Wedding Photographer

Weddings in New Jersey fell nearly 20% in 2020. Will there be a post-COVID marriage boom?

Marriages have fallen dramatically during the pandemic as economic conflicts and restrictions on social gatherings have led to fewer couples getting married.

Last year there were 38,160 weddings in New Jersey, a 17% drop from 2019, according to the state Department of Health. This decline continued in the first four months of 2021, when marriages were down 36% from the same period in 2019.

This equates to about 11,700 fewer marriages over the past 16 months. It came as coronavirus restrictions made it difficult for couples to hold traditional weddings, as the loss of jobs made marriage more financially inaccessible, and limited social activity made it difficult for singles looking for love to meet. their only true.

But New Jersey is now reopening and domestic capacity limits will be fully lifted on Friday. New infections have dropped dramatically as vaccinations become widespread, with more than 4.1 million of the state’s 9.2 million people now fully vaccinated.

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The wedding industry says there is a wave of weddings on the horizon, as couples who have delayed ceremonies move forward with the big family celebrations COVID-19 has interrupted. This would be good news for a wide range of businesses, from catering companies, to photographers, limousine drivers, to jewelers, to florists, to event venues.

“We can’t keep up with the demand,” said Nancy Petrellese, owner of NJ Wedding Pros, a wedding planning company in Fair Haven, County Monmouth. She said it was getting difficult to get dates for the rest of 2021. “It’s kinda crazy now. “Where can I find a church? Can I have a place? Can I have a photographer? “

Still, with high unemployment and an uncertain financial recovery, experts say it remains to be seen whether marriage rates will recover as quickly as some are predicting.

“A lot of times people want their finances in order, that’s usually a big deal,” said Ashley Ermer, assistant professor of family science and human development at Montclair State University. “A lot of that has to do with being in a good economic situation, so I think a lot of it will depend on the economy.”

Even before the pandemic, marriage was in decline in the United States, with increasing numbers choosing to marry later in life – or not at all. COVID-19 has piled on that, with researchers at Bowling Green State University in Ohio estimating in December that marriages may have fallen 20% in 2020 from a typical year.

Wendy Manning, a Bowling Green sociologist who co-authored the study, said she has yet to see a flood of marriages as the coronavirus recedes. While she expects “mini surges” in the summer and fall, she said she doubts they will fully make up for the shortfall caused by the epidemic.

Some couples who have delayed their marriage may ultimately never get married, Manning said, especially given last year’s stress on relationships. For people dating, 2020 may have stolen a year of dating that could also affect future marriage rates, she said.

“We could see the ripple effects in the years to come,” Manning said. “I’ll be surprised if we bounce back.”

Petrellese, the wedding planner for Fair Haven, said she was optimistic. She sees weddings skyrocketing over the next two years, given the glut of couples who have delayed ceremonies. Couples are already struggling to book traditional Saturday night weddings and are ready to tie the knot during the work week, she said.

The request totaled 180, Petrellese said. “It’s amazing.”

Alex Karas, executive director of Enchanted Celebrations, a West Creek, Ocean County wedding company, is also optimistic about the future. It provides DJs, photographers and videographers. He expects to have nearly 900 weddings this year, up from 650 in a typical year.

It’s a welcome change from 2020, when ceremony after ceremony had to be postponed, he said.

“We’re sort of comparing everything to 2019 and everything is higher than in 2019 because of the backlog,” Karas said.

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Riley Yates can be reached at [email protected].

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