THE STATE OF THE WEDDING INDUSTRY
-Perspectives from Professionals
The current boom in the 2022-2023 wedding season provides a landscape of opportunities with ample room to grow for experienced professionals. We looked to the greater industry and also asked our network to share their perspective on current market topics to consider for the upcoming season. As professionals, it is so important to continually try to learn from each other, creatively solve challenges, share inspiration & events trends, as well as resources to grow and manage our businesses while upholding best practices to make the special events industry better. There are endless conversations to be had, but a few current topics highlighted below seem to be recurring themes affecting us all.
Raising Prices & Being Selective
With the wedding boom in place, hired professionals are choosing to be selective in the clientele and projects that they take on. According to The Knot, “at least 70% of wedding vendors plan to raise their prices by year’s end.” Caitlin Kuchemba Clover Event Co. says increased prices “are coming from deliveries, staffing, production, and more.” That being said, we have noticed wedding professionals have decided to set boundaries by raising their prices and taking on a smaller clientele. Caitlin Kuchemba at Clover Event Co. has input boundaries by saying, “We are being more selective with the weddings and projects we take on and focusing our business on offering high-quality full service planning to a more limited number of clients.” This can be attributed to a demand in inquiries, professionals no longer wanting to stretch themselves thin in the 2022-2023 wedding season, and, of course, increased and/or inflated costs of supplies and labor.
Size Matters: Flexibility, Compromise & New Ideas
Some clients are choosing smaller intimate weddings, giving the clients the flexibility to spend their wedding budget on other details and simply stay within their budget. Special Events are seeing a return of larger guest inquiries. Here is what some of our networks said:
- Arrangements Unlimited is “seeing requests for both big and small guest lists.
- J Scott Catering has experienced a “return to 175+ guest lists”.
- Sara Murray, Confetti & Co., “large is still happening.”
- Constellation Culinary Group, Morgan Bedore “We are still receiving inquiries for smaller affairs, but most are for larger-sized weddings.”
- Caitlin Kuchemba, Clover Event Co., “While we are seeing some larger weddings return, we are still seeing many couples wanting to keep their guest count to a more intimate size. They want to celebrate with their closest family and friends and due to more people working from home they are keeping their circles tighter and more intimate.”
A growing seasonal trend is hosting events on weekdays as well as choosing alternate seasons. Summer used to be the most sought-after season, but, Fall with its more mild and predictable weather, has become increasingly popular. “October will be the most popular month (17% of all weddings), with October 22, 2022, being the most sought-after booking date” – Forbes. With Mondays being the new Saturday and October being the new May, clients can focus more on adding those finishing touches to their wedding than obsessing over a specific date, day of the week, or month. In addition, since the day of the week for choosing a wedding is no longer the most sought-after detail, this affords the client the ability to compromise and receive a lower venue rate for any given weekday. In turn, as professionals, it opens the opportunity to create alternative packages for clients that offer many options based on the client’s budget, dates, and dreams. Additionally, these new choices could increase company offerings while satisfying the client’s dreams. A Win-Win in our book.
Across the board, it has been observed that vendors are facing issues with a shortage of staffing for events. J Scott Catering discusses how their company is experiencing “staffing issues” due to the pandemic. As we have seen throughout the pandemic, employees tend to be hesitant to head back to work with the threat of new variants on the rise, thus causing staffing issues, as seen in the wedding industry. Other professionals have observed that there are more inquiries than professional staff members available, making it difficult to take on larger wedding events. Additionally, professionals have noticed that staffing weekday events tends to be more difficult than weekend events. Whether it is finding reliable, experienced employees, or inventory availability, across the board, hired professionals have expressed their concerns for the 2022 wedding season.
Smaller Budgets – Desire to Pay Less
Some professionals are losing business due to increasing their prices while their competitors are not. Thus, a trend exists in which clients are demanding more while expecting to pay less. As we have seen with the pandemic, some have lost sources of income and are stretching the dollar. This economic struggle has noticeably transferred over into the wedding market. In some instances, couples are lowering their total budget but expecting the hired professionals to still provide the services requested at a lower rate. “Everyone is always sticker shocked, if anything they will pare down in other areas to make up for rising costs in their preferred areas of spending.” Sara Murray, Confetti & Co. How do we as professionals adjust to clients being less interested in value and more interested in saving costs where applicable? Caitlin Kuchemba at Clover Event Co. suggests, “The same budget 2 years ago is not stretching nearly as far today as it did back then, which means some of our clients with a set budget need to consider what choices they are making and where they want to invest in their wedding.”
Hesitant to ‘Sign’; Cancellations & Changes
Hired professionals are observing across the board that clients are hesitant to confirm contracts for vendors/venues. Couples appear to be concerned with covid restrictions and/or are seeking better deals by booking with vendors last minute. Morgan Bedore at The Constellation Culinary Group says that “clients are hesitant to sign a contract and make a deposit with the worry that restrictions for larger weddings could be put back in place if cases rise again.” Another observation Lynne Brownstein at Arrangements Unlimited points out is that “People are still covid-shy and worrying about losing guests and trying to keep everyone safe.” This creates a wedding market where clients are pushing back on booking timelines as well as being concerned that their wedding may get canceled entirely due to various Covid variants. With that in mind, we need to educate clients regarding demand and shortages that are creating black-out dates quickly on professional calendars. Signed contracts are imperative for reserving your dates and equipment. Wedding planning can be very emotional in both good and bad ways. Vendors and planners frequently feel like part event professionals – part therapists. “The best course of action is to advise clients to protect themselves by solidifying their tenting plans early to eliminate the unpredictability of last minute reservations and to remain as calm and flexible as possible as they approach their special day.” Ed Knight, EventQuip
Changes inevitably are a part of the business; there is a reported increase in change orders and cancellations which could be attributed to the instability or confidence of the times. Sara Murray Confetti & Co. said, “We are still trucking along, just as we’ve ever. We find a lot of last-minute cancellations and reconfiguring counts, rental counts, and floor plans as guests tend to drop off closer to the big day.”
This is just a small snapshot we wanted to share. We saw reports that weddings are getting bigger, smaller, more expensive, less expensive, or not changing at all. There is definitely not just one direction for the wedding market. Wedding Pros… no matter what you’re feeling, you’re not alone. Sharing experiences and ideas can support us as professionals. Adapting to this ever-changing environment is essential, and the one constant is the need to learn from each other and work together to uphold and grow industry standards. Whether it is maintaining best practices, pricing strategies, or creative new angles… Let’s keep the conversation going.