LANCASTER, Pa. — Across the nation, wedding vendors like Emily Wilkerson are buzzing with business.
“It’s tough because every single one of my available dates I’m going to have ten different couples coming after it and I can only work with one,” said Wilkerson, who owns Fern & Fountain Wedding Photography.
The Lancaster-based photographer travels all over the country for weddings.
She has an unprecedented year ahead, working for just a fraction of the estimated two and a half million U.S. couples expected to get married in 2022.
“Sometimes I’m going to have to do three weddings in a weekend, and I’m not going to be able to stay until 2 am at my Friday wedding because what if I have to be at my Saturday wedding at 10 am?” Wilkerson explained.
Pent-up demand created by the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a surge in weddings not seen since the 1980s.
In downtown Lancaster, Mulberry Art Studios is fielding five or six inquiries every day.
”Years ago my parents got married on a Wednesday and I just couldn’t believe it and now I’m getting requests for even Tuesdays,” said April M. Koppenhaver, owner, founder and director of Mulberry Art Studios.
Koppenhaver says the situation has many couples re-thinking their wish list.
“They really want family to be together,” she said. “They really want it to be fun, they want it to be memorable and I think that’s a good priority.”
On top of the COVID-induced boom in business, the millennial generation making up most of this year’s weddings is the largest vendors have dealt with in a while.
“For starters there was a really huge need for wedding vendors amongst the generation, then you cancel and reschedule 18 months worth of weddings, and suddenly you’re looking at a massive workload and not enough wedding vendors to go around,” said Wilkerson.
All this love is certainly coming at a higher cost.
Statistics show the average cost of a wedding in 2022 is around $27,000 dollars.
That’s up from roughly $24,000 pre-pandemic.
Vendors say their business certainly isn’t immune to the rising costs.
“You have to raise your prices to match inflation because my bills are going up, my teammates’ bills are going up, so it is necessary,” explained Wilkerson.
“Caterers and dresses and flowers and our taxes for our venue have all been hit,” added Koppenhaver.
Vendors are doing their best to navigate, but say sometimes couples’ pocketbooks aren’t as deep as their dreams are wide.
“Our couples are looking on Pinterest and getting some amazing ideas but the reality is they have a budget and want to work within the budget,” said Koppenhaver.
The biggest advice to those newly-engaged lovebirds? Book early and be patient.
“There’s going to have to be some synergy between brides and there’s going to have to be an expectation that everyone is doing their best,” said Wilkerson.
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