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Wedding Planning Trends in a Pandemic

Get tips from local wedding planner expert Blair Sims 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 in the midst of planning their big day while also navigating this “new normal”. We spoke with local wedding planner, Blair Sims of Blair Sims 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 struggle!

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?

BSE: Every single one of the BSE brides has been affected by COVID-19 this year. Fortunately, we have been able to make the necessary changes and accommodations so that our brides are still able to have their “new version” of their perfect day. No canceling required for our brides thus far. Reimagining the perfect day for any bride does not come easy, but we make it work! Some of our 200+ guest weddings have gone down to 50. What was once a big wedding, might now be an intimate close friends and family only wedding with a zoom option available. Several brides have chosen to move their dates. We accommodate all of these changes–some of them being implemented only weeks or even days before the wedding. We have done everything we can to make each wedding day as special as can be.

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?

BSE: This has been very tricky to navigate. The two most important things about weddings this year have been making sure the bride & groom get to have the best day of their lives while also making sure they do it in a safe and considerate way for their friends and family. Unfortunately, the rules and regulations change often, if not daily or weekly, so this has presented us with quite the predicament at times. Without strict rules and regulations from the state, we have encouraged our brides to strongly consider the suggestions that the CDC recommends about large events and gatherings during this time but ultimately, the decision comes from the bride and groom.

First, we encourage our brides to limit the guest list before moving the date, include masks and social distancing, and explore outdoor options if the weather permits. Each one of our brides takes this pandemic seriously and considers the safety and health of their friends and family which has helped the our team tremendously when making tough decisions.

As far as safety is concerned, the BSE team has implemented many new COVID-friendly practices. Our goal is to keep the guests safe! Some of the procedures we have implemented are as follows:
1. Every table 6 feet apart or more, space permitting.
2. No more than 8 people to a table
3. Hand sanitizer and masks readily available for every guest – although we have seen guests match their masks with their outfits and love this!
4. Temperature checks when possible
5. Get creative with seating – recently we have seated guests in pairs/groups at their own table – 2 tops, 4 tops, 6 tops
6. Making the dance floor COVID-friendly but still fun and exciting by providing cowboy hats and bandanas in place of masks (this has been a huge hit!)

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

BSE: Vendors are doing what they can to keep themselves safe and continue to work. This has been a difficult situation for each and every one of the vendors that BSE works with, but each vendor has done whatever they can to make it through this challenging time. All of the vendors we work with are taking the pandemic very seriously. Vendors are conducting personal temperature checks, always wearing masks, limiting contact with any crowds, keeping distance from the guests and putting up barriers when able. Vendors definitely feel challenged by these changes and are all exhausted by the constant changes, but we are so grateful to work with the most amazing vendors that have the BEST attitudes and we are so thankful for their continuous high spirits during this time.

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?

BSE: Absolutely. These are the times of anxiety. Many people are anxious to attend big events but also feel obligated to attend a wedding for a close friend or family member. We advertise safety measures to all wedding guests with signage or personalized messages to those who ask how we plan to keep guests safe. Decreasing the guest count for many of our weddings has also been helpful in easing the anxiety of potential guests. Friends and family that once felt obligated have now been “let off the hook” by the bride and groom. Ultimately, guests are making their own decision. We have seen guests attend the ceremony only. Others stay only for dinner and choose to opt out of the late night festivities. Anything goes these days!

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?

BSE: Embrace it! The details get so much better when you reduce guest size. Those vintage place settings, glass chargers and fancy place cards are now an option due to cutting your guest count. A smaller wedding can be amazing if you embrace the change!

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

BSE: Safety is key! BSE couples are encouraged to keep all of their guests updated on all safety measures that will be taken on their big day. We find that the easiest way to do this is by continuously updating their wedding website.

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?

BSE: Couples are embracing the mask life in their photos. It is important for couples to keep everyone safe and that means pictures with masks. Of course, for the ceremony and special moments such as the first look, photographers have allowed mask-free pictures and take tighter shots to make sure these moments remain timeless. We want all of our couples to have their timeless and special photographs for the rest of their lives.

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

BSE: Lucky for us, this is the age of technology! We have strongly encouraged all of our BSE couples to livestream the ceremony for those that cannot attend. We’ve had guests facetime others during special moments. The number one rule as a virtual guest– MUTE, MUTE, MUTE yourself. BSE encourages our couples to share the wedding video with their loved ones as soon as they can. Although this isn’t live, it still lets their friends and family feel special and included. They feel as though they were a part of the big day. Any type of content goes in 2020!

Learn more about saying ‘I DO’ with 21c

Featured Image: Hunter & Light Photo + Video Co.

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