Ever since the COVID pandemic hit the US almost a full year ago, engaged couples have been scrambling for wedding planning advice. “Do we postpone? Do we cancel? Do we elope now and party later?” This past summer and fall, we saw severe restrictions on venue capacity and strict social distancing guidelines. While these regulations and a seemingly ever-increasing number of cases certainly didn’t make for a stress-free, enjoyable wedding planning experience, they did provide concrete evidence that allowed 2020 couples to make informed decisions and possibly make alternate arrangements. But what about those getting married in 2021 and beyond? They have been riding this out, waiting in wedding planning purgatory. “Will restrictions be lifted? Do we need to have a contingency plan? Is there an end in sight?” While we can’t answer those specific questions, we can offer our best advice to those of you in limbo. We rounded up the Burgh Brides Vendor Guide members and asked for their best wedding planning tips for couples who just aren’t sure what the heck to do! If you are scheduled to say “I do” in the coming months or even later this year, this one is for YOU!
First and Foremost, Keep Planning!
Weddings are not going away. Not even a global pandemic can stop love, and weddings will continue to take place – capacity restrictions and “No dance floors allowed” rules be damned. Your celebration may look a little differently than you had originally planned, but you can still get married, which is what the day is really all about, right?
Planning may look a little different these days, but the love is still there. – Krystal, Krystal Healy Photography
Keep planning as normal. It’s too soon to start panicking. – Shannon, Energy Innovation Center
Additionally, continue to research vendors, schedule consultations, sign contracts, and, perhaps most importantly, pay deposits or make scheduled payments. Your financial support of your wedding vendors will keep their businesses alive during these challenging times.
Read Contracts Throughly Before Signing
Do not just blindly sign on the dotted line before you know what you are getting yourself into! Before signing them, read the fine print on ALL of your contracts – and yes, you should have a contract with every single wedding vendor you hire. It may be tedious but it could save you in the long run. Pay special attention to force majeure and Acts of God clauses, as well as language regarding refunds and cancellations. Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions and be sure to get all agreements in writing! On a similar note, review those contracts that you have already signed and reach out to your vendors to begin discussing your options should you need to make changes to your original plans.
We urge you to read any contracts you have with your venue or vendors and ask questions now, so that you know what your options will be should you need to make any changes. – Joe, EBE Talent
Read and understand all contracts before signing. Please do not go into a contracted service thinking that if something happens, you will be refunded if you just fight for it. If you have questions about a particular policy, ASK. Work with the vendor to come up with a game plan or an alternative that you are satisfied with. If you don’t like the policy or any of their clauses, find a new vendor that satisfies your needs. Vendors have these polices in place to protect their business as well as their staff.
Book Your Vendors ASAP
If you haven’t already hired your wedding vendors, get.on.it.immediately. We mean it. On any given “normal” year, the best wedding professionals have limited availability as it is. Now imagine how full their calendars are when dozens of 2020 clients have since postponed their weddings to 2021. Two years worth of weddings are now being crammed into one! If there is someone you just absolutely have your heart set on working with, you better get a move on! Sign that contract and pay the retainer/deposit STAT!
Reach out to potential vendors and secure your favorites as soon as possible! We are booking much faster than usual for 2021 and later due to reschedules from 2020. – Miranda, Community Flower Shop
Be Flexible With Your Date
Maybe you didn’t head the previous tip quite quickly enough. Is your favorite wedding pro already booked every single Saturday for the next year? Who says weddings have to take place on a Saturday anyways?! There are countless benefits to having a Friday or Sunday wedding, and an increased likelihood of working with your favorite people is just one of them.
Consider choosing a date that isn’t a Saturday! By having a weekday or Sunday wedding, your preferred wedding vendors will be more likely to have availability!
Have Back Up Plans in Place
Yes, even if you think you won’t need one. Yes, even if you have been praying every day and crossing all your fingers and toes. Yes, when vaccines are more widely distributed. If the coronavirus pandemic has taught the wedding industry anything, it is that ALL couples should have a plan B, C, and possibly even D developed and ready to implement at a moment’s notice. Avoid last minute scrambles, lost money, logistical nightmares, and unnecessarily stress by discussing alternate options with your vendors, fiance, and families well in advance, and be ready to jump into action if need be.
The best plans are based on the here and now, because it’s the one thing you know for sure. ‘Plan for the worst and hope for the best’ has never been easier and more appropriate! – Jan, Gardens of Stonebridge
Reconsider Your Priorities
Nothing like a global pandemic to make you realize what is really important, right? While we say this in jest, it is actually a good reminder that a wedding is really just a big party. Getting married…now that’s the significant part! And as it turns out, you don’t need much to get married. Sure, pretty flowers and fancy linens and a huge celebration with all the bells and whistles are fun. But are they necessary to get married? Not really. Have a long, hard conversation with your fiance and your families. If you are forced to downsize your wedding plans, what will remain on your list of must haves? Whittling your wedding wishes down to the absolute essentials doesn’t have to be a negative though! Details or design elements that weren’t in a wedding budget built for 200 guests are suddenly quite affordable when the guest list is significantly cut!
Couples who have had to downsize their guest list now have the unique opportunity to create a wedding with enhanced details. This scenario allows them to curate a wedding day and guest experience that otherwise would not be in budget. Design elements such as fine art stationery, a designer wedding cake, and lush blooms can be elevated to an exciting, artistic level! – Jennifer, Novalee Events Co.
Some Things Are Beyond Our Control
Some venues and wedding professionals have viewed the governor’s restrictions more like loose guidelines instead of state-mandated regulations. Please know that for the safety of you and your guests, some wedding vendors are not willing to bend the rules, however. In doing so, they risk losing licenses, heavy fines, prolonged closures, and, most importantly, potentially exposing staff and clients to the virus. Simply put – it isn’t worth it.
The PA State Board of Cosmetology has current guidelines that state all services must be done in a salon. Until these are lifted, be sure to ask your beauty vendor about their in-salon options. As much as we enjoy bringing the glam squad to you, providing on-location services now may cost us a license. Our state regulations may be strict, but they are in place to keep you safe. – Kristen, La Pomponnee Beauty Artisans
Safety Should Still Be a Concern
Just because gatherings will hopefully be allowed soon doesn’t mean that the virus has gone away. People are still very much at risk. You – the engaged couple and essentially the hosts of the celebration – have a responsibility to try and mitigate exposure to your family, friends, and vendors as much as possible. Work with your team of hired pros to establish safe practices that will keep you and your loved ones safe.
Keep in mind some steps to keep everyone safe, like having an outdoor venue or at least a large enough venue to keep social distance, if needed. Consider things like a smaller guest list as well. – Katie, Katherine Hyslop Photography
Be sure to ask your DJ what extra steps they are taking to ensure safety. I now offer a distancing request option by allowing text message music requests. Another precaution we’ve added this year is disposable mic covers so anyone providing toasts for the evening will be ensured that they have a clean mic to speak into. – TJ, DJ TJ Harris
Want to feel safe and secure while exploring your suit options? Larrimor’s offers private 1:1 appointments! We’re committed to helping you look your best for those who will join your wedding live, virtually, or watch your video days, weeks, or years later. – Tom, Larrimor’s
Rely on Your Vendors
These are crazy times but if there is any type of person who is built to deal with craziness it is a wedding professional. They are hard-wired to handle stress well and they have learned how to deal with chaos. Planning a wedding is hard enough but planning (and replanning…and replanning) one during a global pandemic is new-level kinds of tricky! Reach our to your vendors, ask for help, have honest, hard conversations, and come to workable solutions together. You do not have to navigate planning a wedding during COVID alone. You hired them for a reason…now let them do their magic!
Hire either a wonderful wedding planner, or vendors that have a lot of experience in the local industry. They can guide you through any unknowns easier than you can imagine! – Leeann, Leeann Marie Photography
Rely on your planner to get creative for a weekend of fun events for your guests! – Nicole, Exhale Events
Please know that your vendors are here to help as much as we can. Marriage is what is important – the wedding is the celebration of that marriage. You can always have a larger celebration down the road, or you may just find that the more intimate wedding is even better! – Ashley, Hello Productions
Be Kind & Have Patience
While we hope you treat your vendors with wedding vendors with love, respect, and understanding, a heightened level of kindness and flexibility has never been more important. A simple lesson from your childhood will serve you well in these times – treat others the way you want to be treated. Extend grace, show compassion, and have an open mind. Those wedding vendors who are reputable, respected, and professional are not attempting to steal your money or profit from this pandemic; we can assure you of that. Remember that while you are working to rearrange one wedding, they are working to rearrange dozens. Be patient with response times. We promise that the graciousness you show during times of trouble will make your vendors work that much harder for you when your wedding day eventually rolls around.
Please be patient and kind with your vendors. We will work with you as much as we can but we aren’t magicians. We really do try our best to accommodate everyone and make it smooth and easy for you. – Annika, Glam to Go
Be kind and patient with your vendors. Chances are they have already lost a LOT of income and and have now lost prime 2021 dates due to 2020 clients postponing. – Ali, Wanderlust Weddings and Events
Settling into our new normal and navigating the almost daily changes will be difficult; we are right there with you, holding your hand. Planning your 2021 wedding requires flexibility, patience and creativity. How we adapt and react to changes is the glue that binds the whole planning process together. Affording a level of patience to the process will help to keep you calm. Planning a wedding has never been an easy process, however, remaining calm and collected will save you a lot of anxiety. – Nikki, Bistro To Go
Know That Your Day WILL Be Amazing!
No matter what, don’t lose faith. While it may not be the celebration you had originally planned, your wedding day will be just as magical, and perhaps even more so. All of the trials and tribulations will become a part of your love story – one that we know will have a happy ending no matter what!
Regardless of when you decide to throw your party, we know it will be amazing. People will be more excited than ever to celebrate love and reunite with friends! – Adam, Bachelor Boys Band
We are just as excited for your wedding as you are! It is going to be perfect no matter what happens. – Holly, Holly Hanna Floral