This is such an obvious and important question many people are asking these days. There is no doubt the wedding industry took a hard punch in the stomach in 2020 after the coronavirus pandemic. But does the impact of the stay-at-home orders or social-distance requirements mean that the wedding venue business is a bad one? Hardly!
Yes, the environment has changed but I do believe it is still a good business to consider, especially for people with rural home properties. And here’s why.
Weddings are still big business. In fact, since I published my book in 2016, according to WeddingWire, the market has grown from a $54 to $74 billion industry in the United States. That’s billions. With a “B!”
In WeddingWire’s 2020 report, which was a survey of over 27,000 couples between January 1 and December 31, 2019 they found that on average couples hire (15) vendors for their wedding day. And the most often hired vendor – you guessed it – The venue! Meaning, people opt out of some of the other services, but 92% of the couples surveyed all still had a professional venue to host their big event.
What is also increasing is the venue rental fees. In 2016, And the average cost of the Venue in 2019 was $10,500 per event, up from $9,000 in 2018. And in this report, they also found that October is the growing as the most popular month, including in 2020 and that half of all fall weddings are outdoors. This makes the case for rural venue options as being a key factor for those weddings.
In The Knot’s own survey, they found that the venue is the biggest factor driving costs as well, with up to 1/3 of the wedding costs being for the venue and nearly 20% of all weddings being held at farms, barns or rural properties.
Also, believe it or not, weddings are still somewhat recession-proof. In 2008, back in the years when the economy was shrinking during the Recession, the National Association of Catering Executives released the results of their membership survey and found that, while couples were definitely scaling back their wedding budgets, the total numbers of cancellations did not rise. Now, funny story - I stated in my book in 2016 that unless there was an outright ban on weddings, people are going to be getting married no matter what and they’ll still spend money on the location.
Well in 2020 – there was an outright ban on weddings! And guess what happened? People got married anyways! Sure, some of them the broke the law or they eloped – out in the woods with their buddy doing the ceremony, by a justice of the peace or hired officiant in their own backyards.
But most couples simply postponed the event until later in the year or the following year. And some did a mix of both - opting to do a quick, intimate ceremony in 2020 and planned for the full reception once it was allowed.
Does that mean more people are going to get married on their own properties from now on? Are you kidding? The costs to host your own wedding when you don’t have the basic furnishings or functionality of an actual venue are really high.
That means that when weddings do return at full scale, they may be smaller in number in terms of overall guests. But I wouldn’t worry about the fact that everyone is going to decide that they want to trample their own lawn and worry about chair, table, and linen rentals. No, your business will still be very much in demand. In fact, outdoor locations are already considered to be a safe alternative to indoor gatherings. Meaning that an outdoor venue, with room and capacity to allow people more space plus fresh air is actually the best place for a coronavirus-reality wedding and reception, right?
Sadly, another factor to consider for weddings in a post-2020 world is that that I will point out is that not all businesses survive these kinds of events. I know this from going through the Recession in 2008. Depending on how the venue business was structured and whether a family had any other sources of income, some venues and other wedding vendors have been closing their doors completely or selling to entrepreneurs. In fact, I’ve been approached about buying local rural wedding venues in my area. This means that couples may have fewer choices for venues than they did before the pandemic.
So, between that factor and the reality that weddings are a part of human culture, I believe exploring this industry is still a great idea. But, you definitely want to approach it with wisdom and take note to apply some of the big lessons learned in this past year to help make sure that if something like the pandemic happens again, or if it’s impacts linger for another couple of years, you have a business that is adaptable.