What a surreal time we are living in right now. While I always want my blog to be a happy place where readers can find helpful information, I think we need to sit down for some straight talk about Covid-19 wedding planning. In today’s post, I’ll discuss a list of new things you need to consider before getting married, along with some advice for how to still have a joyous walk down the aisle.
Everyday brings new – and often conflicting – news about Covid-19. While states are reopening for business, we have yet to properly evaluate how this will affect our health as a society. As such, it is pretty much a wait-and-see game for the wedding industry since weddings and other large gatherings are solidly in the last phase of any state’s reopening proposal. With this in mind, here is a list of ways in which your wedding may be affected by the pandemic.
Covid-19 Wedding Planning – Things to Consider
International air travel is very limited at the moment. Currently, international guests who have visited any of the following countries in the past 14 days are not allowed entry into the US: China, Iran, European Schengen area, United Kingdom, or the Republic of Ireland. For any couple with international guests on their RSVP list – or worse, for anyone with a destination wedding – this will be a significant issue.
Guests who are allowed entry into the country are asked to self-quarantine for 14 days. For couples either planning a destination wedding or for guests attending a wedding here as an international guest, the trip will involve additional time and expense for quarantine. Unless you have a separate space for quarantine lodging, this will mean your guests will have to foot the bill for staying in a hotel for two weeks.
Flying anywhere isn’t a joy right now. Asking your guests to get on a packed plane for your wedding is a horrible way to start the celebration. In addition to contagion issues, there is the cost associated since airfares have gone up – not down – due to Covid-19.
Any infirmed or special needs guests – the elderly, pregnant, or those with special health concerns – may not be able to attend at all.
Guest counts in general will be lower because venues may need to limit the seating capacity of their space. More than likely, gatherings of over 50 people or more won’t be allowed until August or later in New York City.
Seating will need to be spaced farther apart. This will affect ceremony set up especially.
For any currently booked weddings, though your guest count may have come down significantly, you may still be required to maintain a food and beverage minimum with your caterer. Unless you have a very understanding vendor, this is going to result in a greater expense.
Serving of food. Serving a buffet used to be the most economical option for a reception dinner. It is unlikely that buffets will be an alternative until much further down the road. As such, dinner will probably have to be a plated dinner with all of the added food and labor costs.
Speaking of food, place settings will look a lot different. Caterers may be required to use disposable silverware, plates, and glassware.
And then there is the subject of dancing. Is dancing even possible in the age of Covid-19? Can you dance with a mask on?
Email invitations are looking better and better since they can be held until the last minute and the date easily changed. In comparison, if you have already sent out invitations, then expect the added expense of sending out a ‘change of date’ notice.
Floral deliveries may be affected since flowers coming from another country may not be able to enter the country. Even if your flowers can get through US customs, all deliveries are arriving at a slower pace – no matter the item in question. Try sourcing local flowers instead, and expect more costs all around for any floral items.
Any party favors or swag that is on delivery may be delayed. I have personally experienced serious delays both from the US Post Office and Amazon for non-essential items. Expect the same if you have ordered 200 bubble wands.
It’s the same situation for wedding dresses and veils. A lot of veils are produced in China, so timely delivery may be an issue. Also, lots of bridal salons are currently waiting for deliveries of dresses, so your wedding dress shopping experience may take much longer than expected.
For your wedding day portraits outdoors, the photos will likely need to be taken in a place more private so that you can take off your mask without endangering others. And for group photos, I don’t even know what to tell you. Hopefully when weddings take place again we will be able to safely hug one another – even the in-laws – in front of the camera.
For any guests who can’t make it, now is the time to get on the technological bandwagon and live-stream your wedding. Make sure you have practiced using whatever device or app for your live stream. My advice is to select a technologically savvy friend or family member to be in charge of the show.
Covid-19 Wedding Planning – Advice for Going Forward
While Mayor de Blasio has announced that New York City will begin opening up in the beginning of June, the majority of non-essential businesses (such as photography) won’t be able to be fully operational until the end of June or July. Large gatherings certainly won’t be able to happen until August. This, of course, means that any weddings scheduled for this summer need to be postponed.
If you have a wedding planned for 2020 and decide to postpone, you need to decide about a new date and a new set of priorities. Safety and security for your guests should be job number one. If you want to maintain the scale of your wedding along the same lines as your original vision, then know that you will probably have to wait until 2021 or later. If, however, you can reconfigure your guest count and downsize your vision, then you may be able to get married sooner rather than later. I have a couple that want to keep their original wedding date since it is the anniversary of their first date. Right now their plan is to get married at City Hall with a much larger reception to follow whenever we get back to ‘normal.’
My advice for anyone still on the calendar for 2020 is that you work with your vendors closely – especially your venue – and follow their guidance. In particular, your venue should be working under whatever guidelines the Center for Disease Control and the local government has set up to ensure the safety of your guests.
The minute a new date comes up as a consideration on your calendar, let your vendors know. Photographers, DJs, and caterers generally only take one job per day, so once a calendar date is gone…it’s gone. Any reputable vendor should work with you and be as flexible as possible. While it is unlikely that you will get your deposit back – vendors are certainly hurting as well – you shouldn’t have to pay any additional fees to move your wedding date since this is a totally unforeseen worldwide event.
Moving your date to 2021 brings up a new issue for any couples who became engaged under quarantine. I know it seems like next year is far away, but because everyone from 2020 is now pushing into 2021, the dates for 2021 are filling up fast.
Sarah & David’s Wedding
Accompanying this article are photos from a much happier time – Sarah and David’s wedding at the Housing Works Bookstore Café. You met them earlier for their Shakespeare Garden engagement shoot in Central Park. They are a lovely couple, and their wedding was wonderful in every way with plenty of love, laughter, and lots of personal details. I hope we can return to these times soon.
To give you a recap of their wedding: Sarah got ready with all her girls at the PUBLIC Hotel, while David got ready with the boys at the Hotel on Rivington. Sarah and David are both fans of lush gardens, however, these are in short supply in SoHo. While we tried to have their first look in a community garden, the garden closed early and the other local gardens were either too crowded or completely off limits. So, the graffiti-covered First Green Cultural Park would have to do. Thankfully, I had also passed by the Plant Shed Café at Prince Street during my venue check, and I knew they had a glorious outdoor display of plants. You can always make it happen in New York, and that’s exactly what we did.
A friend of the couple created the super cute cake topper made of pine cones, and one of the highlights of the reception was the crossword puzzle the couple created for all the guests to work on simultaneously. It’s not a party till we all get 24 across!
How They Met and The Proposal
How’s this for an online ‘meet cute’ scenario? ‘He shyly liked her on OKCupid; she liked him back, then sent this message: This is a tree-falls-in-a-forest scenario of online dating. If two shy homebodies ‘like’ each other but neither person sends a message, was it really a match?’
The answer is yes, and after a few years of dating, David proposed to Sarah the day after her 29th birthday in the Shakespeare Garden in Central Park. He managed to keep her proposal suspicions at bay by taking her out for a birthday dinner, then leading her into the garden to watch the fireflies – Sarah’s favorite insect. David had asked two friends to camp out in the garden to take photos, but after a delayed dessert course, David was sure they would think something had gone horribly wrong. They finally arrived in Central Park. Upon entrance, one of their friends had to dart into the bushes to avoid being seen, which Sarah thought was just a ‘goose or something.’ She was completely taken by surprise when David dropped to one knee at the sundial and asked for her hand in marriage.
It’s an absolutely surreal time we are living through. I know it will eventually end, but how it will change the wedding industry going forward is anyone’s guess. Sorry for the depressing post, but this week I have had three clients move their wedding dates – two to 2021 and one to 2022. This subject is very much on my mind everyday. While I don’t want to alarm anyone needlessly, I think it is important that we open up a productive dialogue. Any thoughts would be welcome, so please, feel free to drop me a line to chat.
If you would like to see more images from my wedding photojournalism portfolio, then please visit my website – KellyWilliamsPhotographer.com
- Ceremony & Reception Venue – Housing Works Bookstore Café
- Caterer – Comparti
- Florist – Indy Faso
- Cake – Baked
- Guest Favors – My Fair Guest Book
- Invitations – Feel Good Invites
- Bride’s Shoes – Cole Haan (ceremony), Keds x Kate Spade (reception)
- Bride’s Jewelry – Swarovski
- Groom’s Shoes – TK
- Groom’s Attire – Indochino (suit), HolmesTies (tie and pocket square)
- Bridal Party Attire – Dress and Charm (jumpsuits for bridesmaids), Sumissura (woman’s suit), Hockerty (men’s suits), HolmesTies (tie and pocket square)
- Bride’s Hair Stylist – Appease, Inc.
- Rings – James Allen (engagement ring), QCustom Jewelry (bride’s wedding ring), Brilliant Earth (groom’s wedding band)