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.
[Updated May 20th]
Weddings up to, and including, August are now being offered postponement dates by most venues. Some new postponements are having to move again as August becomes uncertainty creeps into July/August and beyond. Some registrars (St Helen’s, Merseyside) have said no ceremonies until January. Others (Cheshire/Lancashire) are awaiting guidance around the restriction relaxation on 4th July. So, by and large, weddings this year are all looking at moving to next year.
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. Some photographers now have no spaces for 2021. I am 90% full and trying to reserve prime dates for new couples and well as move my current couples. If the rest of my wedding this year move, or even the next 10, then I will be full. 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.
If you have a photographer in mind and have your date in 2021 or 2022 please make your enquiries as soon as possible. I am offering lower deposits/booking fees right now and am happy to look at provisional dates and sort the full deposit later.
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 August. That has been (broadly) designated the essential cut off point. Those from beyond August are being contacted by some venues offering postponement also. October is seen more as a ‘safer’ period but even then I have couples moving from October. Even August couples are asking about contingency plans and are being offered new dates if they wish.
All of these couples – up to 150,000 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 most are not taking new bookings, but venues will be. Venues will now be looking at showing couples around with social distancing measures in place so worth enquiring now. You may be able to reserve your wedding date with a view to a viewing appointment.
Wedding venues are having to move a mass of couples to new dates. Most venues have ‘transfer teams’ or a point of contact to deal with postponements. 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 summer 2021. 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. You may be able to book online or, at least, register your intent by email (see registrars section)
Registrar services are unsure when they can resume marriage ceremonies. There is a look to the 4th July when the next phase of lockdown restrictions may be eased. Some , Lancashire Council for example are citing “until further notice”. This applies to Cheshire East, also. Merseyside (St Helen’s, Warrington) have said no wedding ceremonies until January. 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.