More than 2.5 million couples will get married this year, which is the most since 1984, according to The Wedding Report. But the majority of weddings are rescheduled events from the last two pandemic years.
There’s a huge spike in demand for wedding vendors like florists, event planners, caterers, cake makers, and DJs. While it’s good news for vendors who lost a lot of business during the pandemic, the rescheduled wedding season is riddled with supply chain problems, labor shortages, and inflation. And now, weddings are more expensive than ever.
Megan McCarter is the owner and head designer at a floral event company called The Little Branch. Before the pandemic, she used to do 70-90 events in a year. This year, she expects to do 130.
“I’ve been working every day. I don’t have a day off. We’re grateful for the work, but last year and this year have been insane. There’s just been so many additional issues,” McCarter says.
The flower industry has been hit particularly hard by supply chain problems. Many smaller farms couldn’t stay open during the pandemic and wedding vendors lost a lot of variety. On average, the price of roses were about $20-$25 for 25 stems. Now, some roses are $100 a bunch.
“Some clients book a year in advance, so I was holding on to pricing from 2019. And as they started opening the flower mart and bringing in product, the prices were increasing. I found that I had to circle back to my clients and say that I couldn't guarantee my pricing anymore because of the market value,” McCarter says.
Katie Hall is a wedding planner at her company, Best Day Ever LA. She too has had to raise her pricing for full wedding planning from $9,500 to $11,000. However, the pandemic has made her more selective about her clients and the way she operates her business. After she’s executed all of her 2020 wedding reschedules this year, she has only 20 weddings.
“I’m a lot more choosy with the type of work that I want to do, and the clients that I want to work with. … I have two young babies at home. So I've decided just to work less events and be more specific with those,” Hall says.
Before the pandemic, Hall worked with weddings budgets between $65,000 - $95,000, but now with inflated costs and big demand, she says LA brides should expect to pay $100,000 for the average wedding.
“Lately [my clients] have been in the $150,000 range. … I think that anyone coming to me with a budget under $100,000, if they have a guest count of more than 120 people, it feels difficult in Los Angeles. … So I would say $100,000 and up is very much the norm,” Hall says.
The supply chain issues have affected almost every aspect of executing a wedding. Smaller rental companies struggle to provide things like chairs and linens, and at the last minute. While most rental companies offer an upgrade or a swap, it still makes planning stressful.
“I used to work with a lot of different rental companies, some of them smaller, more mom-and-pop. But for the next few months, I think I'm just going to hone in on the bigger rental companies that I know will not have any shortages when it comes to dining chair rentals and linens and stuff like that. Because things are a little bit iffy right now,” Hall says.
Pandemic brides are used to COVID protocols constantly changing. For the safety of their guests, and faced with changing rules, brides want outdoor weddings.
“I can't imagine booking any clients for a specifically indoor venue for the next 12 months because there's just so many rules and regulations, and we have no idea what's happening,” Hall says.
There’s also the risk of guests and vendors getting COVID. Hall says she recently had to rebook a wedding photographer who came down with the virus just three days before a wedding.
“You just have to have a backup, and a second backup these days,” Hall says.
Hosting a pandemic wedding requires flexibility. McCarter suggests planning early, but also, enjoying the ride.
“With COVID, there's a lot of issues. … You need to be ready to pivot, and just be ready to take whatever comes. … You just need to be prepared and know that any number of things could happen and just be ready for it. At the end of the day, it's your wedding and just plan on having fun and try not to stress.”