As we approach the return to weddings and events, you may be wondering what exactly the future has in store. Due to social distancing guidelines and safety protocols, we know that conducting business and offering our services has changed as we once knew it. In its place, you should expect a number of shifts–starting with the behavior of our wedding clients.
What’s changed in the planning/booking process
On top of the responsibility of planning a wedding, many couples are now dealing with the added stress of being forced to postpone or cancel their big day. Because of this, we’re seeing a major uptick in working with them to reschedule, or even working with new prospects that want to ensure that they can count on us.
Kristin Wilson, owner and CEO of Our DJ Rocks notes, “couples more than ever are doing their due diligence and researching their vendors. They are asking the right questions and making sure that they hire a vendor they can rely on. So, we are finding that even though our booking process is taking a little bit longer, we’re able to build more trust and a deeper bond with our couples.”
Naturally, industry professionals will continue to see a surge in virtual appointments, which are now becoming second-nature for most. According to Nora Sheils–founder of Bridal Bliss–while couples are less intimidated with these online meetings, the bookings are still quite scattered.
“Some of our spring or early summer clients have postponed into fall or early winter with their fingers crossed that mandates will work in their favor. For those who planned on 2021 initially–prior to, or despite COVID–they are planning anywhere from 9-12 months in advance. This number isn't too much out of the norm, and we are hoping this trend continues, especially as couples grow calmer when mandates become clearer.”
That said, booking clients (old and new) has proven to be a challenge for some. Mary Angelini of Key Moment Films adds: “This week, I have been in contact with two couples wanting to book for the same date. One is a newly engaged couple, and the other is a couple who had to postpone. Our business is usually first come, first served, but we are spending a bit more effort in trying to ‘rehome’ the couples who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The size of weddings
Since the start of delaying weddings, we’ve seen a variety of options when it comes to size. The idea of micro weddings has skyrocketed tremendously, but not every couple is going to feel comfortable trimming down their guest list.
Because of this, JoAnn Gregoli of Elegant Occasions by JoAnn Gregoli says that the timeline of postponements has shifted.
“The new average now is 9-12 months out, since most are nervous about what social distancing will look like for the foreseeable future,” she said.
It seems that the majority of couples would rather wait in order to resume the wedding at its full extent, according to Beth Bernstein, owner and director of SQN Events.
“A large reason that my clients moved their weddings to 2021 is that they wanted to keep their guest list the same,” she said. “My weddings average 175 guests, and we knew that events over 50 people would be unlikely to take place until a vaccine is approved and widely distributed (the mandate here in Illinois).”
That said, Lisa Anhaiser of LBL Event Rentals has seen an increase in planning smaller gatherings – all according to order trends.
“The actual deliveries being made are for a quantity of smaller table sizes or 2-3 tables of a larger size, which tells me that we are looking at socially-distanced seating of 50-75 people,” she said. “Or small intimate events of 16-20 people based on chair and napkin counts.”
So, if we’ve come to a standstill in wedding planning, would the natural next step in rescheduling be to opt for a destination wedding instead? It’s true that this could be an ideal option for some couples hoping to elope, but unfortunately, the travel issue still remains.
However, Shannon Tarrant of WeddingVenueMap.com suggests that the wedding doesn’t necessarily have to be a destination wedding for everyone.
“The biggest concern for couples is [whether] their guests will be able to attend this amazing celebration that they are planning,” she said. “I believe that more couples will be planning weddings closer to where the majority of their attendees are located. If the couple lives far from friends and family, they may plan a ‘destination wedding’ at home. The key is to make sure the VIP guests are able to be there no matter where the location.”
Looking into 2021, Kelley Nudo of Momental Designs adds, “a large percentage of our clients plan destination weddings (in Italy, Greece, France, etc.), and we are finding those couples are still wanting to make the trip in 2021 when restrictions have been lifted. It seems their venues are being very flexible with postponements, and they are still capturing the attention of couples still in the planning phase.”
In adding to the idea of a downsized destination wedding, Joan Wyndrum of Blooms by the Box says, “we have already seen an increase in the amount of orders sent to destination areas of the U.S. We have worked with countless couples planning a small elopement and looking to create a beautiful bridal bouquet for the occasion. This is a great option to cut down your guest list and still celebrate in a special way.”
‘Business as usual’ will not be a sentiment for a very long time in the event industry, and that’s something we’re coming to terms with as professionals. Despite that, there are plenty of ways that our work is rapidly changing, and it’s all at the hands of our wedding couples that are making huge waves by breaking tradition. As long as you’re preparing yourself to catch the curveballs thrown at you, adapting to these shifts will only make you more resilient as a wedding pro.