Gorgeous bride Renee Bertolus knows a thing or two about planning a wedding. The same wedding three times in fact! So when she offered to share some COVID wedding planning tips for our readers, we honestly thought, “Who better to impart this wisdom than a lovely bride who has been there and done that?!” So without further ado, Renee’s words of wisdom and terrific tips for planning a COVID-era wedding. (Hint: keep an eye out on Polka Dot You for her stunning, slap-dash wedding day!)
Everyone has a story to tell about being impacted by COVID, and planning a wedding is not immune. In fact, the idea of planning a wedding during a global pandemic is like leveling up the risk on what is already a risky task. However, it can be done. And done well. Without losing your sanity. Trust me, I’ve done it.
After moving our wedding three times due to lockdowns, we were faced with the option of moving it again to a time way off in the future, or pulling it forward and walking down the aisle within a few hours. We opted for the latter. It was chaotic and messy, and wouldn’t have been delivered without our amazing vendors – but we did it and I wouldn’t change a thing. If you’re facing this same challenge, these are some tips that might help.
Pick Your Vendors Carefully
Pick people you actually like spending time with. In an uncertain world, you may end up speaking to these people way more than you would normally, and having to work collaboratively with them to deliver things outside your original plans. You need to feel comfortable texting them late at night or answering their calls early in the morning. If you don’t like them and only want to work with them for their great Instagram following, or their cool aesthetic, you are going to end up in a world of pain if things go wrong.
Be Contractually Aware
Once you’ve found your people, check their contracts and make sure you understand what their COVID plans are. If they don’t have one, speak with them to see if one can be put into place. Try to find recent reviews to see how they’ve handled lockdowns or restrictions previously, so you know what you’re in for, and if they don’t have any online, don’t be afraid to ask. We were lucky. Each one of our vendors was able to move their dates for us, and we weren’t out of pocket anything – but I know that’s not the case for all couples, so it pays to spend the time checking these details.
While I’m a planner by nature and had every detail of our big day mapped out, when we made the call to pull it forward, I knew I’d have to give up some of those things. Understanding what was really important to us both made that easier. We knew we wanted our dogs there, no matter what. This meant an outdoor ceremony. We ended up getting married in the rain to make that happen which wasn’t ideal, but it certainly makes for a good story and dramatic-looking photos. However, there were other things I had to just let go of. For example, the menus I’d meticulously sourced forest velvet ribbon for, and then tied delicate bows on each one, weren’t even used as we ended up having a stand-up cocktail event at the last minute. Being flexible and prepared to let things go made the day go much easier.
Don’t Put a Date On Anything
I know it’s super tempting to add your special date to everything. Your wedding rings. Your guest book. Your signage on the day. Your menus. Your customised Adidas Superstars… no? Just me? But if you can, try to wait until after the date. Once you have had your day, you can add your date to your rings. Everything else doesn’t matter. Trust me, it’ll save you a bomb on re-printing, or running the risk of having three separate dates on all your things, none of them your actual wedding date.
Be COVID Safe
We had some face-masks printed for our guests with our wedding hashtag on them, almost as a bit of a joke. But as the wedding drew closer, they no longer seemed amusing. By the time we walked down the aisle, masks were mandatory for guests, and we looked like geniuses. We also set up a little sanitiser station, with the venue’s check-in code and fancy-smelling sanitiser for guests to use as they entered. “Spread love, not germs!”
We did the traditional thing, sending out printed invites and working with our designer to have a beautiful suite of paper, with everything from custom stamps from Australia Post to beautifully selected envelopes. For the first date. For the second, our designer created an e-invite. By the time we got to walking down the aisle, it was done via text message. I’m not saying you need to go that far, but in these dynamic times where things change quickly, using digital options can be far more cost-effective and time-sensitive.
Responding to Restrictions
This may seem obvious, but restrictions may impact your wedding in a range of ways – no dance floors, masks for guests, no shared food, limited numbers inside, or even seated only service. Understanding what the restrictions are, and how your venue manages them, will help set your mind at ease. Do you need to set up tables outside? Hire lounges to have a more relaxed seated drinks service? Plated meals instead of banquet style? Extra entertainment to compensate for the lack of dance floor? Having a backup plan, and being clear with your vendors about what will happen should restrictions change, will help you keep on top of it.
The Important Thing…
There’s an old saying that sometimes we spend too much time focusing on the wedding, and not enough on the marriage. While somewhat trite, it may be useful to remember. You are doing this to marry the person you love. If COVID disrupts your plans, and everything is a mess it may be helpful to hold onto that. Even if it’s while you’re rocking in a corner somewhere. That’s not to say you’re not entitled to feel all the feels. You are. But try and keep it in perspective. If you’re struggling and it’s all feeling overwhelming, don’t be afraid to spend some time on self care, and if you need to, reach out and seek professional help.
All images of Renee & Dean’s wedding by Sesame Ellis / Image of high res COVID vest by Claire Searle Photography from Samra & Simon’s Sapphire Beach Wedding with Ruby Red Accents