In a recent Fast Company article, author Pavithra Mohan outlines the current state of our $78 billion wedding industry. There are many unknowns right now, but Mohan’s article sheds light on many of the questions we are all asking.
During the crazy days of mid-March, wedding photographers were left like so many others with their arms in the air, not knowing where they would be the very next weekend. I, personally, was in the Dominican Republic with Claire Duran Weddings and fielding calls that my next weekend’s wedding in Palm Beach may be canceled, only to have it back on as planned two days later, and then cancelled once again four days prior to the event. At the same, time rumbles of airport closures and concerns if I would even be able to fly home emerged.
In her article, Mohan shares the experience of Leila Brewster, who flew to Wyoming on a plane with five other passengers to a wedding only to arrive to a state mandate that restricted public gatherings and events. Our industry has continued to do its best to encourage couples to postpone their events in lieu of canceling, but uncertainty persists and businesses question if they can stay afloat. Mohan quotes New York wedding planner Jove Meyer:
“When you’re a small business, you rely on monthly income and cash flow, and your cash flow comes from the client — their deposit, second payment, and final payment. But if you’re not having events, you’re not getting your final payments. And a lot of us don’t feel comfortable up-charging or adding a fee because it’s not a normal situation. This is not within anyone’s control.”
As Mohan points out, we are an industry that relies on 1099 labor, so the trickle down affects so many. Also, businesses in the industry range in scale. While many planners fight to hold their staffs of three or more together, many florists employ dozens and have had to make difficult decisions, as the case of florist Yumiko Fletcher, who employs 20 to 30 freelancers in her floral business, as cited in Fast Company.
Mohan speculates what many of us are trying to sort out, what weddings will look like after the coronavirus. Many industry professionals are preparing for smaller guest counts in the coming months. Travel may be difficult, but couples still look to celebrate their love and begin their lives together. Smaller guest counts may bring about some positives. Weddings may be more intimate, more meaningful. Scaling down on guest count without scaling back on budget will allow many couples to provide an even more magical experience.
Read the full article to gain more insight into how our industry might be affected in the long term.
Lead image by Lance Nicoll