Wedding planning and the wedding industry has been rocked by the Coronavirus. Many of my couples face postponement and cancellation and fellow professionals are facing going out of business, including photographers. But if we talk to people, work out the best solutions and do out best to help each other we can minimise the pain and disappointment. We can try and ensure that when your day comes, it will be the best day ever.
So here’s a list of wedding industries and information to help you.
At this moment, even if you haven’t booked them, your photographer is having to move all of their bookings for coming months into the latter part of this year and into 2021 and 2022. Weddings up to, and including, June are (broadly) being offered postponement dates. As couples rebook venues and fill dates, photography services – particularly for next year – are becoming a premium. If you have a photographer in mind and have your date then please make your enquiries as soon as possible. If you are experiencing financial difficulty due to the current situation then please let any of your suppliers know. I am offering lower deposits/booking fees right now and am happy to look at provisional dates and sort the full deposit later.
Initially [my] couples took the first dates available and filled most autumn and winter dates this year, but now – largely because of the venues filling – are moving to 2021. Many couples that are moving Spring or Summer weddings want to move to a similar time of year in 2021. James Places who run a host of the best wedding venues in the North West (including Eaves Hall, Mitton Hall, Falcon Manor and The Shireburn) tell me there are no Friday and Saturday dates right up to the end of the summer next year. This will have a knock on effect for 2022 without doubt.
Couple this with half a year of weddings already booked before the outbreak, my dates for 2021 are filling fast. There is a lot of anxiety and disappointment for couples but after working it through together moves have been successful. Communication is key. The knock on effect is that key suppliers are now taken for 2021 and beyond.
Please take a look at the other sections for more advice – particularly venues if you feel the COVID-19 will affect your day and if you have not booked your venue yet.
Venues (if you have your date)
Venues are overwhelmed at the moment with moving brides and grooms up to the the end of JUNE. That has been (broadly) designated the essential cut off point. Those from June and even July are being contacted by some venues offering postponement also. August is seen more as a ‘safer’ period with registrars looking at July for resuming services. Even August couples are asking about contingency plans and are being offered new dates if they wish. Lancashire County Council has implied that there will be no ceremonies until October with it’s recent web site post (24th March).
All of these couples – up to 125,000 given it includes June, July, August! – are looking to take their key suppliers with them. If you have prioritised your key suppliers but have not booked then it is time to do so. Suppliers will become a premium in 2021 and the size of the displacement will mean the same for 2022. In this scenario there may well be price rises after the current climate passes, so the earlier you book your set of suppliers the better. If you have experienced income difficulties due to current events please talk to your suppliers.
Venues (if you haven't got your date)
Registrars are under great pressure at the moment and are not taking new booking .i.e. Lancashire. Worth emailing at least, though, to register your intent and staying in touch with them on social media. Cheshire East are creating an online service where you can book and pay. For Cheshire, like many districts, you must get married within a year from your note of intention to marry, so then it’s over to your venue to look at available dates.
Wedding venues are having to move a mass of couples to new dates – around 50,000 couples up to a year out and probably into 2022. Couples that have had to move are able to hold new dates until they can rearrange the registrars and then their key suppliers, such as myself. You should still be able to reserve a date. Dates are going extremely fast – for James Places (Falcon Manor, Eaves Hall, Mitton Hall, The Shireburn Arms) every Friday and Saturday have gone til the end of June 2021 and there are only two Fridays and Sundays in August (most likely gone when you read this!). If you have your dream venue in mind but have not yet booked you should contact them now to get a list of available dates and then move on to find your registrar or secure your church service. As above, you may be able to book online or, at least, register your intent by email.
Registrar services are unsure when they can resume marriage ceremonies. Some , Lancashire Council for example are citing “the last quarter or beyond” (updated 24th March). That implies any new marriages and postponements cannot go ahead until then. All are working with couples that have booked until then and looking at postponement dates. There has always been a debate as to who to book first; venue or registrar. In this scenario venues (those I know well but not necessarily all) will let you ‘hold’ a date and then give you time to book the registrar.
This service is arguably under the most pressure at the moment. If you have your date you should have your registrar. If not you will have to log an application/email.call them asap. If you do not have your venue and are looking to book it soon, make sure you try and ready the latest advice from your local registrar. Most registrar services are by appointment only. However, Cheshire East are now offering a web based service to pay and book online due to time resources in dealing with postponements.
If you are planning a church wedding please contact your desired church asap.
Also remember that a registration of marriage has a fee and that registration is valid for 12 months. The fee is statutory by law and so registrars cannot alter this in light of postponements. The Government may well change this but currently it stands.
Most couples have beautiful, fresh flowers for the bouquets as well as dressing the church and venue. It’s huge and central part of your day. The price of flowers can be comparable to that of your photographer. Depending on the capacity of your florist you may need to secure their services up to a year in advance or more. Like a photographer, florists have their own styles and if they work on their own that means they can only work with one couple on one day. Some florists such as Rachel at La Beau Fleurs will use a well trained freelance stylist to attend more than one wedding. Many florists import flowers from abroad and those flowers need to be fresh, so timing is of the essence. Florists, therefore, are in a similar position to photographers right now. They are moving with their couples to new dates if they can. Even though they have a little more flexibility than photographers, if you love ta particular style of floral design, preserving your florist now is crucial. La Beau Fleurs will hold dates for a week. Please call your florist of choice as soon as possible if your day is either this year or 2021.
Videography is much the same as photography. Videographers book up around one year – six months out and will be postponing right now. Come January next year they will be highly sort after as the 2021 weddings want to book for that year.
Make Up Artist/Hairdresser
Many make up artists, beauticians and hairdressers offer trails at home or in their salon. All of those activities are currently not possible. These guys will book well in advance. Beauty in Bloom for instance, owned by the lovely Charlotte Hawkins, is freezing dates for all of her brides that are affected and moving with them to new dates where possible as well as rescheduling the trials. With trials typically 4-6 months before the wedding and then the swarm of additional wedding dates also, the period leading up to next year and 2021 itself is going to be critical to book early.
A great place to start if you haven’t booked your venue yet as they understand the booking of venues and registrars. Given the current climate planners are looking now at the very detail that will be affecting all of us over the next year or so. Planners are also employed once your venue has been booked. Wedding planners in either scenario are more about organisation so will need if you wish them to find your photographer, for example, you will get the best results when booking your planner early.
Venue dresser book around six months to a year in advance. Most of the stock they use for your day will be available to them without the need to create or order them. It’s more about them creating it around your venue, tastes and the colour schemes. Most venue dressers are flexible with staff so can attend and dress multiple weddings on one day. Some are very popular, like Pure Elegance, so best get it touch within that year. If your wedding next year requires a more involved set up or theme then popular venue dressers will be busy with postponements as well.
Music and Entertainment
DJ’s, Bands and MCs are fairly flexible but still book up to a year out. They are fairly self contained but they are that unique sound and that unique personality. Come next summer, that one band may well be booked.
At least you can look online, even if you cannot try them on. Once shops and fairs are back up and running you can, more than likely, choose your rings near to the wedding date.