With the future of the wedding industry the subject of much discussion, and talk of us having to deal with coronavirus ‘well into 2021’ we explore what weddings after Covid-19 might look like in the long run.

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It’s no secret the wedding industry is one that’s been hit particularly hard by the global coronavirus pandemic. However, as small wedding ceremonies have been given the go-ahead, there’s greater speculation than ever over what weddings after Covid-19 will look like in the months and years to come.

While some suppliers have already adapted to the ‘new normal’ with the likes of virtual bridal appointments and online venue tours, and brides-to-be are adjusting to a life of hen parties and wedding planning over Zoom, the future of the wedding industry remains an uncertain topic.

As lockdown measures begin to ease but fears over a second wave and restrictions on bigger gatherings persist, we’ve spoken to industry expects and wedding planners to find out a little bit more about what this means for your wedding and the new wedding trends set to take hold after the Covid-19 situation.

P.S Make sure you brush up on the lockdown wedding rules 

Wedding Planning After Covid-19

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Whether you’ve already had to postpone or cancel your wedding, or your partner proposed in lockdown, making headway on your wedding plans whilst we’re in the midst of a pandemic is unlikely to be a walk in the park.

Inevitably, the wedding industry will look very different to how it did before the days of coronavirus and lockdown, and unfortunately, you may find yourself without a number of your suppliers as small businesses struggle to stay afloat.

Wedding planners, however, may see a rise in business as the emotional strain of having to negotiate with suppliers and venues in a strained economy proves too much for brides-to-be to bear on their own.

“It will be more important than ever to communicate with and confide in your wedding planner,” says wedding planner Isabelle Jones.

Without the personal attachment to the big day and boasting a wealth of experience, a wedding planner will help with the tough decisions make the necessary judgement calls to get your big day on the way.

Working With Suppliers

From the wedding stationary services to the florists and photographers, many wedding suppliers are small, locally-run and independently-owned businesses. Often, they rely on a busy wedding season to stay afloat. Unfortunately, this may mean the vendors you had your heart set on using will no longer be able to provide for your big day.

However, as we all begin to adjust to life after Covid-19, communication and a mutual understanding that we’re all in this together will provide the basis of your relationship with your wedding vendors.

It’s likely that a lot of your consultations with suppliers will continue to take place online. Many businesses made the quick change to virtual appointments and consultations during lockdown and as social distancing continues to be enforced, for those able to do so, this practice will probably continue throughout 2020.

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Additionally, suppliers and couples alike may have to get used to the idea of no-contact services – something that may prove challenging when it comes to catering your wedding.

“The idea of contact-free and bartender-free mixology is suddenly a big issue,” explains James Kerslake from handcrafted cockatil specialists,Tom Savano.

Luckily there’s a solution – if businesses and suppliers are able to adapt.

“Our cocktails are the only true bar quality offerings in the UK, [where] wedding planners can offer a top end cocktail menu, without the need for bartenders, risks of contamination by touching food and ingredients or any other risks that could spread coronavirus.

“You simply get our cocktails in bottles, pop the corks and pour into glasses for a contact-free bar.”

Post Covid-19 Wedding Trends

Weekday Weddings

A recent study by Bridebook claims that around 64% of weddings in 2020 will either be cancelled or postponed as a result of coronavirus. That’s a lot of weddings to have to reschedule in an already popular 2021 wedding season.

This will mean, not only will your Saturdays be booked up with nuptials, but more and more people will be opting for weekday weddings to avoid an even longer delay to their big day.

“Due to the inevitable build-up of weddings meant to take place in 2020, it’s best to start planning those outfits ahead already,” explains Charlotte Ricard-Quesada, founder of La Fête.

“Start saving up now as [we’ll] be purchasing gowns (ideally second-hand if possible!), booking flights, and viewing the exchanging of vows left and right. While we absolutely love the idea of a full year brimming with weddings, please be careful to avoid showing up to work hungover the next day…”

Socially distanced Weddings

However, Charlotte disagrees. She believes the delays and months of uncertainty will culminated in weddings being bigger and

Given that the risk of infection is known to be higher in enclosed spaces while open air and outdoor gatherings are safer, outdoor weddings are expected to surge in popularity as couples seek to adhere to social distancing advice and keep their guests safe.

Simon Gudgeon, sculptor and owner of venue Sculpture by the Lakes in Dorset, agrees. He says: “Outdoor weddings might not have been everyone’s first choice in the past given the uneven temperament of the great British weather – but I expect they will become far more commonplace as we make accommodations and learn to live with the coronavirus.”

Sculpture by the Lakes socially distanced weddings
Wedding at Sculpture by the Lakes

The challenge is to come up with interesting new ways to take on the ‘new normal’, something Simon and the team at Sculpture by the Lakes are already thinking about.

“We are also coming up with innovative ways to overcome the other challenges – such as individual picnic boxes rather than waitered tables. And we have been reaching out to companies who can arrange for live-streaming of ceremonies for guests who are unable to attend – for example those shielding at home.

“I think people may well feel nervous about gathering together in larger groups for many months, possibly years to come, depending on what happens with the virus.

“Being outdoors or in open airy settings will provide not only a lower-risk environment and allow for the appropriate social distancing, but it will also help people feel at ease and able to enjoy themselves.”

Micro Weddings

When it comes to the size of weddings after Covid-19, for many suppliers and venues it’s all about the micro-wedding.

“We expect there will be a move towards smaller more intimate events, and a move away from tradition, both through necessity, and as couples try to put their own stamp on their celebrations, rather than let them be run by the demands of being COVID-secure,” adds Simon Gudgeon.”

Read more about micro weddings 

Show-stopping Ceremonies

However, Charlotte Ricard-Quesada disagrees. She believes these delays and months of uncertainty will culminate in weddings being bigger and better than ever by 2021

“[Next year] fiancées will be absolutely itching to ‘go big‘ as much as possible to finally celebrate their much-anticipated day, she claims.

“Imagine waiting an entire year to finally get hitched, especially when you thought the day was definitely on its way. Now, we’re talking proper blowouts; extra attendees, glitter galore, bouncing balloons, exquisite bouquets of flowers throughout, and all those classic crowd-pleasing tunes.”

Elopement Weddings After Covid-19

Since March this year the search volume for elopement weddings has risen 300% in the UK and even more in the US according to GoogleTrends. But an elopement wedding in 2020 is not quite the midnight dash to Gretna Green you might be thinking of. It’s all about keeping things small and intimate without compromising on quality.

Speaking about the growing trend Jane Caterer from Petite Weddings in Cornwall explains, “If you’re planning a small wedding make sure you choose an experienced specialist to ensure it’s just the size of your wedding you are compromising on not the quality.”

She adds: “With the opportunity to re-evaluate and access anything from unique gardens, barns, even a castle, foodies often will upgrade their menu or having that picnic on the beach ending with a sunset sail all being possible, you have flexibility to create your style of wedding and reception, memorable for all the right reasons.”

What to Expect From Your Venue

Greater Flexibility

If Ash Barton Estate is anything to go by, prospective couples should expect to see their chosen wedding venue looking in tip-top shape, as owner Simon Daukes explains venues should have been using the lockdown period to invest in their property.

“If they can, wedding venues should use this time to invest in their property, so they are prepared for post-Covid weddings and beyond,” he explains.

He also suggests, where possible, venues should be flexible with booking dates in the next few, to allow prospective couples to make quick decisions should the situation improve sooner than anticipated.

“[At Ash Barton], every single booking also has the option to revert back to their original dates at zero notice should the situation improve in the forthcoming months.”

Once again, communication with your venue will be key, he continues.

“I imagine newly-engaged couples will want heightened communication when booking a wedding venue. They will want a venue that is easy to communicate with, preferring family run operations where they can talk to the owners and gauge their reactions face to face. Transparency and honesty will be key.”

The Glasshouse at Combermere Abbey

Safety First

Sarah Callander Beckett, owner of Cheshire wedding venue Combermere Abbey, explains how venues are beginning to reopen to the public. And the first order of business is safety.

“We have already started up our venue showrounds for couples again, as we are confident that we can do so safely and responsibly,” Sarah explains.

“We currently have a 10 step programme for all couples which puts their safety and security at the forefront of everything we are doing at the venue. These steps include keeping 2m distance, setting up hygiene stations throughout our venue, sanitising areas between visits and accommodating early evening appointments too.”

And when it comes to the big day – it’s still all about the happy couple.

“We want to ensure the wedding party feels safe and secure, but also not overwhelmed by the situation. We are also going to be offering our onsite self-catering cottages to wedding guests so that they can have their own private accommodation, instead of having to stay in nearby hotels where they may have to mix with multiple people outside of their group.

“Of course, as a wedding venue provider, the main thing for us is to make sure the couples and their parties feel confident that all measures are in place and that their wedding celebration will be able to be enjoyed safely.”

Virtual Venues

“Wedding venues are already offering virtual tours to help couples be able to choose their venues and meet the team through platforms such as Zoom,” reveals Wedding Industry Expert Kelly Mortimer.

“Even post-Covid, we envisage couples viewing less venues in person and only going on site to see their top one or two!”

Your Legal Rights: Cancellations and Insurance

“It is good news that weddings will now be permitted from June and those who wish to take the plunge may do so. However, with many venues remaining closed and restrictions on the number of guests, many may still choose to postpone their big day,” says Gary Rycroft, a consumer law expert and chair of the Law Society’s digital assets working group.

However, in deciding to postpone your wedding, rather than not being able to get married at all, there are different legal implications. According to Gary, this makes the situation less clear cut.

“Many wedding events will still not be able to happen as planned. For example, many of the agreements and contracts entered into by couples will be on the basis of there being more guests than it is possible to now have,” he adds.

“The Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) recently said that they would expect a consumer to be offered a full refund if government public health measures mean they cannot use the services.”

Check out our guide to your legal rights and the latest advice on coronavirus and cancelled weddings. 

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Ruby is Digital Editor of Wedding Ideas and the brand's sister magazines, Baby and Little London. Overseeing Wedding Ideas' online presence, Ruby covers everything from bridal fashion and beauty trends to venues, budgets and whether Brexit will affect your big day. When she's not navigating the world of weddings or scouring the internet for the latest lifestyle and beauty trends, you'll probably find Ruby trawling through the Zara sales, escaping the city for a weekend at the spa or cashing in the discount vouchers at her local Pizza Express. And when that doesn't work, she'll be parked on the sofa midway through a Netlfix crime documentary binge.