Getting married during a pandemic? Unprecedented times, for sure. But that doesn't mean it's not being done. Planning, cancelling, rescheduling, pivoting. Going from Plan A to Plan B (dare I say Plan C?). What does it look like to actually be a bride during the COVID-19 pandemic? After working with a handful of brides, having friends alter their wedding plans - some even cancelling - I became v. curious about #TheCOVIDBride experience. I decided it was time to conduct a little research on my own! Enter me randomly messaging a bunch of brides on IG from hashtag searching. AKA deep creeping. Yep. That's exactly what your girl did.
I reached out to a number of brides who had been married at different stages of the pandemic. A few of these brides were my own, but for the most part completely random. But actually, I had to do some convincing on IG that I wasn't a bot of some sort. To the brides who agreed to share a little bit of their experience with me - THANK YOU! My hope is that some of these questions will either help you navigate your wedding planning, or lay to rest some of the worries you might have as a bride planning your wedding during this pandemic.
So! What did I ask these said brides? Nothing crazy - just a simple series of questions about their experience planning, and saying I do, during a pandemic. What did the brides say? Here's the short version: a lot of varied experiences, a lot of readjusted guest lists, some even total venue changes. But in the end the only thing that mattered were the bride(s) and groom(s). As one bride put it, "To all the Covid brides, keep faith, at the end of the day, you’ll be married to your best friend."
I heard back from about 20 brides, and they were so kind to share some of the highs and lows of their own personal experiences. So, without further adieu, let's get into the bulk of what some of last years brides were saying!
What tips would you have for a bride currently planning their wedding during a pandemic?
"Pick the things that are a MUST for your wedding day, and grieve everything else."
Okay, if you're newly engaged as of the holidays, you're going to want to read this one. ALL of the brides came back with such good feedback here. Biggest piece of advice? Pick your non-negotiables! It's so important to be realistic about what may or may not happen in times like these. One bride tossed out the suggestion to even postpone until we're out of the woods, espeically if you're hoping for a 2019 kinda wedding... you know, the ones without any limitations.
Priorities will need to be reevaluated, but that doesn't mean you have to scale back the important things because it’s not what you wanted. "At the end of the day it’s your special day. Every effort you put in counts. You want lasting memories so put your heart into it regardless." It's your big day, which kind of leads into the next big piece of advice: set aside everyone else's opinions and just do it! There were a handful of brides that mentioned how the opinions of others took away from the joy of planning their wedding. At the end of the day, you're the only one who gets to decide what's really important to you and your spouse, so just roll with it and do you.
"But how do I do me during COVID?! My dream wedding seems impossible." Third, and final tip, coming in hot! GET CREATIVE! You're probably sick of hearing the word "pivot," but lucky for you everyone is doing it and there are so many options to accommodate those exchanging vows amidst the chaos of COVID. Communicate plans A, B, and C to your vendors so that everyone is clear from the get-go. If anything, both sides will come out appreciating a clear vision with expectations set from the start.
Did you stray far from your original plan?
"99%! I say 99% and not 100% because my vision always stayed true."
But guess what? Not everyone said yes! Of the ones that did, though, the most common changes were due in guest list size. I found the guest list to be the most challenging part of planning our wedding... who makes the cut?! Now we're in a position where brides are being forced to have multiple variations of guest lists.
One bride went from planning a 250 person wedding to having a 30 person reception of close friends and family. Another bride mentioned having originally planned a resort-style wedding to an intimate outdoor wedding followed by living room pizza! I love the idea that one bride had of just going for a hike and eloping - they included their family and friends by having them line the street outside of their home in cars and everyone turned their car radios to the same station for the couples' first dance. Like, what?! All I'm hearing is that this pandemic has literally given you permission to do WHATEVER the heck makes your heart happy on your wedding day, as alternative as your ideas might seem.
Another interesting tidbit! Covid brides are seemingly becoming unreal DIYers. Between cake making, decorating, sign making, hair styling, and makeup. If you're sitting there thinking "OMG I am not a DIYer," well trust me, where there is a will there is a way! I don't think there is anything #TheCovidBride can't do!
Regardless of the changes, every single response ended with a happy experience. Some went as far as to say that it didn't even feel like Covid was a thing on the day of their wedding, less the indoor mask wearing! And I gotta say... of the weddings I have been to during the pandemic, Covid is the LAST thing on people's minds it seems. Bride(s) + Groom(s) take centre stage, as they should.
Is there anything you found particularly overwhelming about planning a wedding during a pandemic? Where could you have used the most help?
"Is it okay if I say everything?"
To be fair, planning a wedding on normal day is already a lot to take on. Add a pandemic into the mix? Last year saw couples having to be prepared for lots of uncertainty. Lucky for the 2021 bride, 2020 brides have basically paved the way of how exactly to navigate your way through wedding planning and a pandemic. No seriously. One bride said, "do you know how many times I went on Pinterest and searched "covid weddings" and nothing would come up? I'm sure now there is a lot more to go off of." I can confirm that "covid wedding" will still turn up with nothing BUT if you type in "pandemic wedding" you'll find yourself in a good starting position!
Some of the big challenges brought up were guest communication, especially if you opted for a larger wedding with paper invites. Post mates is such a great website to store all of your contacts online in one space! You can send out mass communication from this platform as well. Not surprisingly keeping vendors was a challenge - of course some being forced to shut down left some brides literally getting married in their backyard (with zero regrets might I add). We all know how provincial regulations can literally change overnight - which is why flexibility is so key when planning a wedding right now. Or, in one brides experience, just plan small from the beginning and chances are your plans won't change!
Biggest recommendation here? If it's in your budget, hire a planner. Chances are they were put through the ringer in 2020 too and have some tips and tricks up their sleeve to make your day smooth sailing.
In the end, pandemic aside, was there anything you'd change from your wedding?
"I think the worst part was my grandma wasn’t able to be there."
One of the biggest mentions here was the absence of loved ones, and that hits hard. While some mentioned family members having autoimmune diseases and not being able to come, others mentioned pushing their date so many times that a loved one passed away in between. That's tough to read, I know, and I'm sorry. I want to be open about the realties of what some brides have gone through, and know that whatever crazy ride you're on, chances are you aren't alone. Strangely, sometimes there's comfort to be found in that.
Given the absence of family members, Zoom + FaceTime were both heavy hitters last year. Thanks technology! On the other hand, if technology isn't your thing, kibosh it! One bride mentioned that the set up actually added a bit of stress to the day, while another bride had a designated "Social Media Manager" for the day of. You really can go whatever you want with this!
In the end, most all of the brides I spoke with said there isn't a thing they would change... "Except maybe starting it a bit earlier because it was just too much fun!" This doesn't mean that planning was a breeze and sacrifices weren't made. Between ditching destination weddings, finding ways to marry your love from across the border, spending hours into turning homes into venues... to say magic was made by #TheCovidBride in 2020 is an understatement.
To all the 2021-2022 brides, and anyone planning a wedding in unprecedented times, you got this. Set your priorities from the start. Go with the flow. Try not to rush into any decisions that you're not 100% sure of. Enjoy the slow pace.
And damn. Congratulations!!! You're getting married!!!
Getting married this year or next?
2021/2022 are certainly going to be interesting ones for those of you getting married! If you're not sure where to start with your planning, send me a message, I'd be so happy to help!