The 2020 wedding season has been decimated by coronavirus, forcing most couples to postpone.
But with the race for 2021 dates already fiercely contested, it is likely that more people will have to make compromises to make sure they get a date in the diary. After all, when you’ve already cancelled once, why wait any longer?
And, with couples still hoping that 2021 will provide their dream wedding, midweek may be the way forward.
Jon O’Brien and his fiancée Amy Wiltshire from Burscough in Lancashire were already ahead of this trend, having planned a Thursday wedding for August this year but they decided to postpone when coronavirus took hold.
“Our venue were confident that things would be okay to go ahead but we didn’t want to risk it,” explains Jon. “We didn’t want people to feel uncomfortable or to have to social distance.
“While we’re obviously gutted to have to postpone, we are lucky in the fact that our venue and suppliers could all easily switch to the new date.”
That new Thursday date is in May 2021. “It was cheaper to book a weekday and it was available,” Jon says. “It meant it was easy to postpone and reschedule so we could have the day we wanted.”
Wedding hangovers at work
Kelly Mortimer, wedding expert of more than 20 years, expects this trend to continue and predicts a bumper year in 2021 which could provide a huge boost to the industry.
“The ritual of two people coming together to celebrate their love in front of all their friends and family has been going since time began,” she says. “Coronavirus won’t stop big parties and celebrations.
“If businesses can weather the storm this year and keep afloat, 2021 will be epic. People should expect weddings on any day of the week – and going into the office the next day with a hangover.”
While government guidance currently limits weddings in England to a maximum of 30 people, Kelly is unconvinced that fewer numbers will become the norm.
“Once we can party, everyone is going to let loose. Guest lists will probably increase as a result.”
Dave Bevan, founder of Alive Network, a live entertainment booking agency, is also hopeful that a hectic 2021 is around the corner for the struggling artists on his books.
“I’m trying to offer reassurances that there will be a surge next year where people who have put off their plans start booking days of the week they would not have usually gone for,” he says.
“There will probably be government restrictions in place until the end of the year but I’m confident that next year this’ll be behind us.”
UK destination weddings
Emma Caddis owns the exclusive wedding venue Treseren in Newquay, Cornwall. “We have seen a huge increase in enquiries for 2021 – and people are being really flexible in thinking about weekday weddings as well as weekends,” she says. “There’s definitely been an upturn in midweek enquiries.”
In the short term, smaller venues such as Treseren, which is licensed for ceremonies of up to 22 people, could benefit from the current restrictions on numbers.
“Part of our appeal is the chance to take away the 30 people who mean the most and get married in an elegant and intimate way. It can be a destination wedding, in the UK, for people to scale back and have a more personal experience with their guests,” says Ms Caddis.
‘We just want to get married’
Not all couples are willing to wait until next year though to tie the knot.
Rich Gale and Bec Burrows from Crosby, Merseyside have already cancelled their wedding day twice but have slashed their guest list by 80% so they can get married on a Saturday, this August, in their garden.
“It’s always been about the marriage,” says Rich. “I’m desperate for Bec to become Mrs Gale and then we can think about starting a family.”
With numbers limited and rules in place over hand washing and social distancing, Bec says: “It feels like these are very strict given I can go out shopping all day, go for a meal in a restaurant then a drink in a pub.
“It won’t stop us celebrating and we will make the most of the day while sticking to the guidance as much as we can. We’ll be outside as much as possible to reduce the risks.”
“Our original guests have been really sympathetic,” says Rich. “We’ll have a big party sometime next year which everyone can attend.”
For Emma Hla, founder of Coco Wedding Venues search directory, the numbers during coronavirus indicate some shifting habits among couples with a desire to strip back being among the biggest changes. “2020 has seen some unusual increases in search traffic,” she says. “‘Simple’ is up 272% on 2019, with elopement searches also raised by 73%.”
A further trend that is certain to grow post-lockdown is the desire for outdoor celebrations. “Most notably, our ‘Garden’ filter has increased by 9,000% on 2019,” says Ms Hla.
“We’re in a very interesting phase right now. Venues are crying out for clarity from the government and looking really carefully at outdoor areas.
“They will need to change the law so couples can get married outside though.”
As things stand, those wanting to marry outdoors in England need to do the legal part in a registry office beforehand to make it official as current law states marriages can only be solemnised in a permanent structure under a roof.
In 2019, the Law Commission began a two-year review into marriage law with part of their remit being to address existing red tape around outdoor weddings.
If the law were to change, the 2021 wedding season could be characterised by huge parties, outdoors on balmy Tuesday evenings.
Now that’s something to get excited about.