Paige Host shares her perspective on being engaged and trying to plan a wedding in these odd times. It turns out brides and grooms have found lots of ways to stand together and say, “You are my person for life.” – even without a big party. From Paige…
Have you ever heard of the book Love in the Time of Cholera? Well, 2020 gave us Weddings in the time of COVID.
I am a 2020 Bride. It’s a label that many of my friends were donning last year, and we seem to be maintaining the title into 2021. We are the ones who planned a wedding, got geared up for our nuptials, prepared ourselves for lovely speeches and toasts, only to have it all crumble out from underneath us. Some brides and grooms took it all in stride and some were completely distraught – either way, it was hard on all of us.
Here is my experience –
After dating for four years, Steven and I got engaged in July 2019 and set a wedding date for October 2020 because we thought a long engagement would be ‘nice’. Needless to say, we had no idea how long it would actually be.
After COVID hit our home (NYC) in March 2020 and we watched as the virus took hold of our country, it became apparent to us that this wasn’t going away any time soon. In mid-April, we decided to postpone our October 2020 wedding to May 1, 2021. Flash forward six months and COVID was much worse, getting worse by the day, no less. Towards mid-December 2020, nerves were mounting and we explored other options—another postponement, a smaller ceremony, a big party, what…?
We decided to move forward with getting married in the summer of 2021 and have a celebration of some sort in 2022. Summer 2021 will be a small ceremony shared with our immediate family and our wedding party. We hope that the celebration in 2022 will be a love-filled event with prolific hugging and kissing, and people switching dance partners without having to sanitize their hands.
This summer will be considered a ‘micro-wedding’ and it will be great. Here is our step-by-step plan for our micro-wedding:
- Formulate your guest list. We’re doing immediate family + wedding party.
- Determine location. If you can, have a wedding outside. Fresh air will make all guests feel more comfortable, no matter how small the number. If travel is difficult for some, make it easy for them to attend by Zoom. Hire a ‘Zoomographer’ to coordinate the technical doings.
- Select an officiant. Choose a minister, Rabbi or priest, a family member or a close friend. Depending on the state, a person can get certified to officiate for just that one day!
- Create guidelines for guests to keep everyone safe and healthy. We will have to wait and see how the spring goes and stay flexible to determine all necessary protocols like quarantines and testing.
- Plan a COVID-friendly dining experience. The meal after the wedding should only be for attendees, of course, and it would be an intimate experience for friends, family, and the couple.
- Flowers/decorations. We have heard of guests at micro weddings offering to ‘do’ the flowers and decorations. If you are organizing the setting, take your business to a local florist for flowers and other decorations. Make it festive by gathering ribbons and using decorations from other holidays for your wedding. String lights could be a lighting option for a small dinner.
- Coordinate with a photographer. This is something that would be very hard to do ‘virtually’ but you can ask your photographer to wear a mask and stay at a distance. Hello, telephoto lens!
- Music! Whether you want to hire a band, live music, DJ, or choose a playlist, there are options. You could have one guitarist for a small bit of background music, or put together a playlist for outdoor speakers.
- Enjoy the day!
One upside of COVID-19 is the innovation that it has sparked in the event planning world. One company, in particular, has taken the wedding industry with force. Wedfuly is the ‘first of its kind’ providing online wedding planning services. They partnered with Zoom to launch virtual weddings; their announcement can found here. Wedfuly will coordinate up to 1000 devices, book a virtual photographer and virtual live music, and even provide backgrounds for people who wanted to get married elsewhere, but will be getting married in their living room.
**A fun side-note can be found below.
What did this all teach me? That our friends, families, Steven and I are flexible, adaptable, and OK with accepting the unknown. We have been balancing what we want for our wedding while trying our best to keep our family (particularly our parents and grandparents), our friends, old and young, and ourselves all as safe as possible.
A lot of brides feel the same way: “This was great, but I hope to get a full celebration some day.” For all the readers out there, expect to get fewer wedding invitations, but a lot of big celebration invitations in the next year or two. And please, from one 2020 Bride, bring your dancing shoes!!
**The bride and groom featured on Wedfuly’s website are two lovely people I went to college with! I saw photos of their wedding on Facebook and Instagram, and it was a beautiful event.
There is no one right way for getting married during a tumultuous year. There are many ways to go about planning nuptials and each can and will be a beautiful celebration, no matter the size! Here are some experiences from friends to give you a sense of the adaptability of couples who were set to get married in a time of COVID.
My best friend was supposed to get married in Portugal on May 29th, 2020, with a small family ceremony in New Jersey a couple of weeks beforehand. On March 21st, she got a call from her priest in NJ telling her that as of 9 PM that same day, all wedding ceremonies would be banned. In a mere three hours she had a local bakery prepare a cake, her fiancé came down from NYC where he had been working in a hospital, they grabbed the one white dress they could find, she strutted down the aisles in her cobalt blue chunky heels, and they did the thing! It was live-streamed and her bridesmaids watched from afar. My mother and I blubbered a bit. She and her now-husband postponed their Portugal wedding twice and finally canceled it altogether. Her attitude is marvelous. They are married and she really wants to celebrate, but is in no rush to do so!
Two of Steven’s friends maintained their original date but scaled back the guest list to about a fifth of what it was. They hosted family and a few friends in their backyard and it was a blissful occasion. Another one of Steven’s friends had a November 2020 wedding, postponed it eleven months to October 2021, and actually had a secret courthouse elopement, just the two of them! When I spoke to the bride, she said, “We kept it close, so it wasn’t a huge deal that we are officially married, but it also kept things moving, and felt good to get that done.”
My cousin had a wedding date that was postponed several times until they eloped to Big Sur and had their families Zoom into the ceremony and mini reception. It was one of the most beautiful weddings I have ever seen.
2020 taught a lot of people that you can still have your cake and eat it too, as long as you are a little more flexible, surround yourself with the right people (or in the case of elopements, lack thereof!), and trust that it will work out!