Let’s face it, the past few months have been a muddle of confusion and fear, as brides-to-be and grooms-to-be have navigated the ever-changing climate of COVID-19. For a type of event planned so early, so meticulously, it’s no surprise that many, even those with no arrangements within the annum, are left in dismay. And besides, who has there been to talk to? Everyone on every level of authority has had to take it step by step and adapt to the change.
Though lockdown in the UK may have mostly lifted its grip on your work and social life, there are still big questions lurking as to how weddings can operate and function in the weeks and months to come. So, I thought it would be a good idea to have a chat with planner and stylist Róisín Kelly from Elizabeth Kelly Weddings and Special Events, to find out her advice and tips, to help you make sure your post-COVID-19 wedding lives up to your hopes and dreams.
1. Safety Nets & Savings
“The most common [question] at the moment is, ‘do you think it will be OK for 2021, to have our original wedding idea?’... To which I say, I think we should definitely plan for that – make sure everything is covered, all insurance is correct and in place, so that if anything does go wrong again, that’s your plan.” So, maybe you’re adamant that you want your dream day on the scale you’ve pictured it your whole life, and if that means waiting it out for a year or so, so be it. Well, Róisín thinks this is a suitable idea too. But she raises a very clear and valid point – get insurance, the right insurance. Taking the time to learn about the different covers available and speaking to worthy professionals about the technicalities will help you make the best decision. It has never been more important to understand your insurance policy. It will enable you to relax and feel confident, having prepared for any unforeseen circumstances and knowing how those changes will practically affect your plans.
Getting organised and prepared also involves planning. Some couples choose to hand over all responsibility here, others partially so, and some not at all. But as Roisin highlights, there are compelling returns on offer for those who invest in a separate pair of hands.
“I offer part-planning, full-planning and on-the-day co-ordination… With a planner you save so much money from their contact with suppliers with discounts.”
2. Too Excited To Wait? Know The Current Restrictions
Though legislation regarding social distancing and public life is changing, it’s important that we cover the details of what you can and can’t do at the moment.
Maybe you are happy to reduce the scale of your special day because you do want to have it soon. OK, that’s great. But what needs to be taken into account before you make your decision? It’s this: Be aware of the maximum headcount, which is 30 people. However, this number can be deceiving as it actually includes your photographer, the officiator, your partner and even you!
“...it means that you can have about 20-25 guests really, once you’ve got everything [else in place].”
Think about it now, what was the list you had in your head of must-have guests? It may well have been more than 30 anyway, so, narrowing the shortlist down up to 1/3 more on top of that might mean you can’t share your special day with the ones you love.
Take time, consider this limitation realistically, breath, and choose the plan that will bring you and your family the most joy.
3. Don’t Get Too Wrapped Up With Pinterest
“I think people are moving away from Pinterest (which is the common thing to do with weddings!) and thinking about what is more personal to them - I think that is really nice... People are getting more creative at moment because they have the time to do it.”
Róisín’s statement says it all, really. Pinterest can be a wonderful source of inspiration for many areas of life, but it can easily consume you, becoming your only influence. You, as a bride or groom have style, personality and a background, all of which can be invested in the design of your wedding, even if you aren’t naturally of the creative type. Working together with your suppliers and support network, as Róisín expressed, find what is personal to you; your family history, ethnic culture, occupation, hobbies. These are your tools to make a wedding that is creatively unique to you and your partner.
Sites like Pinterest have set a stereotype for what weddings should look like, but COVID-19 has changed that. It has restricted people like you and caused them to think anew about how they can celebrate their marriages. Take advantage of this shift by digging into yourself and finding inspiration that is truly your own.
4. Postpone Peacefully
Say you postpone, once you have your wedding planned out, insurance in place, and are in the waiting, take pleasure in it! You’ll have second thoughts, I understand. But take a deep breath. It links in with what I and Róisín were saying about Pinterest. There are lots of social platforms that you are going to see other people’s special days shown on, and it’s going to be a while before yours. Make sure you don’t spend too much time comparing your plans to other people’s, it can make you backtrack.
Seriously, this is an important season that you will never get back. Don’t let envy and comparison lead you to doubt the plans you’ve put in place and the preparations you’ve made.
“I think it’s that thing again where, you have a bit of time, you step away from going ‘Oh my God, this person just got married on Instagram’ and ‘That looks amazing! We need to quickly get one of those neon lights!’... and just go ‘no’, ... you’ve had the time [to plan], you’re going to enjoy the build-up now instead of it just being a whirlwind of emotions.”
5. Stay In Contact With Suppliers
Part of what makes this time in our society so hard is that we can’t get answers instantaneously. We’re so used to letting our secretary Google retrieve us solutions to our questions as soon as they surface. As I detailed at the very start, the current pandemic has brought in a learning curve for people of all roles. What this has meant on a practical level is that it's taken time for people like you and your partner to work things out and evaluate the changes of plan that need to be made for your special day. Although they may not have had all the answers so far, keeping a dialogue between you and your suppliers going is essential because it helps both of you stay on the same page and up to date. You get to feed any new information between one another in the common interest of getting your event sorted as smoothly as possible. “Keep in contact with your planner, your venue and suppliers. It might seem hard, but it’s such an important thing.”
Ultimately, this is critical because there could be a second spike in cases of the Coronavirus across the UK and, even if there isn’t, the world we now live in has been changed for the foreseeable future. By chatting to your venue, planner and other suppliers, you can find out how their businesses will be changing and the effects this has on what and when you can create for your wedding day.
6. Use An Indoor & Outdoor Venue
For those of you who are planning to have a wedding soon, have you considered your venue’s variety of spaces? Perhaps you’ve booked a manor estate, or a Church’s building, or a barn. Part of what Róisín mentioned was having plan A’s and plan B’s. If there is a second spike in Coronavirus cases, how are you going to manage its effect on the use of your location? It is well worth booking a place with both indoor spaces and outdoor, so that you can facilitate all your guests even if the regulations for the maximum people in indoor spaces changes again.
It doesn’t have to work just one way either (moving outdoor from indoor), it has more advantages, as Róisín elaborates...
“I look after a venue in Devon, Ludbrook Manor... We are trying to switch indoor weddings for outdoor... [using, for example,] a stretch tent – it's that ability to have extra safety - after all, they’re so beautiful as well. Having that option, it doesn’t matter if the British weather comes in!"
7. Will Health & Safety Ruin The Vibe?
Coming to terms with the obligation for additional health and safety implementations enforced for weddings at the moment may crush your spirit. You picture your flower arrangements and table décor, that blush, navy and mint colour scheme running throughout, but then there are these big X’s on seats to space guests apart. You cringe at the thought of it. Surely clear and assertive H&S symbols will ruin the atmosphere, right? Actually, Róisín doesn’t think they have to... “I was chatting to a... client earlier today and we’ve just come up with this [idea for] making a safety measures stand. She’s getting married in a couple of months and we’re making personalised face masks for everyone for their favours. As I said earlier, if you have a drinks corner or a Prosecco table, you can make them really cool with [the complement of] a ‘hand sanitiser table’. Just make it fun. Use signage; instead of ‘welcome to the wedding’, you can have ‘we love you, so, please keep your distance’. Things like that can make it beautiful; it doesn’t have to be any less special.”
So, there are ways to work around the need for assertive health and safety features. It just takes creativity and embrace for the motive behind the feature - I.e. love and care (even if health and safety’s application of these things has gone mad!).
8. A way around the tough choice
Weddings, as you know, are comprised of several aspects. There is the ceremony, the reception and the after-party (not to mention other legal procedures and processes to authenticate the relationship).
One of the couples I know have decided to split the creation of their wedding across two separate events. They have had a small ceremony. But they are planning another gathering next year, in the hopes of celebrating their relationship with the full extent of their family and friends. This concept is good, (1) because it means one can have their marriage authenticated soon and (2) because it allows one to fulfil their celebratory aspirations, dreams and plans that would have been in their pre-COVID-19 wedding. Perhaps this is something you have considered? Or maybe something to now?
“I think people will quite like the idea of having a smaller wedding, even just with their nearest and dearest and then, later on, having a bigger celebration which, you know, we can also help them out with.”
I remember when lockdown first started. I heard the term ‘Zoom’ getting thrown around on WhatsApp group chats and, before long, it had become a very prominent medium of communication for me for social group calls and Church events. The popularity of the app had sky rocketed on an international level too.
Its viral attention soon seeped into the wedding industry and that is what this tip is about. You can connect your wider network to experience your special day as it unfolds through Zoom – especially beneficial for couples with international families. Although a substantial compromise on a real large audience, it’s better than having just the 30 people present. And for those who are really interested in this, you can even have a professional videographer live-stream the event across a platform like YouTube or Facebook with specialised video equipment. I did one a few weeks ago.
As Róisín shares, this is something her clients have considered...
“I have one client who was going to stream through Zoom... What we were planning on doing, in that instance – [as] we were saving on food [and other resources] - we were planning on sending each of the guests hampers. A little bottle of Prosecco, a mini cake slice, the order of the day booklet (which you would have at the reception). So, people don’t just have to go on [to the live-stream/video call] and be like ‘Oh gosh, wouldn’t that be lovely if we were all there’. They can sit down, watch, say how beautiful she is or how happy they look, whilst they enjoy, as a guest, Prosecco. That was the main idea that we had.”
What Róisín gets at there is actually quite enticing. She identifies that it can save money to stream, and that that money can be invested in the viewing experience of the online guests.
This option definitely won’t be for everyone. The millennials among you will likely be more allured by it as you’re more acclimatised to digital sociality (as low in fidelity and authenticity as it can be!). Having said that, I know that some older generations will find this option interesting, and will consider using it. This is why I put it out there for you.
10. Still On The Fence? Be Decisive
Mine and Róisín’s final pledge to all of you who are still on the fence about any arrangement at all is, be decisive. Take charge of your options, consider what best aligns with your original intentions and make it happen. Either you let yourself go round in circles considering your options, or be bold and make a choice.
We’ve covered a lot of ideas and inspirations here to help you on your journey. We hope that this brought some clarity to the muddle and blockage caused by COVID-19 and that you’ll be able to navigate the build-up to your special day with confidence and excitement.
We don’t know whether there will be a second spike in cases of the virus, or how event regulations will change over the coming year. But get your plan in place, fix backup solutions and invest time in researching insurance. You’ll do yourself and your partner the biggest favour you can. You’ll do your special day justice by enjoying it, so get out there and make it happen!
COVID-19 has caused a lot of people to make compromises to their wedding planning. What we hope for you in this article, is that you find a way to apply your creativity and ideas within this new landscape, staying as true to your original desires and dreams as possible. All in order that you may look back fondly on a day amongst many uncertain ones, when you knew one thing was for sure, ‘Till death do us part’.
A very special thank you goes out to Róisín Kelly for sharing her expertise and creativity for this blogpost. If you are looking for a wedding planner you can get in touch with her via her website, on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter; and if you are looking for a venue to book in Devon, you can check out Ludbrook Manor by clicking on it here.
If you are interested in what I do, whether it be one of the creations shaken over and paid for, or made while sitting in my pyjamas and eating peanut butter straight out of the jar - make sure to follow me on Instagram, like my Facebook page and send any questions into email cyber-space at: