Because of its yielding, unpredictable nature, planning a wedding during the COVID-19 pandemic presents a unique set of challenges amid a myriad of moving pieces. The landscape shifts and changes every day, leaving couples to face uncertain circumstances and daunting decisions.
At a time when coming together is more important than ever, COVID-19 is playing a significant role in what the future of wedding gatherings might look like. What’s paramount during this time is for me to help couples navigate this uncharted territory with standards that ensure we all stay safe and healthy – as well as happy. Following CDC’s specific guidelines for events and gatherings, enables me to anticipate and prepare for what lies ahead.
If you are at a loss for where to start and unsure of what to do, pause. Do not fall prey to the perils of this pandemic, but instead be positive. Focus on moving forward with a plan!
The following guide will help you plan your wedding during a pandemic, with purpose, positivity, pliability – and, most importantly, peace of mind. There are trends and tips to keep you informed and inspired along the way.
TIP #1 STAY CALM:
You may be experiencing a mixed cocktail of anxiety, panic, exasperation, disappointment, and/or resignation. Do not be overcome by these emotions. Stay calm and know that everything will work out for the best. It is not a matter of if, but when. Your day will come, and it will be better than you envision. When we all come together to celebrate, your special day will be worth the wait.
TIP #2 YOU DESERVE TO CELEBRATE. SHIFT THE DATE:
DO NOT CANCEL! RESCHEDULE! By rescheduling, you gain time. Time is a commodity that affords you the ability to lean back, relax, and refresh your mind. Take this additional time to search within your heart’s truest desires to discover ways to add depth and meaning to your moment. This will make your day more special than you initially planned.
TIP #3 NAIL DOWN YOUR NON-NEGOTIABLES:
Know the elements that you are unwilling to negotiate. When it comes to planning a pandemic wedding, non-negotiables can weigh heavily in so many ways. For example:
- Are you willing to shift your venue from a ballroom to a backyard wedding?
- Can you envision not being able to embrace family members?
- Can you see yourself being restricted from dancing in close proximity of your dearest friends?
- Are you willing to be wed without your grandparents present because they are considered high risk?
Asking yourself these, and similar COVID-19 related questions, will help you filter your decision making.
TIP# 4 VET YOUR GUEST LIST:
Restrictions on gatherings, along with guest concerns, may create the need to audit and/or amend your guest list. So, how do you begin to approach revamping the guest list that you painstakingly poured your heart into?
Start by factoring in the following COVID-19 considerations:
- Will it be allowable to have 10, 25, 50, or more guests during the timeframe of your wedding? Keeping an eye on pandemic updates will help forecast what may or may not be allowed in terms of the size of your guest list.
- Should you plan a smaller, intimate wedding, and leave room for flexibility in increasing the number of guests if/when restrictions are lifted, as you approach your date?
- If you plan on inviting 50 or more people, can the venue accommodate your guests appropriately with respect to social distancing protocols?
- Have you invited people out of “obligation” e.g. because they invited you to their wedding; knowing that you rarely keep in touch? This type of introspection will make eliminations easier and less guilt ridden.
TIP #5: INNOVATE TO CELEBRATE
If restrictions force you to significantly reduce the size of your guest list, think outside the box. Go with a virtual hybrid. This gives you an opportunity to innovate your wedding experience by integrating a live streaming component; thereby virtually adding more of your desired guests.
With live stream, virtual guests will be able to watch your in-person wedding, in real-time. Ask your Wedding Planner to recommend a reputable A/V Specialist to take care of your tech needs in this area.
TIP #6 FLIP THE FORMAT
It is no surprise that Al Fresco (outdoor) weddings and receptions are growing in popularity due to the pandemic. Changing from an indoor to a picturesque outdoor venue is a great solution to overcome stringent, social distancing protocols.
If you choose to host an indoor wedding, work with a venue that can ensure properly ventilated spaces.
TIP #7 LOOK AHEAD TO STAY ON TRACK (CUMMULATIVE OVERVIEW)
This is where you may want to consider enlisting the services of an experienced planner. Rely heavily on their expertise to successfully maneuver through the following variables:
If your event is occurring within the next 8 weeks:
➤Schedule a call with your Wedding Planner to discuss viable alternative dates
➤If your event is occurring in a state that has “mandated” that all venues and restaurants close and social gatherings cease; know that these mandates are enforceable by law.
- Review your contract agreements and start outlining your options.
- Before finalizing and announcing your new wedding date, consult with your Wedding Planner and other event professionals you have contracted to make sure of their availability.
- Get the word out regarding your NEW date! A new invitation in the mail is not necessary! The most efficient and effective method is email – create an aesthetically pleasing electronic invitation announcing your new details. Beautiful electronic invitations can be easily created via platforms, such as: Minted and PaperlessPost, or have your stationery designer create an elaborate electronic invitation.
- Use word-of-mouth to reinforce your other channels of communication.
- Update your wedding website to keep guests in the loop, as plans shift and settle. If applicable, add a link to the CDC website with updated info regarding relevant safety protocols, and guidelines for travel and accommodations.
- Email your wedding party of the new plan of action first before announcing it to your guests.
If your wedding is within the next 90 Days:
Start thinking of a Plan B to include:
- Viable alternative dates for your event
- Start collecting email addresses of all your guests. This is a top priority for expedient email blasts of announcements to all your guests.
- Review your contract agreements to see what clauses are in the agreements.
- Update your event website with new details once a plan of action has been finalized.
If your wedding is mid/late 2021:
- Exercise patience as your Wedding Planner & contracted Event Professionals address concerns of Clients who have events pending within the next 90 days.
- Keep in mind that venues will probably be challenged with rescheduling events. There may be some delay in your planning process.
- Virtual meetings are an excellent alternative to meet and discuss your wedding/event for the upcoming 8 weeks.
- Invest in event insurance!!!! Furthermore, ensure your policy will cover man-made disasters (a pandemic is considered a man-made disaster). We recommend to our clients, Markel Insurance (Markel for Events, Markel for Weddings). *Note: Some insurance companies have limited policies during the pandemic. *
General things you need to regard, no matter when your wedding date is scheduled:
- Be sure to implement safety precautions, such as PPE, masks, sanitizing stations, etc. To assuage any doubt, inform guests that their safety is a high priority. Detail the precautions you are taking and share this information on your wedding website. Also get creative and implement PPE as wedding favors.
- Do not make rash decisions. Prior to making any impactful decisions always consult with your Wedding Planner to protect your best interest. This includes not speaking with vendors or the venue without prior consultation.
- Virtual meetings (cannot stress this enough) is the best alternative to meet and discuss wedding details with your Wedding Planner and other vendor professionals. Suggested platforms for virtual meetings; Google Meet, Zoom, Google Hangouts.
- Obtain email addresses of all guests for timely dissemination of information.
- Always follow your State Government officials and their mandates. Continue to follow the CDC guidelines on staying healthy and safe.
- Be patient and have faith in your Event Professionals. This process looks different for everyone involved. Trust the process and know that your Wedding Planner is diligently traversing new territory and working judiciously on your behalf.
Above all else, remain joyful and make note of the silver linings as you plan your special day in a fresh, new way. Despite everything the pandemic may place in your path, you will prevail – if you stay prepared, remain flexible, think creatively and work collaboratively.
This guide should be taken as useful pieces of practical advice. We ask that you consult with your own Planner and vendors, insurance companies, and legal counsel to make wise decisions for your event. Find comfort knowing that your Event Professionals are on your side and are here to guide you through this process. Let us stay safe and healthy.*(All photos by Evelyn Alas Photography and Perfect Planning Events)*