Weddings in Spain Update: An Interview with Scott Gibbons.
Today we are catching up with Scott, the owner of Sunshine Weddings Spain, based in Marbella on the Costa del Sol, for an update on the current situation in southern Spain, further to the Covid-19 pandemic that has shaken the world.
Every industry has been affected by the global coronavirus outbreak, and obviously, that has unfortunately included the world of destination weddings, producing a huge obstacle for 2020 wedding planning here in southern Spain and on the island of Mallorca.
On the other hand, whilst in lockdown, the Spanish people hadn’t anticipated airspace re-opening until the 1st July, and so it was a definite boost to hear that Sanchez had decided to open up airspace 1 week early, encouraging domestic and European flights to resume their schedules. The beaches are now getting busier day-by-day (in a good and socially distanced way!), and the footfall into the Costa del Sol is increasing.
On another positive note, Sunshine Weddings Spain has been receiving great feedback from bridal couples who have visited the area in the last week – particularly regarding the thorough processes taking place at airports, not just in their home countries, but also upon arrival into various airports in Spain.
Obviously, Scott and the Sunshine Weddings Spain team are very aware that the virus still exists, but with all the correct health and safety measures in place, people in this part of the world can continue to enjoy their lifestyle choices.
But what impact has Covid-19 truly had on the 2020 wedding season?
“Naturally, all April, May, June (and the first part of July) weddings were affected. However, fortunately we were able to transfer them to either a later date in 2020, or to a preferred date in 2021. So we have 20 weddings set to take place at the end of this year’s wedding season, which is quite an achievement when you consider how big an impact the virus has had worldwide. We are also in almost daily contact with every one of our 2020 bridal couples throughout the wedding planning process, providing them constant updates on the improvements taking place in Spain.
If anything, we have become much closer to all our bridal couples, and our personal relationships have grown stronger and stronger.”
Scott put an emphasis on this last sentence. One of the strengths of the Sunshine Weddings Spain team, since its very conception, has been their outstanding relationships with bridal couples.
So what is the current situation looking like in Spain?
“Since we emerged from lockdown, things have been changing not only weekly, but daily, and we have constantly been learning and understanding just what the guidelines allow us to do. We are actually very fortunate in many ways, exactly because of our location here in southern Spain – a destination wedding venue’s size isn’t the same as that of say a local wedding in the UK, which would bring with it larger guest numbers and more limitations.
In the UK, the number of guests is limited to just 30, for example, whilst here in Spain ceremonies with up to 150 guests are permitted. In the UK the ceremony should also be kept as short as possible; no group singing or instruments are allowed, and it is ‘strongly’ advised that receptions following the ceremony are avoided.
Things in this part of Spain could not be more different, meaning bridal couples and their guests can enjoy much more freedom on their Big Day, despite the fact that our clients fly in from all over the world. In terms of catering, guests can be seated up to 10 at a table, there is adequate social distancing between tables, meaning waiting staff and guests can pass seamlessly between tables – and there is no requirement for guests to wear masks.
Of course most of our couples who had previously booked their weddings with us for this year have simply transferred their dates to 2021, and we are now very busy for next year. Some bookings have even been made for 2022… although it’s quite normal to plan this far ahead in the industry.
So, all in all, the picture is looking a lot better and we are seeing a real resurgence of life continuing and plans moving forward.”
How has the virus impacted Sunshine Weddings Spain in particular?
“As many people know, at Sunshine Weddings Spain we do not receive payment from our couples until the week of the actual wedding. However, the support of our bridal couples has been amazing and very gratefully received. It’s also shown us how much each couple has appreciated the work that’s gone into the planning of their wedding.
Sunshine Weddings Spain has always worked with a trusted network of providers and venues, and, thanks to that conscious decision, we have ensured the elimination of any bad practices and unprofessionalism. Whilst we cannot make decisions on behalf of other providers, we trust them completely. On the other hand, we are aware of a number of wedding providers who have been booked directly by couples, and who have been less than helpful when it comes to allowing bridal couples to move their dates forward. We have always been flexible to work with, however, this summer, more than ever, has shown the benefits of working with endorsed providers when it comes to photography, hair, catering, musicians etc. So for us, a lot of these issues have thankfully not arisen.
This whole pandemic has affected everyone we know – emotionally and financially. Everybody has had to adjust their lifestyle accordingly. But we have remained very lucky in that with our own infrastructure, support was possible from the Sunshine Weddings Spain team. We remain here in Spain long term, and we are bursting with excitement to enjoy this year’s weddings, and, more importantly, the record number of weddings planned for the 2021 season (contributed to by the deferral of this year’s weddings).”
At the time of writing this blog, Scott was arranging a meeting to visit two caterers at a wedding venue to discuss the current hygiene and safety measures in place, and so it is that the latter part of the 2020 wedding season is shaping up, and we look forward to all the delayed celebrations of our fabulous couples.