Given the circumstances surrounding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we reached out to consumers and businesses within the Wedding Industry and asked for their thoughts, and the impact this has had on the Wedding market. Our Founder and Director, Wendy El-Khoury, has reflected on this matter and shared her thoughts about coronavirus and advice on how we can support each other during this time. We hope this helps ease the decision-making process moving forwards, for both couples and suppliers.
“The wedding industry has never really been impacted by a global financial crisis. We are generally considered to be a non-cyclical market, meaning that even during economic fluctuations, people will find a way to get married. They will budget more conservatively – but they still will get married. However, we are currently finding ourselves in a predicament where the idea of bringing people together can put people at risk, particularly due to the way in which the coronavirus is spreading.”Wendy El-Khoury, Founder of Wedded Wonderland & Wonderland Media
It is only natural that couples, as well as the Wedding and Events Industry were not prepared for the event of coronavirus, until now. However, the bitter truth is that getting people together to celebrate, is currently more risky than it ever has been.
The unknown cannot be guessed, Fairies, and so it is important that you become as informed as possible. If you are planning a destination wedding, the most important thing is to reach out to all of your suppliers as soon as possible, and ask the question. If your wedding is planned for June, July or August of 2020, ask suppliers what their contingency plans are. Additionally, you should speak to your guests, particularly those closer to you, and ask whether they would consider flying if airports were opened again once coronavirus settles.
Postponing a Destination Wedding: Couples
If you are looking to postpone your wedding, you should know what that actually means for you. Due to the coronavirus it is important to go through your contracts and ask your suppliers what options are available in terms of your deposits and payments. Can your wedding actually be postponed? If you do postpone your wedding, would you want it to take place during this year’s autumn or winter period, or next summer?
Postponing a Destination Wedding: Suppliers
We advise suppliers to not wait for clients to reach out to them, and instead become instigators of the conversation. Contact your clients and advise them what your business’ perspective is, in regards to their wedding; whether you are looking to postpone the event yourself, or looking for alternate options for your clients. Additionally, you should be open to considering and suggesting that destination weddings are instead moved to local environments. As an industry, we need to be thinking about Plan B and C for our clients; if you don’t come up with such plans and opportunities that allow your client to proceed with their wedding, then you are more than likely setting yourself up for a cancellation.
Option 1: Go Local
Wedded Wonderland was born in Australia, a country filled with breathtaking locations that make for incredible local Destination Wedding venues. So, if a client wants to go with Plan B and wants to proceed with their chosen date and not go internationally, what are the opportunities and options for vineyard weddings, beachside weddings, and outdoor weddings in Australia? Even if you are located abroad, you need to think about where can you facilitate your clients’ weddings in a way that still has the same vibe, feel and idea that their original destination wedding would have had.
Click here to view our favourite Destination Wedding locations in Australia.
Option 2: Postpone the Wedding abroad
If your clients are looking to postpone their wedding, it is important that you guide them into selecting a date that suits you, as well as inform them that they will be postponing to the unknown. Currently, we know that many weddings are being postponed to September and October of 2020. Therefore, if you are going to push the wedding to a different date, you need to confirm that it is feasible from a client perspective, and create an image of what it will look like to the best of your ability.
Suppliers: What To Do About Coronavirus
It is only natural that most supplier contracts, do not contain a clause to cover the outbreak of a pandemic. We have spoken to a series of suppliers, who are working off a case-by-case basis and trying their hardest to look out for their clients by attempting to move deposits. Given the nature of this unique scenario, we must prioritise our clients’ interests.
Couples: What To Do About Coronavirus
To the consumer, the Wedding & Events Industry appears to be vast. But to the supplier, it is a fact that we all know each other. A lot of planners, photographers, venues, both locally and abroad, are familiar with each other’s offerings and have contacts all over the world, thanks to social media.
“Do not be afraid to ask the current people that you have engaged with, for other contacts. I assure you, from a Wedding Industry perspective, that it will come back to you in return.”Wendy El-Khoury, Founder of Wedded Wonderland & Wonderland Media
However, if we are only a short amount of time away from the chosen wedding date, and flights are being cancelled, stationery has already been printed, etc., it is crucial that both clients and suppliers understand that certain expenditures are more than likely not going to be recouped.
How We Can Help
Wedded Wonderland invites local and international suppliers, consumers, brides and grooms to-be, to join our Facebook Group: ‘Wedded Wonderland Group‘. This Group allows you to engage with each other, ask questions and express your concerns to a like-minded community. Seek assistance by utilising this Group, and hopefully we can collectively build an online community to help each other!
Product Availability: Couples
What you may not know, is that over 80% of the Wedding Industry’s products are manufactured in China. This includes custom-made products, stationery, linens and, yes… wedding dresses. If you have not purchased these things, you should be looking into suppliers who can locally source them for you, as well as what is currently available in the market. Additionally, 85% of the Wedding Industry is made up of small business owners, and 50% is sole-traders. This means that if you reach out to anyone in the Wedding market, 85% of the time you will be able to speak directly to the owner, or someone in charge who can make a very quick and concise decision, as well as have a conversation with you about your plans, and hopefully come up with a contingency option for you.
Product Availability: Suppliers
It is crucial that suppliers are transparent in expressing their current manufacturing circumstances and availabilities, because transparency and communication will remove anxiety. The cause of the most amount of stress and concern, in any market, is a fear of the unknown. If you cannot get products, and cannot access to your supplies, do not freak out your client. Instead, have options ready for them, and attempt to get as close as possible to their original goal – your effort will not go unnoticed.
However, because we sit in an emotionally-invested market, we must understand that not everything will go to plan. And so, it is important to follow a pragmatic approach to wedding planning, and reflect on our businesses in a way that creates practical plans that give answers to our clients.
“We will get through this as an industry, and with the support of each other, we will deliver the wedding that the client is after – whether we’re doing it, or whether we’re passing it on to one of our colleagues.”Wendy El-Khoury, Founder of Wedded Wonderland & Wonderland Media
Consequences of Coronavirus
Once the pandemic settles, there will be a gigantic increase in the demand for Destination Weddings, more than ever before. We may be in the position right now where we are not facilitating our clients’ dream Destination Weddings, but that time will come; hard and fast. We need to prepare for that as an industry, and ensure that we plan strategically from a business perspective, so that when things start looking better, we are ready for it. Additionally, our product offering needs to reflect that increase in demand.
Honeymoon: What To Do
We have had quite a few people contact us to say that they’re unsure on whether they should book their honeymoon, or not. If you have not already booked something, don’t. Instead, consider the possibility of booking something locally, and carefully consider the travelling restricting that are in place. However, don’t cancel out the idea that you will ever have the honeymoon of your dreams. You could perhaps do something locally for a few days, and push out your honeymoon to 2021.
Responses on Coronavirus
Over the past few weeks, we have received a staggering amount of responses by both couples and suppliers, in regards to the issue. Here’s what they’ve had to say.
We have been informed by suppliers and by our general community, that people are switching to Intimate Wedding settings, for both ceremonies and receptions. We love this idea, because not only does it allow you to proceed with your chosen wedding date safely, but it also allows you to perhaps budget for a bigger reception or honeymoon, later on.
Suppliers Experience With Coronavirus
“I’m Noemi Bellante, a Wedding planner from Italy and in my country, from the first infection, everybody diminished the criticality that could have arisen from Coronavirus. It took two long weeks to make it clear to those who govern us that the rapid growth of the infections had to be met with drastic measures. Today, Italy is in lockdown. Every economic sector is undergoing a halt, and amongst these is the Wedding Industry. These days I find myself in an almost surreal situation, following couples who should be getting married in the European summer months of 2020. It is clear that in this climate, anybody would begin to think they can no longer get married. Brides and grooms from abroad are the most anxious; I have couples from America, Spain and Holland who cannot come to Italy because airlines have suspended flights to and from Italy. We live in uncertainty and we don’t have an idea of what developments will occur… Much will depend on our good civic sense. In the hope that things will go back to the way they were, my job as a Wedding planner does not stop: I work and communicate daily with my clients and vendors. More-so now, than ever before, I feel that I have to help my couples who are unable to do what it takes to plan their wedding day in the best way.”Noemi Bellante, Founder of Noemi Bellante Weddings & Events
“I honestly think if it continues this way it’s going to affect the wedding industry a lot! Our high season is in the Summer, so people are hoping it would be over by then. But if the situation stays the same, I think there will be a lot of cancellations in Lebanon and for our destination weddings (mainly Italy). Hopefully things get better!”Comment made by Yara Estephan on Wedded Wonderland
“Definitely affecting our market. We have a lot of couples fly in from China to get married. We’ve already seen a number of weddings cancelled, postponed or guest numbers reduced due to the flight bans. Not too mention delayed product imports. Our local Chinese wedding planners would know the most.”Comment made by Harbourside Decorators on Wedded Wonderland
“In response to your recent post, were refunding our clients for orders of place cards and bonboniere where their guests are no longer able to attend their weddings both here and abroad. It will have an impact on our small business but we can also see a lift in Enquiries as brides want items they can source without having to go to the shops!”Comment made by Letter And Label Co. to Wedded Wonderland
“I’m a freelancer in the event industry and have had multiple events cancel in California. Very tough financially for freelancers out there who rely on that planned work and then have last minute cancellations with no financial security.”Comment on Wedded Wonderland
“Two overseas weddings have moved so far for me. Loads of overseas ones are still in play. But not Italy.”Comment made by Image Haus Weddings on Wedded Wonderland
Clients Affected From Coronavirus
“My mum is getting married in Tuscany in June and is due to visit next month to finalise arrangements. All flights have been cancelled to Italy until April but shes not due to go until the end so fingers crossed the situation gets better otherwise it will be postponed until next year.”Comment on Wedded Wonderland
“I have just called off our wedding in Europe which was planned for August, now trying to find something here in Sydney!”Comment on Wedded Wonderland
“With both of us having weak immune systems and my poor lung condition, I’m not even sure if we’ll make it to our own wedding! I’m very worried but hoping to make it down the isle to marry the love of my life.”Comment on Wedded Wonderland
“Our wedding is in Greece in July, we have no idea what the state of things will be and if it will go ahead. So many people have already paid and booked flights & accomodation. The guilt and stress is pretty overwhelming.”Comment on Wedded Wonderland
“Our elopement is in Italy, we are devastated and hope the ban is lifted and we can continue with our plans.. over 2 years in planning and thousands of dollars. We are unable to postpone and insurance doesn’t cover us for any money’s lost. It’s turned from the happiest time in our life to a very very hard time.. hoping we can finally see @noramphotography on the beach in Positano”Comment on Wedded Wonderland
“We were eloping in May in Greece. With a month long holiday in Italy afterwards. Italy had my fiancé’s family who we were going to surprise to! Only just today I spoke to my fiancé’s sister in italy who said don’t come. Everything is on lockdown. Half an hour previous to her msg, I was on smarttraveller.com.au and Australia has put Italy on “reconsider travel” and we fly into Venice where it is “do not travel”. We are beyond sad. Our dream wedding now not possible. My fiancé’s work restricts us to only certain times to go away, our travel insurance isn’t covering anything. And Emirates is only providing a change of date for free not refunds. I’ve spent the last 6 months planning and dreaming. And now it’s all taken away!”Comment on Wedded Wonderland
Conclusion on the impact of coronavirus
To sum it all up, Fairies, you need a plan. If you are getting married in the next three months, you need to seek out the experts and suppliers, because it is up to them to have the answers for you. And so, as this weight falls on the Weddings & Events Industry, we need each other’s full support.
“Planning the wedding of your dreams may turn into the absolute magical wedding of your reality, if you have the right people on board and the right support system in place. But first and foremost, our health and wellbeing as consumers, as an industry and as couples is of the biggest importance.”Wendy El-Khoury, Founder of Wedded Wonderland & Wonderland Media
You can watch Wendy’s full talk, here and listen to it here.
Digital Content Coordinator: Zoe Kanlis
Featured Image: The Straits Times