How the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the wedding planning process for the immediate future

couple embracing for sunset portraits

Tenth and Grace

COVID-19 has changed virtually every element of modern life, including how we celebrate its greatest milestones. The marriage sphere – and the long list of vendors that spin it on its axis – has been particularly impacted. “The past two years have been incredibly challenging for the wedding industry,” said Vanessa Vierra, owner and creative director of Southern California-based destination company Vanessa Noel Events. “We’ve gone from a drought to trying to drink from a fire hose in terms of volume and demand.” For the new cycle of brides and grooms, this changing landscape has led to all sorts of entanglements: the supply chain has reduced rental and flower availability; a backlog of couples always waiting to get married has virtually eliminated weekend event dates in many popular locations; and the sellers, monopolized by a double load of customers, are simply reserved.

Even as the world continues to find its place in the midst of a new twist, it’s important to remember that marriages find a way as long as expectations are managed and precautions are taken. Ahead, an in-depth look at the current state of the wedding industry and, therefore, what couples need to know when planning their own big days in the face of shortages in all categories and the ongoing pandemic. .

Related: 24 Wedding Planning Secrets Only the Pros Know

Room availability is limited.

According to Chanda Daniels, creative director of her eponymous California-based company Chanda Daniels Planning and Design, room availability is arguably the most notable pandemic-induced change. “As the venues all have 2020 couples who, out of necessity, must be picked up first, all major dates have been removed from the calendar,” she explains. “We are planning two seasons in one.” It can be an emotional issue, she says, since most duets are date-bound; when their first-choice location cannot accommodate it, the search begins again. Breaking this vicious cycle comes down to being flexible, says Vierra, who sees weekday weddings as a solution.

Suppliers are in high demand and are carrying unprecedented workloads.

“Sellers are beyond complete, says New York-based wedding planner and event designer Jove Meyer, noting that, like venues, photographers, videographers, planners, designers and florists are experiencing more delays and new celebrations on their calendars. “It is becoming increasingly difficult to find good suppliers for 2022 weddings, as many are fully committed, if not over-committed!” If creating a specific wedding team is a priority, newly engaged duos should investigate 2023 dates, as the vast majority of vendors have closed their books for the time being.

Supply chain shortages have impacted everything from flowers to rentals.

Depending on where the couples live, they may very well experience a reduced flower selection; As farms struggle to ship fresh produce across the country (and the world), floral designers have a shrinking palette to work with, our experts note. The same goes for lighting, production partners, rentals and linens. These limitations are directly related to the larger forces that have impacted everything from back orders for furniture and extended shipping times for packaging – getting people and things from point A to point B in the current climate. is simply a much greater feat than before.

Costs are rising in all areas.

“When there are supply issues, prices go up; when there’s a labor shortage, prices go up; and when demand exceeds availability, prices go up,” says Meyer. “The simple fact is that weddings will cost more in 2022 and couples need to be prepared to pay more for what they want because that’s the economy we find ourselves in right now and for the foreseeable future. .” If your budget isn’t flexible, he continues, your guest count should be. Another alternative is to opt out of certain categories (think fewer flowers if your group is a higher priority) or opt for an extended engagement, which gives duos more time to save up for a more expensive event.

The same goes for vendor services, especially in the planning department. Wedding planners now incorporate contingency plans and reschedules, essentially preparing for multiple scenarios for a single event. According to Fallon Carter, a destination wedding planner from New York City, full-service professionals are now “Following full service than ever” and take on tasks that go beyond their job descriptions to make it work (for example, his team had to manage the escort map script internally due to last minute changes). Vierra adds, “We’re used to dealing with backups, but now we have back-up plans to change government regulations – we’ve created processes for multiple date changes, implemented protocols for vaccination, rapid tests or both, and have been listening to supply chain shortages and delays to anticipate ways to present alternatives. As the dust has settled, we all realize that raising the bar must also come with a financial increase.”

Related: Four tips for planning a wedding on a tight deadline

Flexibility, kindness and communication are key.

The most important thing couples can do right now, Daniels says, is be extremely flexible. “No one can really predict what’s going to happen or how long it’s going to last,” she continues. “Be flexible and show grace to all the creatives who are working very hard to bring these visions to life within their own limitations.” According to Meyer, part of that flexibility is knowing yourself and your own limitations: “Are you ready to dive into a process that evolves as you go? Can you be flexible with what you want and when you want? If not, I’m telling you to book your wedding for 2023 or later. beyond, because 2022 will be a bit crazy – and if it’s not for you, I understand.”

Carter notes that increasing communication with guests is another critical part of this new COVID-19 wedding planning puzzle. These days, keeping your attendees informed of changing details and requirements goes far beyond the initial invitation: “It’s important to know what to actually say to people and when to say it,” she says, noting that the new topics to be discussed mainly revolve around testing. and vaccination requirements. To do this, direct your loved ones to your wedding website and update it frequently to reduce confusion.

Despite these challenges, tying the knot on your own terms has never been easier.

Not all of the changes wrought by the pandemic are scary or costly — in some ways, COVID-19 has prompted duos around the world to re-examine wedding traditions and timelines and encouraged them to hold more meaningful celebrations. “A lot of people ran away after one or two postponements. As a result, we saw a change in the structure of the wedding day timeline,” says Vierra. “Many couples who were already married have opted not to rehearse their ceremony or create a more casual renewal of vows.” From a personal perspective, Vierra appreciates this by-product: “There has been a return to the basic fact that a wedding is about two people lovers who come together.”

Louisa R. Loomis