Photography by Moodyography
If you can remember back when the shelter in place orders started across the world, we wrote about weddings and where we go from there. In March, we suggested three options when considering you wedding day and that was to elope, postpone, or cancel. Although cancelling is not something we think would be a resolution when it came to this global pandemic, we can understand why couples would still make that decision. So here we are, month four into the COVID pandemic, and now what? We are going to dive deeper about what we have seen, what we recommend, and help guide you to your next step when it comes to your regularly (or already postponed) scheduled wedding.
Our advice? Full speed ahead, but proceed with caution.
Look, you have the vendors, you have the dress, you have the man or woman or your dreams, you have one last step to complete and that is the words "I do." The sad news is that COVID is not going away - it won't be going away for a while; it may not EVER go away, but what you can do right now is prove that your love and commitment to this wedding and your marriage also cannot be taken down. Weddings are happening and they can happen safely.
Need proof? Here is what our friend, Jessica Moore with Something to Celebrate said about her first wedding back, "I did my second Covid wedding yesterday and it was so great. I honestly felt super safe. With the right measures, you can absolutely have an amazing celebration with the people you love this summer." Read the full blog about the 180 person wedding and the safety precautions they took for their wedding to go off without a hitch!
If you're waiting for things to go back to normal, it likely will not ever be the way that it was anytime soon and that is going to be the hardest truth out of them all. For right now, this is normal and as humans we are born to jive and adapt to the new changes around us. My husband and I visited Tokyo in 2014 and WE were the outcasts for not wearing masks - millions of healthy people wore masks outside, inside, exercising, on the subway, but for no reason other than respect. Tokyo was the most clean city we had ever seen. The subways were quiet - until this loud American got on the subway without her mask and started talking in her "normal" voice which is already 4 decibels past screaming. The city is founded off a level of respect with each other and that is how they have been raised to live. It is okay to grieve, it is okay to be sad, it is okay to think that masks are ugly and you couldn't stand to see them at your wedding, but it's also okay to reroute your thinking to consider that masks can't be the the worst thing to happen to your wedding.
Lauren Chumbley, president of ILEA Austin + co-owner of Eclipse Event, spoke with the city of Austin's event spokeswoman and gets the wedding industry the answers we've been searching for in the video below.
Okay, your guests are 65% from out of state, 15% over 65, and postponing is the best option. What can you expect?
When COVID started in March, NO BODY knew what we were in for. We didn't know we would be in it for the long haul. We didn't know the death toll. We didn't know if it would go away. We didn't even really get told what it meant to fully flatten the curve. As vendors, we did what we could with our couple's best interest first. As vendors, we are still doing what we can with our couple's best interest at hand, but you also have to remember that at this point if vendor's don't also consider what is best for their business, there will be no wedding industry in two years. With government mandated orders, we allowed free postponements - some for a month from then, some leading into 2021. We did what we could. We felt bad for our couples. We STILL feel bad for our couples. I can't speak for other vendors, but Ashley Nicole Affair ALONE at over 50 reschedules, 5 cancellations, and we still get calls every day about postponing weddings that are still four months away. Here is the thing, the one thing we do know about COVID-19 is that it changes fast. The news comes quick, the laws change overnight, and we can't even find time to read in between the lines to find out what half of the executive orders even mean.
If you are postponing right now, and I cannot speak for every wedding vendor out there, but I would proceed with caution as it could potentially cause accrued fees as everyone has different rescheduling policies. For example, right now weddings venues are allowed to operate at a certain capacity. Venues are built on acres so within phase one of Texas opening, some venues could already accommodate a socially distanced wedding of 200 people.
Other questions to ask when considering postponing would be:
The biggest advice I would give to a couple who is considering postponing is to proceed with caution and consider that weddings can and will continue to happen safely. When your wedding falls outside of a government mandated shut down, it is no longer covered under force majeuere - having your wedding isn't impossible. Surely having 50% the amount of guests isn't ideal, but it can still happen and it can happen safely.
2020; the year of intimate weddings!
Stacy Harrell, of Eclipse Event Co. recommends staying positive towards the idea of a smaller guest count! Not only can there be some cost savings, but you can re-allocate your budget into things that you did not get to splurge on - like a photo booth, dinner performers, a bigger honeymoon, or the down payment on your future house. Right now, everybody is looking at weddings with compassion and we all are doing our best to separate our feelings from the situation. It's not un-inviting your loved ones; there are multiple other ways that you an incorporate the missed guests while still making them feel special and included.
Until then, it's time to plan + act as if we weren't in a global pandemic.
That sounds crazy - how can we pretend we aren't in a global pandemic when we can't even eat in a restaurant without feeling awkward? Weddings aren't cancelled forever. If you are recently engaged + looking to have a wedding in 2020, 2021, or even 2022 we think you need to continue planning your day as if everything was "normal." If you postpone on booking vendors, putting down deposits, and making decisions, you are only hurting yourselves in the long run. If you find a vendor you absolutely love and there is only ONE individual, we recommend putting down the deposit and securing that vendor's role in your day. By the time your big day comes around, we will ALL be seasoned veterans on how to handle weddings and the fast changes. Most importantly, you still deserve the vendors you initially fell in love with. Love will never be cancelled.
And for those who are ready to go, counting down the days in double or single digits - talk to your photographers, videographers, DJ, planner, etc. Ask them what they can now offer to combat the orders; this is great advice from our friend Brandon, co-founder of Premier Entertainment Group. Can they do a private live stream of your ceremony and reception to remote guests that are immune compromised and made the decision to stay home? You need to consider financially, it is going to be a wash. You may be spending less on food and alcohol, but allocate that money to live streaming. Most live streaming can also be saved so you can keep it forever; this even works for elopements! Just remember that professional quality gear is the BEST option. There is nothing harder for a photographer to combat in photos than cell phones and iPads. Let the professionals handle the hard stuff, allow your guests to relax and enjoy the moment, and remember to always acknowledge your virtual guests and still allowing them to feel a part of the wedding!
So don't be so quick to give up your date or your faith in your dream wedding. Order custom masks, stock up on the hand sanitizer, plan your seating arrangements for dinner around families, price shop infrared thermometers, inquire about live streaming the ceremony, and do your part to stay healthy, ESPECIALLY the weeks leading up to the wedding. This is about you, your significant other, and not the circumstances that surround the world. Today we woke up, we had a choice on how we view this pandemic, and your perspective will be the only thing that can talk you in or out of how you visualize your wedding. It's time to start considering everyone that surrounds you on your big day, but don't lose sight of the reason you're getting married in the first place - it's about the love between you and your fiancé and the support that surrounds any decision you choose to make and feel is the right decision.