bride and groom wedding ceremony

Legendary football manager Sir Alex Ferguson once famously said, after a rollercoaster ride of emotions in a dramatic Champions League final: “Football! Bloody hell.” I think we can all apply the same kind of sentiment to the wedding industry as of now, in early autumn 2020. Weddings, bloody hell.

I should point out that Sir Alex was actually celebrating a famous victory for his team Manchester United, after they came back against all odds to beat Bayern Munich in injury time. Many of you won’t care for this at all, but as a Man Utd supporter, the feeling of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, was pretty amazing.

And so, here we are again in a dizzying round of ‘what the hell do we do about our wedding’, something I thought I’d seen the back of in 2020, but the anxiety and confusion for couples planning their weddings in the next 24 months rears its ugly head once more. I’ve got many feelings on weddings at the moment, how I see them, what might happen, etc. I’m not Mystic Meg, I don’t have a crystal ball, and I know no different from anyone else, but with my sensible hat on, to give you all the best possible advice in an open, honest and transparent way. I’m not going to sugarcoat it for you, but let’s try and make the best of this stupid ruddy Covid life we find ourselves in.

What do we know?

The Prime Minister has set out restrictions for weddings in England as follows: Wedding ceremonies may be held with up to 15 people in attendance for the forseeable future, anticipating this may last for at least six months. This takes us to March 2021. The 15 people does not include suppliers – there has been some conflicting advice about this, but it does not include suppliers, it is the couple plus 13 guests. Weddings must take place in a Covid-secure environment where it can be safely accommodated, eg a church, place of worship or licensed civil ceremony venue. A sit down meal afterwards may take place for the same number, in a Covid-secure environment. Here’s the official stuff on a link from the .Gov website: Stupid Government Rules

Will the numbers go back up after that six month period?

Who knows. We will only know for certain when we get to March next year. Unfortunately, as we know, the winter months are the worst for spreading infectious stuff like colds, flu, and good old Covid. Unless the number of positive CV19 cases drops dramatically during the six month period, it’s hard to see that numbers for weddings will increase significantly. I suspect from April the best we can hope for is back to 30 (and this may include suppliers and officiants, ie two registrars, a photographer etc). This may stay in place right the way through summer. My guess (and it is a guess) is that we will be lucky to get beyond 50 people by the end of next summer. I hope and wish I am wrong, and we will only know this much nearer the time.

When will weddings be back to ‘normal’?

It’s so hard to say. I really thought it would be by the end of this summer, but none of us could have predicted the toll this pandemic has taken on all of us. It has been life changing. Sadly I don’t see a full day, including dancing til the wee small hours, taking place in 2021. At least, it’s unlikely, but I really hope I’m wrong. Again we’ll only know a bit more once we’re deep into summer 2021.

Oh my word.

Yes, I agree. My heart breaks over this. Coronavirus has changed all of our lives and how we live them.

If you’re thinking of choosing to reschedule your wedding:

If you and your partner are currently in a state of flux over wedding planning, try not to worry, you’re not the only ones. Sadly this has affected tens of thousands of couples in the UK, all wanting to have their dream day surrounded by all their friends and family. It is a really confusing and upsetting time right now, but you do have options. Firstly, talking with experience following 6 months of rescheduling weddings, this is a good route to follow:

1. Speak to your venue first, to see how the land lies about moving your wedding date. Be prepared for them to be very busy and are perhaps are not able to respond to you the same day – please be patient, they are dealing with lots of other equally worried couples. They may also advise they can only deal with postponements for couples whose wedding is within the next 3 months. Again, please try to be patient.

2. If you’re able to get some new dates from your venue, PLEASE do not provisionally book any until you’ve spoken to your key suppliers, such as photographer, videographer, caterer. We are around 24/7 for an open discussion about potential new dates; if at all possible please give us some options so we can let you know if we’re available. It breaks my heart when I am no longer available for a couple because they’ve booked a new date without speaking to any of their suppliers.

3. Consider weekdays. Yikes, I know, no-one actually wants to marry on a Thursday, but at the moment, needs must. Your wedding venue will have so much more availability for new dates on weekdays than they will Saturdays in August. This is the same for all your other suppliers too. Look, I know it’s not ideal, but at this stage, keep an open mind about everything.

4. Get on the phone to your suppliers. It’s so much easier to chat things through over the phone, and sometimes emails can get misconstrued. I love a phone chat. Dial that number.

If you’re not looking too far ahead, I have lots of availability in September, October, November, December 2021. I doubt you will be able to have 100 people at your wedding next year, but I’d really, really hope it would be higher than 15. September is still a fab month to marry in, and you retain lots of the lush greens and golds before we go into winter. If you’re really keen to marry next year, speak to your venue about dates and drop me a line.

If you’re thinking of choosing to move to 2022, I have lots of availability. Basically because I thought I’d be shooting everything in 2021. I will do my best to accommodate everyone, but before that happens, please contact me to discuss as this will require a deeper discussion.

The other options available, besides choosing to reschedule:

1. You plough ahead with a wedding that meets the latest government guidance on weddings. For ease, we’re calling these micro weddings. You might not need full day coverage from morning til night, but you should definitely still have a photographer document your day. I’m here for you, if you’re doing that. These can be beautiful, intimate weddings.

2. You have a ceremony in 2021 according to the latest government guidance, but you’d like to have either a ‘full’ wedding day or a large celebration at a later date. I have already booked a couple of these, and I can capture both of these for you. If you’re thinking of having a full day at a later date, for example in 2022, you may wish to think about having a ring ceremony involving a celebrant, so that you can experience the whole day as if you were not already legally married. Having a celebrant is a fab way to really personalise a day and make all your guests feel really involved. Plus you get to wear your dress/suits another time, right?

3. We sack it all off to go and live in Nepal.

 

Finally…

PLEASE do not attempt to bypass the government guidelines on weddings, like finding loopholes or outright disregarding the advice. On reflection, I cannot condone weddings which knowingly flout the rules, such as exceeding the number of guests or holding receptions or parties in your parents’ back garden. Gardens are not Covid-secure environments, and to consider doing that, is risking everyone’s safety. I am well aware of the utter hypocrisy that we can go to a restaurant with a zillion strangers but we can’t have more than 15 at a wedding meal, believe me. It’s moronic. But do not put yourselves, your family or friends or wedding suppliers in an incredibly difficult position by suggesting ways around the guidelines because it is unfair.

 

I’m not going to lie, this is a worrying time for the wedding industry. Because of seasonality of our work, many of us suppliers have lost a year’s worth of income as weddings didn’t happen over spring and summer just gone. Many of those weddings have moved to 2021. I know several of you who have 2021 weddings will be thinking about moving to 2022, which is understandable. What that means for wedding suppliers, is potentially both 2020 and 2021 weddings (two years of income) gets shifted into 2022, meaning we are unable to book many new weddings to accommodate the ones that are postponed. I wish things were different and I didn’t feel compelled to make you aware of this. The sad reality is that for some wedding suppliers, this may be a bridge too far and they cannot wait a third year for one year’s worth of income. I fully plan to be around in 2021 and beyond to capture your wedding days, however they turn out to be, but I do implore you to continue to be patient and kind with your suppliers, many of whom are struggling to pay their bills at the moment, wondering if they need to jack in weddings and get a different job, at the same time as putting on a brave face for their couples. Coronavirus has really done a number on all of us, hasn’t it.

That being said, I plan to be around for a while yet, so don’t be afraid to get in touch with me to discuss your thoughts, however crazy they may seem. No question is silly, and opening up a dialogue doesn’t mean you’re committing to something definite, you just need to explore your options. Whatever happens, the ability to marry your significant other is still there, it will happen, and it will still feel just as wonderful to say those vows and call them ‘my husband’ or ‘my wife’. Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. Weddings, bloody hell.

 

Suffolk barn wedding

 

 

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