by MIKE CHAIKEN
Couples who were planning to get married in 2020 are finding their plans disrupted as COVID-19 has not subsided as quickly as hoped for at the beginning of the crisis in March.
Some couples already have rescheduled their plans. However, some couples (working with their wedding vendors) are getting creative to continue their planned schedule to define themselves as lawfully wedded.
WeddingPro, a company that serves the wedding industry, and the bridal magazine The Knot, teamed up for a webinar on July 22, “State of the Wedding: Industry Report.”
As engaged couples continue to figure out how to continue their wedding plans, Meghan Brown of The Knot there are several trends in weddings that have popped up, allowing couples to “get married now, party later.”
The “microwedding” is one trend that has popped up during these days of COVID-19, said Brown. A microwedding consists of a marriage ceremony and a smaller reception after. Rather than a large party, couples will hold a much smaller gathering with maybe 30 to 50 guests. A much larger reception will be for further down the road — after COVID-19 has run its course. Some couples even offer a virtual component for those guests who couldn’t physically attend the microwedding.
Another wedding trend is the “minimony,” said Brown. It’s similar to an elopement, where a couple gets married before an officiant and witness. However, a minimony usually will have a party of 10 people plus the couple. Those guests typically will be the wedding party or the closest family and friends.
“Shift Weddings” also have emerged as an option, said Brown. In this situation, a couple goes ahead with booking the venue and inviting the large number of guests typically associated with reception. However, Brown explained, guests attend at appointed times. For instance, grandparents and older guests may be scheduled first to see the more formal aspects of the reception. Meanwhile, the younger guests may be scheduled to come later when the party and dancing begins.
“It’s a good opportunity to not cut guest counts,” said Brown of the Shift Wedding.
With concerns about the virus, Brown said couples are also making other accommodations in their wedding plans. For instance, food buffets will be replaced with individual servings. Guests also may be provided individual sized hors d’oeuvre offerings or charcuterie boards at their tables.
One creative touch planned by couples are wrist bands to indicate social distancing preferences, said Brown. One wristband may indicate a guest prefers strict social distancing from the other guests. Another wristband will indicate a guest is open to some reduction of social distancing and may even be open to a hug or handshake.
Couples also are working with venues to ensure all Centers of Disease Control protocols are followed, including increased space between tables and hand sanitizer stations.
The centerpiece of the webinar was a July survey of 500 couples planning to get married. The survey showed couples are on edge as the virus forces changes to their wedding plans.
The survey showed 71% of the couples still were feeling “anxious” about their wedding plans due to the pandemic, said Lauren Goodson, the senior director of insight of the Knot Worldwide. The survey also shows 62% are feeling stressed and 50% are overwhelmed.
However, Goodson said there is some indication that normalcy around wedding plans is resuming. In July, there were more internet searches for wedding related terms, such as “wedding officiants” and “wedding venues” than just after the pandemic hit hard. She said this is because some of the uncertainty as to what states will allow in terms of public gatherings has been resolved. Couples were feeling more confident about making plans, explained Goodson.
The percent of couples who are making no changes to their wedding dates has increased from 37% in May to 51% in July, said Goodson. Again, said Goodson, the change is due to more certainty about what kinds of gatherings will be allowable.
The survey shows of those couples planning to make changes to their wedding plans, 28%, were going to reschedule their dates to later in 2020, said Goodson. The majority, 59%, however, were looking at rescheduling their weddings to the latter half of 2021.
Of those couples pushing off the date to 2021, Brown said 70% are doing so because they are concerned about how long the pandemic will last and 45% were worried that guests might not attend if the weddings were held any earlier.
Although big receptions are being delay, Brown said engaged couples are not sitting idly by with their plans to tie the knot.
Goodson said 57% of the couples said they will get legally married on the originally planned date even if they have to hold their reception at a later date.