Weddings flock to Florida — Venues are slammed as U.S. prepares to host 2.5 million wedding ceremonies in 2022

Wedding Set Up – Courtesy: Shutterstock – Image by weddingvideothailand

During the COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds of thousands of weddings were postponed, leaving disappointed brides and grooms stuck with rescheduling multiple times. Now, the Wedding Report has predicted that the highest number of weddings will take place during 2022 since the early 1980s.

“We had a wedding just recently where the bride and groom tested positive. And now the wedding’s been postponed again because nobody’s gonna come,” said wedding planner Tammy Waterman, owner of Special Moments Events Planning.

In the middle of shutdowns and regulations, Florida became one of the top wedding destinations. Wedding planners are overwhelmed with almost no days off, on some occasions hosting up to three events in a day.

“Pretty much we’ve stayed busy since June of 2020, and it just seems to get busier and busier. And sometimes there might be 15, 20, 30 leads,” Waterman said.

Waterman is one of the 48 master wedding planners in the world, located in St. Petersburg, Florida.

“About 60% of my clients right now are coming from other states where they have too many rules,” Waterman explained. “They’ve pretty much given up, they’ve rescheduled multiple times, they’re over their state, and they’re coming to Florida where they can have their wedding and they don’t have to worry about it being shut down or the rules changing or anything else.”

Demand has become so high that other wedding planners from several states are opening offices here.

According to the Wedding Report, Florida still hosted 416 weddings in 2020, and 63% of them were from out of state.

The Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area ranked 11 out of more than 900 metropolitan areas for the number of weddings that were hosted in 2020.

Currently, the Wedding Report predicts that the U.S. will host nearly 2.5 million weddings next year, the most since 1984.

However, finding a venue with an available date isn’t the only obstacle couples are facing right now, as the pandemic has created a shortage from flowers to even catering staff.

“Everything,” said Kevin Lacassin, owner of Good Food Events + Catering in Tampa. “Food items, and not just labor, but packaging, things like things like little craft paper boats that we serve food in or little miniature disposables or cups or straws, paper towels.”

Scott Darhower, owner of Apple Blossoms Floral Design, stressed what a nightmare it has been to get flowers.

“Business has been going crazy and we’re still having problems getting flowers due to the shortages and also transportation getting the flowers from other countries into the United States,” Darhower explained.

In addition to having to order in advance, prices have also risen.

“Price increases across the board have been prevalent.” Lacassin explained, “The food costs have gone up. Our labor costs have gone up. Our packaging have gone up. Delivery costs have gone up.”

“Some of the flowers are as high as what they typically are on Valentine’s Day, which is some of those are almost double the price of what they normally are,” Darhower said.

With venues and wedding planners hosting up to three events on some days, their advice is to be patient and remain flexible.

“Maybe you’re not going to serve that filet mignon, and you’re gonna settle for chicken,” Waterman suggested. “Just say I want white flowers, and not the white rose, that way you’ll have a little more flexibility in cost, and lean on the expertise of the people that you hire.”

“While 2020 was a down year, and really tough for everyone in the event business,” Lacassin said, “I feel like 2021 and 2022 are the years of redemption.”

Weddings have also become considerably small, keeping from approximately 50 to 100 people with outdoor space venues.

Some popular wedding venues in Sarasota and Tampa Bay have weekdays like Tuesdays and Wednesdays still open in 2022.

Powel Crosley in Sarasota has some weekdays available up until April 2022, with no Saturdays until July. 

Davie Island Garden Club has only one Saturday left until the end of May 2022, and very limited Sundays.

Certain venues only allow you to book a year and a half in advance, but inquiries for 2023 and 2024 are already pouring in.

If you’re planning on walking down the aisle soon, book now.

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