When it comes to planning a wedding, there are lots of moving parts. Add a pandemic to the mix, and it can be overwhelming. These days, even attending a wedding can be complicated for some of us. Many couples have proven that with a little ingenuity, flexibility, and a few precautions, it’s entirely possible to pull off a beautiful, safe, and memorable wedding.
Here are ten strategies for planning a wedding during a pandemic:
• Follow government guidelines. Don’t go with your gut feeling when making important decisions on how to keep your guests safe. Check in with the CDC guidelines to help you make wise decisions. Don’t forget that each state may have its own guidelines and restrictions on quarantine, travel, and gatherings. In Virginia, visit VDH.Virginia.gov and read the latest safety guidelines regarding travel and social events.
• Come up with a COVID-19 plan. You want your wedding to be memorable and fun, but most importantly, you want it to be safe for everyone. Set up clear guidelines and then stick to them. Take the time to sit down with your partner and make tough decisions about social distancing, how many guests to invite, and whether to wear masks. If you need to dramatically reduce your guest list, think about work-arounds you might be able to implement.
• Come up with a back-up plan. Despite your best-laid plans, things may still go awry with ever-changing restrictions. Come up with a plan B you really love. For example, many couples have chosen to have a small backyard wedding with immediate family members while planning a larger celebration for later. Other couples who don’t want to skip the big wedding have decided to get legally married now and celebrate later or postpone their wedding to a future date.
• Hire an event planner. Event planners can be invaluable at this time. They have open lines of communication with wedding vendors and venues, they keep local restrictions in mind, and likely already have experience planning a COVID-19 wedding. Ask for recommendations from friends and family who have used a wedding planner in the past or look up wedding planners on BBB.org to find local event planners that run BBB-accredited businesses. Be sure to research each company and read consumer reviews as well.
• Always read the contracts. Reading contracts is always critical – and even more so during a pandemic. In the middle of these public health challenges, it’s important to check with vendors and venues to find out what the cancellation and rescheduling policy is, when you have to make a final decision, and whether your deposit will transfer to a new date.
• Communicate with your venue and vendors. With florists, photographers, DJs, caterers, venue staff, and many other vendors to take into account, it’s important to make sure everyone is on the same page. Only hire vendors who have good communication skills, and talk about the big what-ifs up front. What will the vendor do to ensure everyone’s safety? What is the rescheduling policy if you or your partner are exposed to COVID-19? What’s the vendor’s back-up plan if there is a COVID-19 exposure within their organization? What will happen to your deposit if governmental restrictions force you to reschedule? Make sure you understand and feel comfortable with a vendor’s answers before hiring.
• Order everything you need well in advance. The pandemic has affected shipping times for many companies, so if you’ll be doing the bulk of your purchases online or at stores that need to place an order, start early. Experts recommend ordering wedding dresses, for example, at least six months early, which will allow plenty of time for returns, exchanges, and alterations.
• Provide guests with safe-gifting options. An online gift registry will allow guests to purchase gifts from the safety of their home and ship them straight to yours. If you postpone or reschedule your wedding and you are already registered at a store, WeddingWire.com offers excellent advice on registry etiquette during COVID-19.
• Go virtual. One way to keep your guest list large without endangering anyone’s health is to host a virtual wedding. Virtual parties are gaining in popularity as the pandemic continues and can be a fun and safe way to celebrate your marriage with the ones you love.
• Keep your guests in-the-know. Let your guests know about any changes to your wedding plans as soon as possible. In addition, be completely transparent about the number of guests who will attend your wedding as well as the safety precautions you’ll be implementing during the ceremony and reception. This will put your guests at ease and give them the information they need as they decide whether or not they will attend.
Finally, try to stay positive. The pandemic hasn’t been easy on anyone, so if you start feeling down when you have to change your plans yet again, know that you aren’t alone. According to The Knot’s Official Guidebook for COVID-19, more than a third of couples who had weddings planned for last year have postponed to 2021 or later. Remember, your wedding is just the beginning. Celebrating it in the midst of a pandemic will definitely make it more memorable. And there are family milestones ahead that you will be able to celebrate in what might be considered a more traditional way.
photo: Anna Kathryn