I love love, period.
I love experiencing it (family, friends, dogs, etc.), I love watching it (via Netflix’s Love is Blind), and I love celebrating it. For folks who choose to have a formal way of cementing their relationship with their partners, the COVID-19 pandemic has not been kind. I have seen many friends and loved ones have to cancel, reschedule, and also simply not know what to do with their wedding.
Recently, I was fortunate enough to help my sister plan her quarantine wedding. It was a different experience - small group, all in masks, and no hugging. We made the best of it, and my sister has amazing taste, so her backyard looked like a gorgeous wedding venue you’d pay top dollar for (shout out to Mom and Dad for making it so beautiful!)
I’ve helped plan and coordinate a handful of weddings (including my own), and I’ve compiled a list of tips for folks who plan on having a wedding during quarantine. These tips are great for as long as we can still have small, socially distant gatherings, but if you’re advised to stay at home and not gather, please consider postponing completely until it is safe (follow CDC and local government guidelines!)
1. Have a Goal and Budget
I like to tell this to any “clients” that I take on: it’s important to know your biggest goal for the day. It could range from spending as little as possible, to making it the most fun day ever. Even though these may not seem like goals, it definitely helps with making bigger decisions. For example, if your goal is to stay within budget, and you’re deciding between a $1,000 5-tier cake versus $20 dozen cupcakes, it makes the decision easier for you. Conversely, if your goal is to have a “traditional” wedding, you're more likely to choose the 5-tier cake.
Setting an intention is a great way to not just make choices, but to also remember what you want out of the day.
This leads to the second most important thing for a wedding, quarantine or not: BUDGET. I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a budget and stick to it! Even if you’re only buying some streamers, you need a budget. All the little things start to add up, and you can unknowingly go over budget (i.e. you buy 10 different lipsticks and justify it by saying it’s for the wedding - don’t kid yourself, friend). There are many free budget sheets out there - use them!
2. Be COVID Safe!
My mom did a great job of creating signs and sanitation kits for each restroom. She made signs reminding folks to wipe down high-touch surfaces, and even included cleaning wipes, paper towels, and hand sanitizer. My sister made great plans to have designated zones for specific guests, to cut down on interaction. This may sound sad, but it was definitely helpful in keeping folks safe.
I would also encourage folks to get tested, if you can. My partner and I were fortunate enough to get tested. It was unpleasant, but it felt good to know before we came into contact with the rest of our family.
3. Zoom Celebrations Rock
Even though you may be planning a shower or event after quarantine ends, it’s still nice to have a virtual get-together via video chats for the special couple. If you have older folks or folks with pre-existing conditions in your family, a car parade might not even be a choice. In this case, I definitely think getting some time to talk to them would mean a lot. Google Meet is a great free option for folks who don’t have premium Zoom accounts.
4. Car Parades are Beautiful
With the help of friends and family, we were able to surprise my sister with a HUGE car parade. It was the most beautiful (and intense) thing I’ve ever seen! There were over 30 cars with beautiful signs and lights for my sister. Although no one could get out or hug her, the love was definitely there! If local governments permit it, I would highly recommend this!
5. Streaming is a Great Option!
If you can set up a high quality stream, do it! If not, no worries, I got you. You can invest in a pretty inexpensive tripod and set a phone up on it. You can choose various formats of streaming, but the best one is via Facebook. You can choose to pay for one (mystreamingwedding.com), but most folks say Facebook's virtual stream is great quality for FREE! Additionally, if you have only a few audience members, you can also use Google Meet or Zoom it!
6. PRESENTS. REGISTER.
As selfish as it might sound, you should definitely register. Especially for folks who are not having a second wedding, or reception, I think you should register. It is not just because gifts are awesome; it is mostly because your family and friends want to support you. Registering allows them to find a physical gift to give you on a day they cannot be there in person.
7. Dress it up (you + venue)
As mentioned above, my sister decked her house out. That backyard was gorgeous! Not every quarantine wedding needs to go above and beyond to be aesthetically pleasing, but I do think it is important to dress up how you want, and dress the venue up, too. This “change” and extra effort is just for you and your partner. It’s so you can enjoy the day, and feel good about it, too!
I suggest getting a new outfit (doesn’t have to be fancy), and changing up the layout/decor of your venue. Of course, this is just me. I am, as the kids say, extra, but I think it’s nice to look around and like what you see!
If you decide to do a courthouse wedding or an elopement, I recommend taking socially distant photos with a professional. It's a great way to test run photos before a bigger wedding, and it's also a great way to remember a special day in a more intimate way. If you're in New York would recommend my photographer Matt Lim - his photos are featured here.
9. Remember that Love Conquers All
Your feelings of sadness, distress, and frustration are all valid. For folks that were/are planning weddings, I am sorry you have to go through this. My opinion is that you are making difficult choices (canceling, postponing, changing a wedding) that can ensure a better future for us all, and I greatly appreciate that.
At the close of my sister’s wedding, we were all outside waving to cars driving by, and I paused. As I looked around, everyone’s eyes were sparkling, the soft rays of the sun setting made everything glow, and I could see the love all around us. The love between the bride and groom. The love between a mother and daughter. The love between friends and family. After we waved to the last car, my sister turned to us and said: “it was a good day.” And that's all that mattered.
So, if I can offer any bit of solace, I would say that as cliche as it sounds, love does conquer all. Your love will be celebrated and we will get through this and much more. We just have to remember to love.