What post-Covid-19 weddings will look like
By Naveed Rozais
While many, many industries have been hit hard by the effects of the pandemic, a few have come to an absolute standstill the way weddings have.
Lots of weddings the world over were cancelled after lockdowns and curfews were put in place in March, with things growing bleaker as time wore on and the long-term ramifications of the pandemic became clearer and clearer.
Now, with the ban on weddings being lifted, what will the post-pandemic wedding look like?
The new world order
The Ministry of Health and Indigenous Medical Services on Wednesday (27) released instructions for selected public activities/work settings for the prevention and control of Covid-19. Guidelines for weddings state that the number of guests should be 50% of the seating capacity of the hall, totalling up to a maximum of 100.
Adequate physical distancing is to be maintained between different action areas in the event, such as poruwa, registration, tables and chairs, and buffet area.
The number of guests permitted should be calculated by the management of the hotel or reception hall based on the space, adhering to the one-metre distance. Seating arrangements should adopt the one-metre policy as well.
Handwashing facilities should be provided before entering the premises and hand sanitiser bottles can be kept at several places at the reception.
Food is to be serviced by a dedicated staff member at the buffet. No self-serving is allowed. All visitors are encouraged to wear masks.
Dance floors are discouraged, owing to the fact that they don’t allow for the required physical distancing. Only the bride and groom will be allowed on the dance floor. A dance group can be allowed, but with the restriction of a maximum of four dancers and they are advised to use their own makeup.
Consumption of liquor isn’t allowed. A health and safety officer is to be appointed at each wedding and it is advisable to have him liaise with the client during preparation for the event. Shaking of hands and hugs are to be avoided.
(Visit www.health.gov.lk for the full set of guidelines for hotels/reception halls as well as the clients)
How will weddings look though?
Clearly, the further away your wedding is, the less these regulations will impact you. Weddings in the interim though may take some getting used to.
In light of this, The Sunday Morning Brunch reached out to Hemant Dadlani, the Co-founder of The Banquet Company, a wedding and event planning company that organises local and destination weddings. Dadlani explained that the coming year will be a lot busier, with a majority of 2020’s weddings being pushed to the first half of 2021.
End2End Events Managing Director and Creative Consultant Melisha Yapa shared that while traditional wedding seasons will still somewhat apply for 2021, we are more likely to see a more “year-round” season. Until the situation settles down and the world figures out what the “new normal” is, at least, the scale of weddings will drastically reduce and 400 to 500-guest weddings will not make a comeback until 2022.
This will see lots of couples opting to use unconventional venues as well as a rise of intimate registrations with larger receptions being held at a later date.
Wedding design and decor consultant company 90F Weddings shared it is likely that weddings in the near future will depend more on locally sourced flowers and decor, with non-essential imports being curbed, although how this relates to importing items like flowers is yet to be defined. 90F Weddings Co-founder Niroshan Jayawardena also said simple, elegant weddings are likely to become the norm until restrictions are lifted.
Furthermore, personalisation and philanthropy are also features that we can expect to become more important to couples, with guests being appreciated with things like personalised wedding favours and thank you notes as well as more couples building in engagement with charitable causes to their weddings.
Flexibility, intimate gatherings, and simplicity
An elite panel discussion comprising Sri Lankan vendors, moderated by wedding and event planner Magical Moments, also addressed what weddings in the coming year are likely to look like and what couples looking to get married later this year and in 2021 should expect.
The key takeaway from this webinar was that looking to the future, couples would need to be flexible with certain aspects of their weddings, such as dates and days of the week. Another big aspect that will require flexibility will be the guest count.
As noted previously, the option of having an intimate registration or religious ceremony now, followed by a larger reception later once the regulations are relaxed, is something many couples may need to consider. Another option that could see increased traction in the near future is intimate physical ceremonies that are live-streamed to a larger base of family and friends.
The wedding planning process will also change, with social distancing and minimising infection taking priority. Sorting out bridals, for example, will become more of a virtual process, with designers and brides linking over Zoom or WhatsApp to discuss and finalise details while physical meetings are reserved for key activities like fittings.
The bride’s process of getting ready on the day is also likely to change, with fewer people being involved in the process and extended family involvement being kept to a minimum to reduce potential infection.
In terms of decor, in addition to looking at sourcing locally, it will also be important to consider how hotel regulations and timings will affect the setup of weddings. More time may be required to set up flowers, thrones, poruwas, etc. while sticking to health and safety guidelines.
Simpler decor that can be prepared offsite and quickly assembled at the venue will also be a technique that comes to the forefront in the coming months.
Pre-wedding shoots are likely to become more important as these will likely be instances where masks can be done away. Videography may also play a greater part in the pre-wedding shoot to help couples capture important memories. It will be a creative challenge working around the restrictions in place, but adversity breeds innovation, so it will be interesting how the post-pandemic environment affects weddings in the longer term.
When it comes to rescheduling weddings, it is important for couples to try as much as possible to keep the same vendors when rescheduling or see if they can refer vendors they will not be using to other people they know, who are also planning their weddings. Many wedding-related businesses are also small businesses looking to make it through troubled times.
Financially, it is also important to be clear with vendors and professionals on timelines, budgets, and constraints. With the entire economy taking a major hit, it is likely that budgets will decrease while the costs of goods and services will rise. In the planning stage, being mindful of this will enable vendors to provide couples with the best solutions possible and make weddings truly memorable.
“The purpose of a wedding is to be a public declaration of commitment and enduring love,” shared 90F Weddings, and this will not change. The post-pandemic weddings will still hold these values at its core while finding creative ways around the pandemic and its aftermath.
What about destination weddings?
Sri Lanka has been very popular as a destination wedding spot for couples the world over, and the pandemic’s travel and living restrictions leave you wondering if this particular aspect of tourism will bounce back. A recent survey conducted by the Destination Wedding Planners Congress found that 57% of wedding planners believe that couples will opt for destination weddings once the pandemic is over, painting a hopeful picture for the future of destination weddings.
The Banquet Company shared this positive outlook and has already started receiving inquiries for destination weddings, some for as early as the later months of 2020.
A key consideration for destination weddings, for both couples and planners, is what the travel restrictions are like as well as the protocol for managing tourists entering and leaving the country.
A common theme among planners, vendors, and people in general is that weddings are an integral part of our lives and culture that is fairly immutable. While the pandemic has changed the face of weddings, it is most likely that this is an interim change with weddings adapting to meet travel and living restrictions, and that as restrictions loosen, weddings will also revert to the status quo.
A key piece of advice to couples from planners and vendors is not to underestimate the luxury of time. Book your vendors and service providers now so that you don’t miss out on them by waiting too late. It appears that weddings, like most things in life, also require constant vigilance.