It's Going to Be the Busiest Wedding Year Ever, According to Our Data

Here's what to expect once group gatherings are safe again.
Esther Lee - Deputy Editor, The Knot
Esther Lee
Esther Lee - Deputy Editor, The Knot
Esther Lee
Deputy Editor
  • Esther is the Deputy Editor of The Knot. She currently leads all content on The Knot Wellness, focusing on financial, relationship, and mental wellbeing.
  • She oversees The Knot's travel vertical (honeymoons, destination weddings, bach parties), as well as overarching features and trends.
  • She proudly serves on the Advisory Council of VOW For Girls, focusing on ending the injustice of child marriage around the world.
Updated Feb 03, 2021

In 2020, COVID's impact on weddings was so significant that 90% of all couples set to wed were affected by the pandemic. Since March 2020, the vast majority of to-be-weds (96% to be exact) have either moved forward with modified wedding plans, or they've altogether postponed their receptions into 2021. But our data from The Knot 2020 Real Weddings Study indicates something more. Weddings won't only be back in late 2021; the next year will be a consolidated period of celebrations.

Our annual study—which surveyed 7,600 couples across the country who originally set their wedding date between January 1 and December 31, 2020—found that one out of every two couples (47%) has rescheduled a reception into the next year. Due to COVID, traditional wedding day formats have also been uprooted. In 2020, 32% of couples went ahead with a minimony or legalizing their union, but they're still planning to throw a reception in the year ahead. Another 15% of surveyed couples said they postponed their 2020 wedding ceremony and reception altogether. After a year of pivoting plans, 60% of respondents said they're confident about their rescheduled wedding reception date.

There's also a growing number of recently engaged couples: among this set, eight in 10 respondents, who got engaged in the last year, have now officially set a wedding date. If the data points to anything, what's certain is weddings after COVID will be abundant. Here's exactly what to do if you're planning now.

What This Means If You're Planning a Wedding

The mounting emotions you might be facing during this time are legitimate. According to our data, two out of every three couples said they felt "stressed" during the planning process in 2020. Another 54% felt "uncertain" and nearly half of all respondents reported that they were "overwhelmed." It's important to feel what's necessary and then to move forward.

Though you may interchangeably feel all three emotions while wedding planning, it's also a time when you can embrace your engagement. It's why we recommend all couples start with a wedding vision. Set a coffee or dinner date to narrow down expectations and a budget that'll fit your ideal style of event. During this conversation, you'll also come up with an approximated timeline (seasonality impacts budget) and a rough guest count. If loved ones are contributing to your wedding cost, set aside time to have those conversations too.

As one out of every two couples from 2020 will now throw their wedding receptions in 2021, the year ahead will be even more inundated with weddings than normal. It's better to get started sooner. Take a moment to reflect and tackle what's ahead with a positive attitude. It will make a significant difference.

Research and Connect With Vendors

If you have the resources, hire a wedding planner to help you with every detail. One of the best places to research local vendors is on The Knot Marketplace, where you can access reviews of top professionals and check their rates and more pertinent information.

Find all the vendors you need

Discover top-rated pros for any budget, background and style.

If you're in an area where in-person planning is on hiatus, virtual planning is the route to take. Vendors are now offering everything from virtual venue tours, home-delivered menu and cake tastings, wedding attire consultations and online engagement sessions.

Be Open-Minded About Dates

According to our data, West Coast couples are most likely to throw a sequel wedding or an anniversary reception (nearly 40% of couples are planning for it). If your reception is in a region where you anticipate more events than usual, perhaps consider alternative days of the week when top preferred vendors could potentially be available. Explore the dates that work best for your wedding pros by searching their availability on The Knot Rescheduler Tool.

Yes, Include Health and Safety Measures

Even with a vaccine, COVID-19 health and safety measures will remain in place through the latter half of 2021. According to our data, couples are spending $280 on average for additional health and safety measures, including accessible sanitizer stations, easily distributed masks for guests, and socially distanced layouts. Rapid testing is now required in states like New York, where starting March 15, up to 150 guests are allowed per wedding only if every attendee tests negative.

While great food and cocktail options remain top-of-mind for couples, the manner in which dishes and drinks are prepared and served continue to reflect utmost safety precautions. Consider this: every few years, a new dinner party concept emerges and it will be seated, plated dinners and individual servings of hors d'oeuvres for the next year.

Refer to Your Wedding Website

Keep in mind: the way couples are communicating with their guests has evolved in the last year. The wedding website is a great place to store everything from your love story to your registry; and common questions you might be fielding from guests. A general FAQ page will give your loved ones the reassurance they need about everything from health and safety measures to dress code; even intel about room blocks.

The same can be said about your wedding stationery. "Beyond the date, time and dress code, your event invitation will need to add a few more instructions, so guests know how they'll be expected to prepare and participate," says Annie Lee of Daughter of Design. "Create an insert card advising guests about expectations on face coverings, social distancing, food service and/or other safety measures you plan to apply to your event. This not only can help guests know what to expect, but it'll also calm any concerns they may have about attending an event."

More Planning Tips for Weddings After COVID

Spending more time at home means building out the foundation of your future marriage in a way that is stronger and more resilient than ever before. Since this is an unprecedented time for humanity, couples might be grappling with feelings of grief, sadness or frustration on a greater scale. Check in often with each other as you're wedding planning, and review other practical tips below.

Create a Registry for Today and Tomorrow

Gift-giving continues to evolve with the steady rise of Cash Funds and experiential registries. On The Knot Registry, you can register for everything from products to experiences and more. For those who would traditionally give a check or cash, mobile financing platforms (like Paypal, Zelle and Venmo) are the way to go. In short, if you were reluctant about joining a mobile payment app, now is perhaps a good time to get a head start. Your friends will thank you.

Talk to Vendors About Layouts

Serpentine, circular, mismatched seating: if wedding designers are accustomed to anything, it's working with layouts and spatial design to evoke a sense of gathering. The wedding ceremony layout has evolved considerably in 2020, and now involve an increased attentiveness to seating arrangements and social distancing.

Add a Virtual Component

Among the couples who moved forward with a ceremony in 2020, 12% had a fully virtual wedding. Even after the pandemic ends, virtual wedding planning and live-streamed weddings after COVID will remain common.

Amy Shey Jacobs of Chandelier Events created a clever solution for virtual events when the pandemic hit NYC and decimated her scheduled events in spring 2020. Known as Don't Let the Day Go By, Jacobs' idea was to create a digital experience for guests that felt as if they were still celebrating an event in person. The platform's offerings include bachelorette cocktail tastings, a digital photo booth and more. "Explore live-stream, virtual reality solutions for scenarios that might proceed locally with guests who can no longer attend," she says.

Book Your Prewedding Events

Bach parties, bridal showers, rehearsal dinners and other wedding events were also impacted by COVID. Couples are now reserving joint-bach events for after the wedding or they're looking into wellness-related activities leading up to their wedding receptions. No longer is the traditional wedding weekend format in place—starting with the minimony and the sequel wedding, even down to the order of other engagement activities like prewedding parties.

Get Excited to Gather

In conclusion, your loved ones are likely itching to celebrate you in person, so imagine how much more heightened the experience will be when they attend weddings after COVID. It's a good thing so many couples are planning weddings ahead. "More than anything, people won't take one second of celebrating for granted," concludes Christie Altendorf of D'Amico Catering. "Raising a glass at an engagement party, enjoying a lovely meal at the rehearsal dinner, or showering the couple with petals as they walk down the aisle together will be appreciated more than ever before. While there are few silver linings to these circumstances, it has served as an incredible lesson in the power of togetherness."

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