In the aftermath of COVID-19 and once the lockdown is over, we expect many couples to tie the knot, however, the way they do it will change. While countries around the world are taking measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and a lot of countries opening up and easing the lockdown in the past few days, the wedding industry globally needs to brace itself for the new trends most likely to emerge during this period. En masse, weddings have been dramatically downsized, postponed, or canceled. Last week, we revealed the DWP post-COVID destination wedding survey which highlighted 84% of weddings being postponed indicating once the pandemic is over we have lots of wedding bells ringing all over the world.
The comprehensive survey also revealed some important trends shaping the industry in the current times and how wedding professionals are getting ready to plan weddings in the “New Normal”. Yes, The ‘New Normal’ for celebrating weddings in the post-COVID-19 world is going to be a lot different but wedding businesses that explicitly shift their focus towards them will come out stronger and more prepared to sustain and grow.
With social distancing becoming the norm, weddings will be smaller, more intimate, and with emphasis on top-notch hygiene standards as well as ensure contactless services. Some also sense that the lockdown period has given adequate time to couples as well as wedding vendors to rethink the idea of week-long wedding celebrations and go low-key.
Here are the 10 emerging trends shared by industry experts from across the globe worth focusing on amid the COVID-19 crisis:
1. Health And Safety Measures Top The Chart
Picture Courtesy: @meharphotography
Masks, sanitizers, and gloves will be the order of the day.
The personal protection kit (face mask + sanitizers) and single person sofa will be a new way. Shares Sarah Almughamis, General Manager, Q8 Planner from Kuwait.
“The new normal will be subject to government guidelines- sanitization, hygiene, social distancing, etc.” Says Vimal Roy Bohra, Director, Rudra Events & Wedding Planners from India. As the industry waits for some clarity on the guidelines for small gatherings or weddings to begin as the lockdown is opening slowly in a lot of countries lately.
“Make sure that all the industry, starting with the airlines, hotels, and all the suppliers comply with the regulations, implement the best practices, invest in training their teams to provide travelers with greater security.” Highlights Paula Mendez, Group Sales Manager, Four Seasons Mexico
“We will think more in terms of protocols. The demand for hygiene and safety standards from venue providers and event organizers to uphold.” Adds Weiwei Tan, Director, Chere Weddings & Events, Singapore
“The decor will be the same. Planning will be more focused on strict maintaining and enforcement of hygiene and social distancing. Management teams will be small and focused on specifics. Quality and standards will be more focused on.” Emphasizes Mushtaq Ali, CEO, Celebrations, India
The hotels and venues will play a big role in providing the reassurance for the highest level of sanitization, hygiene, and protective measures being implemented. With hotels and venues around the world opening up in the next few days or weeks, we will see a lot of confidence in guests returning to the new normal and the readiness of the hotels to receive the guests in a healthy and safe environment. Recently, Bureau Veritas – a world leader in testing, inspection, and certification services awarded Jumeirah Hotels the Safeguard label – that assures highest hygiene standards followed by the group. This type of assurance surely elevates the confidence level of couples when choosing their venue.
“Smaller guest counts, plated vs buffet, smaller wedding parties, favors like customized masks, hand sanitizers, etc, serving attendants at every food or drink station, larger dance floors.” Adds Jewel Odeyemi, Wedding Planner, Touch of Jewel Events and Designs from USA
“People will invest in designer mouth covers and gloves.” Says Badel Gomez, Founder, Soiree Event Planning, Mexico
Societal norms call for handshakes and hugs during milestones and celebrations like weddings. They might opt for contactless greetings like Namaste in Indian culture. With the entire world maintaining social distancing, couples will prefer to opt-out of the gift-exchange and photo sessions that typically occur at wedding receptions.
2. Intimate Weddings
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60% of respondents confirmed ‘smaller’ weddings as the biggest trend.
“Intimate weddings. Locations private to the couple and invitees without other clients. Like private villas with rooms. Private islands and villas in the islands.” Shares Micheline Diab, Founder of Giritaly from Lebanon
“Smaller groups, Focus on essentials versus extravagance” is how Christina Holt, Founder & Director, Wedding Concepts from South Africa puts it across.
“Smaller events with enough design on the tables, there will be no food or dessert tables, the bars will be modified by mobile bars. the experience with the work team will be different.” Adds Andrés Cortes, Decorator & Designer, Andrés Cortés Decorador from Colombia
‘Multiweddings’ will be a new trend we will witness where the couple will invite guests in shifts for different ceremonies. This allows the option of a bigger guest list. “Micro, petite weddings. We are offering 2 ceremonies and 2 different types of celebrations on the same day. The First ceremony is to take place early with older guests followed by a brunch or lunch and then later, a ceremony followed by an intimate party.” Says Gina Castillo-Alvarez from Team Bride, Colombia-based Destination Wedding Planner
“Intimate ceremonies with luxe decor, rather than big celebrations with hundreds of people.” Points Sara Alsalman, Founder, Royal Weddings by Sara J, Bahrain
The concept of ‘Minimonies’ is also trending among couples. Rather than wait, they’re getting hitched alone or with a few local loved ones looking on at a safe social distance as other guests join virtually. Then they plan to reschedule larger celebrations when allowed.
“Smaller guest counts, more focus on inviting just the most important community members. Some guests may continue to wear masks. There might be more travel options for guests who can’t come but could view the ceremony on a screen. I also imagine couples will do more to accommodate or welcome their guests, will generally be more grateful that guests made the effort, and will include more displays of appreciation.” Sums up Jasmine Drlung, Founder, Jasmine Ray Cakes, USA
3. Green, Eco-Friendly & Sustainable Weddings
Picture Courtesy: @organicconcept
Given how unifying the pandemic has been, it is only natural that human kindness would become paramount to the wedding scene, and couples will think of several ways to do more eco-friendly weddings and minimalistic themed weddings.
“More intimate, personalized, sustainable, fewer frills and wastage, organic” this is what will be the order of the order according to Tina Tharwani, Director, Shaadi Squad from India
“There will be more thought into guest lists and locations. (smaller and outdoor.) I would bet there will be a more minimal and spacious decor and layout. Smaller wedding parties and more emphasis on family and close friends. No buffets or silent discos, no family-style service or guest books to sign. Plated dinners, larger dance floors, simpler flowers, video streaming for guests not traveling, or able to be in large groups.” Says Tracy Morris, Florist, Ella & Louie, USA
“Eco-friendly wedding, less wastage, medium budgets, high on experience with industry professionals giving value additions and out of the box ideas.” Tells Rachna Chadha, Founder, BAQAA Glamour Weddings & Events, UAE
“I think couples will want to spend their budgets on things that matter. They will want to be mindful of waste. A lot of social impact and sustainability will be considered as well. This means better choices on food, decor, and designer clothing. I certainly believe that the conscious bride will shop more locally and celebrate their surroundings more.” Says Tshego Moloabi, Owner, Meletlo Celebrations, South Africa
Picture Courtesy: @crachaweddingagency
As Kelly Walker from Country Bouquet Florals, USA says it’s either an elopement with large parties later or intimate weddings with 50 or fewer guests, it certainly will be preferred. Natural places like mountains, beaches, and forests serve as a beautiful backdrop and offer isolation. Elopements are becoming increasingly popular with more couples conscious of keeping costs down. Maxine Gacek, Owner of Maxine Gacek Events from Canada predicts that more couples will opt for elopements post COVID-19. Similar sentiments shared by Ary Iturralde, Owner, Wedding World Academy, Mexico and Anna Marcelle, South Africa-based Wedding Planner & Owner of Anna Marcelle Weddings & Events
“Elopement weddings, mini weddings, a separate ceremony from the party, divide guests per ceremony and reception will be go-to choices.” Tells Isabel Passos, Crachá Wedding Agency, Portugal
“Small weddings like elopement weddings, I think it will be the “new must” next year. I have a lot of requests for this wedding type.” Reiterates Simone Tostes, CEO, Aonde Casar, Brazil
5. The Power Of Personalization
Picture Courtesy: @felipebarbosacerimonial
As the wedding will get smaller, it will be more customized. As the devil is in the details, the pros will help clients fabricate intricate details of the design. Everything will be customized from decor to entertainment to cake to the wedding down, it will all narrow down to details and personalization. “Everything will be hyper-personalized. Small details will get noticed. The planners and vendors need to put their best work forward as quality will matter more now.” Says Vandana Mohan, Founder, The Wedding Design Company, India
“Probably smaller weddings, more curated experiences for a smaller number of guests, preferring seated dinners over buffets.” Sums up Jessy Karam, Destination Wedding Designer & Planner and Founder of Strawberries & Champagne, Lebanon
“Unique and personalized weddings. Where less is more and the essence of the couple is a priority.” Tells Felipe Barbosa, Cerimonialista, Cerimonial Felipe Barbosa, Brazil. Similar sentiments were shared by Ankit Bhargava, Director, Regal Weddings, India and Tina Tharwani, Director, Shaadi Squad from India
“I think the biggest changes will come in the form of foodservice. I think the trend of foraging tables, unmanned cocktail stations, buffets, and family-style service will not be on the menu moving forward.” Adds Amy Hardisty, White Hall Events, USA
6. Local Weddings
Picture Courtesy: @hindustantimes
With the #golocal and #buylocal trending worldwide to support local businesses, this trend is expected to reign over in the post-pandemic era. Everything from the decor to the photographers will be sourced locally, the website states, as people are bound to want to support small businesses and help them to get back on their feet after the strains that the lockdown has put on them.
“Smaller and more intimate ceremonies and gatherings along with the sustainability. Couples will be focusing on creating a memorable experience for their family and friends. More emphasis on supporting local suppliers and vendors. Gratitude is the key. People will appreciate the little things: the reality is that the most important part of your wedding is having your family and loved ones around you.” Says Ireland-based Wedding Planner Olivia Buckley, Founder of Olivia Buckley International
Samantha Goldberg, TV Personality and Celebrity Wedding Planner, USA beautifully sums up by saying this: “Appreciate the guests more especially those traveling in to partake. Thankful thoughts shared during toasts far deeper than just for one person. Try to be mindful of costs. Look for the local products to increase the country’s $$. Donations to COVID instead of favors or a course being donated to a soup kitchen. Couples will try to incorporate their wedding theme as family or love. Earthy in feel appreciation of nature would also be a good choice. The trends we were working with prior were heavy in color with a flash factor! It shall be interesting to see where those trends go. Will we pretend like this time frame didn’t happen for trends not seen yet? Or will they skip a trend and wait for the new? Trends are based on a cycle. We refresh a decade of clothes and more for one season, we were in a very granola yet colorful with patterns world before COVID.”
7. Incentives Over Discounts
Picture Courtesy: @mantiscollection
With a huge impact on the world’s economy, many wedding professionals are bound to think about incentives and discounts to stay in the business. However, they believe that incentives have an upper hand over discounts as it favors both the client and the vendor in terms of value addition.
“Keep tailor-making the packages according to the norms. Couples would be involved even more into interfacing planning procedure than usual.” Suggests Katerina Ntini, Wedding Team Manager, Rocabella Santorini
“I won’t give discounts, but instead, I would add benefits and experiences to the service! Such as private dinner at the location, exclusive tour for the couple, and so on.” Tells Brazil-based wedding planner Natalia Bonavita from DUE B CONCIERGE
“We are looking at adding additional value where possible instead of discounting.” Explains Tracy Degoumois from MANTIS Collection, South Africa
“We will do best to offer the same deal, we will include some services without charging additional to create WoW, to surprise them.” Tells Kurslyne Seneque, Owner & MD, Get In Touch Wedding & Event Planner, Mauritius
“I will offer complimentary pre-wedding photo & video shoot.” Says Prateek Singhi, Proprieter, Once Upon A Time-Wedding Tales, India
8. Outdoor Weddings
Picture Courtesy: @duebconcierge
In the post-pandemic era, people will look forward to socializing again, however, they are still expected to be skeptical about attending mass gatherings. In such a world full of heightened cautiousness, wedding planners or couples need to take all precautionary measures while organizing mass gatherings, especially weddings. An open-air or outdoor wedding means plenty of space, which could help people maintain physical distancing as compared to an indoor wedding.
“We’ll have more outdoor events and intimate celebrations. Parties in locations nearby their hometown with easy access without great logistics.” Shares Brazil-based wedding planner Natalia Bonavita from DUE B CONCIERGE
“A small wedding, outdoor wedding, intimate ambiance with open space concept.” Adds Lane Ho, Principal Planner, MY Wedding Planner Sdn Bhd, Malaysia
Picture Courtesy: @kerrymorgan.photography
Flexibility in contracts, policies, dates and so much more. As we gear up for a busy 2021, flexibility in dealing with clients and all stakeholders involved will rule the game. A more flexible and cancellable policy in terms of contracts is what is assuring clients in booking now in good faith.
“Much more awareness of the cancellation policies, increase in insurance purchase, more pressure on wedding venues to offer flexibility in money return and cancellation in case of another pandemic.” As suggested by Karina Tomczyk, Co-Owner / Manager, SARL Chateau Rieutort from France
“Encourage and help brides with cheaper sustainable options and guide them on how and what things brides can cut out. Wedding suppliers need to start diversifying into different areas of weddings. I have a debut luxury sustainable and vegan wedding dress range coming out as a diffusion range.” Adds UK Based Bridal designer, Sabina Ali, Owner of British Bridalwear brand, Sabina Motasem
10. As Weddings Go Local, They Also Go Virtual
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Travel restrictions may persist for some time, and we expect two-thirds of weddings post-lockdown to have at least some guests attending virtually. For elderly relatives, as well as friends and family living in far-flung destinations, digital access will be a great way for them to still be able to attend these special moments, even if just remotely.
“We’ve already embarked on online streaming and remote viewing offerings and people are loving it so this might be one. I expect people will want to spend their money on more personalized smaller events, choosing to invest in travel more than in festivities.” Says Elie Azar, Founder of Parazar Productions from Lebanon
“Incorporating digital technology and streaming aspects to include apprehensive guests will be one of the biggest trends. Sanitizing incorporated into décor and design. Smaller more intimate experiences however more decadent. Perhaps brides will play on smaller number prohibitions to elevate the intimate wedding experience and not feel obliged to invite peripheral guests.” Adds Tracy Degoumois, MANTIS Collection, South Africa
In the past couple of months, we have seen a myriad of Zoom weddings on Instagram and this indicated that in the future, it will be an integral part of the wedding ceremony. Social media will play a bigger role now than ever. ‘Live’ feature and hashtags will be an integral part of wedding planning.
“There will be more Zoom events for those unable to attend added in. Perhaps many more elopements will take place. I believe destination weddings will make a large comeback!” Believes Jill Lafleur, Owner, La Fleur Weddings & Events, US
“Live video streaming would be more popular as well as people investing more in their photos. Things that would create more memories and that would be easy to share with beloved ones that couldn’t attend.” Sums up Martha Huerta, Senior Event Producer & Partner, Signature Event Consulting & Design from Mexico
“When people are faced with life or death situations and their daily lives are threatened, the tendency is to live life fuller!” Concludes Jill Lafleur, Owner, La Fleur Weddings & Events, US
The times are changing. And it is changing at a fast rate. The new normal for weddings across the world is going to be significantly different. In the meanwhile, it’s time to stay educated, make more informed decisions, and rethink safer ways to plan happy and safe celebrations post the pandemic. A big shoutout to DWP Familia for giving inputs for creating this content! We are truly #inittogether and will bounce back stronger than ever before!
Keep Making It Happen!
Feature Image credit: @shmuraiphoto