While the wedding industry collectively navigated the ups and downs of 2020, we’re still carrying many of the repercussions into the new year. As a result, the landscape of 2021 will look unlike any year we’ve seen in the past. From the turmoil of 2020 to the road to recovery that lies ahead, we expect to see the wedding industry transform in new and unprecedented ways, pushing event pros to adapt their businesses in order to meet market expectations.
As we make our way through the first quarter of the year, consider these industry trends and how they
will influence how you do business and engage with clients in 2021.
A shift in wedding media
In 2020, wedding media was notably dry. Content was at an all-time low because weddings were being postponed across the world. As a result, editors have had to adjust their expectations and pivot their media to serve readers what they genuinely want: real, actionable advice about planning a wedding during a global pandemic.
Heading into 2021, we will certainly see more real weddings on the scene; but the focus will look remarkably different from the big-and-bold themes of pre-COVID days. Sanya Percic, editor of Ellwed, explains: “Wedding media is already re-assessing what is important. There is more attention focused upon the real love story, rather than the big, luxury décor. The size and the ‘bling’ of the event are not the priority at this point.”
Percic continues: “Because of this pandemic, many weddings had to be postponed or sized down. This means that there were less weddings in 2020 than usual. There were also less styled shoots that could happen because of the restrictions and the lack of finances to invest in these shoots. That is why some wedding media will be more likely to accept smaller weddings and non-exclusive content. Some might also reassess older submissions which might have been rejected in the past. The way I see it, at this point, true love stories and family matter more than anything else!”
For wedding pros, this means that you will have more opportunities to submit those events that may not have felt like editorial gold a couple of years ago. Nowadays, a beautiful story and some special details are all it takes to spur inspiration.
A focus on tech
With social distancing measures and group size mandates aplenty, everyone turned to technology for human interaction. From virtual birthday parties to video brunches, we saw all social gatherings go digital—weddings included. Even with a vaccine, many people will continue to be hyper-vigilant about health and safety and, as a result, virtual weddings are not yet outdated.
Susan Moeller, Marketing and Partnerships Manager for Tailwind elaborates: “Post-COVID, technology and social media are the event for many of the couple’s loved ones. Their only experience of the ceremony will be delivered via technology, making social media a primary part of the wedding day. As with all that is central to a wedding, social media and tech services belong in wedding planners’ portfolios this year.”
Wedding professionals can lean into this tech-driven trend by incorporating virtual services into their packages, whether that means setting up a Zoom meeting for 50 people, creating branded social media campaigns for couples, or livestreaming weddings via YouTube Live.
A reckoning with diversity
The pandemic was not the only event to impact the world in 2020. A fight for social justice saw Black Lives Matter movements launch once more in countries across the globe, creating urgency in the discussion about equality. Going forward, businesses will need to be intentional and genuine with their commitment to diversity and how they present their brand to the market.
“By now, we know that the demand for justice is long-lasting,” states Kunbi Odubogun, founder of Perfête. “Not only should wedding businesses anticipate open dialogue about representation in photography, social media, and web content, but they should initiate it, too.”
Odubogun adds: “Continual assessments of diverse representation in digital assets is essential, and engaging feedback from employees and customers is indispensable. Trends show that companies who ask for feedback from their employees, readers, vendors, and direct customers are more likely to be better represented by multiple ethnicities, races, religions, and sexual orientations.”
These shifts in the industry’s foundation will grow as we make our way through 2021 but expect to see other trends arise as the world grapples with recovery from one of the toughest years on record in modern history.
Some other trends to keep an eye on the lookout for include:
One of the top trends on the horizon is being termed the “pintimate wedding”—a personalized and intimate micro wedding. The pintimate wedding was born out of the many pandemic restrictions that have been placed on couples around the world. Some are choosing to postpone, but some are moving forward, opting for a more relaxed affair with a guest list of 30 or under. These weddings tend to be a fusion of formal and informal with a more expansive ‘per head’ budget than was available with a larger guest list.
With the pintimate wedding, the focus will be on guest experience. Real thought is being put into the guest’s journey as part of the wedding and often includes gastronomic delights with seven course meals, beautiful table décor, and attention to many smaller details with complete personalization.
Also on the horizon is the sequel wedding, which in essence means, “wed now, party later.” Naturally, this trend has been a direct result of the pandemic, but it certainly gives a couple the best of both worlds, an intimate, micro wedding ceremony followed by the large party in the future.
Returning to their roots
Weddings have been ready for a big change for some time now, and even before the pandemic, a shift was on the rise. More couples were eliminating big guest numbers, over the top luxury, and the “more is more” mentality. They were slowly but surely beginning to place more importance on guest experience and the meaning of “wedding.” They were opting for intimacy and privacy. Weddings are returning to their roots.
Couples are playing out their love stories in a more intimate and personal setting. They’re embracing the meaning of marriage and celebrating with those who are important to them.
This is not a year for skating by on assumptions; instead, every wedding professional will have to be attentive to industry trends and prepared to adapt to changes in the market to remain sustainable and profitable in 2021. Weddings are changing and adapting to a brand-new world and the industry is simply reinventing itself. Just like a Phoenix, the industry will rise strong once again.