How COVID-19 Is Going To Change Weddings For The Long Run

It’s no secret: coronavirus is one giant happiness cockblock. It’s stealing jobs, lives, and security right out from under our noses. It’s messing with some of the most longed-for and looked-forward-to events, like graduations, proms, and weddings. While there’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding the future of ~the best day of your life,~ I like to think it’s better to be informed than in the dark and luckily, The Knot released its report on the future of weddings, which shed some much-needed light on WTF is going on and WTF is going to happen to the wedding industry as a result of the pandemic.

According to The Knot, “Most engaged couples whose weddings have been impacted by COVID-19 are not canceling their weddings (92% globally, 93% in the U.S.), and are rescheduling for either later this year, 2021, or not making any changes at this time. With a strong desire to celebrate their weddings as they had originally planned, 94% of couples in the US and 87% globally do not plan to reduce their overall guest count, and 95% in the U.S. and 90% globally do not anticipate lowering their budget.”

What does this mean? Couples still want to party, they still want to shell out tons of money to do it, and they don’t really want to limit their guest counts. So, let’s figure out how can we make all of this happen. First, however, I want to say: Brides, this sucks. Majorly. I’m not here to sugarcoat or undermine it—odds are you’re getting that enough from estranged aunts and strangers on Facebook. What I am here to do is inform you and help you think of creative solutions you’re excited about that will make past brides pissed off that they didn’t think of the ideas first.

Guests Will Party In Shifts

“If and when the CDC and federal government do relax social distancing restrictions, there may be limitations in the number of people permitted to be in the same room,” Jeffra Trumpower, Sr. Creative Director at WeddingWire tells Betches. The problem is, literally no one wants to limit their guest count. The solution the wedding industry is going to start implementing is called a “shift wedding.” Basically, you get to have the same party, in the same venue, with the same vendor team, and everyone you want (and were forced to invite) can still attend, but you’ll just celebrate in shifts, with sanitation measures being taken between each. 

How to make it not suck: Personally, I think the idea of shift weddings is genius. First, you can have an outdoor ceremony (yup, outdoor venues are expected to be on a rise) where everyone can attend and stand/sit far away from each other (or maybe you have the ceremony separately, just include your closest friends and family, or you had a “minimony” on Zoom prior to the celebration), then, you move into shifts. The first shift is, naturally, the older folks. Grandparents, parents’ friends, etc. Yes, this will be the most boring part, but on the plus side, you’ll actually get a chance to eat because it will be a good excuse to stop talking to strangers for a few minutes.

Once that shift is over, you can move on to your B-tier group of friends. Think of this as your pregame for your actual party with your ride-or-dies. You’ll get some drinks, chat about old times, and ease into the event. Then, finally, your faves (say, your top 50) come in and tear sh*t up. It’s like having your own pregame at your wedding, and honestly, it sounds kinda awesome.

Sanitation Guidelines

Whenever events are allowed to happen again, you can bet your honeymoon fund that sanitation requirements will be increased, even after COVID-19 has calmed down. This means staff will most likely be wearing masks and gloves and some (if not all) guests will as well. Things like hand sanitizer stations and washing areas will become a staple in events and cleaning between each “shift” or event will be even more rigorous. While it might not be something you originally envisioned, experts say the guidelines are here to stay for a while, so plan accordingly.

While weddings may look a bit different in the near future, the wedding professional community is incredibly dedicated to ensuring couples are able to celebrate their love with those nearest and dearest to them, while still being safe and healthy,” said Emily Clarke, founder of Emily Clarke Events

How to make it not suck: “Putting a personalized touch to these measures will go a long way in normalizing the incorporation into weddings and keeping the positive, fun spirit of a wedding intact,” explained Clarke. “For instance, create personalized hand-sanitizing wipes in petite packages with guests’ names on them so people can sanitize as soon as they sit down for dinner.”

Another idea I’m obsessed with is having caterers walking around with personalized hand sanitizer on silver trays (just like they would with drinks at cocktail hour) or create a cute sanitization station.

Finally, utilizing gloves and masks can actually be low-key cute. Back in the olden days, gloves were seen as an elegant fashion accessory, and some brides still rock them today. Distribute gloves in your wedding colors (or all white or black) to guests and get some masks personalized for any high-risk or elderly guests to wear if they need. This could be a great time to incorporate your interests or hobbies as a couple, so don’t be afraid to do something silly, like your dog’s face on the mask.

Virtual Components

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Looks like virtual weddings aren’t so bad after all. link in bio for tips on how to get married on Zoom. 💍 | credit/permission: @tylergildin

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As someone whose maid of honor couldn’t attend her wedding because she had just given birth, important people missing out on big days has been a part of wedding history since forever. Sh*t happens, things come up. The exciting aspect surrounding the uptick in virtual options is that people who wouldn’t have been able to make it in the first place (or for whom it would have be risky to do so) now have options that are thought-out and coordinated to be a part of your event, inside of just a shaky FaceTime, which is how my MOH watched my wedding.

How to make it not suck: The good news is, the wedding industry is full of the most creative people in the world, and their job is to create beautiful events. From sending at-risk guests personalized favors, food, and links to having a roaming Zoom party bot that can mingle with guests at the event (disclosure: I don’t know what a “Zoom party bot” is, but experts says they’ll be utilized and I’m picturing some sort of DJ Roomba-like robot with a screen zooming around and allowing home guests to interact) — the ways to incorporate social distancing don’t have to be a bummer. “We will get creative to make sure our couples’ weddings are as special as they can be, even in the midst of a pandemic,” insists Jove Meyer, the owner and creative director of Jove Meyer Events.

Catering And Entertaining

Caterers will likely focus on plated dinners, instead of buffets or family-style meals, so there is less interaction with food and guests,” says Meyer. While traditional buffets might be out for a while, that doesn’t mean you have to completely forego your stations or hors d’oeuvres. Likely, it will just look different. If you long for a buffet, chances are your venue will instead have more, smaller stations and call different tables to get their food one at a time as opposed to a long, close-knit line. 

Adhering to cleanliness codes and thinking outside-the-box with food prep and display isn’t a new concept for caterers, “but one that is certainly being amplified and enhanced starting now,” Christie Altendorf of D’Amico Catering told The Knot. “New levels of safety are being discussed every day to proactively protect our guests and staff. While what we know is rapidly evolving, I think it’s safe to expect, as live gatherings return, there will be several measures put in place that we’ve never had to consider before.” 

While that might seem like bad news, it actually isn’t. “I believe we’re going to see many new serving styles conceptualized,” Altendorf insisted. Which means you might be at the front of what will soon be the hottest new wedding trend. Another aspect to consider is your dance floor. Classic, packed floors won’t make as much sense now, but that doesn’t mean the party will stop. Instead, things like satellite bars and floors will expand the range of the celebration.

How to make it not suck: Basically, your party space just got bigger and more interesting. Now, instead of one bar, multiple bars will be the norm. Instead of one small space to dance, multiple dance floors or levels will be incorporated. Instead of people either doing the “Cha Cha Slide” or sitting at their seats looking bored, having other entertainment to allow guests to spread out will be implemented. Weddings are about to become even more of an experience than just a glorified prom. Now more than ever, the rule book is getting thrown out and you can make your day entirely your own.

Non-Saturday Events

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no but seriously there are no rules anymore. Invite who you want, cut who you don’t want.

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With venues being snatched up or already booked by couples, finding a new date can be a struggle, especially if you were planning on a Saturday event. In order to ensure your full vendor team is available, non-Saturday or even (gasp) non-weekend events are going to become more of the norm. Of those moving their dates, 8% of couples are switching to Thursday, 40% to Friday, and 33% to Sunday. On the plus side, if you always dreamed of getting married on a specific date (such as your dating anniversary or the date of your first kiss) but it fell on a weekday, people won’t bat an eye anymore.

How to make it not suck: The plus side is after everyone’s been stuck inside with literally NOTHING to do for God knows how long, most guests will relish being invited to an event where they can wear heels and talk to someone other than their S.O. or their plants. Monday wedding? Count me in. Wednesday wedding? F*ck yeah, I’m there. While these days weren’t usually chosen for nuptials, anyone who still has a job has tons of vacation days and everyone else just wants something to do. Don’t stress about the day of the week, because trust me, I’d crawl through glass rn to attend a weekday wedding.

After all this is over, weddings aren’t going to look the same, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to be worse. In fact, there will be plenty of ways to make your event even better than it was going to be.

Images: Kendra Allen / Unsplash; Giphy (3)

How To Tell Your Wedding Guests You’re Changing The Date Due To COVID-19

As it becomes clearer that summer wedding plans are off the table, and fall weddings are next on the chopping block, couples are figuring out new ways to make their special day special. We’re seeing Zoom weddings, drive-by parades, and elopements. For anyone who can’t (or doesn’t want to) get on board with the microwedding vibe, plans of a postponement need to be communicated to guests—even if the details are still TBD. So, we chatted with experts on both coasts to see how changing the date can be done, and as much as it sucks, it’s not impossible. There are multiple ways to convey the 411 of your new day, and rockstar wedding vendors are making the postponing protocol as smooth as possible.

For Krystel Stacey, Founder, Creative Director, and Lead Stylist at So Cal’s Couture Events and wedding planner to Bachelor in Paradise’s Hannah Godwin and Dylan Barbour, it’s about being supportive and honoring her clients’ wishes.

“We’re hopeful that later-2020 weddings will go on as planned, but just in case our brides and grooms are worried, we’re working around the clock on contingency plans,” Stacey says. At the end of the day, she wants her clients to stay true to themselves, adding “What is best for your mom, best friend, cousin, or sweet Aunt Sally should be considered secondary to what is best for you both as a couple.”

Timing Wise, Most Pre-Fall Weddings Should Postpone

We’ve been polling our 2020 brides on Insta @betchesbrides for weeks now, asking whether they’ll be keeping or postponing their wedding dates plans—and truthfully, no one has a definitive answer or a magical cut-off date. While it’d be amazing to see into the future and find out more about this virus’s end date, unfortunately we can’t exactly speak to the manager of coronavirus. That’s why New Jersey-based stationer, Becca Goldberg of Suite Paperie, feels that clients who have chosen to postpone their weddings before October 2020 are making the best calls (and tbh, that’s what it seems like most of you are doing, based on all the recent Insta feedback on @betchesbrides).

“We’ve had a few couples who were supposed to get married in late March/early April postpone to later in 2020, but a couple who is planning a summer wedding isn’t going to be thrilled about swapping to a winter date,” she offers. “Their entire vision from invitations to dress to food to flowers will have to shift to an entirely new season—and that’s a whole other dimension of change that a bride dealing with COVID-19 rescheduling shouldn’t have to face.”

She explains, “Most of my October-December brides are hanging tight right now and moving forward as planned. Since we’re NY/NJ based and in the epicenter of the crisis, there’s a chance that, by law, the weddings will not be able to take place. However, we do have plenty of couples around the country who are having their weddings in lesser COVID-affected areas and proceeding with considerably less caution—for example, we have gorgeous acrylic invitations going out this week for an August wedding in Colorado Springs.”

Once You Have A Date Secured, Get Moving With Regards To Your Guests

Both Stacey and Goldberg have seen the majority of their couples postponing to 2021, and they’re behind it, too, especially if couples can either get their original wedding date just a year later (something that a lot of venues are advocating with their clients so that their event calendars are balanced). After all, a wedding planned for June 12th this year will probably look similar, if not identical, to a June 12th wedding next year. If the exact date isn’t available, then another date in the month should work just fine. Stacey let us know that even though she’s had some couples push till later this year, most are looking into 2021 for their new dates.

Of course, once you’ve gotten your date penciled in at your venue, with your vendors on book as well, you’ll want to notify your nearest and dearest so that arrangements can be made. Fortunately, since the social event scene at large has been totally eclipsed by the pandemic, most guests can expect that you’ll be making course changes, but you’ll still need to tell everyone sooner rather than later. A few ways you can notify guests are:

Your wedding website: You can seriously make one for FREE like anywhere, so if you don’t have one, make one (if only just to keep people from nightmaring you about your wedding status). As soon as you have your date, update your homepage with something along the lines of “Due to current COVID-19 circumstances, we’re going to celebrate on another date!” And then share said date, timing, and change of venue, if you have one.

Your inner circle:  If you’re going crazy dealing with this postponement and can’t send out a personalized email yourself, then this is the perfect time to enlist your wedding planner, your bridesmaids, your MOH, and all your ride-or-dies. Have them text, call, or email all of your wedding guests and share your new date, along with a link to your website for real-time updates.

Your social channels: Not every couple will feel comfortable sharing all the I Do deets on their social feeds, but Stacey notes that with any “official” correspondence (i.e. change-the-date announcements), an identical social version should go up as well. “For ALL posts we suggest sending out the same change-the-date,” she says, adding, “if you are sending a physical save the date card, just send the digital version of that via email and then also post that digital version on your social media (the order in which you do so is totally up to you).”

Stationery Going Out Should Follow A Cadence, Somewhat…

Most vendors will tell you that code of conduct is nowhere near normal now, because WTAF is happening these days? Stacey and her team at Couture Events say, “You cannot please everyone and they will have to understand that COVID was not your choice and is out of your control. What you can control is what you want to do next.” We’re 100p aligned with their outlook, especially since changing the date costs money—creativity, on the other hand, doesn’t have to cost a thing…

Stacey even suggests that couples take advantage of the time spent at home during quarantine to experiment with sending a cute video in lieu of a traditional change-the-date card. Just try to avoid making something that might land you on our cringiest TikToks list.

PSA for brides: there’s no such thing as wedding etiquette anymore you officially get to do whatever the f*ck you want.

— betchesbrides (@betchesbrides) May 8, 2020

If all of the above sounds a little too informal, or if you want something tangible, e-commerce stationer sites like Minted and Basic Invite are offering a completely curated selection of change-the-date cards. Basic Invite will even handle your mail so that you can avoid going to the post office #socialdistancewin. Just upload your guest list and they’ll print, stuff, and mail your cards directly to your guests. It’s legit so fast and easy, and the looks are luxe and stunning.

If you’ve been working with a custom stationer one-on-one, though, you probably have even more possibilities to put out the good word about your wedding. Plus, you’ll have someone helping you through the pain-in-the-ass process of when to send things, what to send, who to send to, etc.

Here are some general guidelines that Becca Goldberg, girl boss at Suite Paperie, has been following with her clients:

For couples who’ve postponed before invitations were sent: “We’re sending snail-mail change-the-date announcements at the time that the guests would be receiving the invitations (approximately 8-10 weeks out),” Goldberg says. “These can still read ‘formal invitation to follow’ on the bottom, since the guests haven’t received the actual invites yet.”

For couples who sent out invitations, but now need to postpone: “Since time is of the essence, we’re typically sending out an email with ‘formal re-invitation to follow’ to let guests know that they’ll be receiving something else in the mail when it gets closer to the date in 2021.”

Just writing out “re-invitation” makes me cringe, because I know how much invitations can cost. But Goldberg totally gets it, and she hates to imagine making her clients re-up their already-pricy investment. “Some things that we’re doing are digitally printing their invitation on duplex or even triplex paper and giving it the same finish as their original suite (beveled, foiled or painted edges), but at a fraction of the cost of letterpress or foil stamping.”

She adds, “The other thing we’re doing is keeping the additional information online. So, instead of a suite that has a RSVP card and envelope, details card, brunch card, etc, we’re just sending a main invitation and a single insert that sends guests to the couple’s website to RSVP, find new hotel dates, and more.”

For couples whose invitations were printed, but not yet mailed: “These are the trickiest scenarios, where we need to get clever,” she says. “Some couples are opting to reprint their main invitation with the new date, while others are OK with an insert stating the new date.” Goldberg relays that one of her favorite executions of this route involves using an annotated overlay. “We essentially “mark up” the invitation, cross out the old date, and print the new one on a 100% clear transparency that lays over the entire front of the invitation. This is a bit more on the fun side, but we’ve had a few couples go this route, and it’s been very well-received.”

And then when it comes to invitees, here’s who Goldberg says should get the stationery:

For couples with a postponed date (and a wedding of roughly the same size): “Everyone who received the save-the-dates the first go-round should be getting the change-the-date as well,” Goldberg advises.

For couples who want to scale back the celebration altogether: “In some instances, couples are opting to keep their original date, but instead going more intimate, with immediate family only,” she explains. “In this case, of course the change-the-date goes out to only those in the intimate group, but additionally, a follow up wedding or ‘elopement’ announcement should be sent to the rest of the guests. Share a photo and have fun with it, because at the end of the day, this alert really helps to make your friends and family feel connected to an event they were originally invited to in-person!”

And if you still want to save money, stay formal, and get things out f*ckin’ fast, you can always consider a postponement announcement from a place like Paperless Post or Greenvelope.

Paperless Post is rallying hard with the “love is patient” point of view during this COVID crisis, and not only are we obsessed with their dynamic designs, we’re also loving on their well-rounded wedding extras for after the postponement.

“With digital wedding postponement cards, you are able to upload a copy of your email list and send it to your recipient’s inbox in minutes,” reassures Paperless Post. Then, “Once you’ve ironed out a new date, let friends and family know it is time to get together again. You’ll have the option to send out a new design from our online wedding collection or update your postponement announcement with the new event details. If the latter, you can use our follow up tools to send a message to your guests letting them know it’s officially time to RSVP.”

We get it, it’s a lot to postpone your wedding, but if you’re making it through quarantine with your S.O., you’re doing amazing, sweeties… You’ll get through this too!

Images: Unsplash; Basic Invite; Suite Paperie; Greenvelope

Why I’m Glad I Postponed My Wedding

When the entire world shut down back in March, I’ll be honest, my fiancé and I were not concerned at all about our September wedding being affected. We were exactly six months out from our wedding day when quarantine began. I was much more hopeful back then, convinced that my fiancé and I would really get to spend quality time together, finalize some wedding plans, and then all this would be over just in time for our outdoor wedding in Connecticut. 

Fast forward two months later, and not only does March feel like it was 100 years ago, but my fiancé and I have made the tough decision to postpone our wedding to June 2021. After hours of discussion, it became clear that this was the right thing to do for us, and now that it’s done, I actually feel relieved. Here’s why postponing my wedding doesn’t feel like the end of the world like I thought it would. 

I Don’t Wake Up Filled With Anxiety

 

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Well, at least not wedding-related anxiety. When we began our quarantining, I remember saying to my fiancé, “thank God our wedding is in September! It’ll be back to normal by then.” HA, I was so young and naive back then. As time went on and stay-at-home orders lengthened, we realized that this wasn’t something that would go away overnight. When we began to understand how much of a crisis this really was, I began lying awake at night wondering if this would, in fact, impact our wedding. As the weeks went on and we had to cancel our engagement party, my fiancé postponed his bachelor party, and we moved the date of our joint shower, the lead-up to our wedding was becoming more about whether or not it would even happen versus celebrating the fact that it WAS happening. We both hated that what was supposed to be one of the most exciting times in our relationship had been hijacked by anxiety. Since making the decision to postpone, it feels like we’ve taken back control of our day. Now, we can plan confidently, without question and really soak in this (once again) exciting time. 

We Were Able To Get A 2021 Date

When we started talking with my parents about the possibility of postponing, I was very adamant about waiting until July to make the decision. I was worried making this decision in early May was jumping the gun. I kept wondering, “What if things get better by July?” However, my mom was very adamant that we needed to make a decision soon in order to secure a new date. And, as always, my mom was right. When we started calling our vendors to see what kind of availability they had for summer 2021, it was already slim pickings. In addition to all the March, April, and May couples rescheduling, there were couples who’d gotten engaged before and during the pandemic who’d already booked their vendors. We were luckily able to secure the last available June 2021 date that any of my vendors had. Had we waited until July to make the call, we would’ve been sh*t out of luck and would’ve had to wait another two years to get married. And trust me, after two months working, living, eating and breathing in the same one-bedroom apartment, I’m unsure if we would’ve made it to the altar (JK, love you!). 

Vendors Are Being Super Understanding

Another reason I was hesitant to pull the band-aid off and postpone was the headache I thought it would be to reschedule all of our vendors. Since we’re getting married outside, we have a different vendor for everything. From catering to rentals to planners, etc., we had to find a date that worked for 10+ vendors and we were unsure what kind of financial hit it would take on our budget. Would they make us pay another deposit to secure a new date? Would we still have to fork over the money based on our original financial timeline?

Thankfully, right now, vendors are being super accommodating and basically doubling as therapists. From the pep talk I got from our stationery vendor to the reassurance of my hair and makeup artist that this was the right move, everyone has been so kind and considerate. We were able to move everything from one date to the other without extra payment or hassle. They simply updated our contracts and sent them back to us. They’ve made this process so much easier than I expected, and it makes me even more excited to work with them next year. 

People Have Stopped Asking Us What Our Plan Is

“What are you doing about your wedding?” was the new “So when are you getting engaged?” The wave of anger and frustration that came over me when people would ask me that question was reminiscent of when I would be asked about when we were getting engaged. Since I couldn’t necessarily snap back with, “whenever we damn well please” in this instance, I was forced to utter “I don’t know” with a fake smile in an effort to mask the anxiety I was constantly feeling. Now that we’ve set a new date, I don’t get antsy phone calls from family members or friends wondering what they should do about their plane tickets or hotel reservations. That in itself is reason enough to just bite the bullet and reschedule, IMO. 

We Wanted To Have The Wedding We’ve Always Wanted

I know some couples have decided to get married on their original date with a limited number of guests and then plan to have a larger celebration later, and I am all for that. However, for my fiancé and I, we want it all at once. When my parents told us we could keep our original date, but we’d likely have to make some concessions, like getting rid of our raw bar or seating people six feet apart, this picture of what our wedding would look like started to change, and we didn’t want that. We want all of our family and friends on a crowded dance floor, mask-free, without worrying that they’ll get sick if they attend. We didn’t want our older guests having to decide between their health and our day, and that was ultimately what pushed us over the edge. We wanted the day we’d always dreamed of to come to fruition, without any limitations. 

It’s Helped Us Put Things In Perspective

 

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no but seriously there are no rules anymore. Invite who you want, cut who you don’t want.

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Okay, don’t roll your eyes just yet. One thing that was hard for me to wrap my mind around was the fact that on September 12, our original date, we weren’t going to be getting married. I had this date in my mind for so long that I couldn’t move past the idea that it was no longer ours. I said this to my fiancé, to which he replied, “It’s not about the date, it’s about the day.” He talked about how when he pictured our wedding day, it wasn’t about it being on September 12. It was about having it exactly the way we pictured it, whether that’s four months from now or nine or 100. 

It hasn’t been an easy road to get to this place of being happy with our new plan. I never expected this—but since when is life predictable? If you’re considering changing your date, I’d encourage you to do it and get some control back in your life. Yes, it sucks, but I promise you’ll feel much better after you make the decision—which I highly recommend chasing with a bottle of champagne to ease the pain.

Images: Shutterstock; betchesbrides / Instagram