If you just said YES!… here’s what to do next (10 tips for pandemic wedding planning)
All images from our archives by Megan Daisy Photography – see the full shoot (it’s a beauty!) with supplier credits here
Congratulations!! So many of you have just gotten engaged… it’s the most exciting time of your lives, and the next year or two are going to be FULL of adventure! It’s time to celebrate and bask in the glow of being engaged – feel that little shiver of excitement every time you spot the ring on your finger, and just enjoy being this much in LOVE!
When it comes to planning, it’s not going to be so straightforward this year because of the pandemic. You can – and should – definitely still start planning your wedding. This year and next are already super busy with postponed weddings of couples who’d planned their day for 2020, so the key to wedding planning right now is flexibility.
Here are our top 10 tips for planning your wedding right now:
1. Plan a smaller, scaleable wedding
Weddings for 100 guests are unlikely to be happening in 2021. It’s possible numbers will be limited to 15 or 30 – it’s also possible we’ll be in tiers and lockdowns at any time this year. If you want to get married in 2021, choose your closest family and best friends to spend the day with you. Intimate weddings where you both know every single guest can be the best thing ever – embrace a smaller celebration and make it amazing.
2. Get insurance – and get a good one
Couples have really struggled with wedding insurance claims because of the pandemic. This year has really tested wedding insurance companies – so do your homework before choosing your wedding insurance provider. Ask what you’re covered for in terms of postponements, and do a really deep dive into google to find customer feedback from this year. Wedding insurance is essential – it will cover you for cancellations for all kinds of reasons (serious illness, death of a close family member and so on) – but really, it’s there to cover you in the event of losses incurred through the exceptional circumstances we’re living now. Investigate like you’re Poirot.
3. Be super flexible with dates
The very last thing you should do is dream up the best-sounding Saturday in August for your wedding, and email a couple of venues to see which one’s free on your favourite date. Right now, you’re going to need a very open mind when it comes to picking a wedding date.
Availability for key suppliers including venues and especially registrars may be limited, especially on weekends. Couples who’ve postponed from 2020 and 2021 have rebooked for weekend dates, and some venues are heavily booked quite far in advance already! If you can be a weekday wedding couple… you’re going to find it MUCH easier to book your 2021 / 2022 wedding.
Consider having a quick registry office ‘do’ on a random Monday morning, and celebrating with an ‘official’ wedding later. I wholeheartedly recommend independent celebrants for creating ceremonies as personal and unique (or as classic and traditional) as you’d like. I predict wedding celebrants will have a bumper couple of years and be the saviours of many weddings!
4. Be wedding venue savvy
Along with registrars, venues are the first thing to book. Traditionally, couples would hire a big stately home or large hotel for a wedding of 80 – 100 guests. And those figures would be pretty much set in stone.
However in the next couple of years couples, and venues, will need to allow a little flexibility for massive changes in guest lists. So choose a space which will be adaptable – a venue with a choice of larger and smaller rooms, or a farm / barn wedding location which can be made to feel more intimate or with extra space you can use if [everything crossed!] higher guest numbers are allowed.
Sadly, some venues may be in danger of closing due to lost revenues in 2020 and 2021. Some have already closed. So have a personal chat with your venue – get to know how it operates. I’d be wary of booking in with a large venue where I could only speak to a wedding coordinator, who might not be privy to the financial side of the business. A boutique wedding venue or a barn wedding venue with a small staff and personal contact with the owners feels like a safer bet by far.
5. Have a plan B.
It’s been heartbreaking to see weddings postponed in 2020. Couples who’d spent a lot on booking suppliers, who’d paid big deposits for large flower orders, for catering, for wedding planning services and all the teams of smaller suppliers involved in big weddings, have had to postpone their big day to avoid losing too much money.
Accepting from day one that you might have to join the ‘married now, party later revolution‘ means you can plan for either outcome… it’s a case of not putting all your wedding eggs into one basket.
Couples are planning their weddings in two parts – there’s a great guide over on Rock My Wedding if you’d like to learn more.
6. Have an honest, open chat with key suppliers: photographers, florists, cake designers, bridal boutiques, suit shops.
Wedding suppliers are lovely, lovely people. The majority are independent business owners who pour their hearts into what they do, because it’s literally who they are. They do what they do because they love making people happy – yes, we’re basically the happiness industry! And these independent wedding businesses are unique for the human touch you get when you book with them.
So don’t be shy to have a really honest, open chat with your potential suppliers. Ask them about the possibility of postponements, tell them you’re worried, share your plan B with them and see how they respond. In most cases, you’ll find you have a growing army of allies at your back, determined to make your wedding happen in the most beautiful and wonderful way you can imagine. (And if you don’t get that vibe from a potential supplier, walk away.)
7. Research your suppliers – especially social media. Are they still active?
The wedding industry has been hit hard. Because we are all independent businesses with human beings at the heart of what we do, we’ve suffered with our mental health as much as anyone; in some cases the financial impact of the pandemic has been truly overwhelming. We do need your support; we are still here for you.
A handful of suppliers have very sadly closed their businesses permanently. Most are still riding the wave and staying very active – there’s a fabulous community spirit to the wedding industry and suppliers are literally cheering each other on and keeping positivity alive. So have a look at your fave suppliers’ social media. Are they still updating their insta? Do they mention the impact of the pandemic? Checking out Instagram will give you an idea of what’s happening for your preferred wedding suppliers. If they’re actively posting and looking forward to when weddings will happen, it’s a good sign. Please do contact photographers, florists, dress designers and tailors, cake designers, stationers and stylists early – we need your support too!
8. Get a wedding website
Setting up a wedding website is a fun, mildly geeky (more fun!), lockdown-friendly way to spend some romantic time together. It’s also a genius and massively cost-effective way to communicate with your guests. In ‘normal’ times wedding websites were used to list accommodation and travel information, and as a handy reminder of the timings on the day. Now – they’re indispensable as a way to communicate any changes in your plans.
9. Focus on self care
Wedding planning can be stressful – it shouldn’t be.
More than anything, wedding planning should be something you do as a team, it should never be lonely.
Your relationship is strong – and to plan your wedding for the end of the pandemic will make it stronger. There will be issues and difficulties – you will need to tackle them together. And this can take a toll on your mental health.
So please – proactively plan some time to care for yourselves, and for your relationship. Schedule wedding-free weekends. Plan date nights, long walks, intense workouts and whatever else you need to care for your wellbeing.
Wedding planning is fun and exciting – but it’s intense and hard at times. Look after yourselves and each other, and don’t let it break you.
10. Include family & friends however you can
It’s been a lonely old year, and we’re missing our loved ones so much. Along with the excitement of a wedding on the horizon comes a stronger feeling of missing out. Parents, brothers and sisters, best friends will all be wishing they could help more with your wedding planning.
Do what you can to involve your loved ones right from the start. Perhaps that’s as simple as a weekly chat to update them on your plans – perhaps you’d like to involve people in a little decision making or even making something to contribute to your day.
Weddings are a family celebration, and pandemic wedding planning just means making a little extra effort so your grandma doesn’t feel left out, and so you have that extra support you’ll both need on the journey.