In this unprecedented time, the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting businesses around the globe. That does not exclude wedding vendors, whose small businesses are suffering as they muddle through this time of uncertainty. Without knowing what the future holds, these dedicated business owners, whose livelihoods are primarily based on public events and gatherings, find themselves reacting in different ways to keep their businesses afloat and work with engaged couples to best cope with these uncharted circumstances.
Postponed Events and Business
A common theme that wedding vendors are coping with in response to the coronavirus outbreak is postponed events, whether they’re actual weddings, engagement photo shoots, bachelorette parties, etc. Many of these events are now moved until later in 2020, as couples are hopeful that they’ll be able to tie the knot later this year.
Holly Weaver, owner of stationery company Paper Refinery, spoke about her experience: “I’ve personally been very fortunate to work with amazing clients. Even though I’ve had so many couples postpone their spring weddings until fall, they all paid me as scheduled anyway—I think they realize I’d be in a pretty tough spot without any income.”
It seems that the task of working with engaged couples to find alternate dates for their spring and early summer weddings has been a primary goal of vendors since the outbreak began.
Tiffany Ryan of Hunter Ryan Photography explained how they’re working with couples who were forced to move their wedding dates: “Everyone is obviously handling it differently according to their own contracts and business. But for us, we are moving retainers to our clients over to new dates, mostly in the fall. We’re trying to keep everyone still in 2020. We know that we didn’t want this for them and they didn’t want this, either. We know that they don’t want to cancel; they still want to be married. So, we’re just postponing and not canceling.”
Postponing can be tricky, though, as dates at many venues are starting to become scarce later in the year. Ryan went on to explain that flexibility is a necessity in order for couples to keep their originally planned vendor teams together for their new wedding date.
“It’s a lot higher likelihood of being able to still have your florist, your makeup and hair artist, your videographer, your photographer, your planner, your cake artist, and your venue all still be able to line up on a Friday, a Sunday, or a week day than trying to go for a Saturday,” Ryan noted.
As these small business owners work tirelessly with couples and venues to find alternate dates to make up for spring weddings, though, there are other effects felt from the pandemic.
Wedding Vendors Experience a Dry Pipeline and Future Uncertainty
Another theme affecting wedding vendors amidst the COVID-19 pandemic is a dry pipeline when it comes to new business. The uncertainty surrounding the future of the virus has taken its toll on those looking to plan weddings, and in turn, future business is trickling in for many small business owners in the wedding industry.
Rachel Lally of Alyssa Thomas Events spoke out on the lack of incoming business they’re receiving: “With the uncertainty of the quarantine, people are hesitant to enter a contract for a time in the future. Will events over 100+ people be ‘banned’ for longer than just April? What’s more important: a big wedding soon, or just getting married with a very small guest list? Those are the questions that a lot of brides are asking themselves and us. None of us have answers yet, so it’s hard to commit to a future event when there’s no guarantee that it’ll be possible.”
This is a scary reality for many vendors, as Weaver also explained: “I should be booking late fall and early winter weddings right now, but the leads have been almost non-existent. But, I totally get it—it’s hard to make plans right now, and scary to spend money. I revolve my entire business around my pipeline and booking in advance. Without that income on the books for later this year, it’s terrifying.”
As wedding vendors grapple with the uncertainty of what their income will look like throughout the rest of the year, they need all the support and visibility they can get to make it through this time.
How to Support Wedding Vendors Amidst the Pandemic
As a couple planning an upcoming wedding or even as a past client, you may be wondering how you can help support those small business owners in the wedding industry during this tumultuous time. Some vendors are turning to alternative forms of income in order to supplement lost income.
Lally shared: “A lot of wedding vendors are offering slightly different services during their current ‘down time.’ Some that I’ve seen are photographers offering one hour ‘social distanced’ shoots and artists offering paintings of bouquets for previous brides. Planners are offering copywriting or organizational services.” If able, enlisting in some of these alternative services supports these vendors.
Lally continued” “Investing in those different services and/or just sharing so others are aware of them is a great way to help vendors during these uncertain times.”
Measures as simple as liking, commenting, and sharing the social media posts and pages of wedding vendors is another non-monetary way to support these individuals, as it increases their reach. This could potentially drive business for them, and every ounce of visibility helps.
As wedding vendors are seemingly making the best out of an unprecedented situation, it’s no secret that their small businesses are taking a hit. However, hope remains that things will work out in the end.
Ryan shed light on her positive outlook amidst the uncertainty: “It’s devastating for our couples, but it’s also really hard on us as the vendors too. You know, this is our livelihood that we’re postponing. So I just think that if everyone operates in grace and kindness, it’s all going to come together.”