July 13, 2022
With strict Australian Covid-19 restrictions unlikely to return, weddings across the country are backbreathing new life into the hard-hit photographic sector.
According to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Covid created the biggest drop on record in the annual number of marriages, down 30.6% from 2019 to 2020. An ABS chart tracing the annual number of marriages since the turn of the century shows the figure still hovering above 100,000, except in 2020 when it fell to just below 79,000. This is a sharp drop from 113,000 in 2019. And although the data of 2021 are yet to be released, marriages are likely to be below six figures again.
Not all Australian states have seen the same drop in marriages. Victoria, where severe Covid restrictions lasted the longest, suffered a 41.9% drop, followed by the Northern Territory with a 31.4% drop and NSW at 30.3%. ACT, on the other hand, was relatively unscathed with a drop of just 12.7%.
That’s pretty grim data, as the +30,000 weddings that didn’t happen left wedding photographers short of work. According to wedding supplier directory, Easy Weddings, Australia’s wedding industry contributes around $4.3 billion a year to the economy, with 54,000 wedding businesses registered across the country. In Victoria alone, the wedding industry is said to bring in $1.1 billion a year and 36,000 jobs in 13,000 businesses.
It should be noted that some of the 78,000 weddings in 2020 have been adapted to meet Covid restrictions, meaning tiny wedding ceremonies or runaways. In Melbourne, for example, only five people plus an officiant were allowed at outdoor wedding ceremonies, and those five prized locations didn’t always include a professional wedding photographer.
But despite a sharp drop in weddings, couples were still planning and postponing weddings, and proposals were still happening. It’s not as if the pandemic has caused couples to avoid weddings altogether – it’s simply impossible for couples to plan their ideal wedding with strict limitations on gatherings as well as restrictions on international, interstate travel. and even regional.
This has caused a backlog of weddings, and ABS is expected to see a sharp rise for the 2022 wedding season. EasyWeddings estimates there will be 150,000 weddings in 2022. If correct, this will likely be the biggest increase in percentage and highest number of marriages ever recorded by ABS Australia.
Exhaustion due to busy schedules
Wedding photographers have seen a surge in business, leading to “a good problem to have” after two years of unemployment. Victorian wedding photographer, Rick Liston, found that the huge demand for his services left him on the brink of burnout.
‘Previously [weddings] were only weekends and Fridays, and I thought, “I’m busy right now.” But doing 115 weddings in one season, you’re like, ‘Wow, is that what’s physically possible?'” Liston told the ABC. “Having said that, I definitely don’t want to be that busy anymore.”
He compares being a wedding photographer to being a stand-up comedian, where you have to exude good positive energy while carefully capturing all the precious moments. “Physically and mentally it was incredibly exhausting,” he said. Nobody wants their wedding photographer to be slouched and dragging their feet, “it’s that game face you have to bring every day, so you wake up completely exhausted.”
Similarly, Melbourne wedding officiant Zena Lythgo said The Guardian she had a record 19 marriages over a three-week period last spring. A growing trend is for couples to marry at previously unorthodox times, such as weekdays, weekend mornings, and during the winter months when the weather is less reliable. Another Melbourne celebrant, Sally Hughes, told the ABC she did 70 weddings in three months, which is a normal year of work. And in the future, it is already almost booked for the whole next year.
Liston describes the last two years as having two modes, “ghost town” and “batshit crazy”. Obviously living in the ‘most locked down city in the world’, the ‘ghost town’ was the direct result of Victorian Covid-19 restrictions leading to a freeze on marriages. And “crazy madness” happened in those times between lockdowns, when there was a rush to finally get married.
In the US, Covid restrictions were largely lifted in 2021. And that led to “the craziest wedding year ever” for Long Island-based wedding photographer Michael Cassara.
‘I have photographed 46 weddings this year. A normal year has around 30 weddings,’ he said The Washington Post. “Twenty-four of my weddings this year have been postponed from 2020, and I had already booked 18 weddings for 2021 before Covid hit.”
This despite part of the wedding season taking place before the global rollout of the vaccine, meaning not all weddings returned to ‘normal’ and some measures were in place like mask-wearing and distancing. social. And, like Liston, Cassara’s busy schedule has left him near exhaustion.
“It cost a lot of my friends and a lot of other sellers. My clients were phenomenal, absolutely phenomenal,” he said. “But with lots of people inquiring or planning their dates, there was high demand, especially from the parents of the bride and groom. At times it was almost like they didn’t really care if you were a small business or broke your ass for your client. They want results, and they want them fast.
“During this time, we were doing double the work that we would normally do in a calendar year. I know a handful of other photographers who – it broke them. I’m relatively new to the industry, as a full time wedding photographer. So I think I still have my sanity. But others, they have been there for 20 years. And they’re like, “Yeah, I’m fine. I’m finished. I’m checking out.’
Many Australian wedding photographers, especially on the East Coast, probably relate to feeling exhausted or approaching it. The busy wedding season has created an exceptional workload for the industry, and this is expected to continue into next summer and into next year.
And for now, it looks like Australian state governments have abandoned the ‘abundance of caution’ approach to Covid. Even the Victorian government, with its previously itchy trigger finger causing instant lockdowns, is ignoring the chief health officer’s recommendations to reintroduce Covid restrictions.
As long as there are no nasty surprises from the mutating virus, Australian wedding photography looks set to do well.