For DC-area weddings, smaller might still be the choice

Wedding planners and wedding services vendors, many of which are sole proprietor businesses or those with just a few employers, were clobbered in 2020 by COVID-19 pandemic-related wedding cancellations and postponements.

According to a survey by wedding vendor platform Zola, 58% of vendors could to service less than 25% of their originally booked dates last year.

Many couples who postponed or canceled this main-event wedding in 2020 had virtual ones, or gatherings with only a few close family and friends, with hopes of having a more extravagant ceremony in the future.

It prompted wedding vendors to get creative, offering everything from home-delivered wedding flower arrangements for Zoom weddings to pandemic-safe elopement packages.

Zola’s survey of vendors shows D.C.-area couples who did pull off a wedding last year were more creative than many.

“D.C. was very heavy in an uptick in DIY weddings, more than other cities. So it seems you have a lot of very creative couples that are willing to do a lot of DIY themselves, which is awesome,” said Zola’s Emily Forrest.

The good news for the wedding services industry is that weddings are back, though much of it is pay-it-forward, with 24% of vendors reporting more than half of their currently booked 2021 dates are delayed 2020 events.

Zola, whose platform provides everything online or on an app from searching for vendors and venues to creating websites and invitations and building their registries, said some couples are investing more in their weddings this year because they are so excited to finally have the event. For others, particularly couples impacted financially by the pandemic, their wedding plans are less expensive than what they initially planned for.

Zola’s vendor survey does indicate that, for D.C.-area couples planning a wedding, smaller gatherings are still preferred, even with vaccine rollouts lifting confidence.

“Smaller guest lists of under 100 people or even 50 people will probably continue into 2022. I think that as we continue to see what happens with the vaccine rollout, that might change,” Forrest said.

Zola said 21% of wedding vendors are completely booked to normal capacity for 2021, and 12% are overbooked with more events scheduled than in years prior. And 30% say they have not seen any couples with 2021 wedding dates rebook or cancel.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2021 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up