The great wedding rebound: How you can still get married in the next year

The UK Weddings Task Force has estimated that 220,000 weddings were postponed in 2020. This means that 2021 is set to have bumper wedding seasons.

The unprecedented levels of weddings planned over this period are driven by five factors: weddings postponed from 2020; weddings that were originally planned for 2021 (many before the COVID story hit); those who were planning to get married but stood back from booking anything in 2020 due to COVID disruption; couples who had planned to go abroad to get married but are now finding travel restrictions are making this too difficult or uncertain; and, of course, the unexpected “lockdown effect” that seems to have polarised couples into splitting up or stepping up their relationship to marriage.

And it doesn’t stop there. As Jane Caterer, Founder of Petite Weddings, the only UK platform dedicated to elopements and intimate weddings for 2-50 people, told us,

“2020 saw an increase in levels of engagement last year through lockdown as more people than usual explored and booked smaller weddings and elopements. Yet, we have seen a further 45% increase in the number of unique views of our site and dwell time on our site has increased by 35% over the past 3 months when compared to the same period in 2020. What’s more, despite increasing the number of venues we work with by 50% in the past 12 months, this expanded portfolio of intimate wedding venues is booked to 95% capacity to the end of October 2021. Many of the wedding day service providers we work with are also fully booked or near capacity of the year, meaning even if you can find a venue, you may be struggling to find wedding service providers this summer and autumn.”

This “bounce back” in business is great news for the wedding sector that’s been hit particularly hard through the pandemic: Wedding venues have upkeep and maintenance costs even when they are empty and the vast majority of wedding day service providers are sole traders without business premises, many of whom have had difficulty accessing Government grants. And let’s not even get on to the number of hours unpaid work that must have been spent re-planning weddings, re-arranging wedding day services and trying to help couples through a hugely emotional upheaval…

So, what are the options for couples who would really love to get married after the adversity of the past 18 months? Jane advises,

“First of all, get in quickly. Many wedding venues are already near to capacity in 2022 as well as 2021, so if you want a wedding in the next 18 months book now to avoid disappointment.”

“Winter weddings have always made up over a third of our total bookings. Smaller weddings and elopements are much less reliant on the weather than a larger wedding with 150+ people in attendance. Imagine getting married at dusk in front of a log fire with lots of candles to create the most romantic ambiance; styling your day with seasonal foliage, moss, twigs and berries; eating hearty seasonal comfort food that everyone loves and drinking mulled wine, brandy and whiskey and staying a few nights together in fabulous accommodation where your group can gather, not just for your wedding day but for lazy breakfasts, bracing winter walks followed by hot chocolate and long evenings beside the fire playing games and communing.”

Winter weddings have a natural intimacy about them, and they also have some great practical advantages. Venue hire, accommodation and travel costs can be cheaper and provide better value for money, wedding service providers are less busy so you will get more choice and more of their time and energy, local amenities will be less busy making your wedding stay more enjoyable and a winter wedding offers you the chance to create a truly unique wedding experience, surrounded by those who are dearest to you.

With the average wedding in the UK cost £32,000* with the average guestlist being 167 people* in 2019, and cost per guest at £191 you can easily see how a winter wedding can provide a more unique, decadent and standout experience for a smaller group at a fraction of the cost.

Jane concludes,

“The maths is simple. For example, £3-500 per head for 20 people can provide three days luxury accommodation for everyone at a beautiful venue, with bespoke meals, styling, entertainment, photography, flowers, bridal pampering and much more. Winter weddings really are a very wise choice for discerning couples who are looking for a once in a lifetime wedding experience that doesn’t break the bank.”

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