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COVID-19 Has Me Daydreaming About The 2015 Wedding Season

17 January 2021

There's no easy way to put it. 2020 was one of the most challenging years in modern history for the wedding industry. What started as another promising year in the wedding industry turned into the worst possible scenario as COVID-19 began to wreak havoc and shut down the wedding season in the spring of 2020. In South Carolina, weddings began to open up in June and for the rest of the year, we were in a mode that had us ALL sort of meandering around trying to protect us from the virus.  Back in December, COVID-19 cases began to rise again in South Carolina, and as I publish this post in mid January, the case loads are STILL exploding across the region.  After I performed at my last wedding for 2020 back in December and was ready to pull away from the wedding venue, I sat in my SUV on that brisk and cold Saturday evening and began to feel rather melancholy.  There's no easy way to put this. COVID-19 makes having a wedding even more challenging and actually less fun for the bride and groom. Over the course of the past several months, the pandemic had begun to zap the passion out of me and my desire to be one of the top wedding DJs.  And to be honest, weddings should not really be happening at all.

As I sat in my SUV getting ready to head home, I turned on the radio and a song came on that further sent my mood spiraling into more of a melancholy state. "High & Dry" by Radiohead came on and I really started to get a tear or two in my eyes.  It was the perfect song at the moment to describe my feelings. Through out most of 2020, COVID-19 had left us all in the wedding industry feeling pretty "high and dry".  At this last wedding for me in 2020, I felt the passion being taken out of me by this pandemic.  All these extra precautions that have been put into place for COVID-19 had gotten to me. Seeing a bride and groom wear a mask and having to socially distance had finally gotten to me.  Weddings were never meant to have any restrictions, but yet they did and it was taking it's toll on all of us in the industry.   I am one of the most passionate wedding DJs you'll talk to. That passion was leaving me and I was becoming increasingly indifferent about DJing weddings. Something had to change to get the passion back into my life.  In one of  my darkest moments as a wedding DJ, I began to smile about one of the greatest years in the wedding industry in Charleston, SC: 2015.

2015 In The Wedding Industry Was Amazing
Over the past few years, the saturation level of wedding vendors in Charleston has increased ten-fold.  For an even more detailed description of just How Saturated The Wedding Industry has become <----Click this Link. But back in 2015, we were only a few years removed from a lot of the very first accolades that we had received from Travel & Leisure and Conde Nast magazines.  2015 took me to some truly amazing places. I found myself out at the prestigious and truly beautiful Middleton Place Plantation several times.  I remember back in March of 2015, I had the time of my life working with Whitney & Trey, as well as many others throughout the year.  In the years since 2015, I noticed more and more wedding vendors jumping into the industry here in the Holy City.  
Whitney Trey Ceremony
"Whitney & Trey" - March 21, 2015 | Middleton Place | Photo Credit: Mike Bills Entertainment

More Wedding Vendors And Less Weddings = Less Business To Go Around
Why am I spotlighting the year 2015 in this post? Because I have the data to prove that this year was the best year out of the past 8 years in terms of the issuance of wedding licenses. In the years that followed 2015, there was a gradual decrease in the amount of licenses that were issued.  From 2015 to 2019, there was a 10% drop. It was not my intent to rehash my discussion on the market saturation in Charleston. I just wanted my readers to have the option to backtrack and take a look at the article that I wrote about wedding market saturation prior to COVID-19.

Getting Fat & Happy And The Bride And Groom Are Paying For It
When Charleston first got awarded some of it's Best City accolades close to a decade ago now, I felt like the possibilities might be endless as it pertains to the city becoming a top wedding destination in the country. And what was amazing was this new found spotlight as being a top wedding destination was occurring as we were coming out of the Great Recession.  You had all sorts of people flocking to the Holy City to get a piece of the action. But year after year as these awards continued to stack up, the prices continued to rise to have a wedding in Charleston.  Charleston was being discovered and it's luxury hotel and restaurant scene continued to explode during this time.  The cost to come to the city was increasing, as well as all the things that have made it such a hospitable city too.  If everyone proceeds to raise their prices every single year just because you receive awards, it's bound to catch up with you after a while.  And, unfortunately, it did, and it has.

What Happened After 2015 And In The Years Following Through Now
As a responsible business owner who has invested thousands of dollars into finding the absolute best modern bride and grooms to work with, I am not afraid to speak about trends in the wedding industry because I have invested a lot of my time and resources in making sure I find brides and grooms who need to hire one of the top wedding DJs. What happened aftter 2015 was not the most shocking thing in the world but it could have easily been avoided.  I kept hearing from various wedding vendor colleagues that there were price increases across the board in the wedding industry.  As a result of these prices increases, there began a gradual decrease in the amount of marriage licenses issued in the Charleston County area. Now the 2020 numbers are sure to skew very much down due to COVID-19, but there was a 10% decline from 2015 -2019.   

I kept my SEO / digital marketing consultants on the phone during most of 2018 and in the late summer of that year, I had numerous lunches and dinners with wedding vendors discussing a slow-down.   Truth be told, it was not just weddings. It was tourism across the board. Less people were travelling due to increased costs due to tariffs and other political unrest at the time. We were able to pinpoint that the web searches for Charleston were also down.  People were not traveling at all. 

The 2015 Wedding DJ Prices Are Returning
I'll be honest with you. I raised my prices since 2015 and brought them down again. After doing so, I realized there was no reason to raise them. The cost to do business had not increased to the point of really needing to raise them. I guess I got all caught up in the "Charleston is the best wedding destination" crowd and felt a justification to go up. Using the annual accolades By Travel & Leisure and Conde Nast  to attempt to make more money and inflate the cost of getting married in this lovely city was not worth it to me. 

After consulting with some of my other wedding vendors and associated wedding services, I felt it was time to come back down to reality. The fat and happy times of Charleston being one of the best wedding destinations in the country was becoming less of a novelty and losing it's luster.  Getting married here never should have become such a hard sell to prospective brides and grooms coming to this beautiful city.  Will COVID-19 provide a bit of a reset in the wedding industry? Only time is going to tell, but if I am going to remain in the spotlight as a top wedding DJ, I am ready to accept the fact that Charleston got far too complacent, and took it for granted that brides and grooms will always be coming here to get married. Sure, modern brides and grooms are always going to come here, but are they going to come in mass quantities like they did in 2015? Not if reputable wedding vendors don't take a stand and bring prices back to a more realistic state.

2015 Price Points Are Here To Stay
For the foreseeable future, my price points are going to stay at the levels they were in 2015.  Let's face it. We're in a major pandemic that we are still meandering around in. While the vaccine is being rolled out, it's going to take several months to get back to where we were almost one year ago before COVID began. The modern bride and groom might not have the resources and might be opting to still get married, but perhaps might not have the budget.  The longer you are actually in the wedding industry (this does not mean the Facebook page or Instagram account only) wedding vendors, the longer you can see how trends change. Perhaps, the 20-something bride and groom who are saddled with student loan debt might not have the funds available to spend on a pricy Charleston soiree in the spring or summer.  And even with me going down to my 2015 prices, I am not the cheapest wedding DJ, and not the most expensive.  I like to think my prices are currently just right for the modern bride and groom. 

One thing that is NOT going to change as we ease out of this COVID-19 pandemic is my total focus on being a wedding DJ.  Weddings are ALL I will continue to do.  I will continue to provide my wedding clients with the focus they have to deserve over the years from me and my company. There will never be any competition on your wedding date once you hire me.  This is why most all of my clients have hired me and I will never change this stance for as long as I am in this business.  For more information about Why I Specialize In One Wedding Per Day, <----CLICK this Link. You can also read more about Why I Decided To Focus On Weddings Only, just CLICK this link.

Ready To Speak To Mike Bills About Being Your Wedding DJ?
I hope I explained myself well enough for you to understand that Charleston got too big for it's britches in recent years as a wedding destination. Sometimes you have to be honest with yourself and what's going on in your city. Perhaps COVID-19 will create this much needed reset in the wedding industry. Only time will tell. I hope we can talk about your wedding. If you just got engaged and somehow how landed on my website and are looking for a great wedding DJ, you might consider waiting until the Fall of 2021 or Winter of 2022 to have your wedding. At the time of publication of this post, COVID-19 is still raging in SC and "herd immunity" may not hit all of South Carolina until the fall of 2021.  That being said, I do have wedding dates available in the fall of 2021. Just click on the link up above to be taken over to my contact form so you can provide me with some basic details. 

In an effort to drum up some interest in Charleston after COVID-19, I put this post together back in the spring. Save yourself the trouble of "COVID-19-proofing your wedding reception, just wait it out and have a longer engagement. Check out that article by clicking this link. Think Past COVID-19 And Plan Your Wedding   Thank you so much for visiting my website, and I very much look forward to hearing from you.