Learn more about the wedding boom in 2022 in our ongoing Year of Marriage series.
Shelby Henry, 25, thought she would have no problem compiling the perfect team for her wedding on April 9.
After all, weddings are her business: Ms. Henry is the founder, photographer and principal videographer of Amavi, a wedding studio in West Palm Beach, Florida, and Indianapolis. She got engaged last June and began contacting vendors in August, assuming nine months would be more than enough time to plan her 80-person wedding in Key Largo.
Not to be.
“I contacted probably 30 photographers and 20 videographers, maybe more,” Ms Henry said. As for florists, “we contacted probably 12 to 15, and many of them were already booked.”
She eventually hired a wedding planner, who managed to nab the vendors, paying a Boca Raton caterer an additional $1,500 in travel expenses to drive about an hour and a half to Mrs. Henry’s wedding venue.
At least Mrs. Henry had Street. The predicted wedding boom of 2022 has created a maddening shortage of vendors and venues. Since many of the 2.5 million weddings expected this year have been pushed back between 2020 and 2021, many couples have had to book their venue multiple times – and now some are stuck without one. Paula Ramirez, owner of the historic Mankin Mansion in Richmond, Va., said the 2022 season sold out in December, causing the mansion to open dates that aren’t usually offered.
Understanding the supply chain crisis
It’s not just frustrating for couples; it’s also bittersweet for a wedding industry that’s barely managed to stay afloat during the pandemic.
Anastasia Stevenson, wedding planner at Coastal Creative Weddings in Savannah, Georgia, said her entire business came to a halt with the onset of Covid-19, and it closed in 2020 and 2021.
It reopened in 2022 and is on track for the busiest season in its 16 years in the industry. Most of its 2022 dates have been booked since mid-2021, turning even the quietest wedding parties into bridezillas or groomzillas.
“I asked the mother of the groom to offer me an extra $10,000 to cancel another client and work with her on a specific date,” Ms. Stevenson said.
New York celebrity wedding planner and TV personality Samantha Goldberg said she’s also experienced extreme cases of marriage desperation, especially for specific dates. February 2 (2/2/22) was particularly popular, for example.
“We’ve had a few clients who changed their dates two to three times just to allow us to plan,” Ms. Goldberg said, adding that her business has increased significantly from previous years. She said she was offered “double my fee and had to decline” because she was already booked.
One of the reasons wedding planners are in such demand: Couples realize very quickly how frustrating it is to find vendors on their own.
How the Supply Chain Crisis Unfolded
The pandemic triggered the problem. The highly complex and interconnected global supply chain is in upheaval. Much of the crisis can be traced to the Covid-19 outbreak, which triggered an economic slowdown, mass layoffs and a halt in production. Here’s what happened next:
John Campbell, the owner of John Campbell Weddings in Tampa, Fla., said he’s fully booked for Spring 2022 before the end of 2020. Typically, clients contact him nine to 14 months in advance; now some have started calling it 24 months ahead of the desired dates.
Even calligraphers feel the heat. Calligraphy takes weeks and sometimes months, especially at higher volumes, said Emilie Dulles, owner of Dulles Design, an invitation company in Charleston, South Carolina. While engraving and letterpress machines can run around the clock, calligraphers cannot. Custom calligraphy now has to be booked months in advance, based on every 100 orders. For example, a wedding with 400 guests will take twice as long to deliver a letter as an event with 200 guests, said Mrs. Dulles.
With few vendors left, couples get creative. Tracy Bellamy, 27, who works in marketing and sales, got engaged in June 2021 and began planning in October for her January 2022 wedding at the Boston Fish Pier.
It was then too late to find a caterer.
So she and her fiancé (now her husband) asked “some of our close friends to come in as food vendors for the wedding,” Ms Bellamy said. His friends prepared chicken and salad. Luckily, Ms. Bellamy said, she found a bakery just in time so she didn’t have to ask a friend to search “How to make a wedding cake” on YouTube.
If you’re just starting to plan a wedding, you might want to think about 2023. Daniel Hess, the owner of To Tony Productions, a wedding videography company in Baltimore, said he’s started booking for the next year. He gets four to five requests a day, he said, and he’s had to double the size of his regular crew from six to 12.
It is not just the increase in demand that is causing the shortage of suppliers; it’s also supply chain issues. Gineen Cargo, owner of Gavin Christianson Bridal in Durham, North Carolina, said she recommends all brides order their dresses at least six to nine months in advance – or a year, to be on the safe side. – since all ‘shipments are delayed or left in ports.
A May 2023 bride has already said “yes” to the dress, 15 months before her big day, Ms Cargo says.
Is it too early to be nostalgic for Zoom weddings?