TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The 2022 wedding season is gearing up and bridal boutiques across the Tampa Bay area are feeling the pressure from brides who are planning ahead, in addition to helping brides who had to cancel weddings due to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to wedding planning website and industry leader The Knot, data indicates that 2.6 million weddings are expected in 2022. That’s compared to the pre-pandemic average of 2.2 million.

The Knot reported 75% of couples who got engaged in 2021 set a date for 2022, with 65% of those couples choosing to get married in the summer and fall of 2022.

Alison Farnan owns Satin & Lace Bridal Boutique, a “mom and pop” shop in Riverview. She said now, more than ever, it’s not the time to wait to get that dream dress, but it is something she is seeing.

“We are seeing a lot of last-minute brides. Literally sometimes two weeks, sometimes two months. I think they think I have a huge warehouse underneath the store where I can just go and grab sometimes and unfortunately that is not the case,” she said.

Farnan said the boutique has ready-to-wear dresses but brides have to be prepared to find something on the rack to buy and take, because ordering wedding dresses right now does not fit that kind of timeline.

She said ongoing supply chain issues are making things even more difficult for her brides. Dresses ordered now will not arrive until the middle or the end of summer, at the earliest.

“It’s kind of a double whammy at this time of the year,” Farnan said. “We have all just been to market to buy our dresses for next year, so obviously the factories are concentrating on getting the new samples made for next year as well as fulfilling the brides’ orders and there’s got to be a little bit of give and take somewhere.”

Rushing wedding dresses is not currently an option for brides, according to Farnan.

“There is just not enough leeway to do that anymore in the same vein as everybody’s having problems getting staff, that’s filtering all the way through the chain as well. So it’s a big issue all the way through,” she said.

Accessories like jewelry and veils are also taking longer to be shipped when ordered. Farnan recommended making decisions on those at the same time, if a bride is able.

Farnan is seeing many brides come through her boutique who had to cancel their weddings during the height of the coronavirus pandemic and are still planning. She said one bride cancelled her wedding completely and is donating the money she paid to the store so a wedding dress can be gifted to another bride.

On the opposite side of rushing brides, Farnan said she is seeing plenty of brides planning ahead for 2023. Dresses for next year “are selling like hot cake,” she said.

She has advice for newly engaged brides starting to plan for their big day.

“I would say start shopping a year out. And if you find your dream dress, buy it then. Lots of people are asking can they leave it later to order, and what we are also finding is that if the dresses are not selling well for the designers, they’re pulling them much quicker,” she explained. “Which means I then can’t sell them. So I don’t want you to wait six months and then come back to me and say, ‘hey, you know that dress I tried on, can you order for me?’ And I have to say, ‘I’m really sorry, but it’s not in production anymore.’” 

Farnan said to have an open mind and be prepared to try everything on. She also said for brides to stay off Pinterest, a popular app for brides-to-be to scroll through endless dresses and décor.

“Pinterest is great, but the dresses that you find on Pinterest, there’s nothing on them to tell you who the designer was, when they were made, how expensive they are,” she said.

According to The Knot, 17% of all weddings are anticipated to take place in October, the most popular month for nuptials for the sixth year in a row.