Delayed weddings weigh on sellers
Wedding vendors in northwest Arkansas say the backlog of weddings postponed by the pandemic means some couples can’t book their nuptials until late 2022 or even into 2023.
“In 2022, I was a little blindsided by the number of weddings,” said event planner Stephanie Hoffman, owner of How Eventful in Rogers. “We already have more weddings planned in 2022 than in all of 2021.”
The business recovery began around October, Hoffman said. But in the first year of the pandemic, she didn’t know if her business would survive.
“Absolutely, 2020 was tough at the start,” she said. “We’ve had three cancellations, two postponements and a few ‘micro-weddings’.”
Business started to pick up again last year, she said.
“We weren’t as busy as we would have been in a normal year, but we probably had three times as many weddings as we did in 2020,” Hoffman said. “So it was definitely a different climate.”
Now, however, venues, caterers, florists and other businesses have full calendars as couples who had postponed their big days finally wed.
But, Hoffman said, that means those just starting to plan their wedding could find themselves booking a date “a good couple of years from now.”
At Tesori Bridal in Fayetteville, store manager Stacey Etzkorn said business has remained “pretty steady” throughout the pandemic.
“As crazy as it sounds,” she said, given how much most people’s lives have changed in 2020 and 2021, “in those two years, we were just as busy, if not busier than previous years,” Etzkorn said.
In the early months of 2020, when there was so much uncertainty, things may have slowed down a bit, she said. The store has used this time to put in place safety measures such as wearing masks and limiting the number of people who can accompany a bride into the store.
“We’ve been truly blessed and shocked that brides are still buying, and we haven’t had to close,” Etzkorn said. However, “the brides were still getting married and still wanted to go shopping.”
Whether planning a 200-guest ceremony or a micro-wedding, “we always need a dress,” she said.
Brides buying now, however, are buying weddings in late 2022 or in 2023, Etzkorn said.
Indeed, while people were planning weddings in 2020 and 2021, she said, “2020 brides have been pushed back to 2021, so people planning to get married in 2021 have been pushed back to 2022. Current brides are therefore pushed further back to 2023.”
Robbin Turner, owner of Cakes by Robbin, said business for her was stabilizing after two tough years.
“It was an administrative nightmare at the time,” she said, “because the couples had to coordinate with all the vendors. Maybe the venue was available, but the caterer or the event coordinator wasn’t. marriage. It was really difficult.”
And Turner said last year was probably her worst because she didn’t want to disappoint her wives and tried hard to accommodate them.
“I’m a small baker and I usually bake one or two wedding cakes a week,” said Turner, who operates her business from her home in Bentonville.
“But when I was trying to work with couples who had postponed their wedding for a year or two, that’s when I was doing three or four wedding cakes a week, which is a bit out of my comfort zone. “, said Turner.
“For me, things are back to normal, and everything is new now,” Turner said.
Industry research firm The Wedding Report Inc., said in a 2021 report – the most recent available – that it expected 1.93 million weddings in the United States that year; 2.47 million this year; and 2.24 million in 2023.
“After 2023, things should start to normalize, and we will return to [a] number of pre-pandemic weddings,” the firm said.
Somewhat at odds with this report, research firm Statista said that 2.02 million marriages took place in the United States in 2019.
Even with the vaccine available, couples worry about the safety of loved ones and guests, Hoffman said. At the same time, the focus is again on family time. These led to new trends that Hoffman sees this year.
For one, outdoor venues have become more popular, “even given the weather uncertainties,” Hoffman said. Those that offer indoor and outdoor space are also in demand, she said.
And if couples encounter long booking times, they can shorten the wait by thinking creatively, Hoffman said.
Besides more traditional wedding venues, she said, couples choose venues such as campgrounds. She mentioned that one, Beaver Lake Hideaway, offers accommodations ranging from RV sites and sleeping cabins to “full-service” cabins.
Hoffman said the Beaver Lake Campground is also setting up “glamping” tents.
Such outdoor, secluded spots allow “more space to spread out and more time with family,” she said. They combine what Hoffman calls the “mini-destination” wedding with special family moments, which people appreciate more because of the pandemic.
With these trends, “we have so many unique options right now, more than ever,” Hoffman said. “We’re still planning weddings in six months or less all day.”