Weddings: Outdoor ceremonies are trending this season | Premier







Bride-to-be Jennifer Spencer tries on a wedding gown at Impressed By The Dress.




After a long spell when romance had to take a back seat to COVID, weddings are blossoming again.

New York Times has called 2022 “the Year of the Wedding,” noting that, if all goes as predicted, marriage ceremonies in the United States this year will top those in every year since 1984.

In a Feb. 4 article, the Times cited a forecast from The Wedding Report, a trade group, of at least 2.5 million weddings in 2022. That compares with about 2.1 million weddings in 2019, 1.3 million in 2020 and 1.93 million in 2021.

Most of these weddings will be events rescheduled from the past two years, or they will be repeat ceremonies, as many couples want the dream weddings they couldn’t have during the pandemic.

Pent-up demand is fueling increased business for vendors from wedding planners to florists, photographers and venues.

Many couples are opting for large weddings, but smaller events are also popular and on the rise.

Smaller weddings, with 50 or fewer guests, are among this year’s trends, according to Lauren Kay, executive editor of The Knotwho was interviewed for a Feb. 14 article in the Chicago Tribune.







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Jennifer Spencer shops with her maid of honor, Mariana Tollison, and her mother, Dena Bowen.




Many Gen Z couples, who are just starting to get married, are opting for sustainability and looking for vendors who will reuse or recycle wedding items such as flowers, Kay said.

Another trend is outdoor weddings, which are here to stay, she said.

Some couples are deciding to get hitched in less traditional ways, such as reception-only celebrations, or scaling down from small, intimate events all the way to elopement.

Prices across the board have increased because of inflation and supply chain issues. The average cost of a large wedding, around $22,000 in 2021, will jump to about $25,000 this year, according to The Wedding Report.

The wedding boom is being felt in the Colorado Springs region, which is seeing many of the national trends.

“Everyone is booking as fast as they can,” said Marea Janae, owner and wedding consultant at Dream Catcher Weddings.

Janae gets many of her bookings because of the creative ways she incorporates “earth-mindful options” like recycling into the weddings she plans.

Wedding dresses are moving at a faster pace so far this year than in the previous two years, said Angela Diamanti, owner of bridal salon Impressed By The Dress, who has taken measures to maintain her supply and to keep prices affordable.

Sales are on track so far to exceed those of 2020 and 2021, she said.

Both venues and wedding photographers are seeing increased demand from engaged couples.







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“We are higher with our bookings than we were pre-COVID,” said Michelle Benson, wedding events coordinator at The Pinery at the Hill.

Sean Cayton, owner of Cayton Photography, said his wedding bookings are up 75 percent from the past two years. Although his business has undergone some changes, he said couples are still responding to his photojournalistic style that favors capturing “honest moments” over formal portraits.

SUSTAINABILITY

Janae’s wedding planning business evolved from her knack of helping friends plan their weddings, and Dream Catcher Weddings was only a year and a half old when the pandemic started.

“I had just gone full time,” Janae said. “I had quit my side jobs and decided to be all in on trying to make this business work. Then the pandemic hit. All of a sudden, I didn’t have business for the coming year.”

Janae sustained the business through pandemic loans and decided to make the best of her extra time. Instead of taking another part-time job, she hired business consultant Tricia Sebald and rebranded to focus on sustainability.

The two put together a sustainable wedding show in September 2020.

“We brought various sustainability-focused vendors together in a COVID-friendly event to start the conversation about what sustainability in weddings looks like,” Janae said.

A partnership with Venetucci Farms to coordinate weddings there came out of that effort.

Janae decided to offer compost and recycling services at all her weddings, as well as a décor rental service.

“You can just rent the core items rather than having to purchase them, have them shipped from China, use them once and then throw them in the trash,” she said.







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She donates leftover live flowers to a local nursing home and gives a percentage of her profits to One Tree Planted, a nonprofit that plants trees around the world.

The new formula worked. Business started to pick up throughout 2021 and really blossomed in November, when “all of a sudden, I just got slammed with a ton of new bookings,” she said. “It’s been steady and consistent since then.”

Janae expanded her staff in late 2021 and now employs three assistants.

She offers three main levels of service, including a month of coordination for couples who are doing most of the planning themselves, a partial service design and coordination package and full-service design, planning and coordination.

Janae thinks there has been an increase in couples who want small weddings, but “I personally am seeing people wanting to go back to having a big wedding.”

Even those who had smaller weddings during the pandemic now want to have large parties to celebrate with their families and friends, she said.

NO-STRESS DRESSES

Wedding gowns at Impressed By The Dress are selling at a much faster pace this year than in the two previous years, Diamanti said.

During the first quarter of this year, she has sold 59 gowns, compared with 131 dresses in all of 2020 and 182 in 2021.

Many couples are planning outdoor and backyard weddings, she said, “and trying to make them a little fancier. But elopement and later receptions are still happening too.”

Many brides were disappointed when delivery of their gowns and bridesmaid dresses was delayed because of supply chain and transportation issues, Diamanti said. That happened both online and in stores during the pandemic.

“I found a company that could deliver quickly, and I picked up a whole line so they could get dresses in time for their weddings,” she said.

Some of those supply issues persist, but Diamanti figured out a way around them.

“We’ve been thoughtful about the delays in production, manufacturing and shipping,” she said. “We’ve filled up our inventory and started selling directly from our collection. We’re doing that considerably more than ordering at this point.”

Diamante said she is carrying about 30 percent more stock now — over 300 dresses compared with about 200 before the pandemic.

She carries a range of sizes, because brides need to select dresses within one or two sizes of their normal size so they can be altered to fit.

Diamanti used to employ seamstresses to do alterations but now works with a seamstress who runs her own business within the shop.

Diamanti kept her three employee assistants working through COVID — “I got by with grants and loans and working hard,” she said — and plans to hire more.

“I think the next two years are going to be super busy,” Diamanti said.

VENDORS SURGE

Wedding bookings at The Pinery at the Hill thus far are running about 10 percent above 2019, Benson said.

“I have a few Sundays open, but other than that, I am pretty much booked up all the way until November,” she said.

Couples are booking further out. “They’re planning for 2023 because they don’t want to have to worry about the date. I’m seeing an influx of 18-24 months out versus 12-18 months, which was more typical. We even have a booking for 2024,” she said.

Benson is getting requests for bigger weddings as well.







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“Our average has been around 125-150 [guests],” she said. “We didn’t see anything higher than that in 2021. But in 2022, I’ve already had several weddings that maxed us out — 200-225.”

The vast majority of The Pinery’s weddings are new bookings, rather than those previously booked and rescheduled, although Benson thinks many of the couples she’s working with now had hoped to get married sooner.

She has had a few requests for big, post-wedding parties, but mostly, couples are opting for the full event to be held at The Pinery, she said.

Prices have risen because of increased food and labor costs and supply issues, Benson said.

“We’ve seen some changes in our menu based on decreases in production or harder-to-find items,” she said. The availability of pre-prepared items like chicken cordon bleu and empanadas has been especially limited.

Cayton said he’s seeing an uptick in demand from couples who want wedding photography, “but they’re more aware of what they’re spending and why they’re spending. The cost pressures are so great in other areas of their lives.”

He is working with couples who are planning smaller weddings and those who elope.

“I got a call just the other day from a couple that had already gotten married and they’re just having a party,” he said. “I think those sorts of practical considerations are much more prevalent in the market today.”

Cayton said he “laid low” during most of the first two COVID years.

“I almost didn’t take any business last year that wasn’t already on the books,” he said. “The price point wasn’t something that most people wanted to spend, and I wasn’t interested in showing up and catching COVID.”

The whole wedding planning experience has changed drastically in the 20 years since Cayton started taking wedding photos, and especially in the past few years. There used to be much more pre-wedding personal contact.







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“Couples and their parents would come in, and I’d have a slideshow and talk about their wedding.” Now, he said, “I do almost all my bookings by email. Oftentimes I never talk to the couple before the event, And it’s all electronic — even the delivery of the photos.”

While many couples opt to work within what Cayton calls “a closed loop” of wedding planners and vendors, “to some extent I self-select my clients,” he said. “I’ve got my website and my Google reviews, and I make sure that my clients are happy.”

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