Wedding industry sees business surge as more people get vaccinated in the US

Wedding industry experts have been predicting that the latter half of 2021 will be seeing a drastic bounce back thanks to coronavirus vaccine distribution, and vendors throughout the country have found this prediction to be accurate so far.

Katie Zeim, a senior catering sales executive at The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club told FOX Business that weddings have been picking up in the St. Petersburg, Florida area since November.

"Couples are looking to host their weddings at a location with good weather for an outdoor event or in a state with less restrictions where guests can mingle and dance," Zeim said. "We’re seeing plenty of last-minute 'elopements' of local couples wanting to get married in front of family now and plan something larger in a year, and we’re already also receiving a strong amount of bookings for weddings of 150 guests and above."

Meanwhile, over in Massachusetts, The Barn at Bradstreet Farm is seeing a surge of business inquiries as the country gets closer to fully reopening.

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"After a dismal 2020 (most of our couples postponed until 2021), we'll host 50+ events this year," Bradstreet Farm’s Co-owner Michelle Faulkner wrote to FOX Business. "Inquiries have picked up dramatically since vaccines became available, but more importantly, couples who were already booked with us are feeling much happier and more confident about their plans. Our clients [who] originally booked for 2020 were so unbelievably stressed, and many were putting other life plans – like buying houses, and having babies – on hold until after their weddings. It was so difficult for them."

Although wedding plans are resuming for couples who chose to wait the pandemic out, Faulkner noted that newly engaged couples will face competition when it comes to booking dates. The Barn at Bradstreet Farm has almost all of 2022 booked and couples are already securing dates for 2023; and this trend could carry over to other venues that are in high demand.

"A couple that became engaged today would have a very tough time scheduling something for 2021, especially if they want a Saturday night," Faulkner explained.

While elopements, micro-weddings and virtual ceremonies held the spotlight for most of 2020 and the first half of 2021, some couples plan on celebrating their nuptials with larger gatherings.

According to Jason Alexander Rubio, co-owner of Austin's Best Wedding DJs & Photo Booths, couples are planning weddings with guest counts that are between 150 and 300 people in Texas, much like they were doing in 2019.

"The first quarter of 2021 looked a lot like 2020, in regards to weddings being very small and people continuing to wear masks and social distance. As more people are getting vaccinated, things have changed. In the last few weeks, calls and emails have gone up for us by 300% or more. We can hardly keep up with the inquiries," Alexander Rubio told FOX Business. "We believe that [it’s] because people are hearing the news about so many people getting vaccinated, and everyone knows someone who has already gotten the vaccine, [so] people are feeling much more at ease with planning weddings/events. Couples have told us exactly this."

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More than 118 million Americans are fully vaccinated, according to data released by the CDC. The health agency also announced on Thursday that people who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 "can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing" – so long as there’s not a conflict with local or federal mandates.

This news may be viewed as a positive for the 47% of couples who postponed their wedding reception to a later date, according to The Knot’s 2020 Real Weddings Study [COVID-19 Edition].

For example, bride-to-be Emily Stern told FOX Business that she and her fiancé got engaged in January 2020 and originally planned for a May 2021 wedding, but were forced to postpone since vaccines weren’t as readily available for non-healthcare employees in the weeks leading up to their chosen date.

"We weren’t confident that even our grandparents would be vaccinated by May, let alone our friends in their late 20s with no underlying conditions. Now, we are feeling incredibly optimistic that we’ll be able to safely hold a 250-person wedding indoors in six months," Stern explained. "I think couples that got engaged within the past 14 months who have delayed making plans in fear of having to cancel or postpone are now feeling confident enough to take the plunge and set a date, but they’re likely realizing that their desired dates or venues might already be booked."