The pandemic has disrupted most travel plans for the rest of 2020 and possibly beyond. So what does this mean for destination weddings?
It’s the day we’ve been dreaming about since we were little boys and girls — our big day. No one could have predicted the events of 2020 where COVID-19 is concerned, and its aftermath is still largely uncertain.
So where does that leave the wedding industry and in particular, destination weddings? There’s a new question to pop, and that’s if soon-to-be-married couples will get the go-ahead for their destination wedding plans.
The waiting game
Vishal Lakhiani, event planner at Eventures in Bali shares, “Our clients who have postponed their weddings have now taken a back seat and are just monitoring the situation along with us. They are hesitant in making decisions until the situation improves.”
Wedding planners and other entrepreneurs know that in times of challenge and uncertainty, it’s important to implement practices of business-to-customer communication for realistic expectations.
And while some couples wait, some couples have decided to instead make different plans with the bigger picture in mind. Thirty percent of Vishal’s clients have decided to get married in their home town, while couples who have decided to postpone their wedding are doing so while compromising on a smaller guest count.
On the business front, Chayawat Panjaphakdee (also known as Joe Rainforest), managing director of Rainforest The Wedding, says it has given them a chance to focus on strategies. “For the first two months, our company carried out internal training and renovated our offices. The low season for weddings in Thailand falls between April to September anyway, so we’ve managed to use this time to ready ourselves.”
What weddings will look like
“We have tried holding online weddings but that did not work out here in Thailand,” reveals Joe. “Our clients still want to have a ‘normal’ wedding and so they are choosing to wait for a vaccine, or at least for the right time to get married rather than forcing a new style of weddings.”
When the time comes for couples to safely start or continue on with wedding plans, change is almost certain. Decreased wedding sizes, whether with fewer guest or less of a grand affair, are just two things to anticipate. However, Joe doesn’t see too much change with weddings in Thailand outside of added hygiene and cleanliness practices. “I do think though that it will take time for new clients to come to us. Travelling across the country is difficult now and there’s still a lot of uncertainties.”
Lakhiani weighs in, suggesting extra safety measure be put in place by clients, vendors, and resorts. “The wedding industry will have to come up with new and innovative ways to maintain social distancing while at the same time, keeping the intimacy during weddings. A simple example is, replacing handshakes with a ‘namaste’ gesture.”
Happily ever after
According to reports, Bali will reopen for tourists in October. Is this good news for couples and the wedding industry? Even if couples in question are hopeful, Lakhiani predicts that their guests, and tourists in general, might still have a fear of travelling.
He observes, “However we still have received inquires for destination weddings in Bali for 2021/2022. So we do know that couples are still interested in Bali as their dream destination, however are waiting for a safe time to start moving forward.”
Lakhiani is optimistic that once the situation improves, Bali’s wedding industry will recover quite quickly. “Although the scale of the wedding won’t be as big as they used to be, weddings coming in to Bali itself is already a start and would serve as an example to future couples planning to get married in Bali.”
Joe predicts normality to resume in the nest two to three years. “This is not just about the virus, but a worldwide economic recession. Everyone is more careful when spending money, Therefore, we as wedding planners and our clients should keep calm, slow down, and consciously solve the problems we have control over — otherwise it might cause us to lose more money.”
“I still believe that all problems have a window for positive change,” adds Joe optimistically.
This story first appeared on Prestige Malaysia
(Main photo: Eventures)