The Post-Covid Wedding Booking Feast Is Over… How to Prevent Famine

by Brian Lawrence

As the wedding season winds down and our industry continues to return to some semblance of normalcy, it’s time to consider marketing goals to make sure you get your share of 2023 weddings and beyond.

The Impact of Covid

I’ll never forget the night in March 2020 as I lay in bed in a Las Vegas hotel room and heard on the television that the NBA would be shutting down for the remainder of the season due to an impending pandemic. I was attending the Catersource Conference & Tradeshow with fellow wedding and marketing expert Alan Berg, speaking with attendees about helping improve their businesses. Yet this news was telling me that the world may be shutting down, that those business owners’ goals might be put on hold for the indefinite future as we encountered a world with COVID-19.

Then panic set in as words like “shutdown” and “quarantine” became part of our daily vernacular, paralyzing an industry that depended on people gathering face-to-face in celebration.

A new journey began for all of us in the wedding industry.

Sure, at first there was a feeling of dread that our businesses could not outlast this unknown disease. But after the shock and stress wore off from wedding cancellations, postponements, and refunds, many of my current and potential clients were suddenly viewing the pandemic as an opportunity to focus on goals they’d never had time to devote to while running a burgeoning business. That included web design and SEO, which kept me very busy helping clients achieve those goals during the pandemic.

Fast forward to June 2021, more than a year after the world shut down, when wedding planning, engagements, and celebrations kicked into high gear as pandemic restrictions were lifted. In essence, the wedding industry went practically overnight from utter famine to high-gear feast.

And it was a game-changer for this industry. Never before the pandemic had middle-of-the-week weddings become so popular, as businesses had to accommodate the celebrations that had been on hold for more than a year while also planning events for clients who now had permission to gather and be merry. It also meant that for the last 18 months, weekends were filled with back-to-back events, leaving business owners little time for a personal life, let alone time to ponder how to improve services, foster growth, tweak web sites, or maintain a strategic social media presence.

Now as we’re in the final quarter of 2022, we are approaching some semblance of “normal” in a post-pandemic world. To the disappointment of many wedding venues and vendors, the roller coaster is slowing. Of course, not going to stop entirely; there’s still plenty of time for growth and improvement as the industry reaches a more manageable level.

Building Your Business’ Foundation for the Future

As we relax into some level of normalcy, it’s important to capitalize on this downtime and get a jump on wedding celebrations in 2023 and beyond. Indeed, with the pandemic somewhat behind us, now is the time to start thinking about those marketing efforts you neglected while you were just trying to get through the craziness of post-pandemic weddings. Maybe that includes freshening up your site with photos from recent events. You may join local vendor groups to increase your network. Perhaps you can now think about adding new services or changing how you deliver them. Or even adapt your marketing efforts with lessons you’ve learned since the pandemic began.

It’s important to note that when your website for SEO is not up to par, it’s an invisible disadvantage. After all, if somebody visits your website and they leave, they’re not going to contact you to tell you that they left. You simply won’t know a client was doing research on Google using search terms that matched your business as a resource for them, but they couldn’t find you. And even if you don’t have the means or desire to create an entirely new website, yours can be improved with only the slightest changes to create profound advantages for your business that can last for years to come.

Keep in mind, too, we’re in an industry that defies textbook logic, so it’s important to engage with someone like myself who understands its nuances. I like to say when I work with clients that I don’t need to “pick your brain” because I can practically read your mind after having lived and breathed this industry for more than 30 years. So put the burden on me to make those improvements, allowing you to continue to think about the rest of your business.

Regardless of your needs, implementing changes takes time, which means you need to get started with them now to help you navigate prime engagement season: between Thanksgiving Day and Valentine’s Day. From improving site design or visibility, adding new copy and photos, or starting from scratch, the few weeks it will take to implement those efforts can reap long-term benefits for your business so you can ride the coaster through future feasts and famines.

Looking Forward

But what is the industry’s outlook through the next few years? How are economic challenges like inflation and possible economic recession affect businesses? History tells us that couples want to celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime experience despite economic concerns. But the question for us as business-industry pros might be: Should I be lowering my prices to attract customers in an uncertain economy?

My suggestion instead of lowering prices is to add more value to your services instead, perhaps like providing financing options through third-party businesses like Maroo. True, your customers may have to scale back on the size of the celebration or find other ways to cut costs. Your job, then, is to add value with improved services. And that includes adapting your marketing needs to enhance customer experience.

Remember that every year is a rebirth of sorts, which includes reassessing goals for our businesses as we march into 2023. Make a commitment now to contact me and help improve your website and SEO to maximize marketing. And do it with all the urgency of a couple wanting to get married on a Saturday in May through October.