When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, weddings were canceled left and right. Now a year and a half and three vaccines later, they’re back with a vengeance.
According to industry research firm the Wedding Report, the number of weddings scheduled for this year is already back in pre-pandemic territory, and it’s forecast to skyrocket to its highest level in more than a decade as Americans look ahead to the hopeful end of mass shutdowns.
The firm projects 1.9 million weddings will take place this year, which nearly matches 2019’s figure of 2.1 million. But next year, it estimates weddings will reach 2.5 million, far surpassing yearly totals in recent history. The U.S. hasn’t seen that many weddings since 1984, Axios reports.
The boost is projected to last into 2023, when an estimated 2.2 million weddings will occur.
Wedding planners, photographers, florists, and venues are reportedly booked up for months or even years. But it’s not quite the gold mine for the industry that it might seem: Many businesses told the Wedding Report that the lion’s share of their workload is coming from rescheduled events, rather than new profit opportunities, so their yearly revenues are simply skewed. Last year was especially lean for the industry, with just 1.3 million weddings taking place—many with zero frills in the new pandemic chapel of Zoom.
But these new numbers are not all due to the rollover-wedding effect: In fact, some data suggests that more people than usual were getting engaged during the pandemic months. According to a study conducted by wedding website the Knot, published in December 2020, there was a rise in spontaneous proposals—41% of respondents said that in 2019, they germinated on a proposal for one to three months, but 50% of those surveyed said that they proposed within a month of thinking about it.
And in more good news for the industry, people once again are willing to shell out for their big day. While wedding budgets dipped last year, they were up $3,000 to an average of $22,500 this year, matching 2019 levels. The Knot CEO Timothy Chi recently told CNBC that 66% of couples surveyed were looking forward to expanding their budgets on luxuries like rare flowers, multiple photographers, or more guests. According to the Wedding Report, the typical spend is expected to reach nearly $25,000 in the next two years.