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Price of love: Weddings in 2022 will cost couples more

MoneyWatch: Wedding cost woes
MoneyWatch: Inflation hotspots, Valentine's Day spending and wedding cost woes 04:19

Wedding industry pros are preparing for a banner year: An anticipated 2.5 million weddings — the most since 1984 — are expected to take place in the U.S. in 2022, according to market research firm The Wedding Report.  

With more couples committing to tying the knot as we enter year three of the COVID-19 pandemic, venues are already filling up while DJs, event planners, florists and photographers are in high demand. That's driving up wedding costs.

"We are expecting a 10-15% spike in the amount people have to spend to get married," Shane McMurray, founder of The Wedding Report, told CBS MoneyWatch. "So vendors are taking advantage of higher demand and saying, 'Let's charge more,' which is normal in business with supply and demand." 

Rising expenses for getting hitched will drive up the average cost of a wedding this year to around $27,000, up from roughly $24,000 pre-COVID-19, according to McMurray.  

The fiercest inflation in decades is also taking a toll. Suppliers of wedding day essentials say they're having to charge more just to break even because of their rising costs. In some cases, where engaged couples have already locked in 2020 or 2021 rates for weddings that were delayed until this year, venues will lose money. 

Prices of flowers and chocolate up more than usual this Valentine's Day 02:00

At New York City's Brooklyn Winery,  labor, food and other costs are rising, but for now the winery and wedding venue isn't charging clients higher fees for previously booked services.

"All of our costs are going up, and we are doing our best to adjust to that without entirely passing that cost over to the client," said Rachel Sackheim, Brooklyn Winery's chief revenue officer. "But we are being forced to re-evaluate certain things because we can't shoulder the burden of inflation by ourselves."

The business will even take a hit on some events that were contracted before the highest inflation rates in 40 years kicked in. 

"We suffer if people locked in rates. If someone committed to paying $250 per person for their wedding, we don't say, 'We're dealing with additional costs because of pandemic, so we have to raise the price per person,'" she said. "So we are absolutely going to take a hit on that side of things."

"Lost income we can never get back"

Indeed, for small businesses having more nuptials packed into a single calendar year won't necessarily translate into greater profits: Rather, it reflects pent-up demand from couples who had to postpone their "I Dos" because of COVID-19.

"Once we pass a date and it doesn't get booked, that is lost income we can never get back. We are going to have our biggest year ever, but it's immediately following the two worst years ever," Sackheim said.

In an effort to generate more revenue, the venue is incentivizing couples to get married on weekdays, where dates are readily available and which cost less than weekend weddings. 

Don't even try to get married in October, when 17% of the year's weddings are expected to take place, according to The Knot, a wedding planning service. According to a study, October 22, a Saturday, is the most coveted date of 2022. 

Sackheim said that couples willing to be flexible on dates can have their wedding cake and eat it, too, by getting a slot this calendar year and staying within their budgets. Couples  who don't want to compromise will likely have to spend more on everything from the bride's dress to music to floral arrangements. 

"The supply chain is still struggling in general and it will impact the entire industry, from dresses to getting labor for services," McMurray said. "If people are out sick, it's going to be difficult to get enough labor to serve the wedding."

New York City florist Julia Testa is busier than ever, which she attributes to the surge in weddings — a result of pandemic-delayed ceremonies plus bookings from newly engaged couples. But she has also had to raise prices, as she faces sharp increases in what she pays for flowers, materials and labor. 

"I have never seen the cost of flowers so high in my whole life," Testa, who has been buying flowers for a decade, told CBS MoneyWatch. "They have doubled and even tripled, depending on the type, because farms are saying that the cost of freight is so expensive."

MoneyWatch: Small businesses on the brink amid COVID pandemic and labor market shortages 06:36

Even glassware and plastic water buckets are expensive and hard to come by, said Testa. But like Brooklyn Winery, she's honoring lower-priced contracts signed a year ago, even though her own costs are up.

"A lot of weddings that were priced a year ago, we simply aren't making money on because the cost of materials is so high," Testa said. 

And she's spending more on labor, hiring and backup designers in case any of her employees call out sick due to COVID-19.

"I'm extremely aggressive with labor. If I need six designers, I'll staff 10 because I know some of them won't show up because they tested positive for COVID," Testa said. 

Tara Melvin, owner of Perfect Planning Events, a wedding and events company, and president of The National Society of Black Wedding & Event Professionals, said she senses that "people are ready to get out and celebrate this year." 

Melvin has had hard conversations with clients who have either had to pare down celebrations or pay up for the kind of bash that would have cost less a year ago. 

"Either you have to reduce your design concept, or move forward with it knowing there are going to be additional costs to produce it," she said.

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