EXPERT TIP BY UNMISTAKABLY YOU (www.unmistakablyyou.com) London, ON | Photos: HRM Photography
If you’re like 90% of engaged couples right now, you’re freaking out about what your wedding might, could, and won’t look like. First, take a deep breath, and know that you’re not alone. Second, know that there are lots of options you can investigate that will still allow you to have a positive wedding experience, and create memories you’ll treasure for a lifetime.
With that in mind, Amy from Unmistakably You offers the following advice to consider as you navigate wedding planning outside the scope of “normal”.
PRIORITIZE: It’s vital that you and your partner are on the same page about what you want for your wedding, now more than ever. You and your partner are going to need to have some difficult chats about what your ‘perfect’ wedding day looks like, and what concessions you’re willing to make if COVID-19 is lingering by your scheduled date. Is it a deal-breaker if you can’t have a dance? What if there are still gathering restrictions in effect and you must slash your guest list? Are you OK with a celebration with only your very closest friends and family, or will you be unhappy if you’re not able to invite your full ‘perfect world’ guest list and dance until dawn? I’d suggest that there are likely four major things at play when you’re determining which compromises you’re willing to make in this case:
• Will you feel cheated if you’re limited to a smaller number of guests than you would like to invite? If not, I suggest making several guest list options. Then, you can adjust accordingly a few months before the wedding when you have a better idea of what the current restrictions are.
• Will you be devastated if you can’t have a dance/freely mingle throughout the event? If not, there are lots of ways you can create an engaging and interactive event… keep reading for those!
• Is it a no-go if you and your guests must wear masks? Keep in mind that if the current recommendations of ‘social bubbles’ are still in effect, you can likely still capture family photos, and possibly wedding party photos without masks.
• Do your current life situation/beliefs necessitate getting married sooner rather than waiting? If you’re planning to start a family soon or want to be married before buying your first home together, or otherwise just want to be married already, perhaps compromising on your dream vision is the right call right now.
CREATE A VARIABLE GUESTLIST: If you decide to go ahead with your 2021 date regardless of restrictions, I’d suggest creating several guestlist plans; A – ‘perfect world’, B – 100 guests, C – 50 guests and D <25 guests, and double-checking with your venue that they can accommodate these options ahead of time. If you’re newly booking a venue now, ensure that you don’t sign any contracts that commit you to a minimum number of guests.
I’d recommend avoiding sending Save-the-Date cards at this point, as they might be wasted if you have to postpone or cut your guest list. It’s traditional to wait until 8-12 weeks prior to the wedding to send your formal invitations. At that point, you will hopefully be able to determine how many guests you can safely invite. You might also consider foregoing printed invites and send them digitally, which gives you the added benefit of being able to modify the date more readily and having email addresses to contact your guests if plans have to change at the last minute.
While it may not be ideal to have to cut several of your guests, if you’ve decided to go ahead with the wedding, any guest who didn’t make the cut will hopefully understand. You may decide to livestream the event or hold a larger reception at a later date to include those guests, but if neither of those are options, discuss with your partner what to say to the guests who didn’t make the final cut. Honesty is always the best policy. Chances are if you have a personal conversation with someone who is not invited to the event and say something like “I’m so very sorry. I would have loved to have had you at our wedding, but we just can’t accommodate our ideal guest list
with the current restrictions and still keep everyone safe”, the would-be
guest should be reasonable and understanding.
PLAN AN ENGAGING EVENT THAT DOESN’T RELY ON DANCING: If dancing is still prohibited at the time of your wedding, there are lots of creative ways you can entertain your guests, create a memorable experience, and make memories you’ll cherish forever. As long as you’re abiding by any current physical distancing, masking, or gathering restrictions, and if you know your guests and the kind of entertainment they’ll enjoy (i.e. don’t have a trivia contest if your guests are all shy wallflowers), you can craft a reception that’ll have guests talking for months.
• Consider changing up the traditional catering (if your venue allows) and bringing in more interactive food trucks, or tableside service. Hire a mixologist to craft custom cocktails for guests, or flair bartenders to put on a show.
• Hire a caricaturist, magician, or busking musician to circulate through your guests during a cocktail reception.
• Create an interactive event or contest, such as a trivia or games tournament, or karaoke night (with safety precautions).
• Film and screen an engagement movie, livestream speeches of guests who couldn’t be there in person, put on a fireworks show, or hire an ensemble to play a concert for your guests.
• Change up the timeline so that guests won’t miss the dancing. Host a Sunday brunch wedding, an afternoon cocktail reception, or a candlelit ceremony followed by a dessert reception.
Unfortunately, there’s no perfect answer here. Chances are, compromises in expectations, vision, timing, guestlist, or budget will likely have to be made. What’s important is that you and your partner come to a solution that’s right for you, considering your current life situation. While I wish I could wave my magic wand and make this all go away, I can’t. Know that if you’re struggling, and you ever want someone to talk through things with, I’m here. I’d love to chat. Hang in there. ♥ Amy
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