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 in the midst of planning their big day while also navigating this “new normal.” We spoke with local wedding planner Michelle Layman owner, lead planner, & designer of Events by Elle to get her to 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?
ML: This has been the year of, “Anything goes!” We’ve had weddings planned that were meant for 200 guests and at the last minute, changed everything to meet the CDC guidelines, cutting the guest list to the required number and implementing live streaming for those who couldn’t attend.
Pop-up weddings were a big thing this year as well! Couples had a window of opportunity where they knew they could have their wedding, so they opted to move up their wedding date, rather than battle the unknowns. Things got really interesting in planning a full wedding in just a couple of months’ time. Most of our clients chose to postpone with the hope that their weddings could take place as planned at a later date.
21c: How do you help your clients decide if they should move forward with their wedding plan?
We mainly listen to their concerns and do a lot of talking it out! This is a tough one because there are a ton of, “What if’s,” at play. We keep an eye on the CDC recommendations and the guidelines in the county of their wedding, but it mainly comes down to a personal choice for our clients. When they are really weighing their options, we contact all of their vendors to see what costs will incur should they decide to postpone. From there, we talk more! Should we cut the guest list? Should we reschedule? How realistic is it that we can keep guests socially distanced and masked? It really becomes a brainstorming session with each and every client.
21c: What “rules and regulations” have you recommended to keep guests and vendors safe?
-Keeping the guest list at a reasonable number to socially distance at their specific venue
-Assigning an attendant at the door, taking temperatures as guests enter
-Assigning an attendant to check names off the guestlist for tracking purposes
-Having masks available beside the guestbook, so that everyone has access (fun tip – you can have masks in your wedding colors or even custom design them!)
-Hand sanitizer available throughout the space
-Requiring catering staff to serve food from a buffet, rather than guests serving themselves
There are more personal things you can implement as well:
-Floor stickers you can put on the dance floor reminding people to stay 6 feet apart
-Personalized hand sanitizer bottles for wedding favors
-Distanced lounge areas or seating areas for 2 to accommodate everyone’s comfort level
21c: How do you think wedding vendors are feeling about working during the pandemic?
ML: It can definitely provoke anxiety when you’re in a space with unmasked people due to eating and drinking. This industry is very creative so everyone has come up with some unique ways of handling events. Caterers have added sneeze guards for buffets and implemented a little more safety measures while handling dinnerware and glassware. Some DJ’s have built clear walls to surround their booth to keep people from getting too close while requesting songs. The list goes on and on! Overall, I think vendors are relieved at the act of working. We love what we do and want to actually do it!
21c: Have you gotten a sense from wedding guests of increased anxiety around attending?
ML: Yes! Many people will decide not to come at the last minute. Others will message the bride and groom what THEY would do if it was their wedding!
21c: How are you advising clients to help reduce this?
ML: We recommend utilizing your wedding website and social media! Create a Facebook group of all your guests so that you can keep them informed. Guests never know what they are walking into…how many people will be there? What are you doing to keep the event safe? The more details they have, the more comfortable they will feel about making their decision to attend.
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?
ML: Start with your immediate families (Mom, Dad, etc.) and bridal party. Add from there based on how deep the emotional connection is. Remind yourself that your nearest and dearest want you to have your wedding day and they will not be angry if they don’t get to be there. Some will even be relieved!
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?
ML: Couples are still pretty adamant that photos happen without masks. They want to see facial expressions fully. They may take a photo with masks to represent the pandemic, but that’s really just a prop. Some people are offended by that and think it’s vain or selfish. Perhaps it is, but you only get one wedding day. For couples, that one day holds so much emotion. They want it to be, “Normal,” and beautiful and everything they’ve imagined. Photographers are more cognizant of space and try to keep a safe distance away while still giving them their best work.
21c: What are some virtual ways to include friends and family who cannot attend in-person?
-Hire a company to live stream your wedding
-Have a friend do a Facebook Live video (FYI, this doesn’t always work with WI-FI or other technical difficulties, so if you can afford it, hire a professional)
-Hire a videographer so you can share the video
-Ship them a sweet treat or another wedding-related sentiment with a personal note saying they are missed
Make a big statement with an intimate wedding and book our Micro-Wedding Package.