Updated: Feb 2
Hi, wedding pals. The new year has sprung. Do you feel any different? As we begin to look onward to a new season of weddings, we're faced with the same uncertainties of the past. Will this year of weddings be affected by COVID? Will we finally experience some relief? It feels like we're in a collective elevator stuck between two floors. A vaccine of slow proportions, possible new mutations, our world still half open, half closed.
I've personally found the only way to combat the unknown is to plan for all possibilities, as difficult & nail biting as it can be to reflect on them. So, inside, I'm hardcore dreaming of this year as a time where we can gather safely, in any number we desire, with no masks & no fear. But I'm also planning for possible foils to this dream. So, here's my checklist for you to consider when planning your wedding this year. Here's to hoping our world is safer, stable, and completely limitless for your 2021 weddings.
1). Find vendors with financial flexibility
This is key right now. Pour over your potential contracts with each vendor to see their options for deposit refunds in the event of cancellation. Even if you have an existing contract with a vendor that secured you pre-pandemic, you have every right to contact them and ask what new practices they're implementing in regards to refunds & cancellation policies. Ask if you can enter into a new agreement based on the current times, if they have one. Not all companies can provide full refunds for financial reasons, and it doesn't mean you shouldn't work with them. It's just something to consider if your wedding has to be cancelled in the face of COVID: how much money are you willing to lose in deposits? Is the risk worth the benefit of going with a vendor who offers refunds and/or flexible rescheduling versus one who does not?
2). Book today, not tomorrow
We're personally experiencing one of our busiest wedding seasons to date, with a back log of 2020 weddings being rescheduled to 2021 in combination with the usual influx of new clients. For this reason, we're having to turn a decent amount of people away who we would normally welcome during this booking season. So, if you're slow on finalizing any of your key people - florist, hair & make up, videographer, etc. - you may want to hasten the pace. You don't want to be forced to go with your tenth choice because everyone else was unavailable. If your favorite dessert company is booked, ask them for personal recommendations. Going with a trusted reference of theirs is your best bet for getting your ideal vendors within a slammed season.
3). Discover your livestream capabilities
A big mistake I'm seeing people make currently is waiting until the last minute to see if their venue or vendors are able to provide livestream services for their wedding. Being in Colorado, some mountain spots may not have access to internet or cell service. Also, some venues have go to companies they recommend for providing a quality livestream, which if your guest list has to be limited, could be incredibly important. As a wedding photographer and videographer myself, I'm unable to produce a quality livestream in addition to my main job because my sole focus has to be on capturing the end products for you. First, talk with your venue about what their in house options for livestreaming are. For a free option, I often nudge clients towards having a trusted family member or friend operating a laptop or cell phone at all times during the livestream. I've even seen certain family members Skype in and do readings during a ceremony through a DJ's sound system. Ask your DJ if this is something they can provide.
4). Consider adding a professional videographer
This may seem like a shameless plug for our company, but I truly mean this regardless of who you choose to capture your wedding. No matter the speed of the vaccine, I anticipate 2021 being a year of continued caution and uneasiness. For that reason, you may feel a deeper impulse for those unable to join to still experience the day with you somehow. I talk about this a lot, but video is such an immersive reliving of your day, and a great way for friends & family to feel a larger than life experience of your wedding. And with livestream capabilities being a concern, this can be an even better alternative. Ask your photographer if they offer video add ons or have any recommendations for wedding videographers they've worked with. Also, think about what end product videos are most important for those you'd like to share the day with: a highlight reel, a full ceremony video, or smaller highlights to share on social media?
5). Make a hypothetical guest cut list
I low key sweat thinking about this one. What if you have to make the guest list smaller last minute? I saw a majority of my clients facing this exact crisis last year. It's beyond tough to say the least. How do you explain to someone they made the cut before but now they don't? And, with county variance guest limits ever changing in this climate, it's something you have to consider as a possibility if you're moving forward with your wedding this year. Imagine if you had to chop off 50 guests. Who would you choose? Imagine 75. Even 100. Eek. Is there a certain number where you would consider postponing, or eloping? These are all important things to figure out with your fiancé. Think about how you would approach the people you'd have to uninvite and how you would appreciate hearing the news. Something I suggest is, "This is honestly the last thing I want to do, but I have to make some tough choices and it doesn't reflect my love for you in any way."
6). Sketch out Plans B & C
These days, having even one back up plan isn't necessarily enough. Like I touched on in the last point, what if your guest count gets so limited it doesn't make much sense to have the wedding in its current form? How would you change it? Would you explore more of a destination elopement between the two of you? Perhaps an additional reception party a year from then? Your wedding like your love is unique. Perhaps you could imagine a small backyard wedding with your key people. Or maybe you see putting off the entire day until everyone can join together, like you've always dreamed it. Honestly, I would hate thinking this way. I always want to focus on the most ideal outcome of everything and not even worry my mind with possible alterations. I'd say the best thing you can do is speak openly with each other about what matters to the both of you. If you can plan together, you can totally handle whatever comes your way.
And in the end, isn't that the best part of being married? The handling of life together, always supporting & having that foundation in the other. If you can get through a COVID wedding planning season, you'll be that much more prepared for marriage, in facing the unknown as one. And you always have me, your trusted wedding bff, to see you through this time. My biggest hope is that I can provide you emotional support & the resources necessary for you to not only cover the difficult bases but also enjoy planning your wedding, yes even in the face of a global pandemic. I promise, I'm biting my nails with you. And I'm also breathing with you. We got this, now go get married.
Have and To Hold Photography is a luxury wedding photography and videography company based out of Denver but serving all of Colorado. Keep up with their Colorado wedding adventures on instagram! @haveandtoholdphotography