Wedding bells are expected to continue ringing loud and clear over the coming months despite stagnating vaccination rates and continued spread of COVID-19, as couples who postponed their nuptials forge ahead with rescheduled (or, in some cases, re-rescheduled) plans.
Vishal Joshi, co-founder and CEO of wedding planning startup Joy, told PYMNTS that weddings have picked up since the spring “and show no signs of slowing.” Twice the number of weddings are taking place this fall compared to previous years, he said, with couples increasingly hosting their nuptials on Friday, Sunday and weekdays in order to find available wedding venues and vendors.
“We’re seeing a real appetite for in-person ceremonies as couples have missed that connection with friends and family,” Joshi said.
Joy recently raised $20 million in new funding to grow its employee base and expand its registry platform. Joy said it has seen 100% growth among U.S. couples, a trend that is likely to continue through 2022. Additionally, since launching its registry feature in the spring, Joy has seen double-digit growth in demand for its registry each week, and nearly 90% month-over-month growth of guests giving gifts through the platform.
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“We are modernizing wedding planning by building smarter software that is beautiful and simple to use,” Joshi said. “The validation that couples love our approach is in the growth we’ve experienced each year through word of mouth, without any marketing spend.”
Wedding spending fell dramatically in 2020, according to industry research firm The Wedding Report, with only about $26 billion spent on 1.3 million weddings compared to over $52 billion spent on 2.1 million weddings in 2019.
Demand is projected to rebound this year, with 1.9 million weddings and over $43 billion spent, but 2022 is set to see the true boom, with nearly 2.5 million weddings and $60 billion spent. According to The Wedding Report data, which goes back to 2008, that would be the most weddings seen in a single year — and only the second time total wedding spending has surpassed $60 billion.
Only about half of Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and with the delta variant continuing to spread across the country — and a new variant known as Mu designated as a “variant of interest” by the World Health Organization last week — little can be said for certain about the months ahead. Dozens of etiquette guides have been put together for brides on how to handle asking guests about vaccination status (asking guests to be fully vaccinated is okay, for example, but asking why they aren’t is not), and the pandemic is putting undue stress on many couples during an already chaotic planning process.
Amy Nichols, founder of California-based Amy Nichols Special Events, told The New York Times that she’s seen an increase in couples who are hesitant to book for 2022 because of the delta variant. “They don’t know what to expect, whether we’ll be in better shape or things will get worse,” she said.
The Wedding Report also found that 20% of weddings initially scheduled for this year have been rescheduled for 2022, and businesses are about 10% less booked than they were in 2018 and 2019.
Still, the view from September 2021 looks far different than that seen in March 2020, or even September 2020. More is known about COVID-19 and how to prevent it, and most people have also grown accustomed (or, as accustomed as one can be) to wearing masks when required, even if it might make wedding photos look unusual.
“Brides and grooms need to remember that there are a million variables that drive individual choice and decisions,” Robert Hess III, public health expert and CEO of Hess III Consulting, told Brides.com. “So, continuing to offer flexibility and planning ahead is critical to ensuring that your big day is as special and meaningful as you’ve always dreamed it to be.”