Farah and Ben were due to get married in Brooklyn, New York on 5th May 2020, followed by a reception in the UK with friends and family a few weeks later. But like an estimated 64,000 weddings in the UK, it couldn't go ahead due to the global COVID-19 pandemic which has led to the cancellation or rescheduling of an expected 64% of ceremonies this year.
Research by London-based wedding planning app Bridebook recently released the shocking statistics which indicate the scale of stress, disappointment and financial pressure felt by couples due to wed this year. The figures also indicated that the industry, which is set to be hit by losses of almost £87.5 billion, is one of the hardest hit by coronavirus, and will likely see the closing of 36% of all wedding businesses by the end of the year.
Aside from the emotional cost, the financial one is significant. The average cost of a UK wedding is a little over £20k, and with only 28% of couples typically purchasing wedding insurance (and with insurers struggling to pay out), rescheduling a plethora of different wedding professionals and guests with minimal damages and losses is nearly impossible, and certainly impacts the excitement of what should be a wonderful time for every couple.
But it's not all doom and gloom, and as we've seen across the UK, the tendency to pull together during times of hardship has lightened the load here too.
Hamish Shephard, founder and CEO of Bridebook, adds that he expects 2021 to be the ‘greatest year of weddings in history’. Many venues and small businesses are willingly giving up prime dates and availability in 2021 to couples who have been forced to postpone. They are giving up significant future income for the happiness of these couples, and it's a real boost to see such positivity and generosity coming out of an industry that's struggling to make ends meet.
Couples too, are coming up with innovative ideas to celebrate what would have been their Big Day, even finding ways to involve their friends and family from afar.
Farah and Ben set aside their original wedding date and made it a day of non-stop celebrations.
"We began the day with a champagne breakfast, and our friends and family had sent cards, flowers and gifts to make sure there were lots of surprise deliveries throughout the day.
My hen-do had been cancelled, but my hens had arranged for delivery of a personalised hamper with messages and photos to mark the occasion.
We put our favourite records on and sang and danced to those for most of the day, and make sure we had a 'wedding toast' video call with our 'guests' at 6pm, which would have been the time we were just married. It was so lovely to be able to see everyone and be as much together as we could be.
A local restaurant put together a special meal for us, and our favourite local tap delivered cocktails. At the end of the night we had our (practise) first dance".
Bride-still-to-be Farah has some good advice for other couples in similar situations. She recommends "do whatever feels right for you, and be unapologetic about it! I spent a lot of time crying and feeling guilty for how upset I felt. I understood how serious the COVID-19 situation was, and what awful situations some families are in. I felt like I didn't have a right to be upset about a cancelled wedding. But spending almost 2 years planning a wedding and going from days away to not knowing when it will happen is incredibly difficult. It's okay to be sad."
Farah purchased her dress from Brides do Good. With her Big Day rescheduled until 2021 we'll keep the style a secret, but she chose one of our hero pieces and she is set to look stunning.
"My Mum has been storing it for me, so whenever I go round I open the bag and have a little look! Every time without fail I get excited and am transported back to how special it makes me feel. I'm so looking forward to eventually putting it on on our NEW wedding day".