Pandemic shouldn’t stop engagement season proposals experts say.
As engagement season approaches many hesitant couples will be wondering if this is the year to pop the big question.
Deemed the most romantic season of the year, engagement season is the period between Christmas and Valentine’s Day when at least 40% of the year’s engagements take place. Half of these will happen between 21st December and New Years Eve. But as you curl up in front of the fire with the one you love, watching movies with the Christmas tree lights sparkling bright, will the current pandemic put off couples who otherwise see the time as right to get down on one knee?
Couples that proposed during the same period last year and planned a quickfire wedding would have faced a stressful summer in 2020, and those that planned to get married the average 20 months later will still face an uncertain few months ahead.
In 2020, an estimated 127,000 weddings were postponed at a cost of around £4.8billion to the UK wedding industry. 80% of these weddings have rescheduled to 2021 meaning nationally there will be an additional 160,000 more weddings than a normal year.
However, as hopes of a successful vaccine gather momentum, and areas slowly come out of lockdown, there is both hope and optimism for the wedding industry. Currently in Tier two areas, such as York, wedding receptions for up to 15 guests can take place while ceremonies of the same number, but no receptions, can take place in tier three regions including Leeds and Hull.
Lee Cowell, director of Stamford Bridge based wedding venue marketeers, Louisianna’s Weddings, see’s light at the end of the tunnel: “The wedding industry has faced a very difficult twelve months with many companies struggling to weather the storm. There is now a large degree of optimism that wedding receptions, with larger guest numbers, may be able to go ahead from Spring, and it’s paramount for this industry that it happens” “There will be huge demand on wedding suppliers, who will face increased demand from postponed 2020 weddings, current 2021 bookings and a new wave of engagements from this coming engagement season but I know the whole industry are itching to get going again”.
So, how are the number of engagements this engagement season expected to be affected by Covid-19? Claire Beatson-Proctor of York based Jewellers Nightingale, says there is no evidence to suggest any drop in the number of engagement rings sold: “It’s made meeting consultations more challenging, but on the other hand, customers seem to have bigger budgets to spend on their engagement rings – probably due to not being able to spend it on an elaborate destination proposal” Blonde Army wedding planner and stylist, Lianne Tucker, who recently relocated from London to York says:
“Some may now not be in a financial position to plan a wedding. Some may have changed their priorities and have put their money towards a home or starting a family. Some may want to wait until there is more certainty and some may want to crack on and show their other half just how much they mean to them, whether they plan for next year or three years. You’re still engaged, and your engagement can last however long you want” Echoing Cowell’s warning about supplier demand Lianne Tucker agrees: “Sadly after 2020 some suppliers have lost availability to support their postponements so as soon as you are engaged, I’d definitely recommend reaching out to your favourite suppliers to check availability”.
Most couples will be keen to secure a venue as soon as possible after their engagement, as many of the popular venues in the area will be sold up for at least the next two years. A new question for couples and venues alike this engagement season will be about their Covid policy. James Mills of popular wedding venue, Woolas Barn in Appleton Roebuck has been supportive of couples caught up in the pandemic to date:
“At Woolas Barn we’ve worked with all our couples to find a solution that works for them. As we’re a small, family business we only hold one wedding per week. Therefore, we have had loads of free dates to work with our couples to find an alternative date. However, for some it just isn’t going to be the same and therefore we have refunded them their deposit and wished them all the best in the future” Lee Cowell, who operates four venues in the region, and assists with marketing of five others through Louisianna’s Weddings warns: “Venues have been very accommodating over the last year, yet all will have inserted a Covid policy into their terms and conditions. When viewing a venue, I highly recommend asking what this policy is. Most venues will be very sympathetic and understanding at present, but they have to protect their business first and foremost”.
Having a back-up plan will be key to planning a wedding in these uncertain times and couples may have to accept that lower guest numbers may be necessary for the immediate future. Those looking to tie the know as soon as possible should certainly consider the need for a more intimate affair.
Wedding suppliers in North Yorkshire are positively unanimous in their outlook and advice to those thinking of popping the big question:
Lee Cowell, Louisianna’s Weddings – “I’d say go for it but take your time and be cautious. I think 2021 will be a very busy year for the wedding industry so find your perfect venue, get it booked, take your time finding your favourite suppliers, and enjoy the process”
James Mills, Woolas Barn – “What better way to end the year with a bang than by popping the question to the person you want to spend the rest of your life with!? That way you can race into 2021 with plans to make, amazing catering to sample and of course some beautiful venues to visit”
Lianne Tucker, Blonde Army – “If you’re thinking of proposing, I say DO IT. You may just have to get creative with HOW as that now may be out of your hands. Getting engaged is a really exciting time in your life and ending the year on a high may very well be needed. Despite what the future may hold, there is still a lot of joy and celebration in planning a wedding”
Claire Beatson -Proctor, Nightingale Jewellers – “We think that if you can make it through lockdown and lockdown 2.0 with your significant other then surely you’re meant to be together”