Couples who moved their wedding receptions to the first half of 2021 made a mistake, experts say

Samantha Grindell
·6 min read
2021 weddings pandemic 4x3
The Knot released its annual Real Weddings Study on Wednesday. Samantha Lee/Insider
  • Wedding website The Knot released its "Real Weddings Study" for 2020.

  • Of those who were legally married in 2020, 52% postponed their receptions to the first half of 2021.

  • But experts say these weddings are unsafe and couples should postpone longer.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

The wedding website The Knot conducts an annual survey, the "Real Weddings Study," which uses data from engaged couples to report on the latest trends in the wedding industry.

The Knot's 2020 "Real Weddings" survey sheds light on how couples have adapted their wedding plans in light of the coronavirus pandemic. It surveyed over 7,600 American people whose weddings were originally supposed to take place between March and December of 2020.

The study looked at everything from the average size of 2020 weddings to how many of these couples canceled their nuptials altogether. Based on The Knot's survey, the majority of couples rescheduled their weddings for early 2021 - but experts say that having a big reception in the first half of the year still isn't a good idea.

More than half of couples moved their weddings to the first half of 2021, according to The Knot's study

According to the study, only 7% of respondents chose to cancel their weddings as a result of the pandemic, with the majority either postponing or scaling down their celebrations.

The study found that 52% of couples surveyed - about 1 in every 2 couples - who were legally married in 2020 were planning to host their wedding receptions in the first half of 2021 and host upward of 125 guests.

A wedding.
The majority of couples who rescheduled their weddings are hoping to get married in the first half of 2021. Rawpixel/iStock

Read more: Getting ordained, rejiggering seating charts and dance floors, and negotiating vendor contracts: How 4 wedding planners are prepping for the future of the events industry

The couples who plan to go forward with their early 2021 wedding receptions might feel like their intentions are reasonable because COVID-19 vaccines are being distributed across the country.

In addition, many states are starting to loosen their coronavirus restrictions despite the high number of cases across the US, which may signal to some couples that their early 2021 weddings could happen as they hope.

For instance, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Friday announced that weddings of up to 150 guests would be permitted in the state again beginning in mid-March, as Brides reported.

But experts are warning that these events could still be quite risky, and masks and social distancing will still be necessary for them to take place at all.

Experts don't think weddings will be safe in the first half of 2021

Although the vaccine news is promising, it will still be a long time before the coronavirus isn't a threat to the majority of the US and global population - which means weddings won't be safe over the next few months.

As Insider previously reported, most Americans won't even get their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine until at least May, let alone their second dose.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has said that America cannot have a "degree of normality" until 70 to 85% of the population is vaccinated. At the time of writing, not even 2% of Americans have been vaccinated, according to CDC data.

As a result, guests and staff likely won't be vaccinated at weddings scheduled for the first half of 2021, putting everyone who attends these events at risk.

Plus, many couples invite guests from outside the country to their weddings, which can further increase the risk of transmission of the virus. The CDC is mandating that international travelers provide proof of a negative coronavirus test before and after they arrive in the US and quarantine upon their arrival, but these restrictions aren't foolproof.

Read more: Behind jobs that appear glamorous: Here's what it's actually like to be a luxury destination wedding planner

Dr. Edgar Herrera Sanchez, an infectious-disease expert and vice-chairman of Orlando Health's Infectious Disease Group, told Insider's Julia Naftulin that he thinks couples shouldn't plan to have big weddings in 2021 at all.

"I don't think you'll be able to have a spring wedding. It just doesn't seem feasible," Sanchez said.

He added: "It would be a very big travesty for any person who gets the virus now and dies from it because it is something that can be prevented. Unfortunately, I see it every day, just people dying from this."

The vaccine can't guarantee protection

It's unlikely that the majority of a couple's wedding guests would be vaccinated at a wedding taking place in the first half of 2021.

Even if a large portion of their guests were vaccinated, there's nothing a couple could do to ensure there's a 0% chance of someone contracting or spreading the virus at their event in the first half of the year.

As the CDC states, the vaccine helps protect the patient from getting COVID-19, but it's still unclear how well vaccinations prevent transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19.

It will also likely be months before the US reaches any type of herd immunity.

Until more people are vaccinated and we know more about how well the vaccines prevent the spread of the coronavirus, weddings and any other type of large gathering will be dangerous for engaged couples, their guests, and the people they hire to work the event.

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Experts think 2021 weddings will be unsafe. Joaquin Corbalan P/Shutterstock

If couples do want to get married in 2021, they should keep the event small, it should be held outside if possible, and they should require masks and social-distancing.

Read more: From a $10,000 celebration at a country club to a 6-figure ceremony in Central Park, 7 real couples share how they budgeted for their weddings

Despite many couples' apparent plans to celebrate, the respondents from The Knot's study seemed to understand that reality might get in the way of their hopes.

The "Real Weddings Study" stated that 47% of surveyed couples "acknowledge final guest size will depend on COVID-19 and statewide mandates as the postponed event gets closer."

In addition, 19% of those surveyed will require their guests to be vaccinated before attending their weddings, and 36% will ask their guests to be tested for the virus.

You can read the entirety of The Knot's 2020 Real Wedding Study here.

Read the original article on Insider