What did Covid-19 do for the Wedding and Funeral Industries?

Jul 25, 2021

What did Covid-19 do for the Wedding and Funeral Industries?

COVID-19 has affected almost every aspect of our lives. While the global pandemic swept the globe, health professionals implemented interventions to help slow the spread. One such intervention was to put heavy restrictions on the wedding and funeral industries.

At the time of writing, Covid-19 still plays a role in the way we plan and shape a ceremony. But even when restrictions are fully lifted, the impact of Covid-19 on this industry will be felt for a significant period.

Here we will look at how COVID-19 affected weddings and funerals, and what this might mean for the future.

COVID-19 Guidance
From March 2020, strict guidance was put in place about how many people could attend weddings and funerals. At times, weddings were disallowed in all but the most extreme circumstances. As lockdowns have eased, some weddings have been allowed to take place with a limited number of guests. However, there will be many people who are still waiting to get married under more normal circumstances.

Reduced numbers of mourners were permitted at funerals, but tragically some crematoria even closed their doors completely to mourners. The high death rate relating to COVID-19 has had a significant impact on funeral directors, clergy and celebrants. Those who have lost a loved one during the pandemic may feel saddened by their inability to say goodbye in a fitting way.

Both wedding and funeral industries have been changed in different ways by COVID-19.
The Wedding Industry
Research currently taking place by The Open University suggests that people who wanted (or want) to get married have been affected in several ways because of the COVID-19 pandemic. These included:
Remaining unable to get married as planned due to the limitations imposed upon weddings
Getting married earlier than planned due to anticipating that the pandemic might prevent weddings from taking place
Changing wedding plans in another way as a result of the pandemic, such as cancelling plans to get married or putting plans on hold indefinitely.

Some people who had not previously been planning to get married decided to do so because of the pandemic. Changing priorities, worsening ill-health, or severe illness as a result of coronavirus may have pushed some people to get married earlier than anticipated.
What also was noted in one large scale survey is that 88% of couples would consider having a second celebration at a later date, to include all the guests that couldn’t come to their smaller ceremony.

(Fun fact: The number of couples moving in together increased in 2020 due to the strict lockdown criteria. While weddings were postponed and even cancelled, the number of engagements could well have increased during this period, giving hope for a wedding boom in a year or two!)

With weddings unable to go ahead as planned, the Labour party claimed that the wedding industry had been “left out in the cold”, with a loss of £430 million due to cancelled or postponed weddings. Furthermore, it’s not just venues losing money. Musicians, photographers, celebrants, and caterers have all seen dramatic losses.

In June 2021, while some restrictions were extended such as the full opening of night clubs, the wedding industry was given some light relief and told that restrictions would be lifted somewhat for pre-booked weddings so long as social distancing could be achieved.

As a celebrant, easing of restrictions could see your business being busier than ever as couples race to celebrate their love for one another in style. Keep your website updated and continue to market your business, ready for the return of unrestricted weddings.

The Funeral Industry
Tragically, the number of deaths related to COVID-19 in the UK is more than 128,000 at the time of writing. The UK had one of the highest rates of excess deaths in the world, with almost 80,000 more people in England and Wales dying in 2020 compared to the previous 5 year average.

Funerals for those who died during the COVID-19 pandemic have continued. Due to the extraordinary death toll, funerals have often been delayed, and restrictions remain in place regarding the number of mourners who can attend.

For many, funerals have been low key celebrations of life, tinged with sadness and even anger about the lack of normality afforded to this rite of passage. Watching a funeral via video link has sadly become the norm.

Celebrants have continued to lead ceremonies for those in attendance, trying to help families manage their grief in never-before seen circumstances.

As with weddings, other industries have been affected by the limitations on funerals. Caterers, venues, and florists may all have seen falling profits whilst funerals occurred during extreme restrictions.

Financial Concerns
Many people in the UK have experienced financial hardship during the pandemic. Those who might previously have planned a big wedding, or spent a significant amount of money on the funeral of a loved one, no longer have the income to do so.

As the economy starts to recover, some people will choose to return to spending as before, whilst others may remain on a tighter budget.

Final Thoughts
The wedding and funeral industries have both been severely affected by COVID-19. National restrictions, high death rates and financial hardship have all affected the way we celebrate marriages and mourn those who have died.

It will take time to see how the wedding and funeral industries adapt in the coming months and years to life after the pandemic in the UK.

However, these events are still much-needed and a valued part of our traditions. If you are considering becoming a celebrant, find out more about our training courses here.