Can you be part of the post pandemic wedding boom?
‘Postpone don’t cancel’. This recommendation/plea has been much quoted in the global wedding market since the pandemic began. Thewedding sector has been very hard hit by Covid-19 with government closures, rules and regulations meaning that weddings as we know them have not happened in anywhere near the usual volumes.
The good news however is that whilst weddings have not been happening, (and I do not underestimate the sadness & impact surrounding this), 95% of couples have postponed and not cancelled and are committed to going ahead and marrying. This is a rite of passage in life and no pandemic is going to change that.
But whilst it may be the intention for those couples to stick with their already chosen wedding venue and vendors, the reality is that as more restrictions and postponements continue into 2021 this throws up many challenges. And meanwhile the newly engaged are entering the market too, meaning that over the coming 2-4 years we have a very inflated “boom” wedding market waiting in the wings with pent up demand. And this is where there is significant opportunity for ‘new to the market’wedding locations to do well.
Here’s why I think there is particularly good opportunity for farm businesses to add revenue from hosting weddings over the coming years:
AVAILABILITY – a location that doesn’t have a future order book or at least a year’s postponements to schedule in can offer those highly desirable wedding dates where other venues cannot. Those couples who absolutely want summer Saturdays or holiday weekends will be looking outside of the mainstream to find their dream location. Should you have the space and infrastructure to hold wedding events then you can answer that need.
NATURE AND OUTDOORS – the value and benefits of our connection to the outdoors and to nature have long been valued by young millennial wedding couples yet with our shared pandemic experience to factor in, this has seen a further boost. On a practical level, we are all craving and needing personal space and have become used to social distancing to some extent, we know that gathering outside is less risky in terms of spreading infection and most of us have spent a great deal more time outdoors enjoying and reconnecting with nature and all it offers us.Finally public gatherings, the likes of music festivals and large outdoor food and lifestyle events have been off the map for much of the past year so we can see a desire by couples to recreate their own versions in the great outdoors just as soon as they are able. And farm locations by their very nature, tend to have many of these benefits in abundance.
Without a doubt we’ve spent far less time with loved ones that we’d like over the past year. I foresee a boom in the demand for weddings that allow couples to spend quality time with their friends and family to replace some of what’s lost. That therefore may mean longer than usual wedding celebrations, gatherings that last more than one day and maybe several. This is where farm locations with either permanent accommodation like holiday cottages or temporary accommodation such as bell tents will be super valuable and in demand with your ability to provide on-site accommodation; couples wanting to create their own wedding village in a stunning location not just to celebrate their wedding in a few short hours but make up for several missed gatherings, by having a mini holiday.
NO RULE BOOK – the wedding rule book has been thrown out over recent years anyway but the pandemic will have given a lot of couples the final “permission” to focus on how they REALLY want to celebrate their union. And in many cases, that’s with something less formal, less structured and authentically them. That will be taken in lots of directions but we’re already seeing the trend for micro or intimate weddings (for less than 30 guests) move forward into not just 2021 but 2022. This size of gathering may well be ideal for a farm business diversifying who are cutting their teeth in hosting wedding events – it being more manageable in all of the ways to have less people on site, to cater for and accommodate.
So I see great opportunities for new host wedding locations yet as a specialist consultant and former wedding/project manager I would like to temper it with a dose of reality. To truly create sustainable revenue from weddings, it does need to be viewed as a long term game. It’s not a quick return on investment and it does require constant investment to evolve and live up to expectations of mainly a young and trend savvywedding customer. The hospitality sector is hard work, even if you’re outsourcing to a range of experienced vendors. When you consider that the budget for a wedding is probably the second largest spend a couple will make in their whole lives (next to a property purchase and probablythe biggest spend on one day alone), this might go someway towards explaining how important every step of the wedding planning journey is to them. You need to have the infrastructure in place to surpass customer expectation.
Kelly Chandler Wedding Consulting helps farmers and land owners thrive by generating profit from hosting weddings. Kelly and team offer specialist private consulting and group training programmes including a wedding venue Membership Club. Kelly is a UK-based wedding business specialist of 18 years with a passion for rural business, weddings and a love of the great outdoors.You can review more about what we do and get in touch with Kelly and team here:https://www.kellychandlerconsulting.co.uk/services/