The Year of the (Many) Weddings

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Last fall, when Anthony Rotunno, a staff editor on The New York Times’s Weddings desk, heard that his cousin was getting married, he was surprised to discover the ceremony would take place on a Monday night.

He couldn’t imagine that anyone would intentionally want to get married on a weeknight, which made him wonder if it was just that hard to secure a venue. Around the same time, Mr. Rotunno and Charanna Alexander, the Weddings editor, started to see a flurry of statistics coming out of trade groups such as the Wedding Report. The reports predicted the same thing: After two years of delays and cancellations, 2022 would be the biggest year for the wedding industry since 1984; one report predicted that roughly 2.5 million nuptials would take place in the United States in 2022.

The number was optimistic, yes, but also daunting: How would individual weddings fare? Already, the editors could see that the sheer volume of events was forcing couples to get creative as they competed for venues, vendors and even the time of their guests. Sometimes, that meant throwing a party on a Monday.

To document the year’s anticipated matrimania, Mr. Rotunno and Ms. Alexander decided to create a recurring series called “Year of the Wedding,” which kicked off last month. The column is chronicling what the wedding industry looks like in 2022 — and what that means for those tying the knot.

“We see this moment as an opportunity to take a bird’s eye look at how weddings have changed more generally,” Mr. Rotunno said.

The series covers the wedding boom from three angles: There are reported trend pieces about topics like pet weddings and (welcomed) party crashers, “how to” service articles to guide couples and guests through this unusual year, and features that examine how the larger institution of marriage has evolved during the pandemic. The editors are taking note of the trends and disruptions in the industry, and using those observations to shape stories.

For example, most couples have accepted that their weddings won’t resemble the prepandemic extravaganzas of yore, a.k.a. 2019. “The reality is that the ‘perfect’ wedding in 2019 was easier to achieve,” Mr. Rotunno said. “At this point, to seek perfection is just going to delay the process of getting married.” After two years of changing their plans, some couples even face “postponement fatigue” — a topic a recent article explores.

Not to mention, the entire wedding industry is dealing with a classic imbalance of supply and demand. There are too many weddings, and not enough venues. Or vendors. Or flowers. “It’s creating this extra stress on the industry at a time when the sheer amount of weddings would probably be a challenge enough,” Mr. Rotunno said. When Tammy La Gorce, a freelance writer, reported her piece “It’s a Boom Year for Brides and Grooms,” one wedding planner recounted a bookings nightmare. “Couples will call and they have $10,000 down as a deposit on a venue,” Ms. La Gorce said. “And the venue owner will be like, ‘Who are you again?’”

Couples might not even be able to celebrate with all of their friends and family. The backlog of weddings has created a glut of invites for some partygoers. One reporter interviewed a woman who said she received 15 wedding invitations for 2022. “She can only go to 10,” Mr. Rotunno said. “It’s like, only 10?” So, one article in the series offered tips on how couples can take pressure off guests. To meet minimum head counts and account for last-minute no-shows, some couples are actively encouraging strangers to crash their weddings, per an upcoming feature.

Another feature in the series explored “the sequel event,” which has become a wedding industry mainstay. “We’ve seen countless couples have small legal ceremonies followed by bigger receptions weeks, months, or years later,” Mr. Rotunno said. “That is one of the most tangible changes that have come from this period and will continue to show up in 2022.”

The biggest trend might be one that can’t be captured in data or seen in a ceremony. Since the pandemic started, said Anya Strzemien, the Styles editor who oversees relationship coverage, some couples seem to be spending more time thinking about “why they’re doing this.” Ms. Strzemien has noticed more thoughtfulness and flexibility in wedding planning, stemming from a deeper understanding of commitment.

“Relationships have been put through a real stress test in the last two years,” she said. The new series doesn’t just share the latest trends, but explores how the pandemic has changed what a wedding — what commitment — truly means.

As more and more weddings fill calendars across the country, Times journalists will continue to cover all of the emergent micro-trends — and attend their fair share of weekday weddings themselves.

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