Wedding planning is stressful enough as it is during normal, non-pandemic times. COVID19 has meant that the usual worries have been almost entirely replaced with anxiety around potential losses of deposits, uncertainty about what sort of restrictions will apply to your day, how to coordinate everyone for pre-wedding events with interstate or overseas travel restrictions, potential lockdowns, even vaccination status.
Of course, that's all in addition to the usual wedding planning requirements, all of which have been stuffed into shorter timeframes for those who have had to postpone their events multiple times. It's a jungle out there, I've personally experienced it and I'd like to share what's helped me (hopefully) get married this year, in hopes that it will help someone else.
1. Ask upfront about COVID19 policies
Most vendors would be happy to reschedule your day in the event of a lockdown or similar, but not everyone is able to be flexible. Read your contract carefully and be sure you are happy with any COVID19 clauses and things before you sign. We got very lucky in that our vendors all wanted to work with us but I have spoken to others who did not get so lucky.
2. Be flexible with dates, and maybe even consider a week day
Everyone's getting married. There were small windows where there were no restrictions, but so many couples put their days off to 2021, 2022 and even 2023, so there is actually a larger amount of booked weddings than there are places for them. You need to decide what's important to you: a particular date, being able to get married sooner, or trying to keep your vendors.
We had all of the postponed iterations of our day initially setup on Saturdays but then had to change to a weekday, else we'd lose someone. When we started trying to choose, we realised that we did not want to lose any of our vendors, they'd stuck by us and so we wanted to stick by them and we ended up choosing a midweek date that is special to us (and not another six months to a year away).
I know it's traditional to send out paper-based stationery, so you could send that out by post if you wish. Aside from recent postal delays, have a think about what'll happen if you need to postpone; think of the repeated cost of printing save the dates, sending them out; printing postponement notices, sending them out; printing new invitations, sending them out; it just isn't worth it unless you're made of time and money, and unless your guests have all the time in the world to check their snail mail repeatedly. We personally used an electronic tool called Paperless Post for everything including postponement notices, save the date cards and invitations. There are many such tools, but we chose this one because it had inbuilt email tracking and RSVP. There is also functionality to print out some invitations (for example, for granny), if you need, but we have not explored this as we believe that invitations would be something difficult for our loved ones to throw away (and they can view the digital invitations at any time).
4. Think about your guest list and your vaccination policy before you invite everyone
This is not a luxury I had, so some awkward conversations have had to be held. If you have immunocompromised family members or friends, have a talk to them and see what their preferences are – some may even prefer to watch the wedding over a livestream service such as Zoom. If you are already hiring a videographer, ask them if they have a package that includes livestreaming – something handy for your overseas guests too.
5. Create multiple plans and refine your guest list
Having multiple plans in place (even rough plans in case of possible lockdowns) means that you can sleep at night, knowing that scenarios that you have thought about and are comfortable with are planned, including the best case, base case and worst case. This sort of rough contingency planning can help provide clarity and remove some anxiety. Refining your guest list so that you have only the most important people at your wedding will probably improve your wedding (or so I've been told). It can also help you save some much-needed cash.
Image Courtesy of photos_by_lanty
6. Be flexible with vendors, generally
Your wedding vendors have had a rough couple of years, and if you're in a state that's experienced long lockdowns, 2021 has been pretty devastating for the wedding industry. Keep in mind that your vendors are human beings and are working around the clock trying to accommodate as many brides as they can into a shorter calendar. Having a little bit of empathy can go a long way, and you'll soon see that other than your fellow brides, they will understand you and your situation the most out of everyone. Every vendor I have spoken to is thrilled to be back at work and is keen deliver on the upcoming special days.
7. Do return-friendly remote shopping with your interstate or locked down friends
If family members or members of your bridal party are interstate or in lockdown, it doesn't mean that you can't buy anything and that all preparatory shopping must stop. Look for shops with good return policies so that you can try things like bridesmaids dresses on and return them if they don't fit. In fact, we bought the bridesmaids dresses during lockdown using this method. Each dress was delivered to the bridesmaids' houses. For your wedding dress it's less likely that you'll be able to return anything, but if you are on a tight timeline you can buy off the rack. Although, doing so would be risky during lockdown unless the boutique has a home try-on service..
If you're ordering personalised items, avoid putting the date on them until you're sure that the wedding will definitely happen (and the creator has a fast turnaround time), or avoid putting the date on them at all. I know, it isn't ideal, but our close friends had wedding favours with their original date that they were unable to use. They were disappointed and ordered new ones without the date on them.
9. Still do all of the hair, makeup and any other possible trials
Make-up, hair and anything else you'd regularly get a trial for – definitely do this, do not cut corners here. That is not something that I personally could consider going without due to its importance. You will be looking at those photos for the rest of your life, so do your research and attend a trial whenever you are able to.
There are countless Facebook groups with members that include future brides who are willing to listen to you vent, help you and understand what you're going through. Family and friends are of course wonderful, but their experiences won't necessarily help you because of the different circumstances surrounding the pandemic. Hearing about Auntie's May stressful experiences when choosing between lilies, petunias or roses may be fun for her to talk about, but rather than helping you, might just infuriate you (depending on your stress levels) - so just back away slowly and try to find some other people in your position to talk to.
Congratulations and good luck to those of you getting married, even if it is during a pandemic! What keeps me going after the postponements is the thought of marrying my significant other and celebrating with my family and friends. I hope that everyone gets a break and finally gets to enjoy these joyful, momentous occasions.