(A checklist on how to plan a wedding during Coronavirus)
Planning a wedding timeline during Covid-19 and making it as realistic as possible is quite a feat for couples. And if you’ve ever planned an event before, you know there are two kinds of guest lists. There is the list of those you want to have at your celebration, and the “others”.
Whether it’s the socially awkward aunt who thinks you are your sister, or your friend’s crazy plus one who thinks it’s a frat party. You know who I’m talking about, that “friend” that falls asleep on your couch in your pjs? Well, we all have them, or know someone who does. The bottom line is that there are some guests that end up on the “please do not come list.” There’s also no denying that every single couple is crossing their fingers that the universal awkward guest “aka Coronavirus” is a no show. In the past, at least couples could claim their invitation got lost in the mail. But now, this guest is coming regardless of whether or not they were invited.
With this in mind, how do we start planning for a wedding, working out a timeline and setting up a checklist? The answer: with a lot of honesty, hope, and a great sense of humor (and probably wine). All kidding aside, this article is one of three that will describe each line item that you need to check off on your wedding planning with Coronavirus checklist. At the close of each article you’ll see our handy downloadable list to keep you accountable. Happy planning!
Planning for a Wedding Timeline during Covid-19: 9-15 months
There is of course, a light at the end of the tunnel, though we don’t know how long the tunnel is so to speak. With that in mind, let’s start at the very beginning- the proposal. Once the highly anticipated proposal comes (and is accepted), the count down begins. If you’ve gotten engaged recently it’s time to think about what you want your future to look like. Some couples prefer a particular season for sentimental reasons, or because it’s easier for all their guests to schedule and attend (think summer vacation or long weekends).
Select your date(s).
(Why two are better than one)
As long as you’re looking at least a year out from now, stay hopeful that a vaccine will be available sooner rather than later. However, if you have your sights set on something sooner, move ahead but stay realistic about your wedding planning timeline. If you’re hoping to wed within the next year, select two dates: one sooner, and then one later.
If you choose to go this route, let your vendors know from the very beginning. Be upfront with your pros about having a back up date in case the virus is still in full force. Trust me, all vendors would rather know an alternative date now rather than when they’re already double booked for that other date. Depending on the vendor, companies might need to send out alternate associates to accommodate the new date. So if you need the original vendor you booked to be present, keep that in mind when looking for another date in the future. There’s no doubt that good communication is key at this phase in the game.
Selecting two dates is another idea if you’re planning a wedding timeline with Coronoavirus in mind. Instead of picking two dates for a one day celebration, consider picking two dates for two events. The first date can be for an intimate ceremony (while potentially still in the maelstrom of Covid-19), while the second date is for the reception. The benefits to this idea are twofold. For one, it lengthens the celebration period and gives you something to look forward to during this crazy time. Secondly, spreading out the dates also reduce the risk that both could be affected by Coronavirus.
What kind of wedding do you envision?
Determine what kind of wedding you and your partner both want. Keep in mind the location, day of the week, and the formality. Don’t forget the time of day, and number of guests too. If separating both the ceremony and reception, it’s easy to see how flexible this option can be. It might be a lot easier to hold a small wedding ceremony during the week, especially if it’s for an intimate group. When deciding on a reception date, consider scheduling the reception on a Friday or Saturday night the following year. Not only does this allow for a potentially larger celebration, but more time to pay for it.
Another thing to consider is season and location. Hoping to say your vows in the exact opposite kind of space your spouse wants? Ta-dah! Here’s a perfect way to compromise. If you have to get married in a remote mountainside town, and your partner needs to have an urban reception with all the niceties, this could be the perfect way to marry (no pun intended) both of these ideas. This thought also applies to seasons, too. If you swoon over the look of winter ceremony pictures, but know that your guests won’t be too keen on trekking to somewhere cold, plan for a winter ceremony and maybe late summer reception. The possibilities are endless!
Money, Money, Money
A wedding planning timeline would not be complete without talking about the dreaded six letter word: budget. Yep, there is no way to ignore how you’ll be paying for your affair(s). If money is tight, consider planning your entire wedding far out into the future, or divide the celebration into two. If a job change is on the horizon, keep that in mind too. Though it’s impossible to predict the eventual outcome of the job market and Coronavirus, it’s worth considering. Why put yourself or your spouse in an even more uncertain and stressful situation when planning your wedding. No one wants to stress out anymore than they already have or changing occupations and titles are likely within the next year and a half. Check out my article about the monetary benefits of planning for a small wedding if stress is starting to creep in.
We all have good intentions at the beginning (ahem, New Year’s resolutions?), especially when it comes to keeping track of where our money is going. A great way to keep an eye on where your wedding funds are going is by setting up a record keeping system. One of my favorite apps is Mint. Choose a program that makes it easy to track where your funds are going. If you don’t think you’re going to sit there record each item manually, be honest and find a program that you’ll actually use. Check out this article for some great apps that can help.
To invite, or not to invite, that is the question.
Trailing right behind the word “budget” for most dreaded topics has to be the guest list. To invite all family and some friends, or only the family you actually speak to? Do you invite friends that straddle numerous groups, or do you eloquently decline the entire group for the preservation of your sanity? Wow, planning for a wedding is truly wrought with difficult decisions.
Planning a wedding timeline with Covid-19 might actually make your guest list decisions easier than usual. If planning a wedding to take place while Covid-19 is still in full swing, consider that many guests may graciously decline your invitation. This can potentially open up coveted spots on your smaller than usual guest list. If planning for just a ceremony, consider inviting only your immediate family. And if there is a cap on guest attendance, consider holding the ceremony at home or in an outdoor space that can allow more guests. If not, there’s always the option to make the ceremony only a few family members, and then celebrate with an intimate dinner with more guests later that evening.
Whatever you do, keep in in mind that if you invite someone to your wedding ceremony, you really should also extend the invitation to the reception as well. This is no different than inviting someone to your bridal shower but not the actual wedding, eek. If you’re having the wedding on one day, keep in mind that this gathering will inevitably smaller than breaking it up into two different days. If celebrating one day is what you both want, than go for it, this is your day.
Find your Pros
Selecting the pros to make your day happen is the next thing to check off your wedding planning checklist. As soon as you know your date and budget, start looking for your coveted crew. The best vendors go fast! Keep in mind that you might not be able to meet each of your vendors in person. With many places still unable to open to the public to grab that cup of coffee and chat, FaceTime or a short virtual meeting might be best way to go.
Reserve your Ceremony and Reception Sites
Reserving your site(s) during Covid-19 might be a challenge, yet it might not. Many venues are scheduling virtual tours of their spaces, which makes it easy to see a venue without having to drive there, deal with traffic, park, etc. However, if you are one of those people that need to see it in real time, this option could be used as a great way to filter out your loves and dislikes at first glance.
After this virtual walk-thru, there may be the option to schedule an in-person meeting to walk the grounds socially distanced. From there, you should have plenty of information to make a concrete decision about whether this venue is for you.
If you’re planning on having a separate reception site much later next year, or in early 2022 (yes, lots of couples are planning that far in advance), continue your hunt sooner rather than later. If you have a very specific look in mind for your venue, don’t put off this task. Keep in mind that the number of couples looking for venues far outweighs the number of available. And as the virus continues to postpone more weddings, the more couples will be vying for the same dates and locations.
All in all, planning a wedding can still happen. We just need to rework how we plan, that’s all. Check out this article for more insight on why you need an experienced planner by your side now more than ever.
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