Wedding Planning circa 2021: The Pandemic Wedding

Feb 22, 2021 | Finances, Prenuptial Agreements, Second Marriages

We’re coming up on a pretty big anniversary. That’s right, it’s been about 12 months since the country went on lockdown because of Covid-19. The traditional 1-year anniversary gift is paper, and someone is paying attention because you guessed it… toilet paper is back on the shelves again!!

When we first put our lives on hold, we thought maybe the health crisis would blow over in a few weeks and that we would be able to continue on with our regularly scheduled wedding programming. Unfortunately, that’s not how it worked out and many of us are still Zooming our way through work meetings, school, and family get togethers. There have been silver linings, though. For example, the internet recently gave us Zoom Cat Lawyer. Does it get better than that? Probably not.

If you’ve been struggling with planning your wedding day through the ever-evolving pandemic restrictions, you are not alone. Researchers say as many as 63% of couples postponed their big day due to Covid-19 and it’s not hard to understand why. When we get married, we invite our loved ones, including our high-risk parents and grandparents, to celebrate with us. We hire a professional photographer to capture images of smiling guests, not a mask-clad group of partygoers. Not to mention the fact that in many states, the number of people allowed to gather in groups has been severely limited, if not outright prohibited altogether.

Restrictions are beginning to lift as the vaccines are being rolled out, but you may still be wondering how you should go about planning a wedding, because things still don’t feel very safe. Whether you began your wedding planning process before Covid-19 or got engaged during quarantine (Congrats!), there are plenty of planning tools to help you tie the knot even during these wild times.

Checklist? Check!

Great events always start with planning and the more detailed the planning, the better. This rang true even in the Before Times (before the pandemic, that is), but great organization is particularly key these days. From spreadsheets to color coding, let your heart go wild when it comes to organizing your wedding!

To ease into it, your checklist can start out covering broad tasks, and become more detailed as you near the big day. There are several helpful checklists already available online, if you want to start with a template or expert suggestions. If you want to split up the tasks on the checklist with your partner or helpful friends and family, you could download the Google Tasks app that allows you to assign your to-do list. Digital checklists help everyone maintain social distance while getting their wedding jobs done.

Remember that certain tasks take a little extra time these days. For example, in California businesses are still limiting patron occupancy so booking a salon appointment requires more patience. Many businesses also need to allow time for cleaning between customers to ensure everyone’s safety. So, definitely add making appointments to your checklist as soon as possible.

Make a Budget and Stick To it

Budgets are important for any wedding, no matter the size. Some individuals pay for their weddings on their own and others have help from their parents, but however you approach paying for your wedding, it’s important to keep track of how much money you have left for that brilliant wedding photographer.  Since experts say it will still be some time before Covid-19 is no longer a concern, you should also consider budgeting for the following:

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Masks
  • Social distancing signage
  • Additional tables and space

These extra necessities may seem like a bummer, but with enough planning they can be made fun! For example, you could have custom made masks that fit the wedding theme, or you could incorporate hand sanitizer into cute party favors. There is no shortage of signage ideas on Pinterest, including a personal favorite “Spread Love, Not Germs” printed in elegant rose gold lettering.

Research, Research, Research!

In addition to crafting seating arrangements and picking your wedding party, you’ll need to figure out the logistics of the big day. For a traditional wedding, most couples will have several vendors providing services and it can be overwhelming to choose the venue, the menu, the florist, and the DJ (just to name a few). Oftentimes, budget plays a big role in what vendors you choose and fortunately, with the help of the internet it can be easier than ever to find reviews of various vendors. Online research, phone calls, and emails are each socially distant and effective way to research the vendors you’ve got your eye on.

So, before you choose who will bake the wedding cake or prepare the flower arrangements, you should confirm that a vendor is reliable and that the services they promote are as promised. Many business owners have been forced to alter their normal operations to accommodate new pandemic rules, so be sure to ask what those new procedures are and how they might affect your wedding plans.

You could choose to hire a wedding planner to do a lot of the legwork. A good wedding planner will handle the tedious logistics and leave the fun and creative decisions to you and your soon to be spouse. When choosing a wedding planner, don’t be afraid to ask them how they’ve incorporated pandemic problems into their process. Since we’re a year into the pandemic now, it’s not unreasonable to assume a trusty wedding planner has, well, a plan.

Pairing Down Guest Lists

A big issue to note is that many states, such as New York, still limit the number of people who can gather outside. Currently, if an event is held indoors, the maximum number of people allowed inside the venue is limited to 50% of the venue’s maximum occupancy. This number includes everyone, not just wedding guests. The number of guests in attendance, along with the number of individuals hired to help with the wedding, will be an important factor in choosing your venue.

These restrictions will mean you have to cut down your guest list- which is hard, but important to keep everyone safe. Although this task can be especially difficult if you’ve already sent out the invitations, most guests will understand that these are unprecedented times and you are doing your best.

You could also consider livestreaming your wedding as a way to let people join in on your big day. Livestreaming your I Do’s is fairly straight forward with options like Zoom or Instagram, so you could sweet talk your techy niece into helping you. If you’d prefer more production value, you could hire professionals to do the job. If you do plan to livestream, it’s important that you confirm that your venue has wifi and that you’ve sent out the online link information to everyone in advance!

Insurance for Your Wedding? Yep!

If you’ve got the checklist, the budget, and you’ve been doing your research, great job! Even with the best planning, issues can pop up and throw your wedding train off track. Some of the smaller problems can be solved quickly, or even anticipated. For example, if you’re worried about rain at your outdoor wedding, you can plan to have wedding tent. If your great aunt Marge doesn’t get along with your little sister, you can make sure they are seated at different tables during dinner. Easy peasy!

But, if 2020 showed us anything, it is that unforeseeable events can occur and wreak havoc on your wedding day. There are times when wedding plans have to be changed, postponed, or cancelled. The good news is that you can create a safety net by buying wedding insurance. If you’re forced to reschedule your wedding due to a global health crisis, or most any reason, wedding insurance will ensure that you are reimbursed for non-refundable deposits made on those vendors we discussed earlier.

Wedding insurance can also include liability protection from liquor related injuries or could even cover the expense of a last minute, emergency dress repair. What your wedding insurance covers will depend on your plan, so be sure to do some research and find the wedding insurance plan that covers your needs. There’s nothing quite like a little extra piece of mind when planning a wedding during a pandemic.

Stay Flexible and Enjoy Your Day

Thankfully, there is a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, but there is still a lot to consider when planning your wedding. In addition to the typical things that you need to think about before marriage, like your cake flavor, reception playlist, and whether or not you need a prenup (you do!), you do need to prepare for paired down guest lists, social distancing practices, and the possibility of limited vendors and venues.

At the end of the (wedding) day, the most important thing to remember is that your wedding is about celebrating the life you’re starting with your partner. Even though the last 12 months may have seemed chaotic and overwhelming, many couples have successfully wedded and many more will continue to do so. Some planning, budgeting, and researching will go a long way in ensuring that you make the most of your big day.


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