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How COVID is Transforming the Wedding Industry

wedding couple at destination wedding ceremony

More Weddings, Less Venues, How a Tsunami of Couples is Rushing Towards an Unprepared Wedding Industry (and what you can do about it)!

Earlier this week, I got off the phone with a friend who was panicking because she couldn’t find a wedding venue for next spring in her hometown. While her fiance was Googling parks and Masonic lodges, and her mom was pitching local churches, time was running out. For most couples, securing a venue that aligns with their vision is a critical early step in the wedding planning process. Venue size and layout are what dictate how many guests can attend, how the ceremony transpires, planner requirements, caterers, budget, decorations, and even attire.

wedding rings
wedding rings with a wedding decor

Without a venue, my friend worried, her wedding would be a disaster.

Her predicament made me realize that to save hundreds-of-thousands of similar weddings, we need to reimagine wedding ceremonies. If there’s anything we’ve learned from the last six months, it’s that we must reach out to friends, family, and our community in ways that we never have before.

But before I get into how that’s possible, let’s take a step back and look at what’s happened to the wedding industry over the last year, as well as how couples in various stages of the planning process have adapted to the shutdown. I’ll try not to get bogged down in theory, but there’s a simple economics rule at play: supply and demand. It’s basic economics.

Wedding couple exchanging wedding rings
Wedding couple exchanging wedding rings during holy matrimony in church. Bride and groom putting golden rings on finger, close up. Spiritual moment

Every year, more than 2 million couples tie the knot in the US, meaning that over course of the shutdown and through 2021, close to 4 million couples will have their wedding plans disrupted on some level. Many of these couples will adapt by postponing their weddings into 2021 and 2022. Now add into the mix the million-plus couples that will pop the question over the next half year, and you’ve got a tsunami of weddings happening in 2021 and possibly even 2022!

Here is where it gets even crazier. These millions of couples will be competing for the services of a severely-diminished wedding industry, where thousands of venues and service providers will have left the market due to the financial hardship of the COVID-19 shutdown. Every day, we hear about another venue shutting its doors for good, or a florist that’s gone out of business.

With more couples competing for fewer available services, there’s no way supply can possibly meet demand. Too many couples, not enough venues and caterers. As a result, we can expect profound disruption in the wedding industry. But you can still move forward with a wedding celebration that’s memorable and meaningful, even if you can’t find a conventional venue!


The key is to start with the ceremony, and build your wedding experience around it. Since many conventional options might be off the table, your ceremony needs to become a foundation on top of which you can build traditions like handfasting, readings that speak to your values and include family and friends, and most importantly, vows that you write yourself with the help of your wedding officiant.

To understand how couples adapted, American Marriage Ministries surveyed our nationwide network of officiants to see how ceremonies had evolved in response to the coronavirus. What we found was that ultimately, the shutdown has liberated many couples from the social pressures associated with weddings and planning. One officiant explained that couples have used this as an opportunity to revise their plans and incorporate more personal, unique ceremony elements, since they aren’t feeling the need to accommodate the expectations of any guests.

wedding bouquet
wedding bouquet, bridal bouquet, beautiful bouquet of different colors

It might sound crazy, but if you focus on these less-tangible elements, and follow your inspiration, you will find components that complement the experience in ways you might not have considered.

Remember when rustic barn weddings were considered avant garde? Our officiants have performed amazing ceremonies in warehouses, nightclubs, libraries, mountaintops, and thousands of other unconventional venues. Over the years, couples have always pushed the envelope because embracing novelty is a critical step towards creating memorable moments. Now, we’ve got a carte blanche to try new and exciting ideas.

So rather than focusing on a lack of conventional options, embrace the paradigm shift that we are experiencing, where you can celebrate in whatever fashion, and in whichever space you want!

At American Marriage Ministries, we empower you to realize your wedding ceremony ambitions by helping you find a wedding officiant that can work with you to create the perfect ceremony. Chances are that you already know someone that is perfect for the role, and with our free online ordination, they can gain the legal title of Minister in a matter of minutes. Now is the time to reach out to your college roommate, your friend from church, your cousin down the street and ask them to get ordained and officiate your wedding. It’s going to be amazing, we promise!

This post was authored by Lewis King, Executive Director of American Marriage Ministries,

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Karen LeBlanc

Karen LeBlanc is a travel host and writer with a popular travel show, The Design Tourist, and a companion lifestyle blog. As a widely published travel journalist and content creator, Karen is a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association. She also serves as the Design and Travel editor of the national lifestyle magazine, LaPalme. Karen believes that every destination has a story to tell through its local art, architecture, culture, and craft. This immersive creative exploration begins with authentic accommodations where the narrative of place unfolds through art, accessories, accouterments, furnishings, fixtures, and food. 

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