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Weddings are booming again. They’re bigger and more expensive than ever

Enrique Alvarez, 42, left, of Tustin, and Afrouz (cq) Alvarez, 41, along with other couples, tie the knot on unforgettable 2/22/22 wedding date at the Old County Courthouse in downtown on Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022 in Santa Ana, CA. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

(CNN) — Two years of pandemic uncertainty forced many couples to postpone or even cancel their nuptial celebrations. But weddings are coming back with gusto.

This year’s wedding boom is projected to be big, according to a new report from wedding planning site The Knot. It anticipates as many as 2.6 million weddings to take place in 2022, up from 2.2 million in 2019, prior to the pandemic. The big events will also be much bigger — and likely more expensive amid record levels of consumer price inflation.

“This year will not only be the year with the most weddings in recent history, but also starts to welcome the next generation of couples — Gen Zers — getting married,” Lauren Kay, executive editor of The Knot, said in a statement.

A banner year for weddings will be welcome relief not just for brides and grooms, but for the entire wedding industry. The nightmare year of 2020 forced the majority of weddings to be canceled or pushed back, and scores of businesses that rely on them for revenue were left struggling to survive.

As the Covid-19 vaccination rollout gained momentum, weddings staged somewhat of a comeback in 2021. Couples shifted to smaller, outdoor ceremonies, Zoom weddings and even elopements.

This year, it’s full steam ahead.

Back to pre-pandemic fervor

The Knot report said that 98% of couples who are set to tie the knot this year are confident their wedding will take place as scheduled. That compares to 45% who made changes to their wedding plans — such as a different venue — in 2021.

Wedding receptions are also gaining a few more guests — the average guest count is expected to hit 129 this year, up from 110 in 2021. The Knot report said guest list size has bounced back to 80% of 2019 levels.

Couples want to go all out on their weddings and aren’t too focused on reining in costs, Tim Chi, CEO of The Knot Worldwide, told CNNBusiness’ Markets Now on Wednesday.

On average, couples in 2021 spent a total of $34,000 on their wedding, including the ceremony, reception, engagement and wedding rings, The Knot report said. The site said it does not yet have a cost estimate for 2022, but expects “it’ll be at least 2021 levels.”

But Chi said inflation and continuing problems with supply chains will also contribute to higher wedding-related costs.

Fall in fashion

For those still in the process of setting a wedding date in 2022, The Knot found that October has emerged as the most popular month, and October 22 the most popular date.

Safety remains a top priority, however. Chi said many couples are incorporating hand sanitizing stations and other precautions or holding the festivities outdoors to promote social distancing.

Azazie, a large online seller of bridal and wedding party dresses and accessories, said it has seen a 200% growth in sales already this year.

“We are seeing two years’ worth of weddings happening in one year,” said Ranu Coleman, chief marketing officer of Azazie. “Some of these are weddings that were postponed due to Covid and [also] people having second weddings because the first one was smaller and more intimate and now they want to celebrate in a bigger way.”

In terms of the types of weddings its customers are planning this year, Coleman said a rustic-themed celebration featuring greenery, dried flowers and vintage decor has emerged as a top trend.