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 Erin Pangerl of Erin Lynn 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?
EP: What a time, right?! We have had no virtual celebrations, we have had some virtual ceremonies options for the guest who could not make it. We postponed a handful of weddings this year. Most couples have decided to move their spring, summer 2020 wedding weekends to fall 2020 or Spring of 2021. I had one couple decided to keep their June wedding date by moving destinations (Nashville to New Mexico) and cutting their guest list down to 40 to keep their sentimental wedding date on the schedule.
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?
EP: I think as we learn more and more about the Pandemic it depends on two things. The first is the destination and location of the wedding venue and rules and regulations. For example, is dancing allowed, how many guests are allowed at the venue with the attaching county or state regulations? Second, they know their family and friends (guest list) better than me, so do you think that you will have the desired RSVP from your guest list during this time?
21c: How do you think wedding vendors are feeling about working during the pandemic?
EP: Hospitality as a whole has taken a huge hit with the pandemic times. I have been in the industry for 15 years and have met a lot of wonderful people in the hotel and resort side, and small business owners that have their heart in what they do and love what they do, and are ready to get back at it personally and professionally.
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?
EP: In the past 4 months, I have had (3) 100-125 guest wedding in Middle Tennessee, and (1) intimate wedding (40 people) in Palm Beach, Florida. Honestly, it is a breath of fresh air as all of these weddings have been the most “normal feeling/experience” I have experienced since the middle of March. Here are some of the PPE steps we have suggested at our weddings. All workers wear masks, temperatures testing at the doors, and hired bathroom attendants. We have even had strolling sanitizing carts throughout the event. If the menu is buffet style, instead of self-serve we have chef attendants. We have had guests use the same cup throughout the night by writing their names on it with fancy glass gold pens. We have reduced the amount of guests around each table. For example, placing 6 guest max at 60” rounds, spreading out the ceremony chairs in pairs.
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?
EP: This circles back to my answer above, they know their guest list better than me, but personally, I would start by making an A list and a B list. Usually, the rule of thumb for invitations sent is 20% will not make it naturally, but I have found with Covid-19 that this number is more like 40% of their guest will RSVP with regret.
21c: What information do couples need to communicate to guests about their wedding in the age of a pandemic?
EP: Wedding Website!! They have come in handy more than ever during this time with wedding postponements and general updates. We put information up such as if it is an outdoor or indoor wedding, how roomy the church is or reception space, serving plated dinner, all tables will have fewer guests, etc.
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?
EP: All couples I have worked with don’t want masks in any of their family or bridal portraits. I don’t blame them. The wedding planning experience for couples should be fun as it is an exciting time in their lives. However, all the pandemic planning challenges these couples have had to face in 2020 has taken away some of those once in a lifetime planning experiences, so I think most are not “anti-mask” but just don’t want to look back 10 years from now and have a mask in all their pictures.
21c: What are some virtual ways to include friends and family who cannot attend in-person?
EP: Zoom link