Every industry has been touched by the COVID-19 pandemic, but none so much as the wedding industry. Now, as the UK starts reopening, how will wedding planning businesses and franchises make a comeback?
In the average year in the UK, there are 278,599 weddings. Over 264,000 weddings were postponed due to the pandemic in 2020 [The UK Weddings Taskforce]. But these weddings haven’t been cancelled. And now, in a post-lockdown world, planning can begin again. We’re finally reopening the economy, and with it, the wedding sector.
How will wedding planners make a comeback post-COVID?
Rules and restrictions surrounding weddings have shifted on a regular basis over the last year. It’s been challenging for couples who are ready to wed, and for the industry that helps them do that beautifully.
Running a franchise during the pandemic has been difficult, but running a wedding planning franchise during the pandemic has been almost impossible.
Since the third lockdown, weddings haven’t been allowed to take place, other than in exceptional circumstances. But with the most recent lift in restrictions, and the next to come, there’s light at the end of a very long tunnel for wedding planners. Here’s the current roadmap of key dates (subject to review) for the wedding industry…
1. April 12th
Ceremonies and receptions can be held and up to 15 people can attend. Ceremonies can be held in a place of worship, a public building, or another venue that’s already permitted to open. Hotels can’t open quite yet, but they can host ceremonies in rooms that are licensed for weddings. Receptions can be held outdoors, in the form of a sit-down meal.
2. May 17th
Up to 20 people can attend ceremonies and receptions, which can be held indoors or outdoors.
3. No earlier than June 21st
The government aims to lift all legal restrictions on social contact, meaning weddings will return to the size that they once could be, with potentially hundreds of guests, and normal wedding sector business can resume.
Learning how to plan a wedding post-lockdown is complicated. There are many different rules and regulations to follow, and these rules change in accordance with each stage. With so much information floating around out there - and so many dates to wrap your head around - it’s natural to have a list of questions.
>> Read more:
- Happily Ever After? 5 Tips for Starting a Successful Wedding Planning Business
- The Qualities You Must Have to Run Your Own Wedding Events Company
- How to become a wedding consultant
- 5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Saying "I Do" to Opening a Bridal Shop Franchise
- Want to Work in the Wedding Industry? These Are Today's Top Wedding Jobs.
Wedding sector FAQs
Will dancing be allowed?
Yes and no. From April 12th, you can have your first dance. Sadly, no other guests will be allowed to join you on the dancefloor until June 21st.
Will sit down meals be allowed?
Yes, but as with dancing, the restrictions will vary depending on your wedding date. From 12th April, you can have a sit-down meal outside, but by 17th May, you can have a sit-down meal either indoors or outdoors.
Can I be walked down the aisle?
Yes! From 12th April, this will be allowed at the discretion of your registrar.
Will my guests have to wear masks and social distance?
They will. If your wedding happens before restrictions end (no earlier than June 21st), guests will need to wear masks indoors and stay one metre+ apart as much as possible.
Customer demand ahead of the wedding sector comeback
Since the start of the pandemic, 71% of couples have postponed their weddings. Thankfully, 95% of this group aren’t planning on cancelling [Hitched] altogether, and hope to rearrange their nuptials as soon as it’s safe to do so.
This should be music to the ears of the wedding sector, as it means that couples who were unable to have their dream wedding in 2020 will still give the industry their business at a future date.
An estimate of 278,000 recently engaged couples are planning to marry from 2021 onwards, meaning 550,000+ weddings are in the post-pandemic pipeline.
—The UK Weddings Taskforce
After a year spent unable to have a true wedding experience, there’s double the appetite to plan the perfect big day. The customer demand for weddings will only continue to skyrocket as restrictions continue to loosen and opportunities open up for the wedding planning sector
Wedding planning sector opportunities
In all honesty, it’s likely to be a while before the wedding sector is working at full force again. Bookings might be coming in thick and fast, but events can’t properly get back to normal until the final lift of restrictions, planned for June.
Many wedding companies will struggle, as they have over the past year, with financial viability. Smaller weddings are the only option right now, but with 400,000 people working in, and relying on, the sector, 15-person weddings don’t offer up enough work to go around. 250,000 of those people, or over half, depend on work related to the wedding day itself [The UK Weddings Taskforce].
Until mid-May, most licensed venues won’t be allowed to host any event unless they have an open, viable outdoor option. Until late June, no more than 20 guests will be permitted to attend a wedding. Clearly, there’s a way to go before true normality returns to the wedding sector, and in the meantime, companies should focus on…
- Staying afloat - lowering costs, relying on schemes such as furlough, diversifying in whatever ways are possible
- Preparing for the oncoming influx of work - anything that can be prepped and completed ahead of time should be
If everything goes according to the roadmap, the sector will be rushed off its feet again by the autumn.
>> Read more:
- Looking Back: Franchising Lessons We Never Expected to Learn in 2020
- Everything You Need To Know About The New Government COVID Roadmap On Covid-19
- Business Planning: Why You Should Prepare for a Profitable Summer Now
- What the 'Lockdown Exit Roadmap' Means for Your Franchise With One Month to Go
- 7 Franchising Lessons Learned a Year Into the Pandemic
What government support is available for those within the wedding planning sector?
If you’re running your own business or managing a franchise, you may find yourself in need of some extra support after the past year. The government offers several different schemes and support systems, including...
- Self-Employment Income Support Scheme
- Small Business Grant Scheme
- The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (open until September 2021)
- The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme
- The VAT Deferral New Payment Scheme (open until the 21st June 2021)
- The Recovery Loan Scheme
- The Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility
- The Coronavirus Restart Grant
- The Coronavirus Additional Restrictions Grant
To discover the post-COVID comeback routes of other sectors, check out our Sector Spotlight articles.
If you’re looking to get involved in the wedding sector in particular, check out our best wedding franchise opportunities.
Lily Sweeney, Point Franchise ©