Coronavirus and The Wedding Industry:

A Reflection on 2020

On the 16th March 202 the UK went into lockdown. Coronavirus has brought the wedding industry to its knees. Over the following months, couples emailed and called to re-schedule wedding dates to 2021. Venues, hairdressers, musicians, dress makers, photographers, videographers, cake suppliers and DJ’s have re-scheduled wedding after wedding. Ironically 2020 was going to be a popular year for couples, many wanted to marry on an ‘even year’. But what does the future hold?

 

 

Rising To The Challenge

 

Over the last few months couples and suppliers have approached new ways of planning weddings, virtual viewings at wedding venues, at-home cake tasing and zoom planning meetings. All these new methods of engagement are expected to continue long past the Pandemic. Managing the immediate crisis has been forefront, keeping couples happy and trying to hold onto bookings. As I imagine it has been with all businesses working in the wedding industry, the re-scheduling of weddings for photographers has been a logistical nightmare. The majority of weddings in any year happen in the summer months and it doesn’t take long before the year is booked with limited weekends available. With brides re-scheduling to the following year, 2020 has become a lost year in trade.

As it stands (blog written in August 2020) the recovery strategy in the UK for the wedding industry does not provide much clarity in terms of how long social distancing measures will need to continue or what restrictions are going to be imposed on the hospitality sector as they open up. Already it is estimated that Covid has directly impacted up to 64% of weddings in 2020 by either postponement, cancellations or travel logistics, 36% of all wedding business will be lost and the wedding industry is set to suffer losses of up to £87.5 billion. Bridebook estimates that 79’000 UK couples will need to rearrange their honeymoons and 7.8 million wedding guests will need to change their travel plans. The impact on businesses serving the industry has been devastating.

Will Love Conquer All?

 

 

With 2020 a write off, will love prevail and will 2021 be a bumper year for the wedding industry? What does this all mean for the future? The optimistic viewpoint is. that 2021 is going to be a boom year, there are signs that the wedding industry will bounce back bigger than ever, with couples rushing to book their weddings having postponed their engagement because of Coronovirus. Currently (August 2020) Government guidance is that weddings are allowed to take place however only close family and friends should be invited, up to a maximum of 30 guests and only if these can be accommodated at a safe distance. Research by Guides for Brides has shown that only 13% of weddings usually have 50 guests or less, weddings underpin the hospitality sector and they will struggle to make a profit with such limited numbers. It is not only the venues that will struggle with small weddings, all wedding businesses will find it difficult to break even with small weddings. Couples that organise small weddings are less likely to spend on a full day photography or video, less on flowers, stationary, food and other goods. Small weddings simply cost less. International travel quarantine requirements will also affect couples wanting to hold wedding celebrations with BAME communities being disproportionally affected.

Couples will always want to celebrate their wedding in style once the virus is contained but how long will the uncertainty last? Weddings are traditionally booked at least a year in advance, how many are going to plan an in intimate wedding rather than a large celebration? Most I assume will wait another year. And what of health and safety at weddings? Will there still be a buffet? Will couples want to spend thousands to have their guests spread apart for photographs? Wearing masks and no dance floor? There is also the risk to the elderly and most couples want to celebrate their wedding with their elderly relatives and this is going to be a risk for quite some time.

Over recent years there has been a movement away from the traditional wedding. Coronavirus may give this trend a push. What’s most important is the celebration of marriage.

Weddings are not though, social distancing, they are hugs, unlimited Champagne, connecting with distant relatives, crowded churches, confetti tunnels and heaving dance floors. The shape and style of weddings may have to change but along with the impending recession will couples spend the same on this new style wedding, will they be confident to book and can those that service the industry survive?

Sources: Digiday link.

 

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Kyra

 

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