With the Covid-19 pandemic and following lockdown, industries worldwide are at a standstill. This is the case for events and especially for wedding planning sector.
“I always look on the bright side of life”. And a lot of optimism is indeed needed in these times! You can see Elodie Villemus is clearly fighting an uphill battle. “When the government announced lockdown, the wedding season was about to start, so it was a bit of a shock.” Wedding planner for over 12 years, Villemus is today CEO of the first wedding organisation network in France and Europe, with one of her agencies based on the French Riviera.
A year turned upside down
She has had to rethink the seven weddings planned for this year. “One was unfortunately cancelled during the lockdown. Another has been postponed to April 2021, but the other five will take place at the end of the year.”
The postponements will hopefully prevent the upcoming economic downturn her business is facing, but she remains optimistic that her business will survive.
“Under normal circumstances, we have a high turnover during the summer season. We’ve had a good year in 2019, which allows us to keep going. Our schedule this year has been turned upside down,” explains the woman who became the marriage expert on the TF1 programme “4 mariages pour une lune de miel” (4 weddings for a honeymoon). Their upcoming work is staggered throughout the end of the year, which will give a boost to other businesses involved in wedding ceremonies and receptions. It will also avoid creating a traffic jam with the weddings already planned in 2021.
“Will everyone have to wear a mask?”
However, this is far from being the case for all marriages. According to a study carried out by lesitedumariage.com at the beginning of May, 60% of couples who had planned to get married between June and August have postponed their wedding until next year. Not everything is so concrete. According to the same survey, 20% of those hoping to get married in July have not yet made their decision. Half of the couples who have planned a wedding in August still plan to walk down the aisle before Summer is out.
For this summer’s couples, there are many questions and uncertainties to be faced. How many guests will be allowed? Will every other chair have to be empty at the ceremony and the reception? Should the bride and groom avoid greeting and kissing their guests? Will everyone have to wear a mask?
“This job is essential”
So many questions, which could be answered on June 2. Before then, there remains much uncertainty for these couples.
It is also a delicate situation for those who have opted to postpone. Rarely easy is it to have everything coincide for the big day with years of planning, let alone being forced to change the plans just a few months in advance.
Elodie Villemus has been feeling these worries for a few weeks. She receives countless messages from future couples without an organiser who find themselves managing all the postponements.
“Without a wedding planner, they are a bit lost. They have realised that this job is essential. They have to find solutions on their own – it’s sometimes complicated, and there can be conflicts with service providers.”
For wedding planners, it is now a matter of rewriting the wedding. “Marriage ceremonies are different at the end of the year, so we adapt. From now, we’re having more cosy set-ups and changing the colour of the decorations, because it’s not the same season, therefore not at all the same atmosphere.” But in the end, the most important part of your wedding is those four words we all want to hear one day – for better or for worse.
By Claire Guillou