ALAMEDA, Calif. - This year the nation will see a veritable tidal wave of weddings as people who delayed marriages during the pandemic are added to the many who've recently decided to tie the knot.
As her mom Nancy watched, Kelsey Easop made the final decision on her wedding gown at Janene's Bridal Boutique in Alameda, a dress not to be seen in public until her wedding day.
"The dress is one of the things you think about growing up," said Easop.
These days, that comes at an ever-increasing price.
Stephanie Hines is CEO the Janene's and has bridal shops in Alameda, San Francisco, and a grooms' shop in the city.
"People are still gonna want to get married. They still want that. But now, we're working with budgets. The budgets will change with how they are in the world," said Hines.
In 2020, the year the pandemic started, the average wedding cost just over $20,000. By 2021, the average was 27,000.
According to The Wedding Report, the U.S. will have 2.5 million weddings this year, the highest number in 40 years.
That's a huge pent-up demand for the still-recovering wedding industry, facing shortages and supply chain delays.
"I had contacted so many vendors for things, make-up and hair, and most of them had already been booked a year out. So, you feel the pressure and that also weighs on your budget," said Easop.
She and her fiancé had to cut some corners.
"So it was just kind of talking about things that we can be OK without and some things we know that we need for sure," she said.
"We're not naive. We know what prices are and so once we made that commitment we know we were gonna have to roll with it," said the bride-to-be's mom, Nancy Easop.
Hines said her biggest challenge is to not raise prices.
"We try to withhold as much as we can, but there are times when we have to pass it on to the consumer," said Hines.
Kelsey Easop and her fiancé had to make one other big decision: whether to have a wedding at all.
"Whichever way they wanted to go; if they would rather have the money towards a house or a wedding and they talked about it," said the woman's mom.
"We really ended up going with the wedding because it's one of the very few times you can have all of your loved ones together in the same place at one time," said Kelsey Easop.
"Especially when you don't know what's gonna happen tomorrow," said Hines.
This is the biggest wedding boom since soldiers came home from WWII.