Congratulations, you are engaged! While you soak in all of the joy that is this moment, and follow all of your new favourite wedding accounts, you may start to wonder, how and if the pandemic could affect your wedding plans. With gatherings being targeted as no-go’s for COVID, it’s worth pause. For those of us that have been working in weddings through 2020, we’ve learned that weddings come in all different shapes and sizes, and to be ready to pivot plans at a moment’s notice. While we hope that these days are behind us, we still don’t know everything about what comes next in the vaccination stage of the pandemic, and when large gatherings will return. If you are considering a wedding in 2021, or 2022, you may still need to think about COVID and your big day. Here’s a few tips on how.
Have A Plan A & Plan B
You are about to embark on your first team challenge. Wedding planning. Start with a vision, together. Are you set on a large 200-person wedding? Great. That’s your Plan A. What if you can only host 50 or 100 guests? If this option doesn’t register with either of your vision, then your Plan B may be to push your wedding if restrictions continue to prevent large groups. If this is the case, ask your venue when booking for Plan A, if you can hold a future date and if your deposit can be transferred in case you decide to postpone for your Plan B.
If you are happy with a smaller intimate affair, then you make that your plan B. Chat about who’s on that list, and if your venue is willing to be flexible with your guest count commitment due to COVID. In either situation, give yourself plenty of time to decide, making your cut off around the four-to-six-month mark for this decision.
Knowing what you are going to do upfront is the best way to sit back and enjoy the process. This will ensure you don’t have to decide under pressure what really matters to you both for this day.
Loop In Your Stakeholders
In addition to your own Plan A & B, ensure your key wedding stakeholders are fully versed on your plans. These may be parents, siblings, grandparents or other loved ones. You may not be the only ones with a vision for your special day. By including your key stakeholders in the conversation, you can ensure you are supported in whatever you decide. Often, when a wedding becomes smaller, some important people are left out. By having this conversation upfront, you can ensure your plans are right for everyone.
Strongly Consider Taking Your Party Outdoors
Through 2020, we’ve had a lot of success with outdoor weddings. Not only are there less restrictions for outdoor events, we find guests just feel more comfortable outside. As we saw in 2020, the first venues to re-open were outdoor ones so this gives us great insight into 2021. If you are shopping for a venue and feel uneasy about COVID-19, look for venues with outdoor space, or that can easy convert into a tented venue. This way, you know your date is likely a go, rather than waiting on indoor restrictions to ease. Many great caterers can turn a blank field into an amazing venue space, so get creative with the outdoors! Just don’t forget to have a rain plan which is safe for guests as well (assuming social distancing)—a tent is always a good idea when dealing with nature and worth the investment.
Ask Important Questions About Deposits
This is one is really key! While all wedding suppliers want to host your wedding and be a part of your special day, it’s important to ask what happens to your funds if the wedding is postponed or cancelled. These terms should be captured in your contract, and if not, something you should ask to be included. Many vendors will happily defer your funds to a future date, if you plan to postpone your wedding. Refunds may not be guaranteed, as there are hard costs associated with suppliers holding onto your date, so in this case, ask if you can place smaller deposit amounts upfront, with a larger deposit closer to the wedding date, once you know for sure it will be proceeding.
Your wedding will happen, and it will be just as you imagine! There is an element of the unknown, but my advice is to embrace it, and plan your contingencies so you can enjoy the process as much as possible. There are more resources now than before about how to plan your wedding, so you are well taken care of by our wedding community. Cheers to you!
Natalie Ho has worked in the hospitality industry for over 16 years and is currently is the director of event sales for Oliver & Bonacini Hospitality. She has personally planned 350+ weddings and momentous events. Both creative and business-minded, Natalie is dedicated to growing her events business in out-of-the-box ways.