Australia / Press Releases
Called Off: COVID-19 Has Profoundly Impacted Weddings and Events

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by Yin Yeoh
Apr 20 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a profound impact on businesses that rely on weddings and events. In March 2020, the Federal Government introduced strict social distancing rules that restricted wedding ceremonies to only five people; the couple, the celebrant and two witnesses. In addition, strict social distancing must be observed, with a limit of one person per four square meters. According to IBISWorld Senior Industry Analyst Yin Yeoh, these temporary restrictions are expected to constrain demand for industries that rely on weddings, including the Bridal Stores, Flower Retailing, Event Catering Services, Taxi and Limousine Transport and Professional Photographic Services industries. IBISWorld estimates that downsizing, postponements and cancellations due to COVID-19 are estimated to cost wedding and events businesses over $670 million in 2019-20.

Affected Industries

A variety of industries have been hit hard by the social distancing restrictions for wedding ceremonies.

‘Demand for event caterers has dramatically declined due to social distancing rules. The four-square meter rule applicable to all indoor gatherings has temporarily banned conferences, events and weddings, leading to a significant loss in industry revenue. Some event caterers have attempted to limit revenue loss by offering home-delivery catering services during the COVID-19 outbreak,’ said Senior Industry Analyst Ms Yeoh.

The outbreak is also changing the way people shop for wedding dresses. Couples that are looking to get married in the near future have either postponed gown shopping or shopped for wedding dresses online. However, shopping for a wedding dress traditionally is still an in-person experience. It often takes multiple appointments to find a suitable dress, followed by several fittings over the course of several months.

Travel bans imposed by the Federal Government have also significantly impacted demand for wedding photographers’ services.  

‘Travel bans have complicated plans for families and friends travelling across international borders to attend weddings. Prior to the outbreak, many Chinese tourists travelled to Australia to have pre-wedding photographs taken in front of popular tourist destinations, such as the Sydney Opera House. Similarly, concerns surrounding COVID-19 have led to limousine services for wedding events being cancelled or postponed,’ said Ms Yeoh.

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are particularly threatened by ongoing social distancing restrictions.

‘SMEs that rely heavily on wedding events might not have the capital to keep their businesses afloat if cancellations continue increasing. Businesses affected by the COVID-19 outbreak are expected to temporarily downsize to minimise operating costs,’ said Ms Yeoh.

The Federal Government has provided some relief for SMEs that have been significantly affected by COVID-19. The new JobKeeper scheme is expected to support self-employed business operators as well as SMEs by providing short-term income relief. This scheme aims to help businesses partially offset rising fixed costs.

Pre COVID-19

Prior to the outbreak, industries that relied on the wedding sector, including Flower Retailing, Bridal Services and Professional Photographic Services industries were growing. Wedding-related industries displayed some resilience to negative economic signals, such as negative consumer sentiment and declining household discretionary income, as weddings are often viewed as an important rite of passage. Therefore, most couples will save over a period of time for the special occasion, regardless of economic conditions. When consumer confidence is negative, some couples may look to reduce wedding expenditure and hold a smaller wedding reception or seek more cost-effective gown options, such as gown rentals. 

Drive-through Weddings

In a sign of the times, wedding businesses have begun to adapt their services to the COVID-19 pandemic. Melbourne based company, I do Drive Thru, has launched drive-through weddings to help couples get married while complying with COVID-19 social distancing rules. The ceremony and exchanging of rings are conducted while the couple is still in their vehicles with paperwork passed in and out of the window. The ceremony can also be live-streamed to the couple’s families and friends. Similarly, the Perth Marriage Office is now providing drive-through services, where couples can sign the marriage register without leaving their vehicles.

Post COVID-19

The wedding sector is anticipated to gradually recover after COVID-19 related restrictions are lifted. However, the recovery of the sector will depend on couples feeling safe enough to hold a large wedding. Many couples will likely downsize to smaller gatherings, or get legally married in the short-term, and postpone the ceremonies until the COVID-19 pandemic fully subsides. Couples who are planning to get married in the near future could postpone the ceremony to further save up for the occasion.

IBISWorld reports used to develop this release:

For more information, to obtain industry reports, or arrange an interview with an analyst, please contact:
Jason Aravanis
Strategic Media Advisor – IBISWorld Pty Ltd
Tel: 03 9906 3647