When COVID-19 became a growing concern in February and, by late-March, the world was in a tailspin. People were getting sick, globally, governments were shutting down cities—even whole countries and, large group gatherings and events were cancelled.
For many couples planning to get married, it was a devastating blow to their plans to celebrate their union with their families and friends. From India, to Winnipeg, to Washington DC and beyond, many thriving, profitable businesses in the wedding industry came to a screeching halt.
Wanting to understand exactly how it affected the wedding industry, we interviewed a seasoned photographer in Hawai`i’s wedding industry to get her take on the effects of the pandemic and get her advice to couples planning their wedding in the post-COVID era.
Julie Ann Call, of Julie Ann Call Photography, has been a photographer for over twenty years and in the wedding photography business for over ten years. She’s a preferred vendor for many established wedding venues on O`ahu, including the Kualoa Ranch.
Many of her clients find her on The Knot wedding blog, Instagram and Pinterest, both locals and out-of-towners alike. She’s a friendly, outgoing professional who thrives on engaging with her clients. This community-minded individual cares deeply about small business and works to involve as many as possible to help couples orchestrate that perfect wedding.
How did COVID affect her business?
On average, Julie Ann has worked 4 weddings a month. She shot her last wedding on February 1. Then, in March, all of her clients either completely cancelled their bookings or postponed their planned weddings, with no reschedules made to-date. Since then, she’s not done a single wedding shoot. Her first work in months occurred in late August when she was commissioned to do an engagement shoot.
She is sad for her clients because the hardest part was the couples planning their wedding lost their wedding day and lost investment (deposits). She, herself, had refunded thousands in deposits, but couples reported that other vendors did not.
What changes have couples made to accommodate their wedding during the shutdown and uncertainty?
Most of her couples threw up their hands, decided to not reschedule and got married anyway.
When asked what changes she’s making for the uncertain, COVID-affected future, she’s adapted by:
· changed contract language from deposit to retainer
· scale down and minimize her all-day weddings
· changed her preferred event models from all-day weddings to small weddings of 50 or fewer attendees and elopements
Her recommendations for couples planning a post-COVID wedding?
· Simplify your wedding plans
· Make it your own
· Put your personalities in it
· Invest your funds in buying a home, instead of going in debt for a massive wedding party
· The importance of a wedding is two people in love
· Don’t lose sight of why you’re getting married
· Get back to focusing on the ceremony, less on the party (less costs, less people)
· More intimacy in weddings and elopements
· Many on the mainland are having the elopement, then the ceremony later
· Have your destination elopement, enjoy your honeymoon and have your party at home
· Does not think we’ll have the large destination weddings like before
We hope vendors, such as Julie Ann Call Photography, will start seeing business pick up and will be creative in adapting to the new, Post-COVID paradigm. We encourage couples planning to get married to consider scaled-back weddings with an intimate feel.
If you are planning to get married and are contemplating an small wedding or elopement in Hawai`i, learn more about having that intimate wedding in a truly Hawaiian setting at www.weddingestateshawaiillc.com