*Updated for 2021*
So the words “Global Pandemic” are probably the last words that you would use to describe your wedding planning. I bet if someone told you a year ago that you would be planning a wedding while the whole world was on lock down fighting over toilet paper, you would have have turned around and immediately thrown their invitation in the trash, burned some sage, and tried to cleanse your wedding planning of their particular brand of wacky.
The reality is that we are living in unprecedented times during a worldwide pandemic and it’s hard to see the joy in planning a wedding right now. You’ve been planning your wedding for a while, and you’re navigating the uncertainty and stress of rescheduling multiple vendors with varying availability. If you’re newly engaged, it’s hard to get pumped to plan for a wedding that may have to get pushed back. Feeling kind of lost and overwhelmed? You are definitely not alone.
Over the course of the last year I have seen a huge divide among people over the degree of prevention necessary, what is safe, and what steps should and shouldn’t be taken to ensure public safety. What I know is that my job is to serve my clients, which means putting their health and my own at the very top of my priorities, so that I can ensure you are getting the service and wedding that you’ve always wanted.
I’d also like to point out that any suggestions that I give are subject to the bylaws and recommendations of the World Health Organization and your local government mandates. You should always keep your health in mind and only proceed if it’s safe and legal to do so.
IF YOU’VE ALREADY PLANNED YOUR WEDDING & IT’S BEING COMPRIMISED BY COVID…
You’ve picked your date and secured your vendors, and now it’s become more and more apparent that you and your significant other will have to make the difficult decision to possibly move your wedding date. (This may even be your second or third time changing dates.) You’ve spent all this time planning and looking forward to your date, and it’s heartbreaking to think that it’s not going to happen. What should you do?
OPTION 1: GET MARRIED ANYWAY. I think you should still get married! As an Elopement Photographer, I have to let you in on a little secret… lots of elopements and destination weddings take place in two parts! You get legally married in your home municipality, and then you travel to your wedding and have a commitment ceremony where you say your vows to each other. To make a marriage legal in Ontario, you have to have a Declaration Of Intent to be legally married, but that’s it! (The part of the vows where you say you are here of your own free will.) The beautiful words, the personal vows, the promises and emotions expressed during wedding ceremonies come from your vows, which are not a legal part of the process. So why not split your day into two parts?
You can choose to massively scale down your event to fit within your municipalities health mandates if you were planning on having a traditional wedding, or have the intimate elopement you secretly wished you could have now guilt free. You can also choose to embrace the best of both worlds and have a micro ceremony or elopement and a mini-moon road trip to a cozy local Air BnB while planning a larger wedding event in the future to live out your big traditional wedding or International elopement dreams!
I’m telling you now, 2021 is the year of micro weddings and elopements! And I totally get why, you mat have already been waiting a year or longer to get married, I’d want to get hitched to my favourite person ASAP too!
OPTION 2: CANCELLING OR RESCEDULING. Oouff. This one hurts. It’s clear to you the wedding that you had been hoping for is not happening the way you’d like any time soon, and you have to make that tough decision to cancel or reschedule. If you can afford to reschedule, it’s my opinion that this is your best bet. A lot of your vendors will likely have non-refundable retainers that were paid to reserve your date, and if you signed a contract, it gets messy trying to navigate those waters. It’s a tough situation for both parties, no one wants to lose money without services rendered, and no business can afford to stay afloat if it refunded 35% or more of their income to every client.
The good news is that you paid that money to reserve those services, so you can still use those services however you’d like. If you choose to postpone your wedding, communicate with your vendors to try and get a date that they are all available. If one or more of your vendors are unavailable for your new date, or you choose to cancel altogether, ask to transfer your retainer to a different service (Like family photos and a print credit for your photographer) or exchange your retainer for a Gift Card for future services.
SO YOU CAN’T WAIT TO GET MARRIED AND CHOOSE NOT TO PLAN A FUTURE WEDDING DATE
If you’re picturing me steepling my fingers like Mr. Burns and saying “Exxxcelllent”, you’re right on the money! You know what I’m about to say, right? YOU SHOULD ELOPE! Elopement are my favourite kind of wedding to capture because of the infinite possibilities, the unique and personal customizations, and the intimacy and authenticity that are the hallmarks of planning a wedding day that is about you and you partner.
This is my bread and butter and what I spend most of my time doing for couples before their wedding… helping them plan their perfect elopement. It’s hard to tell where your region will be from one day to another in regards to lockdown and restrictions, but when you toss out the rulebook and celebrate that a wedding can be anything you say it is, you can roll with the punches and have contingency plans in place to make sure you and your partner get to tie the knot together! Whether you already have some epic ideas, or need some inspo on what is safe and possible to do for an amazingly personal elopement, I have you covered. Let’s get you two married and have a blast documenting it!
IF YOU’RE PLANNING FOR AFTER THE PANDEMIC
You’ve scoured Pinterest, daydreamed and planned, crafted and imagined your perfect wedding day for months, maybe years. You can’t imagine getting married without your nearest and dearest with you, or you don’t want to sacrifice your dream wedding day. But if you’re planning a wedding right now, you’ll have the difficult task of trying to plan in a world that is uncertain and unsure. It’s hard to tell when things will be in a place where couples can plan their weddings without worrying about guest limits and travel restrictions.
My advice in spring 2020 was to plan for late 2021 or early 2022. Now that we are entering 2021, and the first of the Covid-19 vaccines are reaching North America and Europe, I think that if you are hoping to have the kind of wedding that you had envisioned pre-covid, you’ll definitely be looking into 2022.
If you want to have a big wedding with your friends and family present, or travel internationally for a destination wedding or elopement, it is likely that the world won’t be ready to accommodate large gatherings or international travel until the vaccine is widely available and number have dropped significantly as a result. Vaccination may even be a requirement for travel or gatherings in the future. Although we might not know what the future holds, planning with a year+ room for the world to heal will give you the best chance of keeping your wedding date.
There are no guarantees about when things will start to normalize and it will be safe and legal to have your wedding the way you imagined it, but if you can wait it out, planning your wedding day, even during a global pandemic, is the best way to ensure that you have the wedding you were hoping for.
It’s good to plan for your vendors now, because when the world does open back up, there will be a huge surge of couples trying to lock down dates making prime Saturdays very competitive. If you can lock in a date in 2021 or 2022, there may be a risk you will still have to change it, but the alternative would be that your preferred vendors will have filled up prime dates with other couples who have had to reschedule their 2020 and 2021 dates. Planning ahead and being prepared will be your best bet to beat the wild and unpredictable flood of couples trying to plan their weddings when the world starts to regain some normalcy.
So what should you do?
I’ve said it before and I’ll stand by it forever… there is no right way to get married! You can do anything that feels right to you, and that is the right way to get hitched. There is no set timeline or sequence of events that have to happen to marry your partner. And when you’re living in a reality that’s stranger than fiction, there is no such thing as normal. So don’t settle for heartbreak over not being able to have the day you originally planned, embrace the unconventional life we’re living and have an extraordinary and unique wedding day!