Planning Your Wedding During COVID
After 6 seasons of photographing weddings, 2 of those during a pandemic, I have learned a thing or two about flexibility and how to plan for the unexpected. I think we're all tired of hearing "unprecedented times". I think we're all a little tired of guidelines changing and trying to figure out what is the "right thing" to do for social gatherings. I am not going to tell you what to do in this blog post. What I hope to do is give you advice that will help guide you as you make those big decisions about your wedding day. I've done several weddings now that have had to consider COVID when planning their day and I'll share with you some of what I have seen my couples do to make the most of their big day.
Remember, you're there to marry your best friend
It may sound simple, but it's true. Before I give any advice on how to manage your day, remember at the end of the day it's about marrying your best friend. If you have to marry your best friend in the backyard with just a couple of people then you've done exactly what you've set out to do. You don't have to have a BIG WEDDING. Make it as simple or as big as you want, but keep your priorities straight. The purpose of the day is to begin the rest of your life together with the person you care about most. Don't get lost in the event because that won't set you up well for your marriage. The marriage is FAR MORE important than the wedding day.
Consider the season of your wedding
If you don't already know, there's such a thing as cold and flu season. During the winter months, especially, people tend to get more sick. It typically happens because people are inside more and the outside air acts as a natural antibacterial. Your body needs the fresh air! So, if you're thinking of doing a wedding during the winter months you just need to remember that there will be more sickness. Which means more people may have to cancel or you may have to make things much smaller to begin with.
If your wedding is during the summer months you could plan an outdoor wedding and make it much larger. You likely won't have a lot of people who are sick during those months AND people will feel much more comfortable coming to a wedding when they don't have to sit next to someone inside. The great outdoors makes a beautiful backdrop AND allows people who may be a bit nervous about sickness the chance to spread out and get the fresh air they need.
Make a contingency plan
It doesn't matter if you do a big outdoor wedding or a small indoor one. You should really think through what you would do in the event there was a COVID outbreak or, GOD FORBID, your or your new spouse got COVID before your big day.
If you do an outdoor wedding think about what you would do if you had rain. Do you have a tent or covered option? Or would you have to do something inside? If you moved inside what do you have available to those who may be less comfortable in that type of setting?
If you or someone close to you came down with COVID what would you do? Would you postpone? Would you go through with the wedding, but just do something small in your backyard to limit exposure? It's good to think these things through so you have some type of plan.
Ask your vendors about their COVID policies
If you do end up needing to make changes because of COVID it's good to know what to expect from your vendors. Unfortunately, many things like catering cannot be canceled last minute and you would lose your deposits. But many vendors have done all they can for couples who have had this happen to them.
If you work with me and have to reschedule due to COVID, I will do all that I can to work with you. As long as the date you reschedule is a date I have available I am happy to move your retainer fee to your new date and not charge you more for changing the date. I'll be in contact with you about how I can help you with changing plans. I even did a wedding right at the beginning of the COVID pandemic and I helped the bride and groom find an outdoor venue that was beautiful and they could still safely get married while socially distanced from the very few people who were there to witness it.
Have a small ceremony and a BIG reception at a later date
I have seen this A LOT. Many have opted for a smaller ceremony and a bigger reception at a later date. Usually the big reception tends to be more what they expected their wedding day to be like. It's good to remember that the reception after your vows is just a big party to celebrate. Doing your "first dance" and all of the things that usually happen at a reception don't make you married. A reception is just a party. You can make it as big or as small as you want.
For those who go this route, it is usually still nice to get some vendors involved with the little ceremony. You may still want a photographer, some florals, maybe a small cake, and you may want to wear your wedding dress and dress up a bit. You can also just do a VERY small ceremony with no frills and get all of your vendors involved for the reception. I've seen many do a ceremony where they just basically sign the papers and have a JOP, but they do the more religious side of the ceremony before their big reception.
I know all of this can seem overwhelming, but having a plan in place early on can really help take the stress away. I know for myself it helps when I have a plan in place so that if it does happen I'm not scrambling at the last minute trying to figure everything out. Plan for it! You will thank yourself later.
Have other ideas to help with planning? I'd love to hear them!