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Wedding Planning Trends in a Pandemic

Get tips from Bentonville local wedding planning expert, Amanda Reed, on how to pivot wedding plans during a pandemic

Let’s face it… planning a wedding in normal conditions is stressful, but doing so in the time of a pandemic takes things to a whole other level. We’re here to help provide some guidance for those who are planning their big day while also navigating this “new normal.” We spoke with local wedding planner Amanda Reed of Amanda Reed Weddings + Events to get her take on planning a wedding in the time of COVID-19. So shake off your pandemic planning woes and remember you’re not alone in this.

21c: This time has forced many couples to cancel or rethink how they want their day to look. Have you worked with any couples who decided to reimagine their day – maybe swapped their big wedding for something a little more intimate or kept the date and opted for a virtual-only celebration?

AR: We’ve rescheduled upwards of 25 weddings in the last nine months, each of them very different. Some opted for a much smaller ceremony, hoping for a larger reception later, when things are considered safer, while others have simply eloped, with little concern for what comes later. Still, others have moved forward with as much “normal” as possible, but with major safety precautions in place. I know I can say for sure that NO weddings have looked like they were initially intended to!

21c: How do you help your clients decide if they should move forward with their wedding plan? What “rules and regulations” have you recommended to keep guests and vendors safe?

AR: When working with clients, we tell them that we have to keep moving forward until there’s just nowhere else to go. We continue to make decisions until things just have to go a different direction for safety, size, or state regulations. We take safety very seriously, and have implemented temp checks at guest entry, specific food-handling protocols, and guidelines for seating and positioning to make even dancing feel somewhat safe.

21c: How do you think wedding vendors are feeling about working during the pandemic?

AR: I think it’s a double-edged sword. Many vendors are desperate for work after a nine-month hiatus and would choose in just about any circumstances, yet there are others who are very apprehensive about even being in public. It’s very much divided the way our country is. It’s very common to see all the vendors at a wedding in masks (a requirement of our team), even if the guests aren’t.

21c: Have you gotten a sense from wedding guests of increased anxiety around attending? If so, how are you advising clients to help reduce this?

AR: Definitely. We’ve done a variety of things, ranging from mailing gently worded “un-vitations” alerting guests that we’ve had to drastically reduce our guest count to allowing the list to naturally diminish itself. We’re seeing guests bow out at the last minute in many circumstances – reducing the final guest count by another 10-20% in the last week. I think the most important thing we can do is to notify guests, whatever the circumstances, so they’re making an educated decision that is right for them.

21c: Many couples are having to reduce the size of their guest lists – either because of social distancing regulations or just the concern of having larger groups together. What tips do you have for reducing the guest list? What’s your magic number?

AR: Start off with the absolute must-have’s – immediate family, wedding party, closest friends and see where you land. Then you can plug back in a few other friends as room allows!

21c: What information do couples need to communicate to guests about their wedding in the age of a pandemic?

AR: We think it’s smart to let them know what to expect when they arrive – how many guests will be in attendance? Will you be taking temperatures? How will food be served? Giving them the tools to make a decision is the best thing you can do for your guests!

21c: Capturing the big day when masks are involved. Are you finding that couples are leaning into having photos of their wedding with masks being very much a part of it? How have you been working with photographers to navigate the new challenge of capturing their special day while also keeping everyone safe?

AR: We’ve ordered custom masks for lots of our couples – but that doesn’t mean they’re excited about masks in every photo! Typically, we can work with the wedding party images – these are family and close friends who have been together and can safely be photographed together without masks. Obviously, guests need to keep covered, but there is more flexibility with the wedding party! We are doing lots of flat lays with those gorgeous masks though – it’s such a unique year, it’s definitely worth memorializing with a photo!

21c: What are some virtual ways to include friends and family who cannot attend in-person?

AR: Facebook and Instagram Live, Zoom and Google Meet have been VERY popular ways to keep those out-of-town and unavailable guests in the loop. We’ve had guests record special greetings for the couple to watch at the reception – such a sweet surprise!

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IMPORTANT INFORMATION: COVID-19 (Coronavirus)