Wedding day joy will replace our woes soon


Mairi Hughes

WITH ongoing restrictions on our daily movements across the country and across the world, mass gatherings feel like a very distant memory. Nightclubs have closed their doors, gigs have been called off, even public worship has been restricted.

However, for many, the ban on mass gatherings did not simply mean missing a gig or attending a socially distanced place of worship, but having what should be one of the most significant days of their lives turned upside down. Hundreds of thousands of couples due to tie the knot in the UK in 2020 postponed, cancelled or hugely stripped back their weddings as they faced a myriad of restrictions.

For a period, weddings were banned altogether and—at the time of writing—rules in Scotland mean no more than 20 people can attend a wedding, with similar restrictions in place across the UK. This wreaked havoc for many couples’ wedding plans.

A survey of 10,000 couples across 15 countries carried out by The Knot Worldwide revealed that 71 per cent of people due to get married in 2020 were rescheduling their wedding to 2021 or 2022. Half of couples also said they were planning to have a smaller reception than originally intended on their new date.

From florists to bridal boutiques to bakers to wedding coordinators, the UK wedding industry currently employs 400,000 people. And couples take advantage of every last one of them. For many, weddings mean intricate planning, extravagant flowers, flowing gowns and towering cakes.

Pre-pandemic, the average cost of a wedding in the UK was around £32,000, according to Hitched UK. This figure included the cost of a venue, food, drink, a wedding dress, photography, videography and entertainment for the day, but also an engagement ring, honeymoon and even a ‘mini-moon’—a short break taken before a honeymoon at a later date.

However, Yahoo Finance estimates that the UK wedding industry lost roughly £4.8 billion due to the pandemic. With the ongoing disruption to our lives forcing couples to re-evaluate their big day, the white wedding as we know it may be a thing of the past.

Arguably the wedding industry has become overly extravagant. Is it really necessary to spend thousands on food and drink, and does anyone really need a ‘mini-moon’ before their honeymoon?

This year, thousands of couples will have been faced with the difficult decision of either having a very small wedding or postponing until they could have a bigger reception. This has forced many to evaluate why they are really getting married: for an extravagant party or to make a life long commitment to their partner?

Weddings should be about the marriage, not the party, and if a lack of fancy flowers or costly wedding cars puts you off marriage all together, you probably shouldn’t be getting married. The pandemic may well have made many realise that if they can’t have the party, they don’t want the marriage.

Nonetheless, a wedding is a joyous occasion and should be celebrated accordingly. While we could do without some of the more ostentatious elements of the wedding industry—which may not survive the pandemic—there is nothing wrong with marking an incredibly important day with family, friends and festivities. Here’s hoping a time will come when this will once again be possible.

Mairi Hughes is a Journalist and Creative Writer