictions was simply not what they envisioned.
“We’re seeing this [swell] because now that the restrictions have been lessened and more people are vaccinated … [they’re] still taking risks, but they’re more willing to take them now,” Hiller said.
Lassoff, however, said that the backlog of weddings was only partially a result of COVID.
“I had pretty steady work throughout the pandemic. We had to change what events looked like. I never truly lost people, but it just morphed into something else. The hardest part was that it pushed back a lot of things. People had just stopped their lives. There’s a lot of people who held off, and now we have this influx of people trying to find and access all these things. Sometimes they’re booked, sometimes all of them are booked.”
According to Lassoff, May, June, September and October are the most popular months to get married.
“People want to be outside,” she said.
The uptick in weddings has resulted in couples having difficulty scheduling them, Hiller said. Last fall, for example, finding a florist was all but impossible if a couple had not already booked one.
An additional factor complicating things is that many wedding industry vendors are working with fewer employees than before, Hiller added. Many industry employees lost their jobs when COVID shut things down and had to look for work elsewhere, she said. Those former employees are not necessarily in a rush to return now.
In addition, ongoing problems in the supply chain have been a challenge, Hiller said.
“If you get engaged and choose to get married in the next few months, you may find yourself having to get married on a Thursday night or at an odd time of day in order to get the kind of vendors that you want,” Hiller said.