Here we are at the beginning of the British spring time, the wedding industry awakens from its winter slumber. Well, as it turns out maybe not just yet. The Coronavirus, specifically Covid-19 has hit all industries hard, but weddings are an emotive event, with a lot of time and money already spent in its preparation. Bride and groom’s plan for years in advance, saving money, carefully choosing their venues, suppliers and the time of year to host they special day. Unfortunately the disruptions to the planning of weddings is unavoidable in such unprecedented times. I would like to offer some information and advice to anyone planning their special day.
POSTPONING YOUR WEDDING
At the time of posting, all of my April and early May weddings have postponed their dates. This decision in most cases has been instigated by the churches or reception venues either before or since the forced coronavirus lockdown. Those with weddings booked further ahead seem to be taking it day by day, dealing with new advice as it comes from the government. I have been in touch with my wedding clients for the next couple of months after which I hope this pandemic will be behind us and life has returned to a sense of normality. My policy is to be as flexible as possible, I have offered to slide any bookings to new dates as and when required. Some venues have been very proactive and have offered ‘plan b’ dates just in case. If this is the situation I advise to check with the majority of your other suppliers to see if they are willing or able to switch your booking to your potential new date. Most new dates have been for later this year, either mid week, late summer or autumnal months. For the wedding industry this is the best solution as they will generally have availability during that time. Though understandably some couples have been adamant on preferring Saturdays in the summer months, in which case they have opted to wait for a 2021 date. As an industry, the majority of our annual income comes from these peak dates. So do not be surprised if your venue is hesitant on accepting a postponement until next summer. Having one wedding ‘take-up’ two peak dates has huge financial implications. I have read on forums that bride and grooms have been surprised that their venue insists on a new date wedding occurring within this financial year or levying additional charges for the second peak date. It really will depend on your type of venue, some are small family run business that only host a few weddings a year, in which case they have room to be more accommodating. Though some of the most popular wedding venues are intricate businesses, with a busy schedule and fixed overheads, in which case they may be a bit more restricted in their negotiations. If you are self hosting of course, a marquee in a field of your own is obviously available at your convenience, though your caterers and other suppliers may already have a summer 2021 fully booked. So prepare to be flexible and open to compromise in your plans, the wedding industry in one of most customer focused businesses. Though despite the government reassurances, all wedding suppliers will lose a large proportion of their income thanks to the restrictions during their peak season.
MY CONTINGENCY PLANS
I have talked, albeit online, with a lot of other wedding photographers in recent weeks, I am pleased to say the current situation has seemed to have made the whole industry closer. We have been working together to find solutions, not only on how to survive as self employed sole traders but mainly on how to keep our clients happy. To this point, agreements have been but in place to cover each others weddings in the event of sickness or unavailability. Thanks to the internet, social circles are wide spread and so can ensure a quality substitute photographer who can be called upon if required. In this event I would still personally edit the work of the associate photographer to maintain a consistent aesthetic to meet the wedding couple’s expectation.
REMEMBER THE IMPORTANT THINGS
Eventually things will return to normal. One thing is sure, most of the worldwide population will be affected either through personal illness, lost loved ones, employment or with mental health issues. Weddings really do bring out the best of the human race, I have photographed hundreds over the years, and it never fails to surprise me the level of joy that humans experience being together with friends and family. So let us be patient, work together with understanding and in due course we can celebrate life in real style.
MEANWHILE TAKE CARE AND STAY SAFE