Blackhall and Bajaj’s wedding this month is just one of the 2.6 million expected to be held this year in the U.S., half a million more than average and the most since 1984. 2022 is experiencing a wedding boom as many people are less worried about COVID and eager to spend time with loved ones.
The number of weddings in the Chicago area this year is expected to be 55,305, compared with 44,301 in 2021, according to Wedding Report, which provides statistics on the wedding industry. Couples in the area are expected to spend a total of $1.8 billion this year, compared with last year’s $1.5 billion, Wedding Report forecasts.
“I would say the boom is the result of the weddings that have been pushed into this 2022 season. It’s a result of new couples that are just so excited to be married, and they don’t want to wait because they know how volatile our world is today,” said Brianne Garritano, founder of Michigan Avenue Events, which specializes in planning luxury events and weddings.
During the start of the pandemic, Garritano said, she spent most of her time pushing weddings back. According to industry research provider IBISWorld, “The Wedding Services industry declined 35.7% in 2020 as many weddings were postponed due to restrictions on large gatherings and nonessential business closures, such as hair and nail salons.”
In December, IBISWorld predicted an upward trajectory for the wedding industry over the next five years as operators accommodate new and postponed weddings.
Having been hit hard by the pandemic, the business is now regaining traction. And although love is in the air, couples face many more hurdles in a climate where inflation, supply chain issues and too many weddings seeking weekend dates are now big factors, according to IBISWorld.
Blackhall and Bajaj’s wedding planner advised them to lock in contracts for next year’s ceremony as early as possible to avoid paying more, as costs are expected to rise.
John Hernandez and his fiance, David Tapia, got engaged in December 2020. They began locking in contracts the next month and were told that venues were already booked for their preferred weekend of June 24, 2021. “We figured that with all the weddings that we knew had been pushed from 2020, we didn’t want to compete with people in 2021. So we pushed it to 2022.”
According to The Knot, 75% of those engaged in 2021 set a date for 2022, with 65% of them choosing summer 2022 for their ceremony. Data from the Wedding Report showed that the average cost of a wedding in the Chicago area was $33,800 in 2021 compared to 2020’s $25,500, when the pandemic drastically altered wedding plans.
Event planner Jennifer Price, CEO and founder of Chicago-based Event Shoppe, said inflation has affected her business, prompting her to charge higher prices. “We do see a bit more of a price increase because we do have to factor in things that our team needs to do, we have to consider the cost of gas and we have meetings over Zoom in order to mitigate costs.”
Although revenue is expected to increase for the wedding industry for the next six years, services such as wedding coordinators and planners are expected to see a drop in business as do-it-yourself trends have encouraged people to take on tasks themselves to conserve resources, according to IBISWorld.
Other wedding trends born out of the pandemic include weekday ceremonies. Popular West Loop venue Morgan’s on Fulton, which is booked for two weddings a weekend until November, said it has at least 50 weekday weddings reserved for this year and is booking more.
Morgan on Fulton’s sales manager Kasey Tighe said the venue made adjustments during 2020 that made it more attractive, including an enclosed rooftop for an all-season venue and starting its own catering department. A weekend wedding for 160 guests averages an estimated $20,000 to $40,000 at Morgan’s. It can be as low as $12,000 for a weekday wedding.
She said the cost makes sense in the long run considering everything that’s provided: “The price deters couples in the beginning, but you don’t have to deal with multiple contracts.”