After the mass cancellation and postponement of weddings last year, the wedding industry has been full of belief that a multitude of events are looming. Couples had pushed the ceremonies in spring 2020 to fall and then early 2021. The idea spread that this year demand would soar that weekday weddings would become a passing norm. Couples rushed to book appointments they thought were far enough to be “safe” and break the frenzy. But now, on the cusp of a typical (and hoped for) busy spring season, the coming year looks … different.
We surveyed and interviewed dozen of local vendors, including photographers, planners, florists, and caterers, to see how things were going on-site. And surprisingly, the feedback was divided.
Here’s what we know:
- Some couples cancel completely.
- Some couples move, others again.
- Some hope the second quarter will turn around.
- There is a lot of pressure in autumn 2021.
- Some are pushing for a wedding by 2022, which may be filled with this year’s late weddings.
Stay here with us.
First, some couples call up the event portion of their weddings.
“We’ve had a handful of customers in 2020 who decided to throw in the towel and cancel because they didn’t want to move a third or fourth time, or they had their micro-wedding last year and decided not to. After all, a big one this year, ”said Lauren Anderson of Sweet Root Village.
The popular 2020 industry phrase, “love will not be canceled,” urged couples to get married in elopements and micro-weddings amid the pandemic and save a big celebration for later. In fact, more than half of the vendors we surveyed reported that at least 50 percent of their customers who got married last year were planning a bigger party later. Likewise, respondents said that half of their current 2021 schedule consists of such post-wedding celebrations, which means that in an already difficult year, these types of cancellations could wreak havoc on an industry that was already shattered. However, as this pandemic and pandemic fatigue wear off and the limits of collecting remain low – in Maryland, DC and Virginia, indoor social gatherings are still limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors – couples are thinking about these bigger ones Celebrations after.
“Those who had micro-weddings in 2020 don’t want to go from 15 to 25 guests, ”says photographer Abby Jiu. “They planned 100 or more.”
Among those looking to procrastinate are couples who are on large guest lists. “The customers pushing until 2022 want one big party, more than 250, with no restrictions, and they don’t want the headache of the unknown or later changes,” says Kaitlin Przezdziecki of Cheers Darling Events. Others, especially those not yet married, are ready to cut the marriage rate this year, even if it means moving later this year. But across the board, hope for weddings this spring is rapidly fading.
“So far I have four pairs in the process of changing their date for the second time, ”he says Photographer Terri Baskin.
Photography by Audra Wrisley Photography
Survey participants told us that fears of Covid variants and travel restrictions at local and international levels played a certain role in the uncertainty. Given that many couples and vendors cited the ability to implement safety protocols – masks, socially distant household seating, on-site testing, and more – and the introduction of vaccines, more vendors indicated that this was the “tight cap for the number of guests ”and the lack of vaccines are updated guidelines in our region that are causing panic. At the end of last year, the industry was bullish for 2021, but planning for spring and summer weddings has stalled as the restrictions on on-site collecting have not eased and there is no indication of when to do so. (A paradox, say many vendors, compared to updated restaurant and entertainment restrictions.) Vendors have used social media to express frustration with local leadership, warning that couples are crossing state lines to hold weddings in major travel destinations to plan. “We have had events leaving DC for Texas, Wyoming, and Delaware and are seeing more of them day by day,” says Anderson, who reports that Spring and Early Summer have been “all but wiped out” of Sweet Root Village.
There is a lot of pressure for the fall, which we have heard was the main cause of a hoped-for “boom”. “Couples slated for late July through the end of the year remain hopeful,” says Kawania Wooten of Howerton + Wooten Events. Bright Occasions’ Margo Fischer says she received new requests with guests of 100 or fewer and Tabitha in the second half of the year Roberts of Roberts & Co. Events notes that she has seen an influx of last minute bookings for the fall – “potential customers that see light at the end of the tunnel “and want to move quickly.
Such situations are likely driving the trend for couples to plan weddings in less time, six months, or less compared to typical years or a year and a half. Some who haven’t picked a date – we hear many are reluctant to book at all – wait and are ready to pounce on a short-term plan if the opportunity arises.
And many companies say they are unable to turn away couples after the year of decimation they just experienced. More than 70 percent of the vendors we surveyed said they are running more events than normal for 2021 and 2022 to make up for losses over the past year and to accommodate both new and newly planned couples. Although two-thirds of providers say their next year will be more fully booked than normally March, what fills these calendars is split: some have mostly postponed weddings, others all newly engaged couples. The general hope among vendors seems to be that most of their events will work out in 2021 and 2022 will be a new (er) plan.
“We are actively avoiding moving further weddings into 2022,” says Roberts.
What brings us to … the thing on weekdays? Yes it does– –A third of the vendors we surveyed said at least one couple plans to get married on a weekday this year. (We excluded Fridays from this statistic because they have been a long time growing in popularity, and found Tuesday and Thursday to be the top midweek tips.) But midweek planning isn’t what we thought it was. Sure, demand plays a role– –Vendors have reported customers moving to weekday appointments to get their first choice venue in the month or first choice season– –However, others have cited reasons that have more to do with vendor guidelines.
“I don’t charge a weekday move,” said photographer Kir Tuben. “I’m calculating new prices for a busy Saturday and have seen other providers do the same.”
Jamésa Alexander of Jayne Heir Weddings & Events is working with a couple who moved on a Thursday that the venue couldn’t record another Saturday in 2021. However, the special Thursday is a federal holiday, she says, and customers make the wedding a multi-day affair through the weekend.
Also trending this year: more Fridays (one planner said a couple switched from an off-season Saturday to an in-season Friday when they rescheduled because the venue was ready to offer the same price), Sunday brunch , Weddings in “off” months such as July and December and weddings on normally unpopular days such as Mother’s Day, Easter and July 4th.
As companies try to stay afloat, couples try to avoid lost deposits and unexpected costs.
Photo by Stefanie Kamerman
Overall, however, there does not seem to be complete consistency.
“I have some appointments that I could have sold three times, and then in September I’m still open on Saturdays,” says Sara Bauleke of Bella Notte.
It’s a tug of war– –Some couples willing to postpone this now and many providers asking for patience.
“Planners try to keep the original dates as they find a different date for the whole [vendor] Team is a nightmare, ”says photographer Liz Fogarty.
The emotional toll is high and shared between engaged couples and salespeople.
Wedding planning can be stressful, and for the past year, couples have controlled it with (to varying degrees) additional factors like restrictions and closings, risk assessments, safety protocols, and the brand new etiquette of procrastinating and not inviting – in addition to the no-influences-wedding-related portions of the pandemic . Many have grappled with disappointment; others have suffered a wedding-specific financial loss – the website Loanry.com estimates that American couples pay $ 3.7 billion in loans for weddings that never took place.
On the supplier side, according to one photographer, the planners bear the brunt of managing all changes. “You play the roles of chief logistics officer and family therapist, but are often unable to add to the cost of the incredible amount of time and effort required to implement the changes,” says photographer Eli Turner.
Tuben said that while she is grateful for her job and her health, and has been inspired by couples who are “determined to get married when hell or the floods come” It seems like the pandemic has changed the perspective of customers and sellers about weddings, and the planning has left longer lasting effects. “There are many couples who are“ overwhelmed ”with wedding planning and feel salty about the process – and in some cases their salespeople who have had to adhere to some financial guidelines to stay in business … As a business owner I often put my clients first, and Covid rescheduling has effectively ruled my life for the foreseeable future, postponing my decision to take time off and possibly start a family. I am extremely grateful for my health, I value the safety of others and I never want to appear ungrateful, but the otherwise carefree customer / supplier relationships carry weight like never before when we as soldiers enter another unexpected year of panning, rescheduling and uncertainty. “
Editor, Washingtonian Weddings
Amy runs Washingtonian Weddings and writes Style Setters for Washingtonian. Prior to joining Washingtonian in March 2016, she was the editor of Capitol File magazine in DC and prior to that, editor of What’s Up? Weddings in Annapolis.