While no one would argue this last year has been a peach, the pandemic has opened our minds to how weddings can work differently. Which Covid trends will stick around? We grill a few industry insiders
1. A focus on what matters most
Frankly, couples are past caring about the napkins matching, or whether the ice sculpture is impressive enough – now, it just boils down to love, to people and quality time together, which we’ve sorely missed.
“Guest numbers had to be cut dramatically and this was so difficult,” concedes Fuze Ceremonies’ Lucy Black. “But having been part of these Covid-friendly weddings, I’ve had the honour of witnessing the sheer joy of not only the couple but their nearest and dearest. Brides and grooms have told me that the pandemic has given them an insight into what means the most, and that’s their love.
“Smaller nuptials bring so much intimacy and emotion. I’ve found that couples are prioritising symbolism in their ceremonies, with gestures like handfasting, candle lighting and even jumping the broom (see above)! And they’ve spent more time writing their services and exploring why they love one other, more than ever before.”
2. A fashion fairytale
By necessity, celebrations have had to be low-key of late – but that doesn’t mean our gowns have to be. Don’t expect us to temper our insatiable appetite for trailing trains, lavish lace and the puffiest of sleeves. “After all the compromises our brides have had to make in the last year, they are not willing to make any for their dress,” confirms designer Sassi Holford. “They want to feel confident, elegant and, above all, special.” Hear hear.
3. A wedding in bloom
While people are undoubtedly the top priority, we’re not about to sit in an empty function suite. Styling, in many ways, has become even more crucial.
“All our couples have had many hurdles to overcome, drastically rethinking their guest lists and reimagining their entire day,” recognises florist and stylist Katie Hart at Get Knotted. “With these changes, however, comes the opportunity to rethink how everything will look. With fewer guests, socially distanced in often quite large areas, flowers have become so much more important.
“There is also more emphasis on table decor: thanks to sharing platters still being a no-no, there’s plenty of room to create a spectacular tablescape and a real talking point. Attention to detail is key.”
4. An intimate occasion
The burning question is, will wee weddings prevail? Only time will tell. Aikwood Tower’s Vicki Steel certainly believes in the benefits.
“We’ve always said small is beautiful at Aikwood,” she says. “Now, as we navigate weddings in a post-pandemic, new-normal world, that rings true more than ever. Yes, making the cuts to the guest list is incredibly hard, but on the day, you know that every single person there deeply appreciates their invitation.
“And small isn’t second best: it might not cost as much as larger affairs for instance, so there’s greater flexibility in your budget. I’m seeing couples investing more in things like the wedding breakfast – some are even going for seven-course tasting menus with wine pairings. I think that’s a really exciting change, fostering a different and more memorable experience for guests.”
5. A local approach
“I have found more and more, especially during these recent times, that we are more aware of our surroundings,” considers Rebekah Brett-Pitt of Wild Highland Drinks Co. “Being up in the Highlands, people have come to appreciate the peace that we have to offer – not to mention the resources.”
Provenance is going to continue to be paramount, then? “Big day drinks have taken a detour from the usual brands,” she agrees. “We pride ourselves on using as much locally-sourced Scottish produce as possible: spirits, beers, lagers and IPAs.”
6. A feast for a few
Pre-pandemic, elevated buffets, family-style dining and mega charcuterie spreads were reigning supreme, so when Covid hit, caterers had to U-turn at breakneck speed. Platter & Pop was one such company that had to adapt – and fast.
“We’ve been whipping up mini grazing stations to be served at individual tables, rather than buffet-style,” explains co-founder and creative director Susannah Nixon. “It’s actually a lovely alternative to traditionally served trays of canapés. We can see this trend carrying on into the future. Fingers crossed little else does, as I feel I speak for most of us when I say we are well and truly sick of this nightmare!”
7. A midweek date
“Thursday is the new Saturday!” proclaims Oskar Gilchrist-Grodnicki, weddings and events manager at Broxmouth Park in Dunbar. “Due to the shortage of weekend dates in 2022 and 2023, we’re seeing an influx in flexibility for midweek bookings.”
And there are so many possibilities if you switch from a Saturday to a Thursday, Oskar contends: “You can run your celebrations longer with the weekend just around the corner, and there are discounted hire fees – sometimes as much as half of your standard Saturday rate!”
8. A streamed service
Before Covid-19, the deal was simple: be there or be square. Turns out being ‘square’ isn’t so bad after all, if it means you’re the star of your loved ones’ laptop screens. Ready for your close-up?
“The pandemic has highlighted how useful streaming can be and where people would never have thought of it before, now it makes complete sense,” says Laurie Withers of We Stream It. “There will always be couples with family abroad or guests who can’t travel for one reason or another. Streaming brings the wedding to them.”
9. A shared album
Technology has been the winner this past year, hasn’t it? Another innovative offering comes in the form of BigAlbum, “designed to easily collect photos from your guests on your wedding day,” says the company’s Ryan Wells. “When numbers were limited, our real-time photo album let guests who couldn’t attend feel included by seeing photos taken as the day progressed and contributing their own – sharing how they were celebrating the day from afar.” Step aside Facebook, this is the future.
10. A virtual venue tour
Paying your prospective venue a visit before you sign on the dotted line is essential, but during the pandemic, trips were strictly off the table. What to do? Enter the virtual tour, which helped thousands get a real sense of their setting.
For busy brides and grooms, this was a lightbulb moment: why couldn’t this be the case, all the time? Newhall Estate saw and seized the gap in the market, introducing Matterport technology, normally (and somewhat appropriately) used to sell houses, to virtually ‘show’ couples round the Carlops gem. Brilliant.
11. A crafty table plan
“People are being much more creative with their space,” observes Rachel King, senior events manager at Dalmahoy Hotel & Country Club. “For a while, despite only being able to have an intimate wedding, you still needed a large venue, capable of maintaining social distancing between households. Guests can very quickly get lost within such a room. So, what we’re seeing is a return to hollow, square table layouts, so guests can see one another, rather than being dotted around the room in bubbles. There’s also been an upgrade in staging, with stunning place settings and personalised touches.”