Love trumps the pandemic but the wedding industry is in turmoil
Getting married while the world is in the grip of a pandemic is not the dream of most couples. But love finds a way.
New figures show that despite horror stories of midnight curfews and painfully slashed guest lists, 16,314 couples registered to marry between January and November this year.
Hopes were high in the wedding industry that postponements in 2020 would lead to a bumper 2021. However, it was not to be.
Last Friday, couples hoping to marry over the next six weeks were told to slash their previously unlimited guest list to 100.
After almost two years of pandemic uncertainty, it was hoped that restrictions, including the midnight curfew, would have eased by now.
But as the Omicron variant rips around the world, couples and venues are enduring an anxious time.
Despite positive signs, the wedding industry is struggling. Smaller weddings equate to less revenue, while pandemic restrictions also result in cancellations.
In 2019, 20,313 weddings took place in Ireland, and the wedding industry was thriving. In 2020, 9,536 marriages were registered, but only 8,499 took place. While the CSO figures for 2021 won’t be released for months, they are expected to be way down on 2019.
The industry spent the majority of the past two years clinging to State aid as a means of survival. Many specialists have left the field or have been forced to diversify.
In addition, the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme was unavailable to many vendors.
But looking ahead to 2022, suppliers are reporting solid bookings throughout the year.
Lisa Vaughan, a wedding coordinator who set up Let’s Talk Weddings, a group representing and promoting wedding suppliers, says: “2021 was mostly a write-off.
“The last two years have been devastating to the industry. Different suppliers have been impacted in different ways.
“For example, make-up artists and photographers wouldn’t have been hit as hard. But wedding bands and novelty suppliers like photobooths have had it very tough.
“Things have improved a lot over the last few months, but we have plunged back into uncertainty again now with the new variant.
“At the moment there are lots of weddings, and most suppliers are busy, but it doesn’t make up for the losses.
“The only good thing is it looks like next year will be much busier – people who have postponed don’t want to wait any longer.”
Wedding planner Daragh Doyle, who is also a celebrant, believes 2022 and 2023 will see an unprecedented number of weddings.
“Plenty of my weddings this year have gone ahead, so it’s not all doom and gloom. Over the next 10 days I had three weddings and only one of them has decided not to go ahead.
“In the average year there are 20,000 weddings – but the feeling on the ground is that if 2022 is any sort of a normal year, we could have up to 35,000 weddings.
“I’m very busy for 2022 and 2023; there is a lot of backlog. A new trend I am seeing is Sunday and Monday weddings. Whatever date they can get they are happy to run with.
“If you look at wedding bands, it has been devastating for them. And venues have really suffered too. If they are operating for small numbers, that’s their profit margins wiped out.
“I think the pandemic will change weddings into the future. But, that said, when the wedding numbers went back to unlimited guests in September people did raise their numbers very quickly when they got the opportunity.”