Planning a wedding can be stressful – even under the best of circumstances. Invitations. Table settings. But what happens when your wedding falls during a pandemic? If you’re confused about what comes next – you’re not alone.

The celebration of love had to adjust…

Like nearly every sector of the economy that relies on people getting together in large groups, the wedding industry has been particularly hard on weddings. With worldwide health organisations, such as WHO and the CDC’s recommendations to limit gatherings of more than 10 people and widespread social distancing efforts, many weddings have been canceled, rescheduled, or – in beautiful displays of love – moved online. But these are temporary solutions to a long-term problem. Now we are concerned with how, going forward, weddings and events will adapt in the COVID-19.

A word from the experts…

Plenty of experts have seen the havoc that COVID-19 has brought to the wedding industry. They are now having to force themselves into the mind of ‘how can we make do’ as everything changes so rapidly, especially with not much certainty going forward.

The Expert…

One of these experts is Events Producer, Brooke Avishay. Brooke Avishay is the owner and founder of Orange Blossom Special Events, a premier wedding planning production and design company located in Los Angeles. With 12+ years of experience planning extraordinary events in California and around the globe, she is a leading expert in the wedding and event industry.

In this industry, she has seen disruptions to events of all kinds… but not much could prepare her for this. “As a wedding planner in Los Angeles who has helped plan events of all kinds — from small weddings in a family’s backyard to celebrity weddings covered by People Magazine  –I thought that I had seen it all.

Fire seasons that destroyed venues sometimes days before a wedding, last-minute break-ups have upended year-long plans and family drama that could provide a writer’s room with enough content to write a ten-season soap opera. But now, with the outbreak of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the wedding industry is facing a new kind of challenge unlike any other.”

Keeping guests safe and numbers low…

As the wedding industry looks to all that has happened so far and into the future, there is no doubt that there are many changes that are going to occur. This includes growth in the popularity of Zoom weddings or limiting the number of guests to watch the celebration of love. Brooke believes the ideas around the health and safety of guests will be a significant one.

“First off, once we return to in-person events, I expect that couples will want to take a variety of precautionary steps to guarantee everyone’s safety. At first, I think we’ll see a lot of masks at our first few weddings (maybe they’ll be a fashion accessory a la fascinators?!) and fewer guests (regardless of health guidelines).”

With the guest list being forced to be extremely limited, families will have to think critically including higher risk guests, such as the elderly or people with pre-existing conditions. For couples with family overseas, this also limits guests, with travel restrictions hanging around for the foreseeable future.

Brooke thinks when it comes to asking for plus-ones, it’s going to be even harder now. “Wedding invitations will be reserved for the couple’s most inner circle.” Brooke thinks that when it comes to deciding upon that list, the trouble couples often have when it comes to cutting numbers might be quite a bit easier, “When planning for a potential guest count pre-COVID, I would suggest planning for a 10% attrition. Post-COVID, especially in the early months, I think it will be closer to 30%.”

Brooke expects the usual number of guests of weddings to drop from over 150 to under 100. And with this comes money available to be spent elsewhere. “With the shift in guest numbers, I can see couples spending more money on catering and bar services per guest than I’ve seen in recent years. Couples will have more money to spend per guest and I think there will be an emphasis on intimacy and treating their closest friends and family to an unforgettable dining experience.”

Design changes…

Weddings require several components, industries, and businesses to come together to make a couples dream day come true. With disruptions to several of these industries, we may see some design alterations being made! One of these industries is the floral market! “Last year, we already saw a natural trend toward dried flowers as decor and also a trend toward incorporating flowers into desserts.

However, it looks as if this trend is here to stay, thanks to disruptions in the supply chains for fresh flowers. Our longtime friend and Los Angeles florist, Megan McCarter of The Little Branch, says there will undoubtedly be a long term impact on flower availability.”

But, with these disruptions, it may mean that creativity will flourish! Brooke explains, “Our in-house event designer, Jamie Giancola, sees the disruptions in supply chains and lack of available resources as a potential opportunity for wedding designers to get extra creative. She feels that a lack of resources is the “birthplace for creativity” and she’s looking forward to pushing herself toward creating some extraordinarily unique designs for our couples that are faced with limitations to which flowers and rentals they can use.”

Locally sourced…

With Brooke’s experiences in the USA, she believes the trend of sourcing locally will grow significantly. Worldwide, the idea of supporting locally has risen exponentially, and this is no different in the wedding industry. Brooke explains that several florists in LA are now focusing on souring from local growers more and more, but it won’t stop at just flowers.

Brooke is also hoping the environment will be recognised more. “We look forward to seeing a larger trend toward environmentally friendly wedding planning and look forward to collaborating with our clients on ideas for saving costs and resources while planning a beautiful and meaningful event.”

Several couples are of course using this time to put things into perspective, with so many families across America and the world experiencing such sad and uncertain times. Instead, it is more about family and connection.

“One of our couples feels that it’s almost tasteless to throw a wedding in 2020 that’s extravagant or lavish in any way considering the devastation so many families are facing in these uncertain times. Clients in this boat want to scale down everything and bring back the focus of the event to spending time with their loved ones. They want comfort food, good wine, good music, and an opportunity to create memories with their nearest and dearest.”

Love will conquer…

Of course, no matter what, love will flourish! Brooke sees this time as one to ensure we know how important and special the gathering of loved ones to celebrate a marriage truly is. “I hope that couples love and support each other more through the wild time that is planning a wedding.

I hope that parents are more supportive of their children’s wedding vision. I hope that rental, service, and kitchen staff are shown more appreciation. And I hope that all of us vendors bring a renewed sense of joy to the wedding day. The only way we, as an industry, recover from this is by bringing bigger hearts and more compassion when we work with couples – something I know we are all, as wedding vendors, innately good at.”

The Celebration…

When we are finally able to be in the same room with our loved ones celebrating a birthday, wedding, anniversary, or graduation, those events will be filled to the brim and overflowing with love and positive energy. It will be more about celebration and creating meaningful memories and connections.

The Countdown Is On…

Like so many people in our industry, Brooke can’t wait for the first wedding back. “I just can’t wait to help that first bride into her dress and be the last one with her before she goes down the aisle. It will be electric. And to be able to guide my team and a team of vendors through that? That will be incredible.

We may be facing profound uncertainty now, but as the old saying goes, “Staying positive doesn’t mean you have to be happy all the time. It means that even on hard days you know there are better ones to come.”