For Better or Worse: The Pre and Post Covid Wedding Landscape

2020 was a write off for most hospitality businesses but wedding and events venues were hit particularly hard and seem to be last in line on the roadmap to ‘normality’.

Following wedding postponements last year, it's anticipated 153,000 more weddings will take place, in addition to existing bookings this year, according to Guides for Brides. We are unlikely to see a return to usual wedding levels until well into 2022.

In order to get a true picture of the latest wedding statistics and trends (before Covid hit us), and with a view to predicting what will happen in 2022, we’re going to skip back to 2019 figures to better understand weddings in the UK.

The Proposal

December is the most popular date for popping the question with the five most common engagement dates for weddings falling in this month, according to Bridebook's 2019 research.

Bridebook’s last UK Wedding Survey calculated the average engagement length as 23.5 months.

32% of couples update their Facebook status to ‘engaged’ within 24 hours. This is music to the ears of wedding marketers, who can use this data to target their ads to recently engaged couples on Facebook and Instagram.

Almost half of couples book their venue within three months of getting engaged, and one third within two months. These early days of engagement are key months for venues to get in front of prospective couples.

Wedding Planning

According to Bridebook, 93% of couples view their venue before booking, having discovered them online. Venue tours were cited as the most important part of a couple’s research, followed by reading reviews. National wedding fairs were deemed least impactful – as we understand, most couples have booked their venue before they visit events such as these.

Bridebook’s survey reports that 50% of couples cite beautiful grounds and gardens as one of the most important attributes when looking for their dream venue, followed by an informal and relaxed vibe, and great views.

63% of couples opt to have their ceremony at a licensed reception venue, and Bridebook only expect this number to rise. Couples invite an average of 79 people to their ceremony and between 60-120 to the wedding reception.

Whilst there is clearly a growing trend for more DIY, rustic-style barn weddings, the majority of couples still opt for a venue that includes catering – 42%, where 39% chose a venue only location.

The ‘Big’ Day

According to Hitched 2019 research, the average UK wedding costs £31,974, with the largest expenditure being the venue - £5,409 on average - followed by the honeymoon and then food.

The average age of brides is 32, and grooms – 34, and most couples report a combined household income of £59,000 or less.

The most popular wedding month is August with 18% saying ‘I do’ in this month according to Bridebook. January is the least popular with just 2% opting for the first month of the year.

Unsurprisingly the most popular day of the week, is a Saturday, with 57% getting hitched on this prime weekend date, and just 2% opting for a Tuesday wedding.

With the additional number of weddings to squeeze into the next few months post-Covid, many couples may need to reconsider the importance of a Saturday date, and consider weekdays and off-season dates in order to get married in 2021.

The Brexit Effect

1 in 3 couples surveyed by Hitched felt that Brexit had made their wedding day more expensive, and 30% stated that Brexit had put them off from booking a Honeymoon abroad in 2019.

Social Pressure

The Hitched survey revealed that 42% feel under pressure to have an ‘Insta-worthy’ wedding, and 25% said that they would spend more money to make their wedding look picture perfect. Many couples even create their own wedding hashtags to capture all the images from their guests in one place.

In addition, according to Bridebook, 62% of couples use Pinterest to help with wedding planning. It is vital for wedding venues and suppliers to occupy these spaces where their potential couples are looking for inspiration, whether it’s with social media posts, a targeted social advertising campaign, or both.

Post-covid Weddings

The demand for venues is predicted to increase from mid-late 2021 as dates fill up with postponed 2020 weddings and newly engaged couples. According to Guides for Brides, this will drive up prices and new venues will be well-positioned to provide prime weekend dates for couples looking to get married this year, with weekday and out of season dates more likely to fill up too.

It is expected that overseas destination weddings will be unfeasible for a further two years post-Covid, so couples will be seeking destination wedding locations closer to home – with places such as Devon and Cornwall likely to be high on the list for couples who live elsewhere in the country.

By the point at which the number of weddings return to usual levels, there will be an excess of suppliers. It's essential for any new businesses to build a strong brand reputation over the next few months, in order to be front-of-mind when the wedding market returns to ‘normal’ pre-Covid levels.