How to keep planning your wedding during a pandemic
What can I be doing for my wedding planning right now?
Trying to make plans for your wedding when life feels so uncertain is a challenge. Nothing feels normal or safe. You might be wondering what your financial future holds when this COVID mess is over or worried you may need to postpone a wedding date that’s approaching later this year. Maybe you’ve already postponed your wedding once and are wondering if you may need to do so again. It’s times like this that as a wedding planner, I wish I had a crystal ball to help my clients look into the future and foresee a perfectly stress-free path to their scheduled wedding day. Unfortunately, we all know that the last few weeks have been some of the hardest of our lives professionally and personally. Whether you are furloughed from your job or are an essential provider or health care worker on the front lines, or are just following the ‘stay at home’ orders that will help ‘flatten the curve’ of this pandemic and trying to figure out what working from home looks like for yourself, life is not normal for any one of us. We as wedding planners, are hurting right along with our clients and want to help, advise and plan with them like the good old days (remember a month ago when everything was normal?!).
In the midst of everything that is not normal, there are still things you can do from your couch to get excited and plan for your wedding. Depending on your circumstances, here are a few laundry list items that will help you get ahead of the details so when life returns back to normal you can spend all your time doing the socializing that’s limited now.
Your wedding is later this year:
You were well underway with the wedding planning and things have come to a screeching halt. You can’t get out to do tastings, hair and makeup trials, dress fittings or see floral design samples. Some of your vendors have staff that has been furloughed and may not be responding to emails. Maybe you are worried about booking those last few vendors because that’s just another item that needs to be re-coordinated if you need to postpone. That doesn’t mean you can’t still attend to some of the smaller details that will make your wedding feel truly special. Here are some suggestions of items you can check off your list:
- Ceremony Planning: Use this time to create thoughtful vows and content for your ceremony. Select readings, music and speak with your officiant about what makes your relationship special so this content can be woven into your love story on your wedding day. Create a word document for your ceremony program that can easily go to print closer to your wedding date. You can also start designing your wedding rings at this time, and if you want to consult experts, then baltimore jewelers like Nelson Coleman (or others closer to you) can set you up with virtual appointments.
- Reception Decor: The reception is the fun part, so it’s important to get it right. Pick a theme and stick to it – changing your mind closer to the date is going to cause unnecessary stress. It’s popular nowadays to have a neon wall to pose in front of for photos – think angel wings or LOVE spelled out. You can find neon signs like this at www.neonfilter.com, and it’ll make a cool home decor addition after the wedding too!
- Guest Lists & Invitations: If you have to go to print for your invites ASAP or have already printed them and are now having to rethink your date, consider adding an additional card with wording such as: “It is with hopeful hearts that we proceed with our summer wedding but, out of care and caution for our beloved guests, we ask that you periodically check our wedding website for up-to-date information.” If the invites haven’t been sent, they will likely need to go to print or in the mail soon. Recheck all your salutations, addresses, abbreviations, etc. to make sure everything is correct and consistent. Create the list in a format that can be used with versatility once you start collecting RSVPs, tracking meal choices, tabulating guest counts and assigning tables. Organization doesn’t cost a penny and when we can all safely get outside into the real world again, you will want to have the boring stuff done!
- Update your Registry: Check your registry to make sure it’s up to date and linked to your wedding website. If you haven’t registered for gifts most websites allow you to set up a registry virtually.
- Write thank you notes: If you’ve had a wedding shower or even started to receive gifts for the wedding, NOW IS THE TIME to write those thank you notes. It’s time consuming, and a note of thanks, love and appreciation in the mail is so special… especially in these uncertain times.
- Music/Entertainment Planning: Create your Must Play and Absolutely DO NOT PLAY lists for your band or DJ. Take extra care picking all those songs for your ceremony and special dances, and if you’ve hired a band make sure they have plenty of notice as to what they are so they can learn them if necessary. You never want to micro-manage your entertainment team, but these are preferences that can really help make the feel of your ceremony and reception your own and shouldn’t be rushed.
- Create Formal Portrait Lists: Formal portraits… This is easily one of the most needlessly stressful parts of the wedding day if there are a lot of large groups that need to be managed. A detailed and organized list of all the portraits you are going to need including the group name and the full name of each person in the group can help your planner or photographer make this process a lot less time consuming on the day of the event if everything is detailed, prioritized and complete for them to easily call out and tick off a list.
- Timeline Planning: Work with your planner to create a complete picture and timeline for the wedding weekend. This timeline won’t change much even if your date shifts. It’s a very safe and helpful item to tick off the list early!
- Information Gathering: Even if your wedding date isn’t in immediate danger of needing postponement, it doesn’t hurt to understand what the policy is for postponement with your venue and vendors. Read your contract and ask questions. Arming yourself with information is going to help you set deadlines for making decisions and manage expectations and understand your liability for all potential outcomes.
Your wedding is in 2021:
You are recently engaged and starting your wedding planning journey. Maybe you’ve already booked your venue or church, but you’re thinking about next steps. Maybe you don’t even have a date and are worried that everyone pushing from this spring/summer into 2021 might make availability tighter. Here are some things to work on and consider NOW:
- Create your guest list: This is easily one of the most painful parts of planning a large wedding or event. Collecting names, salutations, addresses, etc. is time consuming and often requires input from parents and family as well. Getting this done early will not only help you asses the size and scope of your party and venue needs, but will be handy to have when those save the dates are ready to go out.
- Try to book an outdoor venue: Obviously, this entirely depends on what time of year it is and where you’re from but you should seriously consider it. There are plenty of outdoor wedding venues Virginia that can be the perfect place to hold your wedding and it will give you and your guests an extra level of comfort knowing that it’s an outdoor space and thus less likely to transmit any germs. This way, less germs can be spread and staff will also be kept safe.
- Tour venues virtually: Many venues are booking 2021 dates quickly right now, and are in some cases experiencing an added influx as 2020 clients push into next year. If venues offer virtual tours, use them to select your venue or at the very least narrow your choices to the top picks so once you can get out of the house you can book quickly and efficiently. You can use services that consolidate these to help you out. For example, Venuescanner lists all the venues in Birmingham, which could be handy for those looking to marry in that locale.
- Create your wedding website: Setting up your wedding website is one of the first and easiest things you can do. Adding date, location and logistics details about hotel blocks and transportation are certainly “must include” items. Beyond that, couples can add optional but fun information as well. Adding personal touches like your love story, introductions of the family or wedding party, and suggestions for fun things to do around the town your celebration is taking place can get your guests excited to join in the celebration as the wedding approaches!
- Organize your inspo: Whether you’ve been scrolling Pinterest, Instagram or some other creative platform, organizing your ideas and narrowing your preferences can be a fun way to spend your ‘shelter in place’ time. Pinterest allows you to not just pin something to a board, but also customize the notes AND break your board down into categories. Don’t leave the generic description on the pin. Make specific notes about WHY you pinned the photo. Maybe it’s a certain bloom, linen, lighting effect, hairstyle or gown. Spend time REMOVING items as they are no longer relevant. Separate different topics like bridesmaids, bouquets or invitations into smaller sections or boards. Work with your planner or designer to target and pinpoint specific words, feelings, colors, and themes so that your vision can be articulated both verbally as well as visually.
- Interview and select key vendors: While you can’t try on gowns right now, have an engagement party or meet with vendors in person, there are a TON of vendors you can meet with and book virtually. About 50% of our clients live out of state and do this anyway, so we are GREAT at Skype/Facetime/Zoom meetings to keep the planning going. Speaking with a DJ or bandleader, photographer, filmmaker, planner or officiant are all vendor categories well versed in virtual meetings. Now more than ever, clients are realizing the benefits of having tried and true vendors whose businesses have weathered hardship and come through for their clients year after year and event after event. Lock them in now and don’t be afraid to ask about their business contingency plans, staffing strategies and postponement and cancelation policies. A good and honest vendor will acknowledge and be able to speak to your concerns. READ REVIEWS. ASK FOR REFERRALS. Now more than ever, be diligent in your research and decision-making.
Whether your wedding is next month or next year, being proactive, educated and EXCITED about your wedding is priority. KOKO, folks! Keep On Keeping On!
The LOLA Pros