Amid the ever growing cases of coronavirus nationwide, couples around the US are canceling or postponing their wedding day celebrations. As a wedding photographer who had a booked up spring, I can say from experience that the decision to do so isn’t an easy one.
For brides and grooms alike, their wedding day is something to look forward to. Afterall, they’ve just invested a year or more of their time planning their celebrations. But when there is a pandemic lurking around outside, what other options do they have?
I get it. It’s not fair.
As someone who has been in the trenches with couples and vendors alike trying to figure this out, it’s becoming more apparent to me that things are shifting, and the immediate impact from this will have a long lasting effect on the wedding industry for years to come.
However, I don’t believe it is all bad! Truly!
Instead of postponing or canceling their start to forever, couples are choosing to have a much smaller gathering instead. For some, this means inviting only their parents along with the officiant and oftentimes a photographer. For others, it means forgoing their plans altogether and eloping in their backyards or on the empty streets of Pittsburgh. And most couples aren’t leaving their friends and family out of the celebrations! Virtual attendance is taking place, allowing those near and dear to witness the union even while in quarantine.
While couples now are finding solutions to avoid a marriage detour by way of smaller gatherings, I believe more couples will stray from larger celebrations, purely for safety reasons. As the cultured habit of shaking hands and hugging quickly becomes a tradition of the past, couples may consider small gatherings to avoid close encounters for the health of themselves and the ones they love. While I don’t think this will be the way of thinking forever, I do think the road back to normalcy will be a long one.
Due to the large amount of postponements, couples are having a hard time rescheduling their wedding with their original vendors. Because most vendors book weddings 8-12 months in advance, most Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 weekend slots were already taken by couples who have planned ahead. Not only that, but if couples didn’t act quickly to reschedule their 2020 wedding, it meant they wouldn’t get the opportunity for a weekend wedding until 2022. Considering there were over 2 million couples married in 2019, we can see it will be a rather large wave of weddings to reschedule for 2021 alone, which means having a weekend wedding in the near future is becoming seemingly out of reach for most.
Because of the amount of weekday weddings getting scheduled due to the pandemic, I imagine we will see weekday weddings become more normalized in the years to come. Perhaps this will level out, but I do believe weekdays now have more merit than ever.
Elopements have been on the rise for some time as many couples stray away from the pressures of pleasing their family with traditional celebrations. So it will probably come as no surprise that elopements will become even more popular as couples realize the true importance of a marital union. With the reopening of many major national parks, I imagine more couples, especially millennial couples, will find peace eloping on their own and celebrating with friends and family later.
It probably became a quick realization to most couples that if you didn’t have your marriage license now, it will be impossible to get it until local government services reopen. More and more people are expecting anything can be done online, and this step isn’t getting overlooked. As a woman in a serious relationship, I found myself wondering how I would ever get married if I couldn’t get access to legally binding documents. If taxes can be done online, so should my request for a marriage license. In the near future, I hope we will see government departments virtually stepping up in this way, readily supporting their people when they need it most.
For engaged couples now and perhaps those who plan to be engaged later, I imagine a wedding feels impossible right now. However, I would encourage you to still start your planning. Wedding vendors are adapting! Not only did we have to act quickly and find solutions together, but we are now more prepared than ever for anything to come our way. I imagine contracts will become more flexible as the year goes on, which would allow for that level of uncertainty you may feel when putting down the retainer to diminish. Moreover, you now have the opportunity to reinvent wedding traditions. Weddings have been the same for what seems like hundreds of years, and now is the time to make it your own.
The long and short of it is, right now kind of sucks. Wedding vendors are small businesses, and for most of us, our only source of income. So as weddings shift, postpone, or cancel, it’s inevitably having a hard effect on those of us who pride ourselves on making wedding days the best day of a couple’s life. However, we will get through this. I’m proud of everyone who became more transparent, for banding together, and for encouraging one another during this time. This shouldn’t stop when the pandemic is over! I encourage all of us to lean in, do what is in your control, and have faith in who you are. And let us all remember that our community is stronger than our competition.