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Experts Predict What Weddings Will Be Like in 2021


After what feels like an eternity, we’re finally leaving 2020 in the dust and moving forward to (hopefully!) much greener pastures. However, with that will come an onslaught of formerly-postponed weddings and even more unique trends to make weddings more accessible than ever before. 

That said, in order to really prepare ourselves for what’s in store, we’ll need to keep our finger on the pulse of the industry’s new and noteworthy.

The preferred size of 2021 weddings

While we aren’t fully in the clear and away from COVID, the introduction of the new vaccine is certainly a silver lining for the new year. So, how will this affect guest lists as we move forward?

According to JoAnn Gregoli of Elegant Occasions by JoAnn Gregoli, we may not see a huge shift right away. “As we begin to plan weddings for 2021, our wedding sizes are based upon local restrictions and guest confidence. I feel they will be much smaller throughout the first half of the year, maybe 50 – 100 [guests] max. Once the vaccine is rolled out completely, we will see larger events take place.”

Kylie Carlson of The Wedding Academy adds, “At-home celebrations were a popular option for many in 2020, so it’s no surprise that couples might choose this route until all is safe. With new strains of COVID still popping up, this could potentially be the safest option for those aiming for an intimate wedding with loved ones.”

Related: Prismm Launches Physical Distance Tool For Designing Wedding Layouts That Meet Distance Guidelines 

Destination weddings – are they coming back to stay?

Destination weddings were more or less off-the-table in the past year, and for good reason. The number of celebrations abroad was few and far between, and there are a number of travel restrictions yet to be lifted. But, it’s possible we may see a return as vaccines are distributed.

For Nora Sheils of Rock Paper Coin and Bridal Bliss, it’s not likely to be on the radar any time soon. “Destination events will be even smaller than before. Many shifting to minimal elopements or groups of 10-15 will be more [of] the norm, as many will remain nervous to fly. As destination events tend to invite reduced guest lists, these smaller counts might be music to couples’ ears.”

Jamie Chang of Mango Muse Events predicts: “For the majority of the year, destination weddings will be mostly destination elopements (both with and without guests) because a small number of people [will make] it easier to control travel, keep people safe, and handle restrictions in different areas. Towards the end of 2021, though, I do think destination weddings will get a bit larger, back to their normal average size of about 50 people as more people get vaccines and feel comfortable flying. But, destination weddings as a whole will be staying domestic in 2021, because it’s easier to control and plan. Bigger destination weddings and international destination weddings won’t be back until 2022.”

Photo Credit: Manda Weaver

How clients with 2021 weddings are approaching the new year

Take a look at the couples’ perspective. This will not only help you to continue to pivot your offerings to meet their needs, but you can get a better idea of what their expectations are when it comes to their postponed weddings.

Renée Dalo of Moxie Bright Events says, “Current clients with 2021 dates booked are cautiously optimistic, which I think is the safe way to be. They want to do what is safe for their loved ones, but they still are yearning to celebrate again – as am I! I think our newly engaged couples should consider their 2022 dates with care, but move swiftly into booking – our 2022 dates are filling up rapidly, which isn’t a surprise. Everyone is very optimistic about 2022.”

Juls Sharpley of Bubbles & Bowties notes, “From what I’ve heard prospective clients say about their dates, they’re going about selecting them based on really similar metrics as pre-COVID couples. They’re planning around other family members’ weddings, family reunions, other travel plans, school schedules, baby due dates, etc. I think everyone is going to have to be patient with finalizing their guest counts. I’m encouraging couples to send out save-the-dates and invitations to everyone they truly hope to have celebrating with them, but to know that we may be sending something out [to] ‘uninvited’ guests if we hit government-mandated shutdowns or guest count restrictions. I think having an awareness going into it is really helpful. And of course, your guests will understand!”

Technology’s role in the industry in 2021

Technology was invaluable this past year, to say the very least, and the good news is that we’ll see a lot more of it in 2021. Even as we may see an uptick in in-person gatherings, it’s comforting to know that we’ll always have streamlined tech in our corner to keep everyone together, even when they’re apart.

Photo Credit: Pharris Photos

Laura Maddox of Magnolia Celebrates says, “I expect there will still be a very high demand for virtual services in 2021. Again, the vaccine is available – however, the trickle down to the general public will take many months, which will ultimately require clients to [continue to] find ways to include guests that cannot travel or do not feel comfortable traveling for many more months.”

Bri Marbais of The Bridal Finery agrees, adding, “With guests still not being able or willing to travel or attend weddings in 2021, offering the live stream option for the wedding ceremony through the power of technology will be huge. This is something that became extremely prevalent in 2020 and will be a no brainer for 2021 weddings. Consulting with your videographer about live stream services is the best starting point when adding this feature onto the wedding as this is in their wheelhouse.”

The temptation of entering a new year with high expectations is certainly there, but it’s crucial that we remain cautiously optimistic. 2021 will have its own set of challenges, but we can hope that there are big changes for the industry on the horizon. 

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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