Planning a wedding pre-pandemic was already a stressful task, but Planning a wedding during the pandemic is even more overwhelming! So many unpredictable factors, like securing wedding vendors without certainty about your chosen date. On my end, I want to make sure that couples who book me have clarity about my COVID-19 policy.
If you need to reschedule your wedding because of the pandemic, I’m flexible to reschedule your photography session accordingly. There are no additional costs for moving your day due to this situation. As long as I can accommodate the move, I’m happy to do so.
I rescheduled most of my 2020 weddings, working hard to ease couples’ stress and fears by accommodating new dates.
That’s why I decided to ask five couples whose weddings I photographed during the COVID-19 pandemic about their experience. What was the most difficult part? What turned out better than expected? and what advice would they give to couples who are planning their weddings during the pandemic?
I hope their experience will help you to plan your dream wedding during these uncertain times.
1. What was the most difficult part about planning your wedding during the pandemic?
Patricia and Simon: “The most difficult thing about wedding planning during the pandemic was the uncertainty. We were never sure what the rules were or what might change so it was difficult to make firm plans. I found it especially difficult when it came to figuring out the guest list and booking vendors. We benefited from eased restrictions, but had to send invites and book vendors before knowing the allowed attendance.”
Emilia and Mitch: “The timeline. I had more than half of our original wedding planned by the first lockdown. When people started to cancel/postpone their weddings, I didn’t plan anything else for months. We didn’t know if we were going to be allowed 5 or 150 guests. By the time we were confident about having a 100-person outdoor gathering, we had only 2 months to plan. Not enough time to plan the wedding.
Lori and Michael: “The hardest part was probably making a decision that we wanted to get married while knowing that our loved ones were not able to be there with us! We married without the ability to celebrate with Michael’s parents in another province. My parents were on the other side of the world. Making that decision was so hard, but we didn’t want the pandemic to interfere with our lives even more! So we decided just to go for it. God, we are glad that we did it because we couldn’t have waited another year.”
Hazel and Mark: “Originally, our wedding was set for May 23, 2020, with plans for a big celebration due to our large families. When the pandemic hit, we postponed it to October 23, 2020. However, as cases continued to rise, we grew uncertain about the October date. So, we took control and decided to marry on August 22, 2020, with just seven close family members.”
“I think the most difficult part of planning a wedding during a pandemic is accepting that we would not have our dream wedding we planned to have. It was very difficult to not have our family and our closest friends with us on our special day.”
Blayne and Jason: “Definitely the unknowns. We changed our date 4 times! It was hard to figure out when would be the best time in terms of restrictions. We also had to cut our guest list and at one point had cut it to 20 people. It was very difficult to balance everyone’s wishes and the restrictions all at the same time.”
2. What turned out better than you expected?
Patricia and Simon: “The ceremony was way better than I expected! Before COVID, we planned a small ceremony for about 20 people and a larger reception later. We were initially anxious about a big crowd, so we wanted the ceremony to be private. However, due to COVID-19, we invited all our guests to the ceremony. Although nervous at first, we’re grateful for sharing that moment with close friends and family. It led us to create homemade decor items that turned out wonderfully, something we might not have done otherwise.”
Emilia and Mitch: “The reception was perfect. My parents did a beautiful job of decorating the backyard, and there were twinkle lights everywhere. We ordered Thai food and hung out with our bridal party, immediate families, and best friends all night (and we got to spend so much more time with the people we were closest to because we had 30 reception guests instead of the originally planned 170). We all got tested before the wedding, so it was the one night without social distancing the whole year, which added an extra special touch to everything.”
Lori and Michael: “Since we had an intimate wedding with just 5 people, we thought it would be a bit awkward, none of us had even been to a wedding that intimates before. We would envision that during the ceremony. Who would like the awkward silence!? But honestly, we were so wrong. The day itself was so magical. Every bit of it just worked perfectly, better than we ever could have hoped.”
Hazel and Mark: “I would’ve loved to have a large wedding with our loved ones but our small and intimate wedding was better than I expected. We saved a lot of money by having a smaller wedding which resulted in having enough money to get a place of our own. I think if we had a large wedding, we probably would not be able to get a place to call our own.”
Blayne and Jason: “We got very lucky in that we were able to have 50 people on the date that we finally settled on. it was the last weekend before more intense restrictions were put back in place.
“It was also great to have a smaller amount of people because it was all very close friends and family and we got to spend some real quality time with everyone. This made it less stressful too because I wasn’t as concerned about impressing people.”
We also got very lucky with all of our vendors. The only one we had to switch was the photographer but our other photographer was very understanding. The venue was the most important for us, as we couldn’t get our deposit back and I was willing to change all of the other vendors to fit the date the venue gave us.”
3. Based on your experience, what advice would you give to couples who are planning their wedding during the pandemic?
Patricia and Simon: “If you are planning your wedding now there are a few pieces of advice that I would share. First, a Zoom wedding is not as bad as you might think. We had some friends and family join us for the ceremony through Zoom and while it may not be ideal, it made it possible for them to be there and witness our marriage. It also made it possible for international families to attend who may not have been able to travel here for our original wedding. We made a point of saving certain things for Zoom guests only so they still felt included. For example, we cut our cake indoors in front of our Zoom guests while our in-person guests enjoyed some music outside.
Finally, enjoy the fact that you are off the hook. Expectations around weddings, especially weddings during COVID-19, are always changing. That allows the day to feel a little more casual and laid back than it might have been otherwise. Take advantage! We started our wedding day with some yoga and stretching. I never would have been able to enjoy a relaxed morning if we had the wedding we had been planning pre-pandemic.”
Lori and Michael: “We would say please try to enjoy the moment. Yes, certain elements that you may have always dreamed of in your wedding may not be possible, this was our family not being able to travel to our wedding, however, once we came to terms with that we were able to start to focus on the parts of our wedding that would only be possible during the pandemic. For us, this was securing an incredible location and the master suite of a top hotel in downtown Toronto with the most incredible views and then being able to walk downtown to take our photos on near-empty streets. I do not think it would be possible to get the wedding photos we got without the pandemic.”
4. Is there anything that you would do differently?
Patricia and Simon: “Some things I might do differently with the knowledge I have now would probably be to go ahead and book more vendors. We didn’t book catering because we weren’t sure if it would be allowed but I think if I could go back I would probably just book it. Most vendors were incredibly understanding given the circumstances so I am sure we could have made an arrangement that would have worked. In the end, we ended up having a home-cooked BBQ, which was amazing, but it was a lot of added work for our families since they were helping us with everything.”
Emilia and Mitch: “I don’t think there’s anything (realistic) that I would have done differently. Both my husband and I had American bridesmaids and groomsmen who couldn’t be with us in person, which was really sad. Despite the pandemic, our wedding was the best day, but we did miss out on some crucial experiences. We plan to get creative with those experiences, by having our entire community come together. Just because they’re usually part of a wedding doesn’t mean they can’t happen outside of it.
I wouldn’t change the way that we did our wedding, because it was unique and special and we got married surrounded by people we love.We set our wedding date a year before the pandemic started, but it turned out to be the perfect date.
We were super lucky and our experiences would have been very different if we had had a 5 or 10-person gathering limit, I struggled a lot with the possibility of not having our immediate families and our bridal party with us on our wedding day. All of my feelings about the pandemic wedding changed once we were allowed to gather about 30 people. We tied the knot just before the 100-person limit decreased to 25. If it had happened a week earlier, we would’ve had to uninvite around 60 extended family members. Planning a pandemic wedding was quite frustrating, but we ended up being fortunate in the end.
Lori and Michael: “Not really! We would do it again! If there was anything, Michael kinda wished that he didn’t cut his hair three days before the wedding and I wish he had taken his glasses off for some of the photos!”
Hazel and Mark: “I don’t think I would change anything. Our wedding day was happy, exciting, stressful and all kinds of emotions. Although, I would have loved to wear my actual wedding dress with the stores closed at the time and the limited time we had, there was no way my wedding dress would be ready by then.”
Uncertainty, unknown and flexibility: These are three words which describe planning a wedding during the pandemic. But as you can see, all the weddings turned out better than expected. The key is celebrating your love with your partner even if your wedding day comes out differently.
Thank you to these five amazing couples who took the time to answer my questions. I love that they were open enough to share their experiences. I always believe that by sharing our knowledge and experiences, we can make other people’s lives a little bit easier.