Charlotte Winship’s crystal ball on trends for the 2022 wedding season.
I am determined to have fun in 2022! As with all great eras of social, political and economic change, we are in a renaissance. Prohibition of freedom has helped us recognise what brings us joy and we are going to maximise every opportunity to fill our buckets.
Nearly two years of lockdowns and restrictions have stifled us and we want to embrace freedom; dress up, gather friends and family around us, hear live music, dance and enjoy good food. And nowhere will feel this resurgence quite like the wedding industry.
2022 is predicted to be the busiest year on record for UK wedding businesses with over 550,000 weddings in the pipeline, according to the UK Weddings Taskforce. Two years of lockdowns and uncertainty have created a backlog of postponed weddings and couples keen to seize the day leading to a forecasted revenue of over £28 billion for the UK economy.
But what will these weddings look like and how can you prepare your wedding venue to meet the expectations of couples in 2022?
Wedding style in 2022
The successful Netflix series Bridgerton has led to a revival of the dramatic and vibrant Regency-era style. Bright, bold colours, voluminous dresses and big statement floral arrangements. Spring and summer gatherings for sumptuous feasts set at formal tables with multiple courses, wine pairings, rich flavours and aromas. Georgian country houses, palaces, museum venues or traditional white pole marquees for the win.
The BBC’s The Pursuit Of Love also fuelled our love affair with Roaring Twenties decadence. Frivolous, multi-textured, sensual style. Sharp Art Deco design in silver and gold against dark reds, blues, greens and black blended with luxurious soft velvets, leather sofas, brocade, fringing, pearls, palms and atmospheric lighting.
A woodland ceremony with an eccentric celebrant, Champagne tea on the lawn with a game of croquet then an evening of frivolity. Theatrical bar tenders dishing out inventive and imaginative cocktails, grazing food stations, plenty of space for dancing to the DJs tunes and cosy nooks to rest your weary bones and tired toes. Outdoor tipi venues, converted barns and warehouses, town and country stately homes and rural idylls get ready.
Covid has left us feeling nostalgic. Recollections of our lives BC (before Covid) have seen couples incorporate personal memories into their wedding day. Meaningful places or objects from their travels or childhood can be incorporated into tablescapes, stationery design and even outfits. Wedding locations will be chosen according to the memories they evoke, of happy holidays, childhood excursions or family connections.
Changes to Marriage Law
A massive shakeup of how we marry is also likely to occur later this year. The Law Commission is expected to publish a report in July 2022 with their recommendations for how the UK government should reform the 1836 Marriage Law. It is widely recognised that this outdated law is no longer fit for purpose in the 21st century and couples deserve more freedom to choose how and where they wish to be married.
Currently couples have one of two choices: marry in a church or conduct a civil ceremony within a licensed building with an official registrar. The proposed changes will mean that couples have a lot more flexibility. There will be less regulations, increased choice, fairness and simplicity making weddings more affordable and equal for all. This opens the door to outdoor weddings at home, on a beach, in a woodland or even a boat, and weddings conducted by independent celebrants with or without religious ceremony.
What could this mean for UK wedding venues?
The opportunity to utilise more of your venue without having to obtain an additional costly and time-consuming wedding licence from your local council
Providing more flexibility to meet the changing expectations of couples
A need to create idyllic outdoor spaces for more personal humanist or celebrant led ceremonies
Seeking out more intimate indoor spaces for popular micro wedding ceremonies and elopements
Getting to know your local independent celebrants and creating a list to help couples choose who they would like to lead their wedding ceremony
Offer an in-house celebrant service to help couples save time and money.
Small, sustainable, supportive weddings
Maximalism may be our response to stultifying Covid but climate change is also top of the agenda for lots of us and couples are increasingly mindful of the impact their wedding may have on the environment. Locally sourced seasonal food, vegan and vegetarian menu options, second-hand dresses or outfits that are timeless and can be worn again, dried, homegrown and seasonal flowers. What initiatives have you introduced to lower your environmental impact?
Smaller, micro weddings and elopements are also continuing to be popular for couples keen to celebrate with their closest friends and family or just themselves. Venues close to home lower the impact of travel and couples are keen to support local, small businesses. Keep a list of trustworthy suppliers who you have worked with and can recommend to provide maximum quality product, service and imagination.
Weddings closer to home
Overseas destination weddings are still unlikely as Covid continues to create uncertainty for travellers. Continuous changes at the borders and rules around vaccination and Covid testing and quarantine have made travel complicated and expensive. It has also become very hard to find insurance for overseas weddings. Whilst there will still be couples prepared to take a risk for the surety of a more exotic, warm and sunny wedding day, there will be many more who stay closer to home to enable more family and friends to attend and remove any fear of their wedding plans being upended by zealous border officials. This is a bonus for UK-based wedding venues and suppliers and will further help swell the number of UK weddings planned for 2022.
Being forced to play roulette with the British weather doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate more exotic elements into your wedding day. We have all the benefits of a multi-cultural world right here, from food to flowers, costumes and furniture. It might involve a bit more imagination and effort but there is no reason why you cannot bring the Caribbean beach to Cornwall or an Italian lake to Cumbria. Be flexible and open-minded to support your couples to have their dream wedding and keep your fingers crossed for a balmy summer.
‘It will be over by Christmas’, they said in 2020. As I write this, the UK government is discussing plans to lift Plan B restrictions by the end of January 2022. But Covid will linger and no doubt cast its spell of uncertainty over us for a long time to come. The best approach is to stay optimistic and plan ahead. Paramount is keeping everyone safe: you, your staff and your guests. Foster good relationships with your couples and suppliers. Keep in regular communication, build trust and cooperation.
Regularly review your Covid policy and your hire terms and conditions. Make it very clear to your couples what plans you have in place to protect them and their guests and the expectations you have from them. Follow the government guidance and seek sound legal advice whenever necessary. Be prepared for further cancellations and postponements and have a process in place when they arise.
Family friendly weddings
Gone are the days when weddings were for adults only. More and more couples are getting married later in life and often have children before they tie the knot. It is also much easier for families to be able to bring their children to a wedding than to arrange childcare, particularly if the wedding is far from home and involves a night away. That doesn’t mean that parents want to be encumbered by their little darlings. Providing entertainment and supervision for young children will be a godsend to parents and enable them to fully enjoy the day.
Bored children also tend to become troublesome children which can cause disruption and even health and safety concerns. What onsite facilities can you offer to help parents? Is there a room you could set aside for a creche? Do you permit bouncy castles and garden games? Do you offer a babysitting service or have a local company who can? Do you or your caterers offer child-friendly drinks and menus? Make it one of your first fact-finding questions at the venue visit to find out who’s on the guest list so you can support your couples to help their guests enjoy their day too.
Advise all your couples to take out wedding insurance but to check the policy wording. Insurers are being very vague as to whether couples will be covered or not in the event of cancellation of their wedding due to Covid 19. Insurers will often ask that couples speak to their venue and suppliers first to see if they can come to a suitable arrangement before making a claim. Wedinsure have said they will consider a claim for cancellation or rearrangement resulting from coronavirus.
Be as flexible as possible with your clients. Postponement is usually the best course of action for everyone though couples may still be disappointed not to get their preferred date or having to wait longer for their special day. Emotions will be running high so be mindful of this in your conversations. Communicate closely with suppliers too to help couples find a date that is mutually acceptable for all. In the event that some of the wedding party are unable to attend, can you enable a live feed of the ceremony from your venue to guests isolating at home?
Value for money
Budgets will remain high with average wedding spend at £22,000, a quarter of which will be spent on venue hire. Unlike days of old, parents are less likely to foot the bill for their offspring’s nuptials. Young couples are becoming increasingly budget conscious and financially aware. They still want to invest in a memorable wedding day but they have other expenses on their mind so are looking for best value for money.
Where does your venue add value? Do you offer a full wedding coordination service? Busy couples will value as much help as they can in planning their wedding. Do you offer in-house accommodation? Being able to stay on site and not travel is a bonus for couples. Do you offer an in-house bar? Many couples still prefer to bring in their own wine for their wedding breakfast but with a well-considered bar list you can save couples the trouble of sourcing their own wine and increase revenue at the same time. Are you licenced for the ceremony as well as the wedding reception?
Are you able to offer more than one indoor space? Being able to hold the whole wedding at one venue is the best value for couples. Venues that can provide two indoor spaces large enough to accommodate the wedding party will be valued above venues that only offer one indoor space. Changing a room around from ceremony to wedding breakfast to dancefloor is not ideal. It can cause disruption for the guests and it creates extra work for venue staff.
The last two years have seen us all embrace the great outdoors. Fresh air, the beautiful and varying landscapes, wildlife and changing seasons. Outdoors feels safe. Clean air, natural UV and space to create distance from one another. Walking, camping holidays and wild swimming have all seen a growth in popularity recently and there is a natural inclination for us to weave this newfound lifestyle into other aspects of our lives including our wedding day. Wedding venues with outside space will be favourable as couples plan to spend at least some of their day outside, depending on the season and weather permitting.
Venues can support couples to enjoy their outside spaces by adding an awning, creating outdoor warmth such as fire pits or other outdoor heaters, pretty garden lighting and outdoor games and activities such as clay pigeon shooting or mini golf. Marquee weddings are expected to be particularly popular as couples can plan to enjoy all the benefits of outdoors with some protection from the weather if necessary.
2022 is going to be busy for all of us so take this time now to plan ahead and prepare for the rest of the year. Discuss workflow and be honest with yourself and your team about work capacity. Do you need to recruit a bigger team or outsource work to help? Are your systems and procedures as efficient as possible? This will help you to maximise the opportunity the next few years offer and help you enjoy the wave.
About the Author
Charlotte Winship has over 20 years’ experience transforming good wedding and events venues into great ones. She is an expert in helping venues reach their ideal customers, maximise sales opportunities, increase profitability, establish effective teams and streamline venue operations. 07493 350303 / firstname.lastname@example.org / www.charlottewinship.com