Whether they had to postpone their dream day, whittle down their guest list to 30 – and then 15 – or lost out on huge sums of money due to companies going bust, 2020 has been a bloody tough year for every couple planning their nuptials.
Not only did the pandemic throw a spanner in the works for couples who had their wedding planned this year, it’s also thrown doubt for newly-engaged couples hoping to tie the knot next year.
Despite a lot of us hoping that we’d be toasting to the sh** show of a year whilst knocking back tequila shots and dodgy dancing to 80s cheesy hits with 120 pals at a wild wedding, the virus shows no sign of abating. So what does that mean for next year’s weddings?
According to Hamish Shephard, Founder and CEO of Bridebook, the news of a potential vaccine dramatically increases the chances that next year, we can have weddings which start to look like normal again.
Similarly, MPs are taking note of weddings at last. They had a long, positive debate last week to discuss how they might increase the number of guests allowed post-lockdown.
So what does it all mean for you and your wedding? Here, Hamish breaks down the upcoming months and what your nuptials could look like.
December 2020 – March 2021
If your wedding is scheduled between the end of lockdown and the end of March, Hamish says we will expect some continued restrictions. However, the trials of rapid testing, better treatments and progress on the vaccine could start to ease these. “The main hope is that wedding capacity moves to being based on the venues’ social distanced capacity (like pubs and restaurants) rather than 15 or 30,” he said. “Even with capacity caps, there are still many options for you. You could think about having a small ‘ceremini’ in the near future and a bigger celebration later. Alternatively, you could postpone completely. But do be warned that dates are already filling up fast for next year.”
April – June 2021
At this stage, Hamish says he expects weddings of significant sizes to be able take place in Spring with rapid testing, treatments, and vaccines helping us move toward a new normal. “Therefore, at this stage, we think that cancellations are likely to be premature. Instead, we would recommend patience in a rapidly changing landscape. There may still be rapid testing requirements for guests and travel restrictions for people coming from certain countries. But otherwise we would hope to be back on the path to normality.”
July 2021 onwards
By July, Hamish says we can hope to be well on the way to a full return to normality; advances in rapid testing or vaccination should allow us to have full scale weddings – but do watch out for the latest guidance nearer the time.
If you’re stuck in a predicament about whether to cancel entirely or postpone your wedding, Hamish says you should heed the advice from the CMA on cancellations and postponements. As he explains: “The Competition and Markets’ Authority (CMA) have released their latest guidance. It shows that couples who choose to cancel their weddings, even during a lockdown, would expect to incur cancellations costs of up to 37.2% of the cost of their total venue fee.
“This continues to be debated, but we reaffirm that if your wedding is in the next few months and you do not want it to take place, it is vastly better for all parties to postpone than cancel. In the majority of cases you will then incur no cancellation costs.”
Hamish notes that since news of the vaccine, he is seeing a rush of couples returning to wedding planning. On Monday’s news of the vaccine, Bridebook saw a 40% increase in enquiries to venues, proving that next year is set to be a bumper year for weddings with 400,000 (!) planned. “If you have not confirmed your full supplier team for your 2021 wedding, we would highly encourage you to use lockdown to find your favourites. It is likely that most highly-regarded suppliers and venues will be fully booked for 2021 by Christmas,” he advises.