(Un)tying the knot

The pandemic threw the wedding industry into a tailspin, with mass cancellations and postponements. The good news: with social distancing measures easing, 2021 is set to be a big year for tying the knot – meaning big opportunities for businesses.
(Un)tying the knot 16x9 hero
How weddings went in 2020

While some couples still went ahead with full-blown receptions (with many becoming superspreader events), the majority of weddings in 2020 were either rescheduled, scaled back dramatically with fewer guests, or went virtual.

Denver-based Wedfuly pivoted to Zoom weddings with $1,200 packages – founder Caroline Creidenberg says she hosted 500 such weddings last year – while the husband-and-wife team behind wedding platform Bustld launched a virtual service called LoveStream.

But this year will be different…

Although restrictions on holding large gatherings vary by country and state – and predicting the future has proven to be a fool’s game – many signs point to the wedding industry rebounding in a big way this year.

According to research by IBISWorld, the sector is set to be worth $73 billion in the US alone in 2021, with revenue expected to surge by 33%. This is due mostly to the backlog of postponed weddings added to the existing line-up of 2021 weddings.

In a survey by wedding marketplace The Knot of 7,600 couples who planned to get married in 2020, only 7% actually cancelled their wedding, while 47% pushed their reception to 2021.

Here’s what’s coming

There are tons of opportunities for small business owners looking to get a piece of the pie. For one, while weddings are likely to remain smaller in size than they were pre-Covid, the sheer number means weekday ceremonies are likely to become more common as calendars begin to fill up.

Plus, couples look likely to spend more on personalised details and gifts for guests – which is music to the ears of florists, stationery brands, cake designers, photographers and the like.

And what about virtual ‘I dos’? Of couples who went ahead with a ceremony last year, 12% did it virtually – which is pretty huge. But, as one wedding planner told the New York Times:

‘If there’s a word I never want to hear again, it’s “pivoting”… What I do is so tactile. I have zero aspirations to move what I do to the digital world. I think all people want is to gather and get sweaty on the dance floor.’

While Zoom weddings might lose their appeal, services offering live-streamed ceremonies could stick around for the long-haul as an extra bonus for that uncle or grandparent who can’t make it to the real thing.

A version of this article was published in the Courier Weekly newsletter. For more useful stories, tips, tricks and simply good advice, sign up here.

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