What times we live in. COVID-19 has changed the way we all work, play, communicate, move through the world….the way we live. Some of that change may even be permanent – hopefully all the positive bits, where we value our connections with people more, support each other in meaningful ways, and help heal our planet. However, the majority of this change will be temporary. We won’t forever be stuck in our homes, only to leave for essential groceries or walks in our immediate neighborhoods. We will get to hug our friends and family again; we will get to visit our favorite parks and public spaces again; and we will get to gather and celebrate together again.
But, in the meantime, we have to deal with a lot of unprecedented circumstances. Like what does a couple do when their wedding day falls in the middle of a global pandemic? If this is you and your partner, I’m so sorry that one of the happiest days of your life is being affected by this damn virus. It’s not fair that you have to change plans or make compromises. But know that you’ve got a huge community of people who’ve got your back in this. Your vendors really care, and we’re all working together to figure this out and support couples the absolute best we can. You will get to have your special day. It might look different or it might fall on a different day, but you’ll get to marry your favorite person in a way that is meaningful and memorable to you. And your vendors will be there to help make it happen.
My biggest recommendation in all of this is to postpone and/or downsize your wedding celebration; don’t cancel. It’s likely you’ve already put a ton of time and energy into planning this one big day; let’s ensure you get to have those special moments, even if they are a little different than originally planned (and they may not even have to be!).
There are a few different approaches I’ve seen couples taking to all of this, and I think they are all magnificent options depending on what would feel most special and meaningful to you:
As soon as you make the decision to postpone or change the scope of your day, let your vendors know. It’s okay if you don’t have all the details yet. Letting your vendors know as soon as you’ve officially decided on this change helps them better prepare and help you through the process.
Another important note: Check with your vendors before officially choosing a new date. Have a few options in mind that you would be happy with, and share them all with your vendors to see which works for the most people or, hopefully, everyone!
When it comes to choosing a date, prioritize the vendors that are most important to you. Keep in mind that your venue, photographer, videographer, caterer, and DJ/band are all vendors that often only do one event in a day. So, if any of these are high priority vendors to you, talk to them first and foremost to ensure you’re all working together to find a date that allows you to continue working with your favorite people.
Once an official date change has been agreed upon, make sure your vendors give you a new contract that reflects your new date. This protects you and them.
Of course, as soon as your new date is solidified, let guests know your new plans as soon as possible. BUT don’t feel obligated to send out an entirely new invitation suite right away (or at all). You can let people know digitally at first and then send out new invites later. OR you can simply let people know digitally, ask for digital RSVPs through your wedding website, and skip the physical invitations all together. There are no rules here; we’re all navigating this new territory together, and your guests will more than likely completely understand if you decide not to print out new invites.
A lot of the same things apply to this approach as do for postponing: Let your vendors know ASAP, ensure a new contract reflects your new agreement, and let your originally invited guests know. Of course, there are some other things to consider when looking at keeping your original date but keeping it small.
First and foremost, check what your state mandates are. In some states, gatherings of any kind are actually forbidden at the moment (or could be in the future) and could result in fines or even jail time. Non-essential businesses are pretty restricted right now in lots of places, so also check with your vendors on what they are allowed to do as a business. Once you’ve confirmed that you and your vendors are able to do a downsized version of your celebration, it’s time to talk with your guests.
Downsizing by definition means fewer guests. It can even mean no guests at all, if you decide you want to do an elopement instead. Of course, this option also means having to ask a good portion of your original guest list to stay home and celebrate with you from afar. This can be hard, and if it’s not something that you feel you can do or if it’s something that will severely affect your own ability to enjoy your wedding day, then I recommend looking at postponing instead or adding a bigger celebration for a later date (more on that in the next section). If you do feel that this is a good option for you though, some ideas for approaching a downsized wedding:
This option is exactly what it sounds like: The best of both worlds. You can have a small ceremony or elopement on your original date (again, check your state mandates), and then also celebrate with all your friends and family on a later date. I personally love this option, as it means two main things:
But what does a smaller ceremony or elopement look like in this scenario? Really, it’s anything that’s meaningful and memorable to you. If it’s safe and legal to do so in your state, hike out to a favorite spot with a view, ask a photographer and officiant along (at a distance), and hold an intimate ceremony in nature away from other people. Or do something special just the two of you, like reading your vows to one another and taking the day to do things that you love together at home. Or you could do something as simple as having a friend or family member officiate a small ceremony virtually from home.
Whatever it is, find some ritual or meaningful act to honor that day. Regardless of where you are or who is with you physically, the original day you intended to vow your love for your favorite person forever holds weight. So do it in your own way and have the bigger celebration later.
No matter what you decide, talk to your vendors about options. There’s so much we can do to help, and we all still want to help you have the most memorable and wonderful wedding day possible. Some other things that are good to consider:
This whole situation is something that most of us never thought we’d see, especially at a time when we should be celebrating the best moments in life. However, we’re here in it, and we’ll get through it together. You’re not alone in this, and you have an even bigger support system than you may realize, especially when it comes to the effect this has on your wedding. Use your vendors as a resource; we want to help! We’re humans too, going through all this as well, and most of us are in this business because we truly love helping people celebrate and remember the best times in their lives.
I truly believe that once this is all over, there will be a new appreciation in all of us for what it means to gather with other people. Togetherness is such an important part of some of the most significant moments in our lives, and I think events like weddings will have an even heavier importance once we can all share space with one another again. In this way, your wedding matters, now more than ever. So, don’t lose your excitement and joy; it’ll happen – you’ll get to marry your favorite person! You’ll also get to celebrate with everyone you love, and it will hold even more meaning when the time finally comes.