Hey there! My name is Andi and I am a destination wedding photographer based in Arizona and I have created this series to help engaged folks navigate the difficult and confusing process of planning a wedding! Today is episode seven of the series, and we will be talking about something super relevant and important in today’s world and that is how to plan a wedding during a pandemic. It is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge ripple effect into the event and wedding space and has left couples in the difficult position of deciding how to join their lives in a way that is safe and legal, but also fun and everything that they dreamed of! Whether you just got engaged and are starting the process or your wedding is coming up next month, there are so many difficult decisions to be made and it can be a really stressful problem to navigate.
So, today, I want to go over a few different situations that couples are finding themselves in and provide a bit of helpful knowledge and tips for each of those situations. I will be giving advice specifically for couples who are recently engaged and just starting the process, couples that are getting married in the next six months and have to plan for how regulations will & rules might affect their plans and couples who are looking for resources on how to make their weddings safer & healthier for all of their guests
YOU JUST GOT ENGAGED!
First up, you just got engaged and want to start planning, but you are struggling to decide if it is worth it to set a date when the future is so uncertain. You are not sure whether you should go out and meet vendors or wait until you have a date and you are trying to stay home as much as possible but you also want to be excited about your wedding and get started with the process! This is a super tough place to be mostly because it is so hard to say what things will look like in a year or so from now, and it’s hard to decide what the best route is for you!
1. Decide on your ideal size and timeline for your wedding. The first thing to do is sit down together and discuss what your ideal wedding would look like, pandemic aside, as far as sizing and timeline goes. And then, you have to decide how much you are willing to sacrifice that if the situation doesn’t change or gets worse. If you want to have a 150 person wedding, how long are you willing to wait to have that? And if you can’t have that within your ideal timeline, are you willing to consider downsizing or eloping? While you don’t have to rush and set a date now, think about some deadlines for yourself for decision-making, even if that just means deciding to hold off and wait another 6 months or a year. And if you decide to set a date, make sure to have some back-up plans in place so you feel secure in the case that things change.
2. Start reaching out to vendors & scheduling virtual meetings! Even if you don’t have a date yet, it is totally okay to start talking to vendors and getting connected with people! While you won’t be able to book most vendors without a date, you can start to schedule virtual consultations, get to know people and see who will be a good fit for you when you do have a date. This is a great way to feel like you are making progress on planning, and to prepare yourself for when it is time to book!
3. Start touring any venues that are open, available and that you are interested in! Just like communicating with vendors, it is a great idea to start looking at some potential venues and seeing which ones you like the best! When doing these tours, be sure to ask lots of questions about how they are helping their couples with COVID cancellations, what their rescheduling policies look like and what their calendar looks like for the upcoming year or two.
YOU ARE GETTING MARRIED IN THE NEXT SIX MONTHS
So, you have been planning your wedding for a while now and with all the regulations looming, you are struggling to watch your vision for the day fall apart. You are worried that your day won’t be everything you wanted it to be but you don’t know whether it would be better to reschedule, wait it out or downsize now and none of the options sound very appealing. First of all, I just want to say that it is all going to be okay and no matter what you do, make the decision that is best for you and your partner. And if you do that, your day will be wonderful no matter what.
1. Consider all of your options. Remember that there are numerous options for you as your wedding approaches, including downsizing, rescheduling or eloping now and partying later. Downsizing is a popular option for couples that don’t really want to wait any longer to get married, and are okay with having a more intimate wedding with their close friends and family. Some of the perks of this option are that you get to spend extra time with each and every one of your guests, get married on the date you planned and you don’t have to make extra arrangements with all of your vendors to determine a new date that is suitable. The next option is to reschedule, which many couples do who want to maintain their original vision for their wedding, and are okay with prolonging their engagement another 6-12 months. Some of the perks of this are that you get to keep everyone on your guest list, you get extra time to plan the remaining details of the day and you get to celebrate being engaged a little longer! And lastly, you have the option to elope now and celebrate later. Many couples choose to elope with just their partner or a small group on their original wedding date and have a larger reception later with all of their guests. The perks of this option are that you get more to have a intimate experience with your partner without sacrificing time with your friends and family, you have more open options for locations and can choose to elope in a unique and stunning location and you still get to get married on your original wedding date!
2. Come up with potential guest lists at various sizes. If you are leaning towards keeping your date and downsizing if needed, it is a good idea to come up with a few potential guest lists depending on how much downsizing is needed. I would recommend creating lists for 100 people, 50 people, 25 people and 10 people. That way, as the date approaches and you finally have an idea of how many guests you are allowed to have, you have a quick & easy reference for communicating that with your guests and updating them as needed.
3. Keep open communication with all of your vendors to let them know where you’re at with your decision-making. As vendors, we completely understand that you are in a really difficult place and aren’t sure what to do next and we are here for you! But, the best way for us to be able to assist you is if you keep us up to date on what’s going on. Even if it is a mass-email sent to all of your vendors, keeping us in the loop with your decisions is super helpful to ensure that we are all on the same page. And never hesitate to ask if you have questions about rescheduling policies, available future dates or just need advice on how to proceed. We are there for you!
4. Decide on a date that you will make your final decision by, and stick to that date. if you are trying to decide which option is best for you moving forward, it is good to come up with a date that you will make your final decision by and then stick with it. Make sure that this date gives you enough time to update your guests and vendors and you can make arrangements to the current regulations and rules regarding events. When you set this deadline is up to you, but make sure to check with your venue & vendors and see how much notice they will need to be able to adjust to your plans.
YOU ARE CURIOUS ON HOW TO HAVE A COVID-SAFE WEDDING
You’ve decided that you are getting married no matter what, but you want to make sure that it is as safe and legal as possible, so that you and your guests can all stay healthy, while still enjoying each other’s company and celebrating together. You understand the importance of masks and social distancing, but aren’t sure how to work that into your plans while still having fun.
1. Consider a Zoom reception. This year, Zoom ceremonies and receptions have been increasing in popularity, making it possible for guests from all over to watch you get married and celebrate with you, while still keeping your event small and safe. For a zoom reception, make sure that you will have a secure wifi connection at your venue and assign someone to be in charge of setting up the Zoom call prior to the start of the ceremony or reception. You can schedule and get a link to the call in advance so that you can share it with all of your guests. Then, during the reception, you can chat with each of your guests and celebrate together, even if they are far away!
2. Speak with your venue about sanitation & distancing standards. Every venue and location will have a different process for ensuring a safe and sanitary environment during the wedding and it’s a good idea to chat with your venue ahead of time and see if their process is up to your standards. Some good things to look for are requirements for staff wearing masks at all times, hand sanitation stations, socially distance seating options, plated dinners instead of self-serve buffets, and the regular disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces. If your venue doesn’t align with all of these standards or other standards that you would like to see implemented, be sure to ask them about it and see if they would be willing to add them for you.
3. Ask at-risk & traveling guests to stay home & celebrate later. While it is unfortunate to have to cut down your guest list even more, it is sometimes best to ask any guests that are at-risk or traveling a long distance to celebrate with you to stay home, and you all can spend time together later. You can even share a private ceremony later with them or have a dinner later when things are safer.
4. Make sure you and your guests are aware of all of the up-to-date health information and government regulations regarding COVID-19. This is important for everyone, but especially if you are trying to plan an event! Keep up on the recommendations and requirement for your region and be sure to relay that information to your guests! This will help to also keep you from being surprised or unprepared if the situation changes quickly before your wedding.
Alright, I hope that helps some of you that in the difficult process of trying to plan a wedding in the midst of these crazy times. While this might seem like a losing situation, I encourage you all to stay positive and find the silver linings in what your wedding day will look like now, because there is lots of joy to be found as well! And if you have any questions at all, please feel free to let me know and I would be happy to do my best to help.
If you know anyone who is engaged right now and struggling to plan during this time, be sure to share this post with them! And if you have any ideas for a future posts, let me know and I would be happy to address it! Thank you so much for tuning in and I will see you next time!