During the first round of COVID wedding dramas, couples unintentionally planned their nuptials during what was to become a pandemic, in which large indoor gatherings had a high probability of spreading a deadly disease. Many have been reduced or postponed, sometimes for months or a year later. In the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, no one thought we would still be working from home and wearing masks a year later. Later in 2020 or 2021, it seemed safe. Yet with vaccinations moving far too slowly and cases and deaths continuing to rise dramatically, it’s unclear exactly when the United States will put this phase behind us.
But a virus can’t stop love. Enter Phase 2: As new couples get engaged – and postponed marriages now face similar constraints to six months ago – it’s hard to find the right decision. Are you running away? Are you organizing a small gathering? Do you wait until everyone is vaccinated? Is it responsible for taking a honeymoon? Couples now face options that are nothing like their Pinterest boards. Vendors, such as venues, DJs, caterers and florists, have also changed their practices. Contracts today almost always include terms on cancellations and rescheduling, and sometimes it’s specific to COVID.
How can I know? I am one of them. My partner and I got engaged in November and we went through a wedding planning process unlike what our friends had gone through years before. I didn’t understand everything, but I came away with four main tips.
Read the contracts. It’s always good advice, but it’s especially important when planning a wedding during a pandemic. You’ll want to know what the cancellation and rescheduling policy is, when you need to make the decision, and if your deposit will be transferred on the new date. Also ask if there are any restrictions on the new date; some providers allow you to reschedule only if it’s within a year.
One of the reasons we signed a contract with our site was its flexibility with what a rescheduled event might look like. We have the option of applying our deposit to any future event, whether it’s a 12-person brunch or an 80-person dinner. Not being locked into the original plan allows us to do what feels right in the moment.
This is also why I aim to minimize the number of suppliers we work with. For example, I looked for a service that did both hairstyling and makeup (I went with Glamsquad). If you’re likely to reschedule, limit the number of calls you make and the times you coordinate.
Understand what communication patterns you can expect. Many wedding vendors, such as hotel block coordinators, have been hit hard by the pandemic and may work limited hours. Event coordinators on our site are reduced to 20 hours per week. It’s a good idea to ask what response times you can expect so as to limit the frustration down the line.
And get ready to put this on Zoom work experience. None of my salespeople currently hold in-person meetings. I never saw the patio where we were ready to have our happy hour the night before. We chose our centerpieces through a two-way photo sending process. I made my first dress fitting via FaceTime, in which the seamstress gave recommendations on what needed to be done in a few months. It’s not perfect, but everything will be fine.
Design an objective COVID plan. We knew we didn’t want to put people in the position of deciding between their physical safety and their fear of missing out. We will only hold our wedding if every guest who is medically cleared has easy access to a vaccine and is vaccinated at the time of the wedding – which looked a lot more promising when we signed the contracts than now. In addition, we would need New York to relax its travel restrictions for out-of-state customers.
This plan does not allow any gray area. I don’t have to rely on my instincts to know if my decision endangers the most important people in my life. It will be a tough call to make no matter what, but knowing that the situation will clearly follow the guidelines or not make it a little easier.
Fall in love with your backup plan. There have been a variety of COVID-compatible wedding iterations, and we’re going down the path of a popular wedding: we’ll have a small ceremony on the original date with a bigger party in 2022, likely on the weekend. of our first anniversary. The “little party,” as I called it, will bring together 12 New York-based friends for an outdoor ceremony and dinner where I wear a fancy dress. There are a few perks to a small wedding, and it’s been fun focusing on those instead of just seeing it as a disappointment: we’ll have a ice cream cake from our favorite local store, and we’re splurging on a nice hotel to stay after. There are also some custom details that I can achieve with a group of 12 vs. 84, our original wedding size.
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