The Pandemic has hit the wedding industry very hard, from two perspectives: firstly, its thrown the plans of the twenty thousand people who were due to get married in 2020 and 2021 respectively in turmoil, and secondly, it has impacted hugely on the tens of thousands of people who work in the industry; from hotels to castles, photographers, bands, DJ’s cake makers and many more.
In 2019 there were 19,071 weddings in Ireland, in 2020 that reduced to 8,499, representing a fifty five percent reduction.
As a wedding planner and coordinator in early March 2020 I started to have some very difficult conversations with couples with whom I was planning weddings.
The vast majority of my weddings recently, were due to take place in the summer of 2021 and my advice to couples was simple:
· Anyone who wanted to proceed with numbers over 50 in 2020 it was clearly not going to happen.
· Couples had a decision to make proceed with a much smaller wedding than planned or rescheduled to 2021 or 2022.
· Some decided to proceed and others decided to reschedule.
The couples who decided to proceed had absolutely no regrets and said they would not change a thing, they really enjoyed the intimate nature of their weddings with family and close friends.
While a lot of the big-ticket items associated with weddings could not proceed, it was the desire of these couples to get married, no matter what the circumstances, really stood out for me!
I spoke to a couple recently who referenced the fact that they felt obliged to have certain people at their wedding and were they realistically going to have much interaction with these people in the future?
I get a real sense of couples, really focusing on what’s really important about their wedding, and the journey that follows on from the day itself.
The couples who rescheduled tended to live abroad where it was clearly a non-runner to proceed, or they had a large number of guests coming from abroad.
As we enter a new wedding year in 2021, I find myself having the same conversations in the last week with couples that I was having in March 2020.
As things stand, we are still in tough days of the pandemic but the vaccine represents great hope.
Usually, my busy season is May to September and one would hope we will be in a better position by then.
However, as a planner you have to be really honest with couples.
The vaccine represents hope but it’s difficult to see pre-pandemic type weddings returning until 2022 in my opinion.
Covid – 19, as we have seen, is very unpredictable and it's still difficult to know what the future has in store, and you have to give your honest opinion to couples.
The vast majority of couples who I have spoken to in the last week are proceeding on the basis of a minimum number of 25, with numbers above that seen as a bonus.
Again, the strong desire of couples to get married regardless of what's allowed or not allowed from a coivid perspective is really shining through. It’s beautiful to be part of that determination and positive mindset.
Some couples who want a bigger wedding or have significant numbers travelling from abroad, have rescheduled to 2022 which is a wise decision for those with larger groups, as the uncertainty would be very stressful for couples. Rescheduling to 2022 gives them a larger degree of certainty.
The other big factor is the effect on people's livelihoods in what is a massive industry for the Irish economy - an industry that is estimated to be worth 1.6 Billion per year to the Irish economy.
In my travels around the country to weddings during the pandemic, I have spoken to many wedding service providers whose business have been severely impacted from a financial perspective and it’s also impacting on their mental health.
I'm very optimistic that there are brighter days ahead and all going well that 2022 will bring us back to weddings as we knew them pre-pandemic, and also when we can start welcoming Irish couples living abroad coming home to get married back into the country, and international couples, of course.
I’m currently dealing with an enquiry from an Indian Gay couple based in Boston about coming to Ireland in 2022 and bringing a large number of people from India and the US, this type of wedding, and others like it, is so important to the Irish wedding industry and the Irish economy going forward.
The pandemic will leave long lasting effects on all aspects of our lives, I also believe the smaller intimate wedding will remain part of the landscape going forward for couples who prefer that option.
I feel very optimistic for the future and have been using the time to position my business for 2022 --- 2025 with redesigning my websites and offerings for the Ireland Wedding Planner & Rainbow Weddings.