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Weddings go virtual

Most weddings are being postponed to next year, but some have gone virtual – along with the entire wedding planning industry

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As weddings are put on hold for hundreds of thousands of couples during the global Coronavirus pandemic, most couples are postponing and few are reducing their guest lists, but the wedding planning industry is about to undergo a profound shift, according to WeddingWire, an international wedding planning resource.

Most couples with wedding dates between March and August are choosing to postpone their wedding celebrations (only 7% are canceling altogether) and do not plan to decrease their guest list count (94% in the US, 87% globally) or their budget (95% in the US, 90% globally) for their rescheduled festivities. Just like weddings have been postponed, couples are postponing engagements—for now. However, as regions begin to reopen and social distancing restrictions are lifted, says WeddingWire, it anticipates a surge in engagements and wedding planning.

“We’re learning from being in constant communication with our engaged couples and network of wedding professionals that there is a strong desire to keep the planning momentum moving forward, as couples and their families plan highly anticipated celebrations of love, and vendors prepare for events to reignite,” says Jeffra Trumpower, Senior Creative Director at WeddingWire. 

“The wedding industry is a resilient one, and it’s no surprise to us that these professionals are doing whatever it takes to make planning possible—and easy—for couples during this challenging time.”

According to WeddingWire, many couples and vendors are still operating with health and safety in mind and prioritising virtual meetings where possible. The standard wedding to-do list remains the same, but wedding pros have adapted their approach to fit today’s evolving regulations and recommendations from government bodies and health organisations. 

Innovative solutions from vendors are becoming more widespread as couples look to take control of their wedding planning at a time where staying home may feel like their safest option. For example, caterers are working with couples to provide in-home tastings, and bridal salons are offering virtual consultations with to-be-weds alongside at-home try-ons, where they will ship a number of sample wedding dresses for brides to try on at home.

“Our goal for navigating the global pandemic is to keep the human side of purchasing a wedding gown as much as possible,” said Krysta York, owner of Charlotte’s Weddings in Portland, Oregon. “Virtual appointments allow us to keep our connection with brides, as they invite us into their homes—virtually—and into their lives. In addition to virtual appointments, we launched a virtual sample sale, which was a great resource for couples getting married quickly, who either still needed their attire or were honouring their original wedding date with a small, intimate ceremony. We also spent several days before our closure producing video content to educate and have fun with our brides—we want them to remember how magical it is to find their gown.”

Other vendor categories, like florists and hair and makeup artists, are also offering virtual meetings and in-home services. Virtual hair and makeup tutorials, and bouquet- and arrangement-making sessions via video chat are helpful for couples who are having a minimony—a small ceremony with just the couple, their officiant, and a few loved ones in attendance via video conference—prior to their postponed festivities, during which they can use the vendors’ full, more traditional services.

“Love is definitely not canceled, and hair and makeup artists are virtually helping couples in this new phase of weddings, whether that be through at-home tutorials for intimate minimonies ahead of a rescheduled wedding, or providing virtual consultations for weddings a few months down the road,” says Megan Garmers, founder and director of MG Hair & Makeup and The Bridal Masterclass

“We are embracing video chat and streaming technology to coach couples virtually on how and what to do with a list of carefully curated products so they can look like the best possible version of themselves during this time. Now more than ever, social media plays a big role in couples choosing their wedding day looks, but the abundance of inspiration can be daunting. By offering virtual consultations, hair and makeup artists help couples—and even wedding party members—have a more focused approach to finalising day-of details that work best with their face shape, hair type, skin type and more.”

As COVID-19 restrictions are lifted on large events, WeddingWire anticipates weddings will have an increased focus on health and safety for wedding guests, such as providing customised masks, hand sanitiser and other precautions. Vendors will also likely work with couples to rethink the flow and floor plan of wedding celebrations, allowing for social distancing with satellite bars and dance floors to cut down on guest traffic, and grouping guests together by households for dinner seating. Couples will also lean into leveraging technology to not only involve guests who are unable to attend and are tuning in from afar, but also to communicate with guests as new updates become available about the status of events and how that may impact a couple’s specific wedding weekend plans.

WeddingWire’s suite of digital planning tools is designed to support couples who are wedding planning anytime, anywhere. Now, with the launch of new features to the arsenal, WeddingWire is helping couples get things done from home. The company provided the following information on its newly launched tools:

  • WeddingWire 360° Virtual Venue Tours: In comparison to traditional photos and videos of a wedding venue, WeddingWire 360° Virtual Tours give couples the most realistic experience next to physically standing in an event space. With today’s sheltering recommendations in place, this resource allows couples to take a real-life walk-through of a venue property—completely virtually on any screen from home. Additionally, after a wedding venue is booked, couples can continue to leverage the WeddingWire 360° Virtual Tours to help easily concept and design the venue space for their wedding day festivities. This will become increasingly helpful as couples get creative with building celebratory spaces that allow for social distancing.
  • WeddingWire Rescheduler: Rescheduling or finding a backup wedding date can be a daunting task for couples who have a large vendor team already in place. The WeddingWire Rescheduler helps streamline the process of contacting a couple’s entire team of wedding professionals and finding the best overlap of availability on preferred new wedding date options. Once a couple’s vendors have all weighed in with their availability, it’s presented back to the couple in an easy-to-read chart so they can choose the best date for them and their vendor team.
  • WeddingWire Vendor Concierge: As couples are sourcing vendors for their wedding, WeddingWire Concierge—a virtual concierge chat system—will help them refine their list of options based on preferences, wedding date, budget, location and other details. When greeted by Taylor, the WeddingWire Concierge (available across the site and the WeddingWire app), couples will answer questions about what they’re looking for, including the type of venue, location, budget and wedding date to submit personalized inquiries with vendors that match their search.

These new resources complement the already established suite of digital resources that have been helping couples and vendors plan together for years, including:

  • WeddingWire Local Vendor Directory: Couples can search for local wedding professionals across every category—planners, florists, photographers, caterers and more—using the WeddingWire Vendor Directory. Each wedding professional’s storefront offers consumer reviews, photos and videos of real weddings, available promotional deals, pricing and other resources that enable couples to confidently make decisions regarding their wedding day vendor team. A planning staple for the last decade, the WeddingWire Vendor Directory is filterable by location, budget, availability and other preferences, making virtual planning and booking vendors possible from any location.
  • WeddingWire Wedding Websites: Guest communication is more important than ever for couples during this time of uncertainty. With many celebrations being rescheduled or hosted in slightly different ways, WeddingWire’s wedding websites provide a convenient place for couples to post updates as new information becomes available. Creating a section for frequently asked questions is a great place to start in regards to a couple’s new date, new travel and accommodations information, virtual streaming information, and health and safety measures that will be implemented during the wedding festivities.
  • WeddingWire Checklist, Budgeter and Wedding Cost Guide: Also a wedding planning staple, the WeddingWire Checklist helps couples stay on top of their to-dos with customizable tasks for every stage of their planning journey. The WeddingWire Budget tool syncs with a couple’s Checklist to help manage expenses, track payments, and keep their budget under control. The WeddingWire Wedding Cost Guide is another tool that helps couples take control of finances related to wedding planning by providing average wedding vendor costs by category and location, allowing couples to search for vendors that fit within their pricing parameters. This helps couples set realistic budget expectations when searching for vendors in their specific location.
  • WeddingWire Payments: Couples can directly pay their vendors without ever having to leave the WeddingWire app or online account (and at no additional charge to them) with WeddingWire Payments. Vendors can easily send contracts and invoices to couples and request payment—with a flat, low rate—directly from their WeddingWire vendor account. WeddingWire Payments functions similarly to other popular peer-to-peer digital payment tools with an intuitive and secure interface that allows users to request and fulfill payments with a credit card, debit card or bank account.
  • WeddingWire Community Forums: In the midst of the global pandemic, couples are dealing with many challenges related to wedding planning and their wedding day celebrations. The WeddingWire Community Forums provide a group of people in similar situations a place to offer advice and help come up with creative solutions. Whether a couple is seeking guidance or someone to confide in, the WeddingWire Community Forums is a resource for constructive conversation on planning challenges or small milestones made during this difficult time.

“The WeddingWire 360° Virtual Tours have allowed us to keep our business running smoothly, and helped engaged couples who are planning their wedding get a sense for our venue space without stepping foot outside their home during this global crisis,” says Todd Mozingo, owner of Chatham Station in Cary, North Carolina. “Couples can navigate our space at their own speed and convenience, and get a sense for our size, texture and layout, along with a general familiarity that two dimensional pictures don’t always convey. Couples are confident in this technology; in fact, several couples who used our 360 Virtual Tour during the pandemic have booked our space for their weddings without seeing the space in person.”

Planning in the time of coronavirus has required vendors and couples to work together and creatively redefine what planning a wedding looks like. As planning momentum continues for upcoming celebrations, the reality is that weddings may look different in the near future, but they will happen again, says WeddingWire.

“It’s important for couples to continue on with their planning journey, knowing 2021 will have a larger-than-normal increase in weddings, and that those nearest and dearest to them will be eager to celebrate once it’s safe to do so.”

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