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What Will Weddings After COVID Look Like? Experts Weigh In


The recent rollout of vaccines and the slow but steady decline of COVID cases have everyone breathing a little easier after the past year. Wedding pros everywhere are looking ahead to the coming months with optimism, but the long-term effects of the pandemic aren’t yet totally clear. 

That said, it’s no surprise that industry pros are eager to get back the sense of normalcy that we’ve all lost. In this case, it’s best to err on the side of caution and continue to uphold the health and safety measures set in place by your state – even if you sense a change on the horizon. 

The impact on weddings for the foreseeable future

After adapting to social distancing and minimal guest count guidelines, it’s difficult to imagine a wedding any other way. Some of these changes, however, are here to stay. We’ve seen great success with more intimate weddings (and even virtual weddings), so it’s safe to say that many will be following this pattern for quite some time.

According to Matt Campbell of My Wedding Songs, “Wedding budgets will vary significantly on how couples and their families were affected by the pandemic shutdowns. Many saw a significant decrease in the amount of income brought into their household. At the same time, others were able to maintain their income like essential workers. This will not only affect overall budgets but also allowable gift-giving funds from guests. Disposable income will be a sensitive matter for a foreseeable future.”

Nora Sheils of Bridal Bliss and Rock Paper Coin says, “While many couples have been impacted in some way by COVID, the bright side for those with celebrations on the horizon is that there is so much thought and love being put into every moment of their wedding. Some of the trends we are extremely fond of and are expecting to see more of center around the guest experience. One of our favorites includes handwritten notes to each guest in lieu of a traditional place card – sitting atop a beautifully curated place setting and custom linens (of course!).”

Which aspects could return to a “pre-pandemic” normal?

The idea of weddings returning to any semblance of what they once were (at least any time soon) is wishful thinking. But that isn’t to say that we can’t consider what’s realistic for the somewhat-near future.

For instance, Shannon Tarrant of WeddingVenueMap.com notes: “Many guests have not had the ability to travel far distances to be able to attend weddings in-person and instead, have been participating virtually through live streaming. While I believe that live-streaming of weddings for those who are not able to travel is here to stay, the majority of wedding guests from afar will plan on attending in person!”

Regarding destination weddings, Bri Marbais of The Bridal Finery has to agree. “Because the vaccine is becoming readily available, I do think destination weddingswill be making a comeback. Because traveling was next to impossible in 2020, people are ready to get on the move again. Destination cities have taken the time over the last year to rework and redesign how they are able to accommodate travelers and are ready to welcome them back with all of the right precautions in place.”

Photo Credit: Manda Weaver Photography

Helping your couples understand the shift

While we know that it’s no surprise that the pandemic will have a lasting effect on weddings, our clients may not have this same mindset. Industry pros understand that things can’t go back to ‘normal’ overnight, and there are some details that may not ever make their way back.

To avoid confusion, communication should be a top priority. JoAnn Gregoli of Elegant Occasions by JoAnn Gregoli advises, “As a planner, we have to stay on top of all the local rules and regulations when it pertains to events. We must know the size limitations, mask requirements, and dance floor guidelines, [and] some events will require pre-testing or vaccine proof prior to guest arrival in some states. It is important to let guests know the expectations and restrictions.”

“Open, honest, direct, and consistent communication is the best approach when it comes to helping your clients navigate this time. With restrictions being different, not only across the country but also within each state, it’s important to keep your clients up to date on what they can expect in planning a wedding in 2021. They are relying on us to help guide them as they make important decisions about whether or not to host their event and, if hosting, how to do so safely,” adds Jen Ganson of A Fresh Event.

At the end of the day, we know what’s best for our clients, and it’s our responsibility to prepare them moving forward. There’s a lot of work left to do before our next round of weddings, but it’s important that we don’t lose hope for what’s to come!

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.

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