This will be the year of weddings. Experts say 2022 is predicted to have the most weddings in decades, with venues, caterers, photographers and dressmakers becoming booked quickly and even telling couples to look ahead to 2023.
Gregg Shields recently proposed to the love of his life, Sharla Gadson. The couple, getting married this summer at The Maxwell in Raleigh, is part of the 2022 wedding boom.
The spike impacts anyone planning a wedding.
“Unless you want a Sunday, unless you want, you know, off season — November or December — the dates are pretty much booked,” said Elana Walker, who is planning the Gadson-Shields wedding.
Unlike in previous years, if couples tour a wedding venue they like, they may not have a couple of days to think it over.
“Just like with houses, if you go and look at a house and you like it, you need to buy it right then. It’s the same thing with your vendor and your venues. If you like it, if you liked them, you need to book them ASAP,” Walker added.
“We’re seeing a lot more of that immediate turnaround where people are not willing to take that chance,” said Chelsea Hand, who owns The Maxwell.
Hand said the best dates for 2022 are booked at her venue, with only Fridays and Sundays remaining.
In Chapel Hill, at Lavender Oaks Farm, every available date in 2022 is booked.
Another wedding planner said many couples are now booking venues without ever touring the site, especially if they live out of state.
On top of it all, like everything else, prices are also higher. Deep in planning her own wedding, Gadson described them as “astronomical.”
Communication is another challenge, Gadson said, explaining, “A lot of vendors are either not answering or really slow to respond.”
While planning weddings with her clients, Walker said she has not seen many COVID-19 specific surcharges, but prices have increased overall.
Walker has 11 years of experience planning weddings, but she said she’s seen nothing like the current market.
“I don’t know how I would describe it,” she laughed. “I mean, I would describe it as insane.”
Despite the challenges, planning a wedding in 2022 is manageable if you start early and stay flexible, experts say.
“Finding the silver lining in a Friday, finding the silver lining in a Sunday,” Hand recommended.
“I just had to adjust my vision a little bit,” Gadson said. “So now we’re looking at this brunch wedding and again, I’m so excited about it, but it is different than what I originally thought would happen.”
Instead of marrying at the end of fall, Gadson and Shields will marry at the end of August — one year after she said yes.
Finally, experts say, make sure you read the fine print on contracts, especially any information related to COVID-19 surcharges or restrictions for the event.
Consider looking into wedding insurance in case an event must be canceled, like so many weddings were in 2020.
The five tips from experts include plan early, be flexible, act fast, pay more and be patient.