I think it's safe to say we're all sick of COVID-19. I know I am. It's been over a year since the first case of the novel coronavirus surfaced in Canada, and we're still grappling with it. Everyone has been affected by this virus in some way or another, whether directly or indirectly. And unfortunately, it's looking like this virus will continue to affect us for many, many months to come (dare I say years... I hope not!).
We recently just celebrated my son, Everett's second birthday. It was a quiet day, just my husband and I, enjoying Everett's favourite meal - meatballs and pasta. And it got me thinking about everyone who's had an event cancelled or drastically changed due to COVID-19. And you know what, it's not all bad. For those who are planning weddings, for example, the unknown of this virus definitely poses some problems for scheduling, guest counts, vendors, and more. But, as someone who attended and participated in many "COVID weddings" last year, they were pretty spectacular. In fact, they were some of my favourites to date.
Say Yes to the Wedding
So you're supposed to be getting married this year and you're afraid that COVID-19 will ruin your day. Do you go ahead with your wedding? Yes! And here's why:
A COVID wedding can still be traditional. The dress, the flowers, the hair, the ceremony, the cake cutting, the first dance, and everything in between, can still happen. It'll just be on a more intimate scale. I attended weddings last year that ranged from 10 people (myself and the minister included) to 100 people. While your initial guest list may be slashed from over 300 people due to social distancing and governing orders, a small intimate wedding can still be traditional.
With fewer guests, you as the couple will save thousands. One of my brides last year told me that she and her husband saved over $42,000 by proceeding with their wedding with a much smaller guest list. Can you imagine what you can do with that kind of money as a newly married couple? Perhaps you could buy your dream home, remodel your current home, go on a luxurious honeymoon (when all of these travel restrictions are finally lifted), or pay off some debt. Other brides let on that by saving on meals at the reception, they were able to splurge more on their wedding dress, add a videographer into their budget and go for the extravagant flowers. Others even hired wedding coordinators. And with fewer guests, you might just be able to get that super creative venue you really wanted but couldn't have initially because you had too many guests.
Plus, by proceeding with your wedding as scheduled, you don't have to deal with the headaches of rescheduling your wedding. Brides.com reported that over 35 per cent of weddings were postponed due to COVID-19 last year. Those weddings were rescheduled for 2021 and 2022. Picking your first wedding date was probably already stressful enough that now you have to deal with fighting for dates that are leftover from the 2020 postponements. And, you'll need to make sure those dates fit with your already-booked vendors, because not all vendors are open to refunding your deposit due to a pandemic. Many 2021 and 2022 weddings are being booked for Thursdays, Sundays, and even some Mondays. (Tip: if you're planning to reschedule your wedding, talk to your vendors about their cancellation/postponement/pandemic clauses!).
And while you may have planned for that initial 300-person wedding, those guests can still attend your ceremony and reception, virtually. We live in a technology-first society. And 2020 showed us how innovative we can be with technology. Weddings were live-streamed on social media, be it Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube. Guests chatted amongst themselves online, got dressed like they were in physical attendance, sipped champagne, and ate finger foods. Many guests who couldn't physically attend weddings I photographed in 2020, also sent in heartfelt messages to be played at the reception.
As a wedding photographer, the photos that I took in 2020 surpassed almost any other wedding I have photographed to date. Sure, I improved technically, but what I'm talking about isn't because of exposure and composition. With a COVID wedding, you will have to say goodbye to some traditions - like the receiving line (Halleluiah! They are the absolute worst!), and ginormous family photos and double-digit bridal parties. And what does this equate for? Time. You'll have more time on your wedding day. Ask anyone married before 2020 what they wished they had more of on their wedding day and they'll all tell you they wish they had more alone time as a couple and less time wrangling guests. With more time you'll create more intimate memories with your partner, which can also yield some spectacular photos. You two can dance, laugh, dream, drink, and more together, alone (with me creeping in the bushes taking pictures, obviously). In 10 years time, it won't be a picture of you taking shots with your bestie that will be up on your wall, it'll be the picture of you and your significant other sharing that special moment, maybe stealing a kiss or two after the sun went down.
Lastly, as someone who had an intimate wedding (I married my husband in the Sault Area Hospital prior to his mother passing from brain cancer in front of seven people), I can tell you, at the end of the day, none of these traditions matter. The only thing that matters is love. It's not about the reception, or the drinks you served, the gowns the bridesmaids wore, or your long-lost aunt, twice removed who you don't really care about but felt obligated to invite. It's about you and your significant other exchanging vows. That's what a wedding is about. And COVID-19 can not stop that. And that's why elopements are on the rise. So why put off your love for another year?
Whether you're over this pandemic or not, it is crucial that your wedding puts the safety of all of its members first. Love conquers all, but unfortunately, COVID-19 conquers, too. Be sure that you're following all governing legislation in regards to social gatherings, be it indoors or outdoors. Wear masks and ensure your guests wear masks. Provide hand sanitizer and hand-washing stations wherever possible. Hand sanitizer makes a great guest favour as do monogramed masks! Have your guests sign-in at any venues they're attending, to ensure that you've got up to date records for contact tracing (your venues or wedding coordinators will most likely take the lead on this). Keep immediate families together. Have more tables with fewer chairs to ensure people are spread out. And, why not go get tested to ere on the side of caution.
So, you're supposed to be getting married in 2021? Congratulations! Now, take a deep breath, and go for it. Don't look back. And have no regrets!