Planning A Wedding During A Pandemic: Every wedding planning journey has its twists and turns. To make sure your path is as smooth as possible and to help you keep an eye out for tiny potholes and giant roadblocks, always follow the advice of your local health guidelines and the recommendations set forth by the CDC. The state of the pandemic can change quickly, but by staying informed, you can make it to your destination—wedded bliss—without a hitch.
Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, after nearly 18 months of a holding pattern of quarantine for many couples and businesses in the wedding industry, things are starting to turn a corner. This change is due, in large part, to the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
To date, 68.7 percent of Americans have had at least one shot. With more people getting vaccinated each day, this has resulted in many states relaxing restrictions surrounding in-person events, indoor dining, and business reopenings.
This is great news for the wedding industry at large and engaged couples, as, over the last year, many things came to a virtual stand still. According to a recent survey conducted by Zola.com, 81 percent of couples are feeling more confident in holding in-person wedding events again.
However, some people decided to keep their plans as is by getting married via Zoom, or hosting intimate ceremonies that followed social distancing protocols, while others decided to hold off. Despite these promising steps forward, weddings and the wedding industry have been profoundly changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As everyone is navigating what this new normal of life after COVID-19 means for them, couples and business owners alike are ecstatic at now being able to host in-person events again. While the Coronavirus numbers seem to be moving in the right direction, for now, many people are contemplating what a post-pandemic world looks like, especially from a wedding perspective.
While much of this is dependent on where you live, many states have eased their restrictions since June. Zola's survey also found that a third of vendors also report that they already feel secure in their number of bookings for 2022! Six in 10 vendors believe that the wedding industry will bounce back this year. And all agree that ultimately, love will prevail.
This has resulted in many businesses, restaurants, and bars re-opening, as well as large in-person gatherings being held. We spoke to several wedding industry professionals about some of the things that their clients are looking forward to the most once the pandemic is over, as well as some tips that they have for couples going forward.
Everyone loves a party, and what better way to celebrate a wedding than having a few special events within one?! Being able to hold a wedding of a for a few days that is highlighted by several events is definitely what some couples are springing for right now. And it's creating an even more memorable experience.
“I think people are still scaling down for safety reasons and having multiple small events to accommodate all of their guests,” says Mina Soliman, owner of the New York City-based events and catering company Red Bird Catering.
Soliman also noted that she is getting requests for smaller events that are held over the course of a few days. This way, people can host all their guests and feel safe and comfortable and also extend the celebration. This is also helping to create more creative events overall.
Dancing is one thing that is huge at any wedding or major event, as it gets people on their feet, out of their seats and moving, and having a great time. But during COVID-19, dancing in small, crowded spaces without good ventilation was impossible for fear of contracting the virus. However, as more and more people are getting jabs in their arm by the day, being able to have dance parties again is what many people are looking forward to and requesting.
Being able to dance again with family, friends, and loved ones, as well as even being in the same physical space, is more important than ever. And, because people can now do this again safely when they are vaccinated, being able to really take in that moment makes it even more special.
“Another request as of late has been to honor those family and friends whose weddings were postponed with a special toast or dance. We love how thoughtful our clients are,” says Liz Pruitt, lead planner at the New England and Atlanta-based events company Mavinhouse. These kinds of thoughtful details that Pruitt noted is what is helping to bring people closer together and really celebrate the people in their lives.
While the numbers seem to be headed in the right direction in terms of COVID-19 cases dropping, and more people are getting vaccinated, this has meant a more relaxed attitude towards events and entertainment. This is great news for couples who had been holding out for their big day and are now ready to celebrate. And wanting to get out and do things in a larger way is a trend that wedding industry professionals are noticing.
Pruitt has noticed the same uptick in clients requesting bigger wedding bashes. After so many months away from loved ones, being able to host a larger party now is the thing that people want to do.
“Big celebrations are back! Our guests want to celebrate with their family and friends—near and far. A lot of weddings are now acting as reunions as well, so we’re seeing a large emphasis on creating a truly memorable event—sometimes multiple days long with a stunning welcome party to kick it all off,” says Pruitt.
With increased safety protocols, one thing that Pruitt and Soliman have had to take into consideration with COVID-19 is the layout of the events they are planning. Accounting for social distancing, spacing, and having well-ventilated indoor areas (or holding events outside) is something more that is becoming a larger factor for couples and wedding planners.
The advantage of thinking through various layouts can result in some fun new details. This can mean creating more lounge areas for guests, as well as getting creative about where you host the wedding. This also extends to seating too, so taking into account people's COVID-19 pods and common friends are also part of larger considerations that couples are taking to be safe and make sure that everyone is having a great time.
Thinking outside of the box has been a bigger trend to emerge out of COVID-19 overall, and this is also translating to couples getting inspired to seek out wedding venues that are unexpected. Hosting events on a boat, in a park, on an apartment rooftop, are just a few places that some people are choosing to celebrate their big day.
While the pandemic isn't over yet, there are a lot of things to look forward to, especially when it comes to planning for your big day. Here are some tips that Soliman and Pruitt have for couples who are looking forward to things post-pandemic.
As you’re planning for your wedding, there are a lot of things that will come up. But one of the best things you can do is try to focus on the moment and really enjoy the process, while celebrating the next step that you’re taking with your partner.
“Enjoy and celebrate the season of engagement! We know it can be tough to sit out and wait, but it’s also its own time of celebration and discovery with your partner. At the end of the day, you’ll be married in the way you always envisioned, and that is worth the wait,” says Pruitt.
Often there are unforeseen things that may come up, but being prepared for that will help make things less stressful. And if the last year has taught people anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. That's why having difficult conversations with your wedding vendors sooner than later is now more important than ever.
“Have the big conversations around budget and vision first. When you are planning ahead, it’s imperative that you determine your ‘must-haves’ right off the bat. With an uptick in weddings, we suggest you try and lock your vendor team in as early as possible,” says Pruitt.
While it may seem daunting at the time, once you get that out of the way, the rest of your wedding planning leading up to the big day will hopefully go smoothly.
Planning ahead is also something that you should always try to do, especially when it comes to weddings. However, during this time, in particular, having a backup plan for your backup plan is always a good idea. Also, rely on the vendors that you’re working with, as they have an incredibly deep knowledge base.
“My advice would be to, more than ever, plan early with your event professionals and lean into their vast knowledge of how best to achieve the dream moment you want to create. Not only are they incredibly knowledgeable about events in general, but have learned so much over the past year about how to safely produce an event that captures all the nuances to make your special day unforgettable,” says Soliman.
Now more than ever, being flexible is very important. While you may be planning things down to every detail and playing every scenario out, there are still some things that will inevitably come up. And when that happens, being flexible about that will help make things easier on you and the vendors you are working with.
“Being more hospitable and flexible is the key. We all have had a challenging year with lots of new rules and regulations that have made any planning challeng[ing],” says Soliman.
When it comes to planning for your wedding during this time, following your own path is what's most important. Your wedding is going to be one of the most important days of your life, so listening to yourself and what you really want is key.
“Creating a great party or the perfect wedding is like finding your inner voice. It involves a bit of work and often involves a good splash of assistance, research, and introspection. Plan for the best and remember to embrace and enjoy the journey,” says Soliman.
As Soliman points out, embracing your wedding journey is important, and it will help make things more fun and personal in the end.
As wedding industry professionals, there are a few things that both Soliman and Pruitt are looking forward to once COVID-19 is behind us. For Pruitt, this means not having to worry about limited capacities and working with a broader number of professionals.
“We’re looking forward to bringing together a plethora of creative partners to bring a vision to life. Now we won’t be limited by capacities, so the more, the merrier when it comes to guests, band members, and other industry vendors! We’ll also be able to incorporate more meaningful experiences for thoughtful guest interactions, such as plenty of lounge areas and late night after-parties,” says Pruitt.
Soliman is looking forward to when people can host big events again and not feel hampered by the virus.
The last year and a half has helped many people really focus on what is most important to them ––their loved ones. Having the opportunity to get together again in person and really celebrate the important moments in your life, like your wedding, have more meaning than ever.