Planning a wedding in 2021? It’s looking hopeful!
2020 was a bloody difficult year for any couple preparing their nuptials, because they had to delay their dream day, whittle down their guest list to 30 – and then 15 – or missed out on massive amounts of money because businesses were going bust.
Not only did the pandemic throw a spanner in the works for couples planning their wedding last year, it also raises doubts on those who moved their wedding back to 2021, or on those newly engaged couples hoping to tie the knot this year.
But love obviously wins; Bridebook.co.uk has seen a 15% YOY rise in engaged couples signing up since Christmas Day so far this year, with 400,000 marriages projected to take place this year.
Despite many of us hoping that we can toast to a year’s sh** show while knocking back tequila shots and dodgy dancing to 80s cheesy hits at a crazy wedding with 120 pals, the virus shows no sign of diminishing, particularly as we head into our third national lockdown. And what does that mean for weddings this year?
Well, there was some major news about marriage rules in the UK with the Law Commission’s legal body finally acknowledging that marital laws in England and Wales (dating back to the 1800s) are ‘dated’ and ‘unnecessarily restrictive’ because they only allow couples to marry legally in a registered building, be it a licensed venue or a place of worship.
However, under new potential laws, couples will be allowed to legally marry literally anywhere, meaning that marriages can take place in your lounge, garden, in a castle or even at your favorite fast food joint (hello, Nando’s).
In future national crises, such as wars or pandemics, the new laws are intended to help couples get married. Obviously, weddings are still prohibited under the national lockdown, but the new laws may mean that when restrictions are relaxed, weddings will take place in people’s gardens, making weddings much cheaper and easier to arrange. So when do we expect things to improve, and will our weddings soon look normal?
According to Hamish Shephard, Bridebook’s founder and CEO, the news of a possible vaccine significantly increases the chances that weddings may start to look normal again in the summer.
In People’s Prime Minister’s Questions at the end of last year, Boris Johnson gave hope to couples hoping to tie the knot in 2021, though he has remained tight-lipped on the topic so far this year. Boris said things could be back to normal as soon as Easter when the wedding venue owner (and bride-to-be herself) asked Lara when the wedding industry is expected to recover – and when large weddings are likely to begin again.
“As we roll out community testing, and get better at understand how people respond to it and how it works, [normality] is very much is on the cards,” he said. “Mass testing, combined with the growth of the number of people being vaccinated before Easter, and lateral flow testing…will allow events like wedding to go ahead.
“If you’re thinking about the summer, I think you’ll be alright. It’s my strong hope and belief, by the summer, whether by one way or the other, whether by vaccination which I hope and believe we would have delivered by Easter, or by lateral flow testing, we’ll be in a different world.
“My hope is that by summer, it really will be a different world for the weddings and events industry. And I hope that your potential customers will be full of confidence and optimism as well, and will be getting hitched in the normal well.
He added: “I think mass testing will help before Easter, hopefully well before Easter, but I think you should be able to plan for a really more active summer, and lots of happy nuptial events all over the UK.”
And what does the whole thing mean to you and your wedding?
“Despite the negative news about the cases and the variant strain of Covid, provided the vaccine roll out works as planned, we don’t expect much to change. We may well be in for a tough couple of months now, where weddings will not be allowed across much of the country, but from the Spring onwards, as we commonly enter the busiest time of year for weddings, things are definitely looking up.”Despite the negative news about Covid’s cases and variant strain, we don’t expect much to change if the vaccine rolls out works as planned. We may well be in for a tough couple of months now, where weddings will not be permitted throughout much of the country, but from the Spring onwards, as we usually enter the busiest time of year for the year.
Hamish states that many of the 80,000 leading wedding sites and suppliers on Bridebook.co.uk tell his team that people have faith that things will improve once the vaccine is out and weddings will start in different shapes and types once the vaccine is out. It’s just, really, a case of getting through to then,”It is a case of getting through to then, really,” he said.
Usually, because of the weather, not as many people get married in January, February or March, so Hamish says couples who had expected to marry in the coming weeks will have to wait, or they can expect things to be smaller and limited. “We are optimistic that beyond that point there shouldn’t be a negative impact though. Summer will be great, and we expect wedding news to improve with each passing month,” he said.
The bad news here? It could be more costly if you’re tying the knot in 2021 or 2022, as suppliers attempt to win back the profits they lost during the pandemic. Plus, with more weddings ever taking place over the next few years, suppliers have even more of an incentive to competitively price their services.
“Sadly, the uncertainty and increased logistical complexity that the more ‘physical’ wedding service providers are facing, like florists, caterers, or decor hire companies, has meant that their expenses and running costs have increased — which in turn means they need to increase their fees in order to run a sustainable business,” Valentina Ring, a UK-based wedding planner, told Insider, whilst Juliana Mead, the vice president of B2B Marketing, The Knot Worldwide, added: “Given that the 2021 and 2022 wedding seasons will be busier for most wedding professionals, it’s likely that they will raise prices to not only manage their calendars more efficiently but also ensure that they can continue to provide that exceptional experience for all couples.”
Expenses aside, how likely are you to go ahead with your wedding this year? Here, Hamish breaks down what your nuptials could look like in the coming months.
January – March 2021
Weddings will only go ahead in ‘exceptional circumstances’ because we are currently in a national lockdown – that’s whether anyone is severely ill or is about to undergo life-changing surgery to get married. The lockdown looks set to be in effect until at least the end of February, so it is advisable to postpone if you have a wedding during this time.
April – June 2021
At this point, Hamish says he expects weddings of substantial sizes to be able to take place in Spring, helping us move towards a new standard with rapid testing, treatments, and vaccinations. “Therefore, at this stage, we think that cancellations are likely to be premature. Instead, we would recommend patience in a rapidly changing landscape. There may still be rapid testing requirements for guests and travel restrictions for people coming from certain countries. But otherwise we would hope to be back on the path to normality.”
July 2021 onwards
Hamish says we can expect to be well on the way to a complete return to normality by July; developments in rapid testing or vaccination should allow us to have full-scale marriages – but watch out closer to the moment for the new guidance.
Hamish says you should heed the advice from the CMA on cancellations and postponements if you are caught in a predicament about whether to absolutely cancel or postpone your wedding.
As he explains: “The Competition and Markets’ Authority (CMA) have released their latest guidance. It shows that couples who choose to cancel their weddings, even during a lockdown, would expect to incur cancellations costs of up to 37.2% of the cost of their total venue fee.
“This continues to be debated, but we reaffirm that if your wedding is in the next few months and you do not want it to take place, it is vastly better for all parties to postpone than cancel. In the majority of cases, you will then incur no cancellation costs.”
Planning your Wedding is always exciting and full of endless choices. Aegean Special Weddings can make life easy for you. After all, planning a wedding is what we specialize in. Send us an email with your personal details, special requests, and so on and we’ll get back to you with our wedding proposal.