Planning a wedding in 2021? New study reveals traditions your guests want you to ditch

By June 21, 2021 Client News
  • 100+ guest lists, packed dancefloors and group photos top the list of wedding tradition Brits would be happy to see the back of
  • Couples reveal how they adapted their wedding plans due to COVID-19 and if they would do the same in the future 

Weddings have been heavily impacted over the past 12 months due to the ongoing pandemic. From reduced guest numbers to restrictions on live music and dancing, couples have adapted their plans in the name of love, but what wedding traditions are guests hoping stay lost in 2021? 

A new study from events specialists AYRE Event Solutions has delved into the wedding traditions that have been lost due to COVID restrictions that Brits would be happy not to return post-pandemic. Topping the list of wedding features engaged couples can leave out of their planning is weddings with over 100 guests (27%). 

The results revealed the top ten traditions Brits would prefer happy couples to ditch: 

  1. Weddings with over 100 guests (27%)
  2. Packed dancefloors (23%)
  3. Group photos (21%)
  4. Mixed household seating arrangements (21%)
  5. Self-serve buffets (20%)
  6. Queuing at the bar (20%)
  7. Weddings abroad (18%)
  8. Live music (18%)
  9. Having to invite guests you don’t really want to (17%)
  10. Singing during the ceremony (16%)

The new research indicates that those planning a wedding in 2021 can look to continue the trend of smaller ‘micro’ weddings with lower budgets and potentially cut back on DJ costs as nearly a quarter (23%) of guests won’t be polishing off their dancing shoes on a packed dancefloor just yet. 

Social distancing and non-household mixing over the past 12 months appear to have had a lasting impact on weddings, as a fifth (21%) would prefer not to sit with anyone outside of their household moving forward. Table service could also be here to stay as a fifth (20%) of UK adults would be happy to see the back of self-serve buffets and queues at the bar. 

Perhaps least surprisingly, 17% of those polled said they would be happy to see the back of having to invite guests they don’t really want to moving forward, fitting in with the trend of smaller more intimate ceremonies and celebrations. 

Other traditions Brits would be happy to ditch include long speeches (14%), bridesmaids and groomsmen walking down the aisle together (14%) and self-serve pick and mix (13%). 

Splitting the results out by gender, both men (22%) and women (31%) agreed that weddings with over 100 guests is the tradition they would most like to see the back of. But looking at the different age groups, 16 to 24 year olds would prefer to ditch group photos (21%) compared to 25 to 34 year olds who want to see couples drop self-serve buffets (18%). 

On the reverse, the wedding traditions the least amount of Brits would be happy to see the back of are cash gifts (8%), food trucks (9%), photobooths (13%), the throwing of the bouquet (13%) and confetti throwing (13%). So couples planning a celebration for 2021 and beyond can add these to their plans if they’ve not included them already! 

In light of the research, AYRE spoke to couples lucky enough to still be able to go ahead with their wedding plans during the pandemic whilst restrictions allowed them to, asking how they adapted their plans and if they would be happy to have a similar wedding in ‘normal times’.

Frankie, 28 and Joe, 29 from West Yorkshire tied the knot in October 2020 after 12 years together. “Planning our wedding in 2020 was such a stressful and exhausting experience. We’d regularly get phone calls from our families after each government press conference asking what we planned to do. Despite restrictions on numbers and not being able to have a reception, we decided to go ahead with our ceremony as planned and move our wedding reception to 2021.

“The hardest part was reducing the guestlist down to 30 for the church, but we stuck to parents, siblings and the wedding party, and somehow it worked out perfectly. We were still able to have our chosen photographer there to capture everything from the ceremony and he actually did it free of charge for us which was so lovely. Our pictures have proven to be the most valuable part of the day so we’d definitely say for anyone planning a smaller wedding due to restrictions to keep your photographer involved. After the ceremony we just had a champagne toast and slice of cake outside the church and then headed off on a mini Yorkshire honeymoon as travel in the UK was allowed at that time.

“Although we have moved our wedding reception to October 2021, we would still be happy with the day we managed to have last year. For this year, we are less worried about the smaller things like wedding stationary, favours and those added extras. We are just super excited to be able to celebrate with more of our friends and family and we think splitting out the ceremony and the ‘party’ is actually a great thing as there will be less nerves on the day!”

Managing director of AYRE, Chris Ayre summarises the study: “The wedding industry has been one of the most affected by the ongoing government restrictions. Couples have had to switch up their plans continuously and work with their venues and suppliers to do so. With these restrictions now in place for over 12 months, we wanted to see the lasting impact they will have on weddings and what guests and couples want out of their big days in the future.

“Interestingly, the trend of smaller weddings appears to have replaced big elaborate parties allowing couples to perhaps spend more on the finer details and ensure every aspect of their day reflects them as a couple. More tailored menus, decorations, photo backdrops and entertainment could be on the cards! Experiences with table service at bars and restaurants also looks to have spilled over into weddings as Brits would prefer to avoid queues at the bar and only sit with people in their household. 

“For couples still wanting to enhance their big day despite restrictions, we would suggest working with your events planner on the overall production of the day from bespoke lighting inside and outside the venue to a marquee or even improved sound systems to ensure you have everything covered.

“We hope our new study helps those planning a wedding in 2021 narrow down exactly what their guests are looking for and would be comfortable with in 2021.” 

To find out more about weddings in 2021 and beyond, please visit: