Will the Wedding Industry Recover from Coronavirus?

Travel, hospitality, and entertainment are the three industries hurt most by coronavirus. An industry that is linked to all three is the wedding industry, and it has been decimated in 2020. Formal weddings complete with big receptions have all but ground to a screeching halt. Will the industry ever recover?

Wedding cancellations are not just affecting churches and reception halls, either. They are also affecting a long list of tertiary industries, including linen service. Stepping back and assessing just how many businesses and services are needed to pull off a typical wedding illustrates just how intertwined so many aspects of our economy are. Take out one, and attrition takes out dozens more.

Table Linens and Uniforms

Imagine you are a wedding planner who works with a range of contractors to pull off your big events. You work with a caterer to handle the hors d’oeuvres and banquet. You work with a linen company who provides the table linens. It turns out your caterer also uses that same linen provider for employee uniforms, aprons, and towels.

Every reception you call off affects the caterer and linen company. In turn, every wedding they lose affects the businesses that support them. A rash of canceled wedding receptions sends a cascading effect across multiple industries. Table linens, uniforms, and food are not the only things affected.

Photographers and Florists

Canceled weddings have a big impact on photographers and florists as well. In fact, you could make the case that the impact on them is worse. According to Salt Lake City-based Alsco, many linen companies have a broad enough reach that they will survive the crisis even though cutting corners is now the norm.

The wedding photographer is facing a completely different scenario. Unless other forms of photography make up the bulk of his business, canceled weddings could mean the end of his livelihood. More than one photographer makes a living almost exclusively on weddings.

Florists are in a similar position. While they do make money on in-store sales at the retail level, the bulk of their income is often derived from weddings, funerals, banquets, etc. Cancel all those large gatherings and florists may not have enough walk-in business to sustain themselves.

What Goes Around Comes Around

Applying the old adage that says ‘what goes around comes around’ to the situation demonstrates why the wedding industry is facing the very real risk of extinction. Canceling weddings eliminates the need for large receptions, hundreds of dollars in flowers, expensive catered meals, and so forth. However, people are still getting married.

New York Times contributor Margaret Renkl wrote a piece in late July 2020 detailing how her son and now daughter-in-law had been planning a fairy tale wedding since last year. It all came to a screeching halt thanks to coronavirus. The couple still got married on the assigned date; they just did so in a very private ceremony with no guests to watch.

It could be that a sustained state of emergency that leads to more young people getting married without the fanfare will actually change American attitudes of what a wedding should be like. Take away the trappings long enough and maybe tomorrow’s couples will not want the trappings anyway.

Travel will eventually recover. So will most of hospitality and entertainment. Yet it is quite possible that certain industries will never come back from coronavirus. The wedding industry is one of them. Here’s hoping this post is wrong. Here’s hoping the industry roars back to life when the 2021 wedding season gets underway. If nothing else, people need their jobs and livelihoods back.

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