The wedding industry faced a tough couple of years during the COVID-19 pandemic, followed by an extremely busy one last year as pent up demand and postponed weddings could finally take place. Now, industry insiders report that 2023 is shaping up to be the year where everything settles back to normal, with a few trends remaining noticeable as holdovers from the pandemic years.
“The second part of 2022 was surreal in terms of number of weddings,” says event organiser 242.group director James Cassar. “This year we’re back to normality.”
“We have very few couples whose wedding has not happened yet, since most couples were very keen on getting married as soon as the situation with the shifting regulation goalposts ended. Thus, most couples got married after April last year.”
Xara Collection PR and marketing manager Julia Grech Ehrentraut agrees, saying that “2023 is proving to be a good year for weddings, in line with 2019. It is still below the 2022 figures, but that is to be expected.”
Floral artist Debbie Cassar, from Romano Cassar Florists, also reports that demand is “going back to the numbers seen pre-COVID”.
Meanwhile, supplier booking service Get Hitched co-founder and director Ben Vincenti explains though the pandemic brought events to a standstill, behind the scenes work continued without pause.
“Our team continued to receive requests to find and book suppliers throughout the pandemic, due to the two- to three-year time frame it typically takes locals to plan a wedding,” he says.
One trend that seems to have really taken off during the pandemic is a desire for smaller ceremonies.
The restrictions put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19, Mr Vincenti observes, forced couples into an uncomfortable choice – to either postpone their wedding or drastically reduce the number of guests.
And it looks like those downsized weddings proved a success, with the Get Hitched director reporting that there are more intimate celebrations than ever.
“We have been seeing an increase in intimate wedding,” agrees Ms Grech Ehrentraut. “These events are more often than not going for a higher-end food and beverage experience with a small number of invitees,” she says, adding that couples are even making the most of the addition of Maltese establishments to the prestigious Michelin Guide, including Xara Collection’s own Restaurant de Mondion.
Ms Cassar, on the other hand, has not noted any uptick in requests for small, intimate weddings, but confirms that Malta’s popularity as a wedding destination for foreign couples “increase year by year”.
“Malta has always been a popular wedding destination due to its scenic beauty, rich history, and warm Mediterranean climate,” agrees Mr Vincenti, noting that the country has “a thriving wedding industry that caters to both local and international clients”.
Another holdover from the pandemic is the shorter lead times couples are requesting.
“We have noticed that since most couples had halted their plans during COVID period, we are now having wedding requests with shorter lead times,” says Mr Cassar. “After discussing with the couples, we got to understand that the bride and groom-to-be had been planning the wedding for a while but wanted the COVID situation to be out of the way before making concrete planning.”
Ms Grech Ehrentraut adds that the average time frame given is now between 15 and 18 months, well below the 24 month lead time that was previously the norm.
“We still get requests well in advance, but the number of weddings confirming within a much shorter lead time is increasing fast,” she continues.
Not all of this can be put down to shifts in behaviour arising from the pandemic, however: “It is also related to the demographic. Couples in their late thirties are the ones that usually have a much shorter lead time – some as little as seven months.”
With COVID-19 firmly in the past and a marked increase in Malta’s popularity for destination weddings, the industry is set for a bright future, helped, undoubtedly, with many couples’ “no expense spared” attitude to their special day.
Local wedding / Photo by perfectweddingsmalta.com
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