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15 Wedding Traditions the Pandemic Will Change Forever

Smaller, More Intimate Weddings Will Come Be the New Norm

Zola polled 500 engaged couples in June, and of those, 76% were still planning on having a wedding in some way, shape, or form on their original date. Of those couples, 30% chose to go forward with a downsized wedding now (and plan a larger reception later). Those going forward with their weddings in 2020 are being forced to have smaller, more intimate weddings with a limited guest list and tons of restrictions. It may be what brides "have" to do now, but the longer we're in the middle of a pandemic, the more smaller weddings will become the wedding industry's new "normal."

As The Atlantic points out, "wedding trends are—for lack of a less cringey term—contagious; many couples plan their wedding day by borrowing elements of what they’ve seen and liked at other weddings. In the months and years ahead, couples who might have otherwise opted for the whole enchilada might model their own wedding day after friends’ or relatives’ small ceremonies and elopements. Small wedding ceremonies could, in other words, become more common not just for health reasons, but because coziness and intimacy might organically become trendy."

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Weddings Won't Last As Long—Or Ceremonies and Receptions Will Be Split Up

Brides are having to get pretty creative in 2020. Instead of postponing or just cancelling altogether and eloping, some brides are choosing to have shorter, smaller weddings. Some are even going ahead with their smaller ceremonies and scheduling a reception at a later date. 

In fact, for some couples the pandemic may have even been a blessing in disguise, as it gives them the chance to split everything up instead of having one giant, long, stressful day. Emily Forrest, director of communications for Zola, says that, "for a lot of couples, the opportunity to have a ceremony with just the people you are closest to and then at a later date have a reception of your dreams is quite enticing, regardless of the pandemic. This is almost making it OK to do that.”

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People Will Actually RSVP (We Can Only Hope)

There's no real research to support this claim of mine; you can call it wishful thinking on this former bride's part. People have never been good at being decent humans and RSVP'ing since the beginning of time, but one would think that during these unprecedented times it's more important than ever to give a bride a heads up that she doesn't need to pay an outrageous amount for a plate you won't be showing up to eat.

Brides have a ridiculous amount to stress about in 2020 already; let's all make a vow going forward that we'll take tracking down all the stragglers off their plate for good.

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More Virtual Wedding Planning Options Will Be Available

Vendors have been forced to figure out a way to meet with their clients during the pandemic. According to Digiday, the virtual consultations and at-home cake tastings will continue past 2020.

Jeffra Trumpower, the senior creative director at WeddingWire, says that, “thinking outside of the box may not be a new concept for vendors and couples, but we’re definitely going to have to see that amplified to make it work in a time when your wedding might not be exactly what you think.”

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Eloping Will Become Cool Again

Ok, let's be real—eloping has always been cool. It became even cooler after Carrie Bradshaw eloped with Big in the first SATC movie. But with the rise of Instagram, brides are constantly trying to outdo each other to have the biggest, most unique wedding decorations. And the wedding industry has been booming.

Until this year. 2020 has really put things into perspective for a lot of people, and when it comes down to it, the focus should be on the marriage; not the wedding. More and more couples are realizing that and choosing elopement over risking the lives of their loved ones.

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Live-streaming Will Be Standard Practice

Live-streaming weddings has become necessary for those proceeding with downsized ceremonies. Experts believe this trend will continue on past 2020.

Think about it; we watch each other's Instagram stories and Reelz all day long, and once we get our wedding pictures and videos we plaster them all over social media. Why not just stream the whole thing live anyway?

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Digital Gifts Will Become More Popular

Along with downsizing weddings, wedding showers are getting cancelled left and right. Etiquette dictates that if you can't be present at an event, the courteous thing to do is to send a present. But with less in-person events, it's becoming increasingly common to send digital gifts—like gift cards and contributions toward a honeymoon fund.

Money is quite possibly the best thing you could give any bride, let alone a 2020 bride—with vendors having varying amounts of flexibility, a monetary gift might be a big help in covering costs!

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Weekday Weddings Will Be More Popular

As weddings get downsized and smaller, more intimate "mini-monys" become the norm, less people will be expected to travel and/or take off work to attend. Which kind of defeats the purpose of having to have a Saturday wedding. 

Weekday weddings are SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper than weekend weddings, and with less people to schedule around, the options are endless. 

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Plated Meals > Buffet Meals

You're probably cringing just thinking about a buffet meal at a wedding, right? We all know buffets are germ central, but for some reason they're acceptable at weddings. (No judgment here; I had a pizza buffet at my wedding last year and I stand by that decision 100%.) But those days are over; instead of having people crowd in a long line and breathe all over the food everyone's sahring, having plated meals served to each individual guest while they sit at their table will significantly reduce the potential for germs to spread.

In addition to meals being plated, The Knot's editor in chief, Kristen Maxwell Cooper, told Digiday that hand sanitizer will be a wedding reception staple going forward. "We’ll see a return to more plated dinners. Most couples will forego buffets. It’s perceived as more sanitary to have a plated dinner. Hand sanitizer will be there either in creative ways, maybe in a welcome bag or on a silver platter that a member of the wait staff is carrying around. That’s the biggest thing we’ll see stick.”

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Outdoor Weddings > Indoor Weddings

Outdoor weddings are what Pinterest dreams are made of, and they were already becoming increasingly popular, but they've become a real necessity during the pandemic. Who wants to be trapped inside a building with 100+ people, dancing, sweating, mingling for hours on end...and potentially/definitely catching coronavirus? No thanks.

Outdoor weddings are certainly the safer option during these times. But who knows how long the ol' 'rona will stick around—and by the time it's over, I have a feeling no one will even want to return to indoor ceremonies. Receptions and after-parties, maybe. But a wedding with a stunning view (and a significantly reduced risk of airborne germs spreading)—who doesn't want that?

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Receiving Lines Will Officially Be Dead and Buried

Receiving lines are weird and outdated—does anyone else feel like it's super awkward to just stand around with the purpose of letting 100+ people hug and kiss you..?

It's weird enough during normal times, but if you're doing that during this pandemic then you're quite literally asking to get the 'rona. Let's let this outdated tradition rest in peace.

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Wedding Parties Will Be Downsized

If you're limiting your guest list, it makes sense that your wedding party would be downsized as well. The pandemic has forced brides to reevaluate all kinds of things, including who she wants by her side vs. who will sit in the pews.

Brides are also being forced to reevaluate their priorities when it comes to their upcoming nuptials. The day is about marrying your chosen partner; at the end of the day, does it really matter how many friends you have and if his number of groomsmen matches your number of bridesmaids? 

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Engagements Will Be Shorter

When my now-husband and I got engaged in 2019, we originally talked about waiting until the fall of 2020 to get married. We quickly decided we couldn't wait that long, and we threw a big shindig during the fall of 2019 instead; just several months before the pandemic hit. My mother reminds me every day how lucky it is that we decided to have such a short engagement, because I know brides who have been planning their weddings for two years, just to have to postpone or cancel altogether because of the sh*tshow 2020 has been.

Nothing screams "YOLO" more than a pandemic with no end in sight. Engagements are predicted to be much shorter going forward, because you never know when

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Cancellation Policies Will Become More Flexible

This one is more of wishful thinking on this former bride's part. When I chose my venue in 2019 (pre-pandemic), I posed the question, "what if my fiance dies the day of the wedding? Would we get our money back then?" The owner of the venue just stared at me and eventually nervously chuckled—and politely said that she had never heard that one before, and no, there was no way to get a refund. I thought it was insane that they hadn't even seemed to consider the possibility of tragedy striking and how unfair that would be—fast-foward to 2020, and people in the wedding industry have finally been forced to reevaluate their strict cancellation policies.

While there's a slim chance the flexibility will continue past the pandemic—I know some brides who STILL weren't able to get their money back from vendors during these unprecedented times—at least this challenged the strict rules the wedding industry has set in stone. Let's be real here; weddings are all about dolla dolla bills, y'all; no vendors really care about your love story unless you cough up the big bucks. But at least people are thinking about how ridiculous these cancellation policies are now.

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Minimalist and DIY Weddings Will Be the Go-To

In 2019, the average amount couples (and their parents, let's be real here) spent on weddings was about $33,900. According to WeddingWire, 95% of couples in the U.S. are "not planning on reducing their overall budget." Industry experts apparently think that average cost will go up as the pandemic dies down because couples will want to go all out as soon as they can...Does anyone else not think this is insane?!

Some couples couldn't even get their money back for moving their wedding date or having to cancel, and yet we want to spend more, more, more?! Why not spend as little as possible? Or just go back to DIYing everything? Of course the wedding "experts" expect more money to be spent, because that's what they want; but hopefully these unprecedented times have taught us to be a bit more careful with the way we spend our money. Luckily, the experts at Lilian Rose Events seem to agree: "After watching the hoops Covid couples have had to jump through to reschedule their weddings, future couples are going to be more selective about the choices they make when planning their weddings & go for a more minimalist approach to wedding planning."

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