In a normal year, plenty of Americans would be getting ready to attend weddings now – ordering gifts for the happy couple, steam-ironing sundresses and suits, rehearsing dance steps, securing vacation days for destination weddings, or helping the couple plan their DIY wedding programs.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, 2020 is not a normal year. The global health crisis and implemented social-distancing policies have ruled out gatherings and made many people wary of stepping out of their homes.
As a result, weddings have been postponed, downsized and canceled. Couples have canceled shopping for dresses and silicone rings as they face the nonexistent wedding season of 2020. And there’s a probability that this season may last and the weddings people know of – grand festivities with friends and family in attendance – will not be the norm for a long time.
Social Distancing First, Weddings Later
Social distancing measures are the primary factors that make big celebrations impossible for the rest of 2020 (and potentially in 2021, too). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still discourages social gatherings with more than 10 attendees. Also, many states have imposed limits on the number of guests for any celebration or event.
To comply with social distancing measures, a lot of couples pushed their ceremonies to later this year. But as the pandemic stretches on, more couples are downsizing their celebrations into minimalist wedding ceremonies.
These miniature ceremonies are small enough to comply with size limits. The attendees are usually the couple’s close family members. Some ceremonies are also held online. Guests can watch the wedding via video conferencing platform instead. Most couples that opt for a miniature ceremony plan to have a bigger celebration later, once the pandemic is over.
What Does Wedding Season 2021 Look Like?
Couples who originally planned big weddings during 2020 have settled for a miniature ceremony. This choice is ideal for couples who wish to get married sooner, so they can start a family. But some couples also chose to reschedule their wedding for the same weekend in 2021. As a result, weddings that were supposed to take place in 2020 land on the calendar on top of weddings that were already planned for 2021 prior to COVID-19.
However, there’s no way to determine whether the normal wedding season is probable by this time in 2021. Strict health measures will most likely be in place in many states, which makes it difficult for vendors to commit to big weddings.
Currently, small and low-key ceremonies are more appealing since they can adapt to any COVID-19 restrictions placed this year. But even without the restrictions, couples planning for their wedding right now are realizing their preferred vendors are booked until 2021. This pushes some couples to plan for a scaled back and simpler wedding day.
Vendor availability will also impact the current wedding culture. Economic hardship has forced smaller vendors and venues to reduce or close their services. Some vendors are trying to stay afloat by asking clients to pay their fees ahead of time. Still, business closures are inevitable, which means couples will have to start over with their wedding plans. Others choose to elope, which could mean holding a small and low-key ceremony, holding a self-uniting wedding, or getting married at a courthouse.
A Glimpse of Post-Pandemic Weddings
Once restrictions are lifted and people can throw big weddings, celebrants and their guests will celebrate as if the pandemic never happened since people will greatly appreciate these moments. But once people can freely gather and move around, there is no guarantee that they’ll want to celebrate in large numbers. As experts have noted, COVID-19 could heighten the American’s fear of health risks.
Since large gatherings remain potential hot spots for the spread of disease, the average size of weddings may remain small. Also, people might feel a lingering hesitation with non-essential travel, which could prevent out-of-town family and friends from attending.
Some couples may not be financially capable of throwing a big wedding. The COVID-19 pandemic has already caused financial hardship for plenty of people. Weddings are already known for being pricey celebrations; a lavish wedding may seem more of an unnecessary luxury. In 2019, the average cost of weddings in the US reached $28,000.
Weddings have been expensive for the couple and their families, but the expense is also heavy for the guests and the members of the wedding parties. Since many Americans are financially struggling due to the pandemic, smaller weddings are highly appreciated.
The big wedding celebrations lost to the pandemic are understandably disappointing for families and guests of the marrying couple. But the purpose of a wedding is a public declaration of enduring love and commitment. This powerful testament shared during a pandemic is worth more than pricey wedding celebrations.