First comes love, then comes coronavirus, then comes the influx of Zoom weddings in 2020. If you’re a human existing on Planet Earth rn, congrats! Life majorly sucks. Jobs, lives, and financial stability are being ripped out from underneath us, and we can’t even have nice things like happy hours or big open bar weddings to alleviate some of that sadness. As more and more couples have had to ditch their original plans and scale wayyy back on their Pinterest-inspired nuptials, technological ceremonies are officially on the rise.
While hosting a virtual affair is one thing, attending a Zoom wedding is a whole other situation. Granted, this is a very new concept so the kinks are still being sorted out, but just like with a traditional in-person ceremony, ensuring you’re not being a d*ck at a streamed wedding is just as important. “Much like an in-person wedding, look to the wedding invite for clues—even if it’s an email invite or a quick text with a Zoom link,” advises Lauren Kay, executive editor of The Knot. That will give you an insight into how to move forward without making your pals more upset than they already are.
But to break it down further, we’re covering what to wear, whether or not to send a gift, and what you should (and shouldn’t do) to be the best Zoom wedding guest possible. Because honestly, if we can’t give our friends their dream weddings, the literal least we can do is not be total pieces of sh*t at their on-screen celebrations.
Do You Give A Gift?
One of the most upsetting parts of this whole “changing your plans” thing (IMO) is the lack of gifts. I love gifts. Everyone loves gifts. So, if events are being canceled or scaled back, there’s a chance gifts are as well, and for some engaged couples, they’re really counting on that blender/bar cart/contribution to their cash fund. Basically, if they’re scaling back and only having a small ceremony/celebration, send them a gift as usual, whether or not you’re actually attending their event.
If they’re having a minimony now and a party later, consider splitting your gift amount in half and giving them something for both occasions, if you can afford it. “I’d recommend giving something now and something later,” advises Kay. Some of the best options for a gift amid the pandemic are things off of their registry that they can use, like board games or a cocktail set so they can practice their mixology skills (or drink their sorrows) at home. “A ‘now’ gift softens the blow of a postponement/virtual ceremony ever so slightly, and what better time to learn a new skill?” notes Kay.
What TF Do You Wear?
View this post on Instagram
remember when our hardest decision was who to invite to our weddings? Now it’s which online streaming platform to use.😫 beautiful lake house corona elopement story submitted by @waverlyrood: “Our big wedding was planned in Savannah for April 18th but we had to postpone due to corona, so we had a tiny ceremony at my groom’s lake house – his brother officiated and just our parents were in attendance & friends over zoom!! We are so happy and can’t wait to celebrate with everyone in September.”
By now, most of us are so used to showing up ugly on video chats, we don’t even think twice about our appearance. Greasy hair, stained pajamas, and pimple cream dotting our faces is the new WFH uniform. While it might seem silly to dress up just to stay home and watch a glitchy ceremony on your laptop screen, the effort you put in will go a long way for the couple. “Check the couple’s wedding website to see if they mention anything about a preferred dress code,” suggests Kay. “When in doubt, air on the celebratory side. Dress as you might have for the postponed celebration—even if it’s only from the waist up.”
Dress to impress, because if all else fails, you’ll at least get to see if you still remember how to put makeup on and can pop off an Instagram where you look somewhat like the former self who used to get dressed and do fun things. If not for love, do it for the likes.
What’s The Tech Etiquette?
“You’re tuning in to celebrate the couple, so keep the focus on them,” reminds Kay. Even though you’re sitting at home and not at a fancy venue, it doesn’t mean all etiquette is out the window. Mute your mic, speak only if asked/when it’s appropriate, respect any requests to avoid photography, and choose a background that fits the theme but isn’t in-your-face. No matter how much the couple likes The Office, this isn’t the time to whip out a picture of Michael Scott. “Find a simple background (think: no distractions) with good lighting so your excitement can be seen by the newlyweds,” suggests Kay.
What Else Do I Need To Know?
“Virtual weddings are still fairly new, so there aren’t any hard and fast rules. That being said, be a good guest—much like you’d be in person,” says Kay. Which is pretty self-explanatory, but just in case you think virtual weddings are an excuse to be an asshole, here’s your official notice: they’re not. “Log on at the designated time and follow any requests of the couple (think: attire, “bring something to toast with us,” etc.). Be attentive and respectful, making your congratulations known to the couple at the appropriate time,” she advises.
While it might seem like this new take on weddings means you get to be less present (or give fewer presents), give your friends the same courtesy they gave you when they shelled out thousands just to hook up with some drunk groomsmen when it was your turn.
There’s no doubt that being engaged right now is hard. While things could certainly be worse, we feel for those brides who have had to postpone or cancel their dream weddings, and who right now, may or may not be sulking on the couch with wine in hand.
I was so stressed during my wedding planning that I literally started a company to help alleviate stress for other brides called Luv Collective. We’re a platform where brides can book wellness experiences for bachelorettes, weddings, and most importantly, for themselves. One of Luv Collective’s offerings is all around bridal therapy, because although we’d rather be a bridechilla, it def takes some help to get there.
But with the global pandemic bringing with it a new kind of wedding stress, we called in Luv Collective’s resident bridal therapist, Landis from AisleTalk, to help learn some tips and tricks on how to handle it. Landis is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) in New York City. She was trained at Columbia University in New York City, earning master’s degrees in counseling psychology and mental health counseling. After working in nonprofits, providing psychotherapy to individuals, couples, and families coping with a wide range of stressful situations and mental health conditions, she realized how stressful navigating the transition of getting married can be, and that she loved helping clients through that particular time in their lives. Once she had that epiphany, she combined her passion for psychology, counseling people through stress, and interest in weddings to inspire wedding therapy as a specific specialty.
What Would You Tell Brides Who Have Had To Postpone Or Cancel Their Wedding?
First of all, I’M SORRY. There is no way around it. No one plans a wedding casually. You picked a time that was significant in the scope of your life planning, you invested money and emotion and energy gearing up for this, and so did everyone around you. This is a completely unexpected interruption, and I want to acknowledge and validate the difficulty in it.
Beyond that, rather than tell you something, I’d want to ask you: how are you feeling about all this?
Along those lines, I’d want to tell brides who’ve had to postpone/cancel: feel your feelings! Don’t let others tell you (implicitly or explicitly) that you don’t deserve to feel that way, and definitely do not judge yourself if you feel sad, disappointed, angry, heartbroken, robbed, defeated, or anything else. And if you don’t feel that bad, that’s okay too!
I’m working with a lot of people on identifying and processing feelings. You can do that with yourself, a professional, or a nonjudgmental friend/family member. Talk about your feelings. Journal them, sing them out—whatever it takes. All of the feelings I mentioned are natural parts of any grieving process. And BTW: Grieving does not only take place in the context of someone dying. It also can happen when we lose something. Like something we had been planning, anticipating, dreaming of, you get the idea. A wedding can absolutely fall in that category, because a wedding is a way we mark a big life transition.
Only when we acknowledge and validate our own difficult feelings can we work toward acceptance. It’s not that we’re happy, but we accept the new normal, and we are able to possibly start making alternate plans. But we can’t get there if we keep judging ourselves for the feelings that come before.
What Can Brides Do To Reduce The Wedding Stress Right Now?
First of all, make sure you have a good support team. Your fiancé, your family, your MOH, your planner, your therapist, etc. They will help you make decisions if you are in a gray area, and will help you cope once you’ve made them if they were hard ones to make.
Shift focus to the tasks you can do remotely now, and save in-person stuff for later. Reorganize those to-do lists. And when you’ve run out of things to do, shift the focus off wedding planning. For most of us, this time is about accepting that we can really only do so much right now.
Use the extended timeline to work on things you might not have had time for before. Wedding therapy can be helpful for this—maybe quarantine is bringing up old relationship wounds or family stress. Maybe you’ve been wanting to develop a meditation practice, try a new exercise, or perfect your skin care routine! In a time of feeling so globally out of control, focus on some small things you can control.
What Is One Thing Every Bride Should Know About Wedding Planning?
It doesn’t last forever. Whether it’s an exciting time for you or a challenging time or both. It’s a relatively short period of time in your life, so if you can remind yourself that it’s only temporary, you might be able to enjoy some parts of it, while knowing that the less enjoyable parts won’t last forever.
Images: Gus Ruballo / Unsplash; Betches / Youtube