If you are reading this in real time and live in the NYC/NJ area (or anywhere that has a stay-at-home order), then you have been living a quarantine life for the past five weeks. During this time, everything from school to travel to going to work in an office has been canceled for the indefinite future. The number one question on everyone’s mind is when does this all end? How much longer will we be separated from our family and friends? When will things go back to how they were before the Coronavirus/COVID-19 became a major disrupter of our day to day lives?
If you are engaged and are scheduled to get married this year, your wedding may have already been postponed or canceled for the fall/winter of this year. Maybe you are realizing that your wedding day may not look how you had originally planned for it to be. No matter where you are in the world, life as we know it is going to change and that will spill over into weddings and events. I am going to focus specifically on weddings, but some tips can be applied to other life events such as baby/bridal showers, birthday parties and other social gatherings.
I have a unique perspective on the future of weddings because in addition to being an event planner, I am also a nurse. That said, I am looking ahead to how we as a society will have to go forward with our lives knowing that Covid-19 is still amongst us and therefore requiring some level of social distancing for at least a year or two. With that in mind, here are my top 3 tips on how to plan a wedding for the remainder of the 2020 calendar year and potentially for 2021 as well:
Hire a planner. Usually, I would end my blog post with this tip, but now more than ever a professional planner will be needed to handle all of the intricacies of social distancing and making sure that you have everything and everyone in place to make sure that you are legally and safely married at the end of the day. Your planner will be able to make sure that you and your guests are complying with any social distancing rules put in place for your area as well as making the whole event beautiful and special for you and your guests.
A planner will also be able to handle any last minute changes or cancellations that might happen due to the level of the health outbreak in your state. Most importantly, your planner will handle almost everything dealing with your wedding so that you can focus on enjoying this time with your family and friends without the added stress of figuring this all out on your own. Many planners offer elopement packages and even if it is not advertised, you can always reach out for a consultation to create a customized menu of services that is unique to your situation and budget.
Trim your guest list. Pre-Corona, trimming your guest list was mainly a tactic that was used to save money on your overall wedding budget. The more people you had in attendance, the more it would cost. Now, trimming your guest list will be mainly all about keeping your loved ones safe and healthy – especially those who are elderly or have health conditions that put them at risk if they were to catch COVID-19 from someone. No one wants to get phone calls after their wedding about how people got sick while celebrating with them. Many states have public health laws in place that limit the number of people that can gather for an event. Since the number can range anywhere from 10 – 50 guests in total (including you, the officiant, and any other on-site vendor) this can make the guest list tricky to come up with. Keep in mind that five slots will be taken up by you, your betrothed, the officiant/pastor, and up to two witnesses. If you can only have 10 in attendance, then that leaves five other people that can be present for your wedding ceremony. If you can have up to 50 guests, you have a lot more lee-way, but you will still have to keep an eye on who is invited and who is definitely coming. A great way to overcome this is to come up with three lists:
The first list will be your must have no matter what list. This should be your parents, siblings, grandparents (if they are not in quarantine) and one or two super close friends that could also serve as the best man and maid/matron of honor.
The second list should be your close friends and family that you would like to invite depending on how many guests are allowed to attend.
Your final list would be your wish list of everyone that would have gotten an invitation if social distancing wasn’t warranted. With these three lists in hand, it would make it easier to plan for whatever changes have to be quickly made depending on how the health outbreak is in your area at the time of your wedding.
Have a videographer on your team. Most of my past clients typically always had a photographer, but rarely a videographer. Now more than ever, a videographer will be needed to capture your wedding day so that you can then share this video with your friends and family that couldn’t be there in person. Or better yet, live stream your wedding in real time so that your loved ones can be there on your special day virtually. Yes, you can always share the pictures and invite people to go to a special website to view them, but videography will bring your whole wedding day to life allowing your guests to be in the moment with you.
Those are my tips and suggestions for planning a wedding during these unprecedented times. Yes, there is a lot of uncertainty and anxiety in the world right now, but any challenge can be overcome and dealt with if you just have a plan and can focus on the bright side. If you are a bride or groom reading this, you may be angry or sad that you won’t have your dream wedding now and that is Ok to feel that way. However, at some point, you have to come to terms with this new reality and take advantage of the fact that you are engaged and can offer something to your circle of family and friends that we are all desperately looking for and that is something good and happy to look forward to. We all love a good love story and that is part of the appeal to weddings across the whole globe. Weddings are the ultimate life celebration because it is day filled with good food, music, cultural traditions, dancing, laughter, happy tears, and – above all – love. As you navigate these unchartered waters, keep that in mind that in the end, this is a celebration of love and happiness and all of us, no matter if we are there in person or watching from our living rooms, are rooting for you and are there for you.
Don’t give up hope and don’t cancel your wedding day. Postpone it, hire a planner, trim your in-person guest list and hire a videographer to capture every moment of your love story. In the end, it will all be worth it and you’ll have one heck of a story to tell your children and grandchildren in the future of how you managed to get married and celebrate your love story in spite of Coronavirus.