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Weddings flock to Florida as country prepares to host 2.5 million ceremonies in 2022

Wedding planners, venues slammed
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Posted at 5:32 AM, Oct 12, 2021

TAMPA, Fla. — Hundreds of thousands of weddings were postponed during the pandemic, with many rescheduled multiple times. Now, The Wedding Report predicts the highest number of weddings will take place in 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.

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Wedding planner Tammy Waterman, owner of Special Moments Events Planning.

In the midst of shutdowns and regulations, Florida became one of the top destination wedding spots. Wedding planners say there are no days off, on some occasions hosting 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 told ABC Action News.

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

“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 is so high, wedding planners from other states are opening offices here.

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

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

As of right now, Wedding Report predicts the U.S. will host 2.5 million weddings next year, the most since 1984.

But, finding a venue with an open date isn’t the only hurdle for couples right now, the pandemics created a shortage from catering staff to flowers.

“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 said it’s been a nightmare trying 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 way in advance, they’re also paying a lot more.

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 wedding planners and venues hosting up to three events on some days, their advice is to be 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 much smaller, keeping from about 50 to 100 people with outdoor space venues.

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

Davis Island Garden Club has one Saturday left until the end of May 2022, and very few Sundays, according to their online calendar.

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

Many venues only book a year and a half or so out.... but inquiries are already pouring in for 2023 and 2024.

If you know you want to get married somewhere soon, book now.

Lacassin is also hiring part-time staff. Click here to apply for Good Food Events + Catering.