How COVID-19 changed wedding plans

From ordinary tasks like grocery shopping and getting the mail to visiting friends and family, the COVID-19 pandemic upended our everyday lives. It also had an overwhelming impact on not-so-everyday occasions, such as parties and events. 

Of all events, some of the most challenging to navigate during the pandemic were weddings.

With more than two years passed since the start of the pandemic, we at Paperless Post wanted to understand how wedding plans shifted during COVID-19. As a trusted online invitation platform that has served engaged couples since 2009, we gathered meaningful anonymized insights into the pandemic’s impact on wedding invitations. It revealed both the difficult decisions that so many couples had to make and how meaningful celebrations found a way to happen, even under such challenging circumstances.


In this analysis, we compare wedding trends that took place “Pre-Covid” (in the year before the pandemic hit the United States, 2/1/2019–2/1/2020) with “Covid Pre-Vaccines” (the year during which there were no vaccines for the disease 4/1/2020–4/1/2021) and “Covid Post-Vaccines” (the time period after vaccines became widely available across the United States, 4/1/2021–1/31/2022).


COVID-19’s effect on sending wedding invitations

Wedding invitations are a pivotal step in the planning process. They are your first chance to give your guests all of the details of your big day and kick off a flurry of important logistics planning, from gathering everyones’ meal options to helping them book rooms in a hotel block or find parking day-of. 

Traditional wedding etiquette suggests a timeframe for when to send wedding invitations, with many wedding planners advising that you send them out at least 8 weeks before the wedding date.

The COVID-19 pandemic, however, pushed couples to extreme ends of the scheduling spectrum:

Infographic that explains how far in advance couples sent their wedding invitations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As couples shifted their planning, many also had to face the gut-wrenching reality that despite their efforts and best-laid plans, they would have to cancel or postpone the wedding of their dreams due to various factors brought on by the pandemic. 


Difficult decisions: wedding cancellations and date changes during COVID-19

Some couples tried to manage the unpredictability by warning their guests right on the invitations that cancellation or postponement were distinct possibilities. Unfortunately their warnings became reality as many weddings did end up being cancelled. Couples tried their best to give guests plenty of notice. Save the Dates were sent on average 9 months in advance, and if they were forced to send a save the new date, they made that decision around 6 months in advance. Before vaccines became available, Covid-era wedding senders sent on average 20% more save-the-dates or invitations each.


We’re going virtual: how COVID-19 affected guest lists

If you have planned or are in the process of planning your wedding, you know that preparing the guest list is a tricky task in the most normal of times.

The pandemic changed the way that couples thought about their guest lists. Some opted for small, intimate in-person ceremonies. Others opted for virtual events and took the opportunity to invite many more people than might have been possible with an in-person wedding. We’ve gathered just how much guest lists changed from the year before to the first year of the pandemic:

An infographic explaining how the average number of guests at a wedding shifted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

There is good news for those who love to attend a big joyful wedding or hope to invite a long list of family and friends to their own. While average guest lists are still below pre-COVID-19 levels as of the time of this post, 37% of wedding invites sent in 2021 were for guest lists of 50 or more. In order to make their guests feel more at ease, hosts listed additional safety precautions.


Taking precautions: wedding safety steps taken during COVID-19

With so many unknowns about the virus and its transmissibility, many couples took extra steps to protect their friends, family, and guests if they proceeded with their wedding during the pandemic.

They often addressed guests’ anxieties and concerns in the invitations and made as many accommodations as possible. During covid (pre vaccines), almost half of wedding invitations were to events that were either virtual or in-person with some kind of safety precaution. Once vaccines were widely available, the number of virtual weddings fell, but the percentage of weddings that specified some kind of safety precaution increased to one-third, as couples requested proof of vaccination or similar to ensure the safety of their guests.

The precautions took many shapes, including providing masks and sanitizer at the venue or offering a virtual option. Some couples even required a negative Covid test or proof of vaccination.

An infographic explaining how important safety precautions were to couples planning their weddings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Deciding what safety precautions to provide to guests became front and center for many couples. In light of all the trials that COVID-19 would bring, however, these were worthwhile as they allowed them to proceed safely with their celebrations.

Paperless Post: smart and adaptable invitations for life’s changes

In normal times, weddings and the planning leading up to them can bring great joy, from choosing decor, dresses, and a perfectly crafted, gravity-defying cake. Yet, all of these things are affected by the time frame in which a wedding is planned. Dates must be set, fittings and tastings scheduled, invitations sent. Given how quickly situations and safety guidelines can shift, COVID-19 made this process challenging for many couples.

So, what steps can you take to make that process easier as we move into a new stage of the global pandemic? If the pandemic experience has taught us anything about weddings and other kinds of event planning, it’s that a modern and flexible solution for Save the Dates and invitations has never been more needed. At Paperless Post, when you choose from our sophisticated online invitation designs, you also get a communication platform where you can convey important safety information, track RSVPs, and instantly communicate with guests in groups or individually. 

Planning often requires quick thinking and the ability to make adjustments. Our online wedding invitations are as flexible as you need them to be—allowing you to anticipate your big day with as much delight as ever.


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