What will post-COVID weddings look like? Thoughts from a wedding photographer industry expert
*updated July 2021*
Wedding restrictions have finally been lifted and that’s great news as we look forward to post-COVID weddings! I first put pen to paper to write this post at the end of 2020 and have closely followed the updates since then. So what will weddings look like as we come out of the pandemic? Thousands of couples have postponed their weddings and everyone is going to be so excited to finally be allowed to celebrate with family and friends.
I think that weddings in 2021 and even 2022 will fall into two camps. 2020 has made us all appreciate what is really important. Some couples may be scaling down their wedding to focus on the meaning of the vows and sharing the day with the people closest to them. On the other hand, many couples will be excited for a big party once all the uncertainty and waiting is finally over and will be planning a grand affair! I’ve been chatting to some of my colleagues in the wedding industry. Here are my thoughts on what post-COVID weddings might look like in 2021 and 2022.
Post-COVID wedding trends for 2021 & 2022
- Social distancing & safety at weddings
- Outdoor wedding ceremonies
- Weekday weddings
- Micro and elopement weddings
- Post-COVID wedding receptions
- A big party!
- Supporting local businesses
- Sustainable weddings
- Virtual wedding guests
- DIY weddings
Social distancing & safety at weddings
Of course, the virus isn’t going to just disappear but with testing and vaccines we’ll be learning to live with it. All wedding venues have put extra measures in place and have been safely hosting small weddings (when permitted) throughout the pandemic. As the number of guests at weddings gradually increases, I’m sure lots of these precautions will remain in place. For example, you’ll probably still see sanitising stations dotted around your venue. As a wedding photographer, I will also be keeping up to date with the latest guidance and working with my couples to capture their day safely. I shoot a lot of my candid guest images from a distance anyway as it suits my unobtrusive style. I can’t wait to get back to capturing those candid moments and the atmosphere of the day!
Outdoor weddings are going to be really popular in 2021 and beyond. Some of your guests might feel a bit nervous about attending a big event so having your wedding outside can help. Gathering in a large open space will allow guests to relax and enjoy themselves. Most wedding venues have the option for an outdoor ceremony. Did you know that, until recently, the legal parts of an outdoor ceremony had to take place under a permanent structure with a solid roof? That’s why you’ll see a gazebo or something similar in outdoor wedding photos in the UK. The government is allowing civil ceremonies to take place outside for a trail period starting in July 2021 which will give couples greater flexibility. After the ceremony, serving your welcome drinks outside will give your guests chance to mingle safely and catch up with all those people they haven’t seen for ages. 2021/2022 weddings are going to be huge reunion parties for lots of families and friends!
With so many weddings postponed, 2021 and 2022 are set to be bumper years for weddings. With the popular Saturdays getting booked up, many couples are opting for midweek weddings to avoid waiting even longer to get married. So what are the benefits of having a mid-week wedding? Well, the most obvious benefit is saving money. Wedding venues will usually be cheaper during the week and could even save you thousands! Another plus is that you’re more likely to be able to secure your favourite suppliers. If there’s a photographer or a florist whose work you absolutely love, they are more likely to available during the week. This goes for the registrar too; you’ll have more choice on the time of your ceremony with a mid-week wedding. You can even choose a date that is special to you both, like the date you first met, without worrying about whether it falls on a Saturday.
Micro and elopement weddings
Small weddings have been the only option for couples determined to get married during the pandemic. They’ve been so popular I’m sure the trend will continue. The couples I’ve worked with have really enjoyed their intimate celebrations without the stress (and expense) of a big wedding. The number of guests allowed will increase in stages from 15 to 30 and then larger gatherings. As couples re-evaluate what is important to them, many will be deciding to keep it simple and celebrate with close family and a few friends. There are also couples who will be holding a micro wedding whilst restrictions on numbers remain in place and then having a bigger reception at a later date. There’s no right or wrong and it’s lovely to see each couple creating their own unique wedding – big or small.
Post-COVID wedding receptions
What will wedding receptions look like after the pandemic? Boris has suggested 19th July as the date when larger weddings with fewer restrictions could return. A big part of the wedding day is what happens after the ceremony, especially the wedding breakfast. Couples spend hours choosing the perfect colour scheme, table decor and so on to create their perfect wedding reception. 2020 has seen strict rules on seating plans and how food can be served. I’m hoping that the 2 metre rule will be relaxed allowing guests to sit together and enjoy the meal and the speeches. I love capturing reactions to those embarrassing stories! Caterers will be working hard to keep guests safe so will be offering alternatives to buffets. We’ll be seeing more pre-plated meals and ‘grab and go’ desserts like ice-cream and donut walls.
A big party!
After all the restrictions we have been living with, I’m pretty sure everyone is ready for a big party! Hopefully, after July 19th 2021, we will see the return of ‘the evening do’ with a dancefloor! Weddings could be the first large gatherings that many people will attend after the lockdown and couples are determined to show them a good time. Think of the things we’ve missed like enjoying a drink with family, dancing to music, or catching up for a good old gossip with a group of friends. Your wedding day will be a chance for people to let their hair down and have a good time. Some of my couples have already exchanged vows in a micro wedding and can’t wait for the big celebration in 2021. Hopefully, bands and DJs will be able to perform again and everyone can get on the dance floor!
Supporting local wedding businesses
The wedding suppliers I’ve spoken to can’t wait to get back to helping couples create their dream day. It’s no secret that so many small businesses have been hit by the pandemic. This has brought about campaigns encouraging customers to shop local and support all sorts of businesses. Couples I have spoken to recently are definitely bearing this in mind and have been asking for local recommendations. So when it comes to ordering items like stationery, accessories or bridesmaid gifts see what you can find locally. When you order from a small business, someone does a little happy dance!
During the first lockdown, I’m sure we all saw the satellite images showing reduced emissions and people in cities saw bluer skies and less smog. You might even have seen the cute videos of sheep coming down from the mountains and wandering around traffic-free towns! On our daily walks, we began to appreciate nature again and, for many of us, this will have an effect on how we care for the environment. Sustainable weddings have been popular in recent years we’ll be seeing more eco-friendly elements in post-COVID weddings. Some couples may go all-out for an eco wedding; others will pick elements where they can reduce their carbon footprint. From choosing locally grown, seasonal flowers to using sustainable tableware, small changes can make a difference. You’ll find more more eco-friendly wedding tips on the blog.
Virtual wedding guests
I think we’ll continue to see the use of technology at weddings to live stream to guests around the world. Weddings might be returning here in the UK but travel restrictions will vary across the globe. This means that a few of your guests might not be able to attend in person. We’ve all become used to chatting with friends and work colleagues through online meetings like Zoom or Google Meet. Choose someone in your wedding party who’s tech-savvy to set up a laptop or mobile phone to live stream your ceremony to those far-flung guests. How about sending them a little treat package with champagne so they can join in with the toast too?
Many of us have spent more time at home during the lockdowns and I’m sure lots of brides’ Pinterest boards must be brimming with ideas! With more people working from home and doing away with the daily commute, lots of couples will have a bit more free time. 2021 and 2022 post-COVID weddings will continue to see DIY elements as couples get creative with everything from table plans to photo displays. We’re all feeling more thankful for the little things and the company of family and friends. Home-made ‘thank you’ wedding favours will be popular as couples express how much it means to have everyone there on their wedding day. For more DIY wedding ideas check out the blog!
I hope you’ve enjoyed my look ahead to post-COVID weddings! If you’re looking for a photographer for your 2021 or 2022 wedding get in touch today!
You’ll find the latest government advice on weddings here.
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