Planning a Wedding for 2022 May Be Harder Than Finding Your Soul Mate

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Planning a Wedding for 2022 May Be Harder Than Finding Your Soul Mate

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Couples may find themselves with longer-than-anticipated waits to get hitched amid what industry experts have dubbed a wedding boom. Couples planning weddings in the next couple of years should book early, be flexible and expect higher prices, industry experts say.

Couples still high on the euphoria of a new wedding engagement had better preparethemselves for a cold reality: Right now, finding the perfect life partner might be easierthan planning the perfect wedding event.Wedding planners and vendors across the U.S. report record numbers of inquiries andbookings through 2024 thanks to Covid-19 wedding postponements. According toprojections from the wedding-planning website the Knot, an estimated 2.6 millionweddings will take place in the U.S. in 2022, a record high. Around the same number ofweddings have been set in 2021, leading to vendors and venues finding themselvesoverbooked and, in some cases, increasing prices. Among couples with 2022 wedding dates, 17% had replanned their weddings, according to data from Zola, an online wedding-gift registry.

“After the last almost two years of this isolation and worry and panic, we all want tocelebrate more than ever,” says Lauren Kay, the Knot’s executive editor.This planning has gone on through the rise of the Delta variant. What effect the Omicronvariant has on couples’ strategizing remains to be seen.As engagement season arrives, already-fierce competition for wedding venues andservices such as photography, catering and beauty services is about to get fiercer. Beforethe pandemic, approximately 40% of U.S. engagements occurred between Thanksgivingand Valentine’s Day, according to the online wedding marketplace Wedding Wire.

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The wedding industry has been hampered by global supply-chain strains and laborshortages that have limited supply and driven prices up on some goods and services.Some desperate brides and grooms are resorting to begging, bribery or simply loweringtheir expectations.Gene and Veronica Carbona, who own a wedding venue in Winthrop, Maine, say theyusually turned away two or three couples a year because their dates were already booked.Now, they say they are turning away 20 to 25 couples a week.Mr. Carbona says a bride-to-be came to visit the venue early this year looking for a fall2021 date. “I said, listen, I’m so sorry, there’s nothing I can do and she said, ‘Well, maybethere is something you can do,’ ” he remembers. “She said, ‘Please contact any of thosemid-September girls who booked more than a year ago, and my father will give them$25,000 for that day.’ ” Mr. Carbona says he refused.In a typical year, Hillary Fay, a makeup artist in Huntington, Vt., works 40 to 45 weddings.By the end of 2021, she will have worked 81, many postponed from 2020.Ms. Fay says she increased her rates by about 20%. She worried that higher prices wouldturn some couples away, but they didn’t, she says. One bride offered to pay an extra $500for Ms. Fay and a pair of hairstylists to bump another client for her date.Some betrothed couples are booking venues sight unseen


When Mara Zrzavy and Alex Roberts started the search for reception venues in 2021 for their fall
2022 wedding, only two venues near their church were available.

Bride-to-be Jill Dwiggins, 33, researched venues online, looking at photographers’
galleries from past weddings. She says she also spoke with venue staff and couples who
got married at the venues that interested her. She had specific criteria in mind: a venue
with Covid-19 precautions and an outdoor space. Anxious that the one she liked might
book up, Ms. Dwiggins says she put a deposit down without seeing it in person.
“Nerve-racking but worth it,” says Ms. Dwiggins, who was living in New England while
planning her wedding in Apex, N.C., where she now lives and works in publishing.
Mara Zrzavy, 28, a lawyer in Olean, N.Y., says she would have done the same if her mother
hadn’t insisted on touring the venue. After she and her fiancé were engaged in October
2020, she started requesting information packets from vendors but grew overwhelmed
and took a pause.

By the time she started the search for reception venues in early summer 2021 for her fall
2022 wedding, only two venues in the same area as their church were available. By the
time she toured them both, that number was down to one.

“You’re free that day? I don’t need to talk to you or anything, just where do I Venmo you?”
Ms. Zrzavy recalls telling that venue.

Couples planning weddings in the next couple of years should book early, be flexible and
expect higher prices, industry experts and workers say. The projected average cost for
weddings in 2022 and 2023 ranges from $24,300 to $24,900, according to the Wedding
Report, up from $22,500 in 2021.
Carlos Chaverst Jr. and Memri Williams said they increased their wedding budget to accommodate
rising costs.

Carlos Chaverst Jr., 28, and Memri Williams, 27, who are planning a wedding for May in
Birmingham, Ala., increased their budget to accommodate rising costs. Their overall
budget is about $17,000, up from their initial proposal of $10,000. They say the planning
process has been stressful, but the couple has tried not to let it cloud the excitement about
their big day.

“The urgency for me is definitely high. I’m ready.” Ms. Williams says. “We have even
talked a few times like maybe we just go and elope,” she jokes.

Daniel Van Vliet, 29, proposed to his boyfriend, Kyle Childress, in October, but anticipated
how overwhelmed the industry would be with postponements and new weddings. Right
away, the couple agreed on a long engagement.

“We decided to avoid having to make hasty decisions and maybe compromise,” says Mr.
Van Vliet, who works in recruiting at a technology company in Jersey City, N.J. “Let’s go
with 2023.”