Labor shortages in paper manufacturing and logistics are causing supply shortages that are being felt throughout the country. While the shortage hasn’t become dire in the wedding industry just yet, couples planning events during peak seasons should take note of how a low paper inventory can impact their special day, whether it be through invitations, programs, menus, place cards, signage or decorations.
"For companies that import materials, the average prices of some freights have gone [up] by a factor of 10," said Christopher Wu, the CEO and co-founder of Paper Culture, a California-based design and stationery company. "This has resulted in not just higher costs, but longer delays. The byproduct of this is that many U.S. companies have turned toward local suppliers, which, in turn, has caused prices to increase, delays in manufacturing and a run on local raw materials like paper pulp."
Wu said his company has "decided to absorb these price increases" so it does "not pass those on to our customers.
He added that souring 99% of Paper Culture’s raw materials domestically has helped the company to "not pass those on to our customers" of the current paper shortage. But the company’s post-consumer recycled fiber source has been hit hard.
"As a result, 100% recycled paper that usually takes us 30 days to receive, now takes 90 days," Wu said.
A potential saving grace for the wedding industry is the fact that demand is down due to many couples being unsure of pandemic-related orders or postponements.
"Due to COVID, wedding planning and the production services have been at a standstill for a bit just like wedding suppliers worldwide," said Cynthia Najares, a planner, creative coordinator and logistic manager at For All Time Events, a celebration planning and coordination company.
"However, due to the constant changing in guest counts, venues and dates, couples have opted to select online/paperless invites to keep up with the ever so changing RSVP list," Najares added. "More than half of my clients for 2021 have geared towards online invites to give their guests the utmost current information for their special day."
Information that she’s seen change frequently throughout the wedding planning process includes date changes, venue closures and mandate updates.
Wu has also seen a decline in demand among couples and wedding planners as uncertainty over COVID-19 continues.
"For our wedding business, we have good and bad news. The bad news for us is that weddings still aren't fully back to their 2019 levels. We saw a 70% dip in weddings post-COVID in 2020. This year, we are still seeing about 20% lower demand," Wu explained. "So, in the short term, even though supply is harder to come by, we are not seeing a shortage that is impacting the customers because couples still face a fair amount of uncertainty for their weddings."
"However, we expect that to change in early 2022," Wu added. "For couples looking to get married, our advice: Order early, order from a domestic company that sources domestically. And if you're worried about changes, find a company that has a great [change of date policy]."