The Weddings Boom Is Coming

The weddings never stopped. Even more are on their way.

By Valeriya Safronova

Get ready for a lot more weddings — not that they ever really went away.

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, weddings in the United States brought together people who might not otherwise have gathered in fraught circumstances. Sometimes the outcomes were tragic.

In August, a 55-person wedding in rural Maine resulted in a chain of infections that spread more than 200 miles, landing seven people in the hospital, killing four of them and three others.

A 91-person October wedding on Long Island led to 30 people testing positive.

In central Washington State, a 300-person wedding in November resulted in 61 confirmed cases of infection; some of the attendees worked in a long-term-care facility, where 15 people died.

Most weddings did not make national headlines. Celebrations small and large still went forward, though anecdotal data suggests that a huge number of couples, even those who got married in 2020, pushed their receptions to 2021. Many others lost deposits, tore up guest lists, moved ceremonies outside or to warmer climates and changed the way we celebrated.

An industry market report — which vividly showed the suffering finances of the wedding industry in 2020 — predicts that all will change, and there will be a significant increase in weddings revenue this year. That comes even as Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, suggested in December that weddings be pushed to June or July of 2021 at the earliest.

Couples are already booking their venues with frenzy. The Pavilion at Vida Bela, on a 74-acre farm in Conroe, Texas, generally hosts about 50 events a year. Already there are 42 weddings planned for 2021; about a dozen are set for 2022. “We’re already booking into 2023,” said Michele Amini, an owner.

Weddings have always been emotional, but adding personal boundaries around safety and health, confusing government guidelines and the finer points of air filtration systems to the mix has pushed families and wedding planners to the edge.

“Starting in April, we had a call every Monday with 20 of us,” said Marcy Blum, who runs an event planning business in New York. “It was a lifesaver. It was like group therapy for party planners.”

But it’s been a few weeks since they’ve talked. Everyone’s schedules are filling up again.

Months and Months of Total Chaos

Adept at negotiating fraught moments and achieving the impossible, weddings professionals are now also acting as health, infrastructure and grief experts. They face states, counties and cities with shifting and often senseless hodgepodges of guidelines and restrictions, or, sometimes, no rules at all.

“Everybody in the wedding industry is more confused than ever,” said Sonal Shah, who owns an event consulting company in New York. “One person in our office is dedicated to researching C.D.C. guidelines.”

In Texas, now gripped by a severe storm that forced power outages and water shortages, all venues can currently be filled to 75 percent capacity — but, as with a number of states, churches are exempt from that rule.

In North Dakota, an executive order ended capacity limits on weddings in mid-January, but state guidelines still offer numerous suggestions, such as limiting guest lists to 1,000 people in venues that can hold 2,000.

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