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Posted by Danielle Harvey on 3 February 2021
With many weddings ceremonies and receptions being affected or put on hold during the last twelve months as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the government's vaccination plan has finally give the wedding sector a glimmer of hope for newlyweds-to-be.
Here, a selection of hotels, wedding venues and minimoon destinations have given their trend predictions for the coming year and beyond; from keeping the wedding bookings and suppliers within your local county, to choosing a winter wedding and planning a UK honeymoon - there's lots to be inspired by!
The extended season
Until now, the 'wedding season' in the UK has typically referred to the months of May to September, when pleasant temperatures are anticipated and daylight lasts longer. With the cancellations from last year and disruption continuing into this year, couples, as well as venues, are needing to become more flexible in order to secure dates in the foreseeable future. In addition, the shift to outdoor weddings is becoming more apparent as confidence in expansive outside space continues to trump inside events in light of the current circumstances. We're becoming more accustomed to diverse weather and making the most of the opportunity for walking and fresh air regardless of the temperature.
Boasting four acres of private grounds and vast surrounding greenery of Regent's Park, Regent's is a microcosm of rural utopia, benefitting a majestic environment with stately trees and pristine lawns, and extensive space. The elegant grandeur of Regent's University complements the serenity of its surroundings with exquisite Edwardian architecture and a redbrick exterior naturally adorned with year-round ivy and romantic wisteria in summer months. Outdoor wedding packages include use of an elegant, ivory-lined marquee with panoramic window walls in certain months, and the lawns are available year-round for extended wedding receptions. Also nestled within the grounds is a Secret Garden. Established in 1904, the garden has matured into a truly magical setting that provides the perfect backdrop for photos and intimate receptions for up to 100 guests.
Weddings at Regent's start from £130pp, including venue hire, catering and drinks package. Visit regentsevents.co.uk
Late availability - weddings with COVID-guarantee
With so many people having had to make changes and amends to their special day during the last year, late availability weddings in venues that can provide stringent safety protocols, social distancing and COVID-secure measures in line with the latest restrictions will become more popular – offering a one-stop shop of accommodation, function rooms and outside space. Many couples have had to make so many hard decisions over the last year, postponing planned events or cancelling their big day altogether, and there is an appetite for getting friends and family together to celebrate. Venues that can adapt their format, be flexible with their booking terms and put extensive measures in place to offer couples the chance to hold weddings in a way that keeps them safe will be popular with those looking to book weddings in 2021.
The late availability package at The Lensbury in Teddington, South West London includes hire of private rooms for the wedding ceremony, wedding breakfast and evening reception, as well as a three-course wedding breakfast prepared by the executive head chef, half a bottle of house wine per person and tea, coffee and petit fours. With a red carpet on arrival, a glass of prosecco for the toast and a Deluxe bedroom at The Lensbury Hotel for the wedding couple included, there are also options to add on bedrooms for guests, spa experiences and beautiful riverside backdrops for photographs, all arranged through a dedicated wedding manager. The Lensbury, which is well practiced in creating COVID-secure environments for both large and small gatherings, offers a COVID change of date guarantee, which means dates can be changed free of charge if restrictions stop weddings going ahead.
The Late Availability Package starts at £70 per person (was £100) in April to August 2021, and £80 per person (was £110) in September to November 2021. Minimum numbers of 30 apply. For more information, please visit lensbury.com
Honeymoons without quarantine
With so many couples not being able to enjoy the delights of a long-haul honeymoon to top destinations such as Mauritius or Bora Bora, minimoon trips to the UK will be increasingly popular, especially to destinations that feel far removed from the usual city break or seaside retreat.
The Torridon, in the Scottish Highlands, is the ultimate destination for newlyweds looking for untethered romance without the need for flying or quarantine. The natural playground of Wester Ross offers space to roam and connect with a loved one in the rugged, romantic setting of the wilderness. Honeymooners can build connections with no distractions, indulging in once-in-a-lifetime experiences to create lasting memories. Romanticism is built into the history of The Torridon, as the original proprietor's father-in-law was great Romantic-era poet, Lord Byron.Experiences loved by newlyweds include stargazing with a local astronomer, as the hotel is surrounded by 58 acres of parkland classified as one of the darkest locations on earth, and therefore one of the best places to experience the beguiling drama of the night sky, or couples can bond over exhilarating activities including sea kayaking, munro bagging and gorge scrambling.
One-night stay from £295 per room, including breakfast. Stargazing experience from £500 for two people. Activities from £20pp. Visit thetorridon.com
An inability to travel far and ongoing uncertainty on restrictions has led to many couples hosting hyper-local weddings. Gone are the days of transporting large groups of family and friends to a distant country hotel, with the need for expensive accommodation and multiple annual leave days used, instead replaced with smaller, more intimate (and more convenient) ceremonies close to home.
The Stanwell Hotel close to Staines in Surrey has been receiving enquiries for such weddings as many couples choose to stay local for their special day.The Stanwell Hotel's all-encompassing wedding package includes room hire, three-course wedding breakfast, alongside an evening buffet for late-night revelers, and overnight accommodation for the bride and groom to enjoy their first night of wedded bliss away from home. With its light-filled Garden Room looking out to manicured lawns, unique stained-glass windows, and elegant interiors, The Stanwell is perfectly placed for hosting intimate wedding receptions. The hotel is conveniently located to a variety of transport links including the M3, M4, M25 and M40, if guests do need to travel from further afield. Essential wedding package from £2995 for up to 50 guests. Visit thestanwellheathrow.com
Saving budget for the big celebration
Wedding and wallet-friendly rarely go hand in hand, however many couples are choosing to hold a small and inexpensive wedding in 2021, so they can save for a bigger celebration when restrictions ease, with no limits on guest lists and social distancing. With couples getting bored of waiting for a date when they can actually get married, these "micro-weddings" feature a guest list of nearest and dearest for the official ceremony, with a small reception to follow, allowing for newly-weds to save for a more ostentatious party in 2022 or later. Before the pandemic hit, combined food and venue hire averaged £9,293 per wedding in 2019, according to the National Wedding Survey, with 103 total guests, equating to over £90 per guest. Trends for smaller weddings, however, have led Holiday Inn London – Wembley to launch a wedding package that provides guests with a complete reception and a comprehensive choice of food for the wedding breakfast, from £39.95 per guest. Ensuring all the special details are included, guests can enjoy sparkling wine, a complimentary menu tasting, and an on-the-day host, without worrying about any additional expense, and the venue's expansive Empire Suite is 800 sqm2, hosting plenty of guests with sufficient space for social distancing. Visit hiwembley.co.uk