Wedding experts discuss the future of the industry during The Independent’s exclusive virtual event

The main question on all would-be married couple’s lips who have faced cancellations and disruptions to their big day at the moment is “should celebrants be given the power to legally marry couples to help with the backlog of weddings”, which was discusssed at The Independent’s virtual event on how the pandemic has changed weddings, held on 14 July.

For our panel, made up of head storyteller from wedding planners, The Stars Inside, Sarah Allard, Editor of Hitched.co.uk and wedding photographer, Lucie Watson, it was a unanimous yes. Valentina even said that some registras are currently doing up to a staggering 25 weddings a day at the moment, in a bid to help get through the huge backlog of postponed nuptials, which has mounted up over the past 15 months during the pandemic.

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For many couples who want a non religious wedding in England and Wales, a celebrant can hold a ceremony, but it’s not legally binding. Instead a registar needs to officiate a legal service for couples to be officially married in the eyes of the law. This means couples have to pay for two ceremonies, too if they want a celebrant led wedding. But when council offices were closed during the height of lockdown, couples were unable to even register their intent to marry, which is the first step of booking a wedding. It’s now led to a huge rise in weekday weddings where couples just want to finally tie the knot.

For those who did manage to have a small wedding during the pandemic though, our panelists said that many of these couples are also planning to have a big celebration party at a later date.

But what was most surprising from the panel was that both Valentina and Lucie have plenty of big weddings booked in for later this year and next year, too. For many couples, the dream of the actual big wedding is still very important to them, meaning it’s not been fully replaced with small, more intimate weddings.

Still, the pandemic is throwing up plenty of new issues, rules and regulations. For Lucie that’s now taking on the responsibility of being covid safe. Before it was only the venue that needed to ensure this, while now suppliers have to take on this extra task too, as well as risk assessments, which add to the already increased workload for suppliers.

Watch the full video of the event below

Weddings: Has the pandemic changed them forever

Aside from what’s new now, when it came to discussing the future of weddings, Valentina has been booked for a number of destination weddings for 2022 and is hopeful this type of wedding is going to be back on next year. This would have been music to the ears of plenty of people tuning in to the panel who have family abroad or have always dreamed of saying “I do” in a beautiful location outside of the UK. Sarah has also seen a growing trend for high street wedding dresses and renting instead of buying, which she expects to continue, too.

The panelists all thought that more personalised weddings were becoming increasingly popular too, as people shunned traditions and the over involvement of family members on important decisions.

Their final tips for would-be couples, which rung true with all of the panelists, was to stay true to what you want, surround yourself with great, like minded suppliers, enjoy being engaged and finally, remember the top three things that are important to you, whether that’s a band you love or having street food. It is, after all, your day.

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