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The future of UK weddings and events.

The past 18 months have been unprecedented and the hardest any of us working in the wedding and events industry has ever known. I am proud of our perseverance and resilience to adapt, finding new ways to operate under the restrictions, keeping our staff and customers safe and ensuring a return to some normality. It has been heartwarming to see venues re-open and witness the return of full size weddings and events as our industry slowly bounces back. We are an industry used to evolution and change. We are not adverse to trying new things. In fact we embrace innovation and novelty, always looking for the next unique experience and opportunity. New trends come and go, advances are made in technology and with them the needs of our customers. As we continue to adjust to life with Covid and make plans for the future with more certainty, what does the landscape look like for weddings and events?

future of weddings and events

Virtual Technology

Before lockdown #1, I had never heard of Zoom or Microsoft Teams.  I had a familiarity with Skype and Facetime from my years living overseas and welcomed then, as I do now, the opportunities it created to maintain face-to-face contact with people from a distance.  Virtual meetings are now the norm and, although not necessarily liked by all, they have enabled venues to maintain client contact and engagement throughout lockdown.  Many of us are raring to embrace (literally!) the opportunity to meet in person again but for many, time poor or unable to travel easily, this opportunity to meet face-to-face remotely will continue to be invaluable. 

Many venues have already been capitalising on virtual-tour technology and this has been crucial in enabling sales activity to continue throughout lockdown.  This will also continue to be a valuable sales and marketing tool, enabling venues to be accessed by customers based overseas or further afield.  Make sure your tours are up-to-date and show your venues at their very best with crisp clear imagery.  

virtual weddings and events

I have also been impressed by the technology available for creating virtual events.  Venues, production companies and entertainment suppliers have collaborated to create some innovative virtual event platforms enabling all manner of events including exhibitions, conferences and parties to be successfully transferred into the virtual arena.  Venues have been recreated digitally to create an immersive experience without guests having to leave their house.  Food and drink can be couriered to your home so that you can enjoy a live culinary experience, guests can network with each other remotely in chat-rooms, guests can participate in live presentations from 1000s of miles away and watch live entertainment from their sofa.  Whilst it is not cheap, this technology negates the problem of managing social distancing and enables a much larger guest list and participation.  This technology also has the capacity to be used to create hybrid events allowing guests the choice to attend in-person or remotely but still participate fully.  Corporate events organisers will be keen to continue to access this technology to reach overseas customers and associates, particularly whilst travel remains limited.  Now is the time for venues to reach out to their technical suppliers and continue to explore virtual event opportunities. 

As we become increasingly geographically spread out, the ability to unite people wherever they are is very powerful.  So many couples miss the opportunity to have overseas friends and family attend their marriage celebrations yet now we can livestream the day for all to see.  Venues with the technology and connectivity to enable this will be increasingly in demand as travel restrictions continue. 

streaming live weddings and events

Outdoor Spaces

For many, the ability to get outdoors for exercise, gardening, working or socialising has been a lifeline over the past year.  Outdoors is safer, less-restricted and confined, with more space to circulate and breathe fresh air.  The outdoor creates a feeling of wellbeing.  If your venue offers outdoor spaces, make sure you promote it as much as your indoor spaces.  Value and maintain your outdoor spaces as much as your indoor spaces.  Show clients how they can optimise their weddings and events with use of your outdoor spaces.  An outdoor wedding ceremony, a picnic or BBQ, garden games, alfresco music.  The great British weather will always require us to make a ‘Plan B’ but enabling people to take their event outside whenever they can will be worthwhile.

outdoor weddings and events
Venetia Norrington/ Tipi Spaces

Planning laws have been relaxed this year lengthening the usual 28-day period for temporary structures without planning permission to 56 days or longer in some circumstances (speak to your local council).  This has sent the demand for marquees and other temporary structures through the roof.  Not only do they enable hospitality venues to open under current restrictions in all weathers but they also enable smaller venues to increase their capacity.  A small country home with limited indoor capacity but a large garden can considerably increase their capacity and develop their share of the wedding market with the addition of a Summer marquee. 

Landowners are increasingly exploring ways to diversify and may not yet be prepared to convert a farm building into a wedding venue.  This is a great opportunity to put up a tent and test the market.  This also opens opportunities for venues to provide overnight accommodation in the form of glamping.  Or glamp-sites to offer a party venue for their glampers.  Speak to your local marquee suppliers about a collaboration or maybe it’s time to invest in your own marquee structure?

accommodation for weddings and events

Anticipated changes to the marriage laws are also likely to create more freedom for venues to utilise outdoor spaces for marriage ceremonies.  The Law Commission has proposed reforms to the current laws that will enable more flexibility for couples to marry how they wish without the constraints of a registered or licensed venue.  No date has been confirmed but the pandemic has certainly identified the need and increased public demand for this change.      

outdoor wedding ceremonies

Overseas Travel

Sadly we will have to wait a while longer before we are able to travel without restriction again.  This gives the UK wedding and event market an advantage.  An inability to plan overseas weddings or corporate events means that there will be an increased demand on the domestic market.  Many people have been working remotely and whilst for some this has worked well, I foresee a need for companies to bring their teams together to raise morale, restore mental wellbeing, team-building workshops, corporate away days and conferences.  Businesses will be looking for unique experiences for their clients and teams.  What experiences can your venue offer onsite or off-site nearby?  Orienteering, archery, sailing, survival challenge, treasure hunt, escape room, obstacle races etc.  Do you have the technological capability to facilitate conferences?  Screens, PA systems, projectors etc. 

With tropical beach weddings off the cards for now, couples not prepared to wait, will also be looking for unique and unusual UK wedding venues to fulfil their dreams.  How can you inspire a couple with wanderlust to book your venue?  An intrepid menu? A waterfront ceremony?  A yurt in the garden? Exotic entertainment?     

exotic wedding cocktails

Micro Weddings and Events

The economic consequences of the pandemic are also likely to have an impact on consumer spending around weddings and events.  There will continue to be a strong desire for people to meet and get married however it is likely that they may continue to embrace the smaller, more intimate nuptial event.  How can your venue continue to meet this demand for micro weddings and events?  Do you have a smaller space that you can offer to more intimate gatherings which would otherwise be lost in a vast barn or hall?  Couples are also recognising that micro weddings create an opportunity for more extravagant wedding plans.  Instead of limiting their spend to essentials they can incorporate more luxurious styling elements, expand their Wedding Breakfast menu, upgrade their beverage choice etc.  What ways can you enable your couples to enhance their wedding at your venue?      

micro weddings and events
Venetia Norrington / Tipi Spaces

Digital Agility

The biggest outcome of the pandemic is the realisation that we are living in a digital world.  We still need personal interaction from time-to-time but technology has created the convenience of being able to take action remotely.  Venues must make sure that they are up-to-date with their digital communication methods to access their remote audience.   Up-to-date websites and communication methods, digital booking processes, a strong social media presence and continued investment in digital technology is required if you are to continue to find an audience in an ever expanding and advancing wedding and events market. 

digital communication

Our world is constantly changing and our customers ever evolving.  Being able to adapt, change, pivot and flex is crucial if we are to keep up with changing consumer demands.  Venues must continue to work with their customers, listen to their needs, compromise where possible and adapt when necessary.  The customer is king and only by acknowledging this will we truly be able to ensure we give them the best experience.

More information about how I can help your venue to adapt in this changing landscape can be found here.

Do you need support with your venue or events?

Let 's start a conversation today

Top Table

Micro Weddings: The case for small, Covid secure, sustainable weddings.

It’s February 2021 and we are in lockdown.  Whilst we are waiting on the Government to make an announcement, I am optimistic that by Spring the UK will be back open for weddings and events to take place.  Vaccines are being rolled out swiftly and the number of Covid cases is now on the downward trajectory.  Whilst I would love to confidently say that we will be back to large parties and dancing with abandon by the Summer, the likelihood is that for the rest of this year we will still be operating with caution.  But this doesn’t mean that love or marriage is cancelled for another year!   Now, more than ever, is the time to embrace Covid secure, sustainable, micro weddings. Here’s why…

Marriage doesn’t need to mean excess.

For thousands of years, marriages and wedding ceremonies have been happening every day, all over the World.  They are a gathering of family and friends to celebrate your love for one another and formalise your union.  However over the years, it seems weddings have become less about the union and more about the accompanying frivolities.  The wedding industry is now a multi-billion pound industry as couples become ever more imaginative and creative in their planning of their big day.  Expectations, extravagances and guest lists run high as we seek the most perfect, Instagram-able wedding. Yet 2020 changed all this and the wedding industry is fighting for survival as it reels from the effects of Covid 19 government restrictions.  I lament the loss of income for myself and so many of my friends and colleagues but part of me also welcomes the opportunity to create more sustainable, micro weddings.   

Two Gold Wedding Rings on a dictionary definition of marriage

The evolution of big weddings.

As humans have evolved, we have become ever more competitive; seeking to have the first, biggest and best of everything.  Our weddings are no exception.  Everyone and anyone must attend for us to celebrate our love match.  Our wedding must be personal, unique and innovative… and of course on trend.  Wedding trends have evolved significantly over the last few hundred years.  Until the Victorian era and the rise of the Middle Class, weddings were much more subdued affairs.  As the industrialised world swiftly advanced and became wealthier, weddings started to become a statement of success.  A large wedding was seen as a sign of significant wealth.  Parents would save for years to be able to afford to give their beloved daughters a wedding they could be proud of.  The only exception being wartime and post-war weddings when speed was often of the essence and severe rationing precluded any significant feasting.  Micro weddings out, mega weddings in!

Bigger doesn’t always mean better.

But bigger doesn’t always mean better. Look at your guest list.  80, 100, 120, 150, 200 + people.  Perhaps a fraction of whom you know intimately, or well enough to spend any regular time with.  A small number who are immediate family.  Certainly too many for you to spend any meaningful time with on your wedding day.  The beauty of micro weddings is that you can reduce your guest list to only your most nearest and dearest and you have a genuine reason for not inviting Great Auntie Mable who you’ve only met once in your life!  You can spend  quality time with the people who mean the most to you rather than a fleeting word or two.  It also means that you can let your imagination and creativity run a bit more wild, unconstrained by the limitations of a big crowd.  Your wedding breakfast doesn’t need to be a simple three-course meal.  Unleash your culinary desires and choose that 5,6,7,8 course feast you have been dreaming of.  Satisfy your taste buds and go for quality over price point.   No need to skimp on the décor.  With less tables and space to adorn you can opt for more lavish flower arrangements, upgrade your tableware and add embellishment.  Small can still be entertaining too.  Dancing may be restricted but your ears and eyes can still enjoy the sounds of live musicians and performers.  Smaller numbers also opens up the possibility of more interactive activities.  Ask guests to prepare a short speech, recite their favourite poem or perform something.  Or how about introducing a game or activity for everyone to participate in together?  Think fun, dinner party over big, dance party.  And if you are worried about anyone missing out, film it!  Or better still invite them to join in virtually and stream the fun live to them at home.

Micro Weddings
Lily Rose Photography

The difficulty of postponing.

Couples are facing a tough decision.  Get married anyway under restrictions or postpone to a date in the future when restrictions may have eased enough to allow the wedding day you originally planned.  Postponement is problematic.  The government are yet to advise when larger weddings will be able to resume.  This makes re-setting a date for your wedding very difficult and the likelihood high that you will need to postpone again. Faced with an indeterminable wait and perhaps the need to move on into married life is it time to consider a more intimate but just as special wedding day?  Reducing your guest list is difficult.  Some of us come from large families and have lots of close friends.  Choosing who makes the cut might be a hard decision to make.  Ultimately it is your day and it should be your choice how your celebrate your marriage.  But what is the most important factor?  Why are you getting married? Is it the act of marriage union?  Is it the celebration with all your family and friends?  Sometimes the answer is both.  Does it suit you to wait? 

Micro weddings are more cost effective

Weddings are expensive.  The average cost of a wedding in the UK in 2019 was over £30,000.  Usually, the larger the wedding, the larger the cost.  With economic uncertainty affecting all of us, maybe it is time to rein in our spending and reduce our guest lists.  If finance is less of an issue, a smaller guest list also means that your original budget will stretch further.  Perhaps that dream honeymoon destination (when we can travel!) is more of a reality.  The wedding dress you have had your eye on but weren’t sure you could afford is now withing arms reach.  You can focus on enjoying an exceptional culinary experience rather than figuring out how to feed the 5000. 

Wed Magazine / Suzanne Neville

Micro weddings are greener.

Thanks to the efforts of Greta Thunberg, Sir David Attenborough and others, there is also a rising environmental consciousness.  Whilst wedding suppliers have made great strides in the last few years to reduce waste, recycle more and reduce their carbon footprint; weddings still carry a significant environmental impact.  Travel to and from weddings, outfits that will likely only be worn once, flowers flown in from Holland or South Africa etc.  There are of course lots of things you can do to reduce the environmental impact of your wedding but the best way is to reduce the number of guests.  Smaller is greener.

Micro weddings will sustain the wedding industry.

Whilst we sit in perpetual limbo waiting for the next government announcement to signify the survival or further destruction of the wedding and events industry, those of you who have decided to embrace the micro wedding are helping to sustain the wedding industry.  Whilst not always as lucrative for some wedding suppliers, your micro wedding will help us pay our bills, keep food on our tables and a roof over our heads.  The government says we are an unsustainable industry.  I say we are a vigorous, agile and determined industry of creative, imaginative, dynamic and innovative people, many of whom have not received a penny in compensation from the government who have forced the closure of our livelihoods.  It pains us to be unable to provide you with the wedding of your dreams.  We are fighting tirelessly to persuade the government to tell us when weddings and events can happen again so that we can plan for all our futures.  We have worked hard to ensure all our venues and services are Covid secure, putting in place robust hygiene and social distancing measures.  The popularity of marriage hasn’t changed in thousands of years and has adapted to be inclusive to all.  We know big celebrations will be back; we just need to support one another until then so that when they do we will be around to throw the mother of all celebrations!      

Perspectives Photography / Kathryn Clarke-Mcleod Photography/ Nova Wedding Photography

Ultimately, it is your day and your decision. How you spend your money and celebrate your wedding is entirely your choice.  I completely understand wanting to have all your friends and family witness you marry the love of your life and celebrate with a great party afterwards.  I did and I don’t regret it.  But I also didn’t want to wait for someone to give me permission.  So maybe it’s time to look to the positives and embrace Covid secure, sustainable, cost effective, micro weddings.  The wedding industry will thank you!   

Do you need support with your venue or events?

Let 's start a conversation today

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