U.S. hotels have adjusted their offerings to couples planning weddings, which even if smaller in size are not necessarily smaller in budget.
REPORT FROM THE U.S.—Only a few months remain of the fall season, but the season for weddings is still going strong, hoteliers said.
Jeff David, president of Fitler Club in Philadelphia, said via email that “the wedding season has never ended.”
“What we are seeing now is people are getting married with family and close friends in an intimate, beautiful ceremony followed by a celebration,” he said. “They are planning their big celebration for 2021.”
Vicky Haberkorn*, director of sales at the Crossroads Hotel in Kansas City, said via email that weddings that moved from spring to fall, and even into 2021, have extended the wedding season.
“At this time, there is no clear-cut wedding ‘season,’” she said. “We’re seeing people book when it’s most convenient for them. People just want to get married, even if it means plans change.”
Sources said booking windows for weddings have gotten shorter.
Weddings at Fitler Club usually have a lead time of six to eight weeks, but David said weddings are now being planned in as little as two weeks.
Ryan Todd, director of sales and marketing at Canopy by Hilton Philadelphia Center City, said via email that some couples are calling to book weddings that are less than 30 days out.
“However, the trend for smaller gathering sizes, without opting for destination weddings, seems to be something that will continue (at the Canopy by Hilton Philadelphia Center City). We’ve received leads for micro weddings throughout the typical wedding season for 2021 and secured for May and October for 2021 already,” he said.
Couples are opting for smaller gatherings, but not necessarily because they have a tighter budget, Todd said.
“The couples that have ‘shrunk’ their special day due to gathering restrictions are still spending the same per person,” he said. “Of course, fewer total numbers of persons reduces the overall cost—but the price per person still remains healthy. The cost of floral is also likely reduced (with less space), but they are still bringing the typical centerpieces and additional florals.”
Lorenzo Murray, catering event sales and service manager at the Atlanta Marriott Perimeter Center, said via email that weddings started to return to the property in June, and bookings were mostly for the East Asian and Nigerian wedding market.
Some traditional weddings have reduced budgets when reducing the guest list, but that hasn’t been the case for East Asian and Nigerian weddings at the Atlanta Marriott Perimeter Center, he said.
“While we have seen two weddings reduce their numbers by almost half, they have not reduced their per-person package pricing,” he said.
The events range from 55 to 150 guests and proper social distancing is accommodated, he added.
Crossroads Hotel’s Haberkorn said couples have reallocated funds for their special day rather than reduce the budget.
“For example, we’ve seen couples who cut down on the guest list decide to put that money towards things such as premium bar packages, dining upgrades, decor, etc.,” she said.
A trend toward micro weddings and elopements has also reached the Baker’s Cay Resort Key Largo, Curio Collection by Hilton.
Rhonda Whitfield, director of sales and marketing at Baker’s Cay Resort, said via email that elopement and micro-wedding packages target two to 24 guests.
“As requests for open-air weddings with social distancing rise, our unique destination allows for outdoor weddings to be set up throughout our 15-acre natural sanctuary,” she said. “When an indoor space is called for, such as in the event of inclement weather, masks are required of all guests except when dining, and event spaces are kept at lower occupancies than in the past to allow for proper spacing between tables/chairs.”
Michelle Marvin, director of sales and marketing at the Hyatt Lodge in Oak Brook, Illinois, said via email that the property is allowing wedding parties of up to 50 guests based on government regulations.
Hyatt Lodge is following regulations for wedding events by spacing banquet tables six feet apart, limiting the number of guests at each table and having only family members sit with other family members at tables, she said.
The property has also created multiple dancefloors for events to accomplish social distancing, and staff wear masks and gloves the entire time, she added.
*Correction, 27 October 2020: This story has been updated to correct the source of the comments from the Crossroads Hotel, which was incorrectly identified by the firm's public relations.