Mistakes That Will Kill The Vibe Of Your Wedding, According To A Wedding Singer

As the lead singer in a New York City wedding band for over a decade, I have learned a thing or two about what makes—and what breaks—a bomb wedding reception. When a bride and groom hire my band, it is quite literally my job to make the most important night of your life an absolute blast and keep your friends and family reminiscing about it for years to come, and that is something I take very seriously.

While I CAN control the quality of music being played, many things are out of my control that can mess up the party vibes, but after enough time seeing the same things, I’m here to tell you to do and what not do to ensure your wedding doesn’t suck.

1. Make Sure The Dance Floor Is Near The Bar

When choosing a venue, this is key. How far is the dance floor from the source of alcohol? Think of the bar as the “kitchen” of your wedding venue. When you’re throwing a house party, people tend to congregate in the kitchen, so the same logic applies at your wedding. One night my band and I did a wedding where the bar was in a completely different room. People were waiting for their drinks at the bar and stayed there. They couldn’t even see the band, let alone hear the music, and the dance floor was essentially empty the entire time. Not everyone will cut a rug on the dance floor, but even if they don’t, they are at least congregating around the dance floor and part of the party. When you separate the bar and the dance floor, you are essentially ruining the opportunity to throw a banging dance party by dividing your guests.

2. Rethink Having A Dessert Buffet And Opt For Passed Desserts

Ahh, the dreaded dessert buffet. As a wedding singer, this is a massive nail in the metaphorical coffin of your dance party. There is nothing worse than having a jam-packed dance floor, only for the dessert bar to cause a mass exodus and completely ruin the last bit of your reception. Everyone lines up (usually in another room) to eat dessert and might be too full to return to the dance floor. The party ends, and instead of going out with a bang, your big night ends with many people sitting around in a food coma. Womp, womp.

Instead, opt for dessert hors d’oeuvres like mini cupcakes or ice cream cones that can be passed on the dance floor to keep your party intact. Don’t leave that dance floor… deserted. Muahaha.

3. Don’t Stop The Party To Cut The Cake

For the love of God, please do not stop the party to cut the cake. Once the alcohol starts to hit and you have the energy right where you want it on the dance floor, there is no greater buzzkill than stopping the music so everyone can watch you cut a piece of cake. People go off to the bathroom, sit down to rest, and the dance floor is now empty. Perhaps make an announcement for Grandma who would like to witness the special moment, but it’s simply not worth killing the vibe of the party.

4. Don’t Try To Dictate The Playlist And Let The Band Read The Crowd

I’ve dealt with plenty of bridezillas who essentially handed us a curated setlist, and they NEVER work. An experienced wedding band or DJ knows what they’re doing, and it’s best to let them do it. Some songs you love may be great for vibing out in the car but simply don’t work on a dance floor. Also, we know how to read a crowd to figure out what kind of music is bringing the energy for your guests in particular.

I have also been in a situation where the bride requested some disco music for the older crowd. We played a disco song, and tumbleweed started rolling through the dance floor. When we switched back to 90s hip-hop, the crowd was back in action. We will undoubtedly honor any specific requests you have, but keeping the dance floor pumping is our first priority and should be yours too. If oldies music isn’t quite doing it for anyone, have it played during dinner and let us decide what works for the prime party hours.

5. Don’t Have Too Many Speeches, And Make Sure They Are Under 4 Minutes

In my 10 years as a wedding singer, I have seen many speeches. NOTHING kills a buzz like a speech that goes on too long or too many speeches. You may think your MOH getting on the mic to tell everyone about how much fun you had at the sorority house, along with every fucking inside joke, is cute, but the truth is, no one cares. Have her write you a letter and keep the speeches short and sweet. The Gettysburg address was under two minutes. Don’t waste precious party time on boring speeches.

Happy planning!

The Ranking Of Which Bridesmaids Will Get The Most Drunk At Your Wedding

First comes love, then comes planning a wedding, then comes hoping none of your bridesmaids throw up in the middle of the dance floor before you cut the cake. Granted, there are a few other checklist items in between there, but when it comes to selecting your bridal party, figuring out which of your bridesmaids is going to get the most shitfaced is fun at best and essential at worst. I don’t know about you, but last I checked, getting sophomore spring break level of drunk wasn’t exactly part of the bridal party job description.

Still, that hasn’t stopped many (myself included) from getting super schwasty while wearing a matching gown. And depending on the type of wedding you have, there’s a good chance your day will be full of booze from morning to grand exit (or at least, it should be). Typically, wedding days begin with everyone waking up before the crack of dawn to get their makeup done, complaining about the fact that they’re going to look like shit by the time the actual ceremony starts (“It doesn’t fucking matter, Becky! It’s not your day!!!”). And if you plan to have a chill celebration that doesn’t involve murdering your childhood best friend for asking the hairdresser to redo her curls three times, mimosas are probably in order.

From there it’s just a parade of drinking, and with all that unlimited alcohol, odds are more than one of your bridesmaids is going to end up with their heads in the toilet before the night is up. But knowing who’s going to get plastered before the cake cutting and who’s going to hold it together long enough to help you bustle your dress is essential. From most likely to stay sober to most likely to vom, here’s how your bridal party members will likely stack up against the open bar. 

Your Pregnant Friend

Shay Mitchell, with a visible bump, wearing a nude dress behind a sparkly background, looks at a pregnancy test and exclaims "I'm pregnant!"

This one is a no-brainer because rumor has it alchy and pregnancy doesn’t mix (and by “rumor” I mean science). Depending on how long it’s been since you asked your bridal party to be a part of the big day, this pal probably got knocked up after they agreed to be a bridesmaid. Typically, they’d fall into one of the below categories, but thanks to the party-ruiner growing inside of them, they’re gonna be stuck nursing soda water with their feet up while you dance. At least you can count on her to tell you all what dumb shit you did at the afterparty.

Your ~Perfect~ Friend

Rose Byrne in Bridesmaids giving a speech

Everyone’s got that one friend who’s just… better than everyone else. Group trip? The Airbnb’s on her card. Going to dinner? She made the reservation. And ordered the Uber. And sent everyone a Splitwise link for the itemized bill before the waiter could even run her card. As soon as you got engaged she ordered planning books and created a shared Excel sheet to help you track your budget. Whether she’s an event planner, a data analyst, or just a Google doc-obsessed Type A, this girl isn’t gonna let it slip on your big day. 

Even though she’s probably the one who poured the morning mimosas and made sure the to-be-popped champagne was on ice, she was too busy making sure everyone else was taken care of to really pound ’em back. It wasn’t until after the dinner that she had her first real drink, and even then, it was Pinot Grigio so it basically doesn’t count. Whether you love her or you just keep her around because she reminds you that you need to get routine dental checkups, you can count on her to keep her shit on lock until your marriage license is mailed off and your shitty friends are no longer dry heaving. 

Your Just Engaged Friend

Monica Geller screams "I'm engaged" from her balcony

With hearts in her eyes and a sparkly ring that hasn’t yet been insured on her finger, your just engaged friend doesn’t yet know the stress of wedding planning. She’s still in that whimsical “I can’t believe I have a fiancé(e)” stage, which means she’s actually happy for you and isn’t drunkenly nitpicking every little thing about your wedding. She’s just happily sipping your signature cocktail and whispering “this is gonna be us” to her S.O. 

Without any weird competitiveness, this blissed-out bridesmaid will be too busy telling everyone she’s engaged and making out with her plus-one to get too wasted. While she’ll for sure be tipsy by the time you head up to your hotel rooms, her endless wedding chatter and mental note-taking will stop her from aggressively taking shots. Awww, to be in love!

Your Teacher Friend

teacher pouring liquid from beaker into wine glass

In addition to crafting, curating snacks, and shaping the minds of the future generation, teacher friends (or at least, all of mine) are secretly certified pros when it comes to downing liquor. Maybe it’s because they get out of work in time for happy hour, or it could be that they’ve perfected the art of powering through an early morning hangover. Whatever it is, teach knows how to party, and she’s absolutely going to be hitting the bar hard on your big day. 

Even though she’s going to have a wine glass surgically attached to her hand all night, the good news is your teacher pal probably knows how to hold it together until she at least makes it to her hotel room… especially because she’s got a stash of granola bars in her purse she can munch on before she starts getting too messy. 10/10 she’ll be rocking some oversized sunnies and a hat at your farewell brunch the next morning, but at this point, rallying is pretty much a part of her morning routine. 

Your Work Friend

Dwight and Michael from The Office raising the roof

This is likely the friend you’ve known the least amount of time, but since you see her every GD day at work, it felt sort of weird to not include her in your party. Now that she’s surrounded by your childhood, high school, and college besties, the fact that your relationship is based around memes sent in Slack might be starting to sink in. For her, at least. 

Whether she stacks up to the rest of your crew or not, your work wife is bound to toss back the extra drink or two to feel a little looser when chatting with your sorority big. And then a few more drinks when talking with your “we’ve known each other since diapers” friend. And another when your maid of honor calls her Lauren instead of Laura.

Sure, you’ve had your fair share of girl’s nights where you gossiped about Dana from accounting, but this is a whole different beast. While she might not spend the night sleeping on the bathroom floor, there’s a 0% chance she won’t wake up in the morning with a visceral need for some coffee, ibuprofen, and an Egg McMuffin. Don’t tell HR, but you can expect some sloppy dancing and multiple ass slaps from this one throughout the evening. 

Your “Why Aren’t I Engaged Yet” Friend

Jennifer Anniston as Rachel Green sitting on a lounge chair saying "being alone sucks"

Whether she’s just out of a relationship or has been single since grade school, there’s always that one friend in your group who low-key feels like it’s a personal affront that anyone is allowed to get married before her. Throughout your wedding planning process, she made it clear what type of dress she would wear (strapless), what type of venue she’d choose (castle, obvi), and what color dresses her bridesmaids would wear (the same color as yours, of course). And the fact that you expect her to show up to your wedding while she’s still sans ring means one thing and one thing only: She’s about to get druuuunk. 

From extra mimosas in the morning to sips from a flask during pictures, her goal is to get fucked up and make out with someone off-limits, preferably while you’re having your first dance. There’s no way she’ll make it to the end of the night without crying or going home with a groomsman, so you might as well just sit back and watch the drama unfold. At least you can take it as a free pass to black out if she ever actually makes it down the aisle.

Your Just-Had-A-Baby Friend

Kristen Bell saying "I gotta pump and dump" into a microphone

This friend has been downing ginger ale, waddling to the bathroom, and icing her ankles for the duration of your engagement. Now that the baby’s out and a sitter’s in place, you know your new mom friend is gonna get lit. Between her now low tolerance and the fact that she hasn’t worn real clothes in over a year, this bridesmaid is going to be topping the charts in terms of drunkenness. After one morning mimosa, she’ll already be grooving, and by the time cocktail hour rolls around, she’s gonna ditch her baby monitor app for the front-facing camera so she can snap a shitton of drunk selfies. 

Assuming baby’s got overnight care in place, your recently popped pal will be trying to flash everyone with her milk-filled boobs before the last dance… and will feel like she’s back in her first trimester morning sickness phase by morning. What can I say? Momma’s been without her juice for nine months. She’s pumping and dumping tonight. 

Your Just Married Friend

Kim Kardashian saying to Kris Humphries "how crazy is it that we're married now?"

If you’re getting married in your 20s or early 30s, you’ll probably have a friend or two who’s saying “I do” around the same time. And when it’s finally your turn to walk down the aisle, no one’s going to feel quite as many emotions as your just married friend. Not only is she comparing every single detail of your wedding to hers, but she’s doing it with a very strong drink in her hand.

Whether she’s exhausted and elated that she survived her day or she’s feeling envious and sad as the wedding blues hit, the other Mrs. is going to be hitting the bar extra hard at your celebration. The attention is officially off of her and now that her time is up, she’s sort of at a loss about what’s next. Which means, of course, she’ll drink. And drink. And drink and drink and drink. Now that she’s no longer the bride, she’ll be looking for a distraction, hence the double shots, the drunk tears on the dance floor, and ghosting in fury before the lights come up because you used the same entrance song as her. Rude, btw.  

Your MOH

No two maids of honor are the same, but whether she was super hands-on or kinda slacked, there’s a good chance this bestie is delighted your big day is here if only to be freed from her duties. From the events to the “hey ladies” emails to putting up with your endless requests for validation, she’s been ready to block your number for the last few weeks. And now that the end is finally here, she feels the need to celebrate and celebrate hard. It’s like she just got her life back. What do you expect? Her to stay sober?

The only saving grace here is that she’ll at least keep it semi-dignified until after her speech because even the sh*ttiest MOH doesn’t want to embarrass herself in front of a room of well-dressed strangers. But once her toast is up, all bets are off. Good luck getting her attention because she’ll be mainlining vodka and avoiding eye contact so you don’t make her dance with your creepy uncle. If anyone’s ending the night face first in the bathroom covered in saltine cracker crumbs, it’s this bitch. Just try not to make any sudden movements at brunch—she’s probably still seeing double.

Here’s to hoping you picked your VIPs wisely because if not, you might be demoting a few besties by morning. In their defense, after everything you put them through this past year, a whole bunch of sh*tfaced bridesmaids seems like a pretty fair trade for a happily ever after.

Images:  Gift Habeshaw  / Unsplash; Giphy

How To Avoid Wedding Planning Burnout (Even If Your Big Day Is Postponed Three Times)

I have bad news. If you already feel like at any given moment, there is some semblance of wedding content in your field of vision… it’s about to get much worse. You’re probably well aware of this if you’re planning a wedding and have already dealt with vendors as panic-stricken as Kris Jenner must have been after Kim Kardashian’s first public sighting with Pete Davidson, but experts are forecasting that 2022 is probably going to be “the biggest year in the wedding industry.” Your social calendar is about to be as packed as the front of your refrigerator is with save the dates and “we changed the date!” cards. 

According to Brides, the average length of an engagement is between 12 and 18 months… but obviously, that’s not the case when you have to move your wedding due to a global pandemic, or can’t find a venue in your budget that can accommodate a date within a year of your engagement because we’re living in the middle of the most chaotic time for weddings. Although a longer engagement gives you more time to save up for the big day (and finally craft the perfect answer to unsolicited wedding advice), it’s also kind of the perfect storm for anyone who’s a little indecisive or hoping to have a really unique wedding. If you only have a year to get your shit together, you probably don’t have time to replan the elements that you’ve seen on someone else’s Instagram just so it doesn’t look like you’re having the same wedding as everyone else. But if you have two years or more… it can easily start to get messy. When you’re working with a longer engagement, there’s a very real struggle between wanting to jump on wedding planning so you can really utilize that time well and holding off in case trends change, you get bored of the choices you’ve made, or you happen to see some girl from high school post sweetheart table decor that looks exactly like what you wanted, and now you have to start the whole thing from scratch. 

It’s kind of like how if you find yourself with some extra time to get ready before going out, you should get TF out of the bathroom as soon as you’re finished with your makeup. You know if you stay in there too long, you’re going to end up with winged eyeliner fit for an Amy Winehouse Halloween costume. With unlimited access to more wedding inspo than anyone could ever need and a timeline long enough to plan an Olympic opening ceremony, it’s easy to go overboard. So how do you plan a wedding with a long lead time without spending tens of thousands of dollars on stuff that will likely be deemed cheugy by the time you walk down the aisle? Step away from the toxic bridal Facebook groups you’re addicted to, because I tapped some experts for some actually helpful advice. 

Know Which Traditional Planning Advice To Ditch

The internet is full of traditional wedding planning timelines and advice that has been used for decades, but there’s really no reason to get hung up on that if it just straight up does not work for you. For example, typical etiquette suggests sending out your save the dates six to eight months ahead of your ceremony, but it might help to get them out sooner. Jen Campbell, the Editor and Creative Director of Green Wedding Shoes, says it’s now best to send them out as soon as you can. “With so many weddings happening in 2022 (over 2.5 million weddings are expected next year!), you want to make sure your guests will be able to say yes to your date.” 

Grill Your Vendors

JK, JK. Be nice to your vendors! But before you set anything in stone, make sure you’re really aware of what you’re signing up for, and ask important questions upfront. “I definitely recommend finding out the cancelation policy,” says Campbell. “This is one big thing we all learned in 2020… make sure you understand the contract!” 

Beyond cancelation, it’s also helpful to know what your vendors will have planned for the day of. “At this point, we have so many more protocols in place to safely gather. Plus, finding available wedding dates, venues, and vendors is significantly harder to come by, so once you’ve locked in your wedding date and venue, do your best to keep it!” explains Julie Lindenman Jervis of Julie Lindenman Events. (Yup, the creative genius behind the gorgeous nuptials of Kyle Cooke and Amanda Batula from Summer House.) “Ask vendors what COVID clauses are in their contract and what their cancelation policies are. Read your contracts thoroughly! In terms of food and beverage, ask what health protocols are being followed during live events for your guests. The safer everyone feels, the bigger the party!” 

Take A Little Break

I don’t know who needs to hear this… but you don’t have to be doing something wedding-related at every waking moment in the time leading up to your wedding. (It’s me. I, a girl who is still trying to lock down a venue but can’t stop scrolling through bridal gowns, need to hear this.) 

“If planning with a longer lead time, lock in all of your important vendors early, and then take a breather if needed,” says Lindenman Jervis. “Planning straight for two years is a lot, that’s why one-year engagements were the norm for so long!” 

If you’re feeling antsy and just can’t wait to get married, you can also tie the knot before the big day. “I’ve also heard from lots of couples that eloping or getting married beforehand eased a lot of their stress and worry. If that’s your style, head to city hall and make it official before throwing a party! It might relieve some pressure and remind you why you’re doing this to begin with.” 

Add A Little Spice To Trends You Love

Here’s the thing: if it’s all over Pinterest… it’s probably already overdone. Sorry about it. “If you still love that trend, still go for it! It’s your day, so you should have a day you love. But try to put your own spin on the trend so it feels like the two of you, and like something your guests haven’t seen before,” suggests Campbell. So no, you don’t have to let go of your neon sign obsession just because every wedding on your timeline has had one. Maybe instead of lighting up your new last name, you can switch it up with a saying or lyrics that are special to you. 

“If you still love that trend, who cares?! It’s your day and you should plan a wedding you both love!” Campbell continues. “I always recommend finding inspiration on social media, but make sure your wedding speaks to the both of you. If you love giant dried palms, and that is the trend now, go for it! It’s your day.” 

Have A Few Seating Options Ready To Go

Ah, the dreaded guest list. With venue capacities, guests getting invited to literally millions of weddings, and the COVID uncertainty of it all… it’s probably a good idea to gear up for the mess that will be creating a seating plan. 

“Couples seem to revisit their guest list more than usual now. We’re still dealing with so many unknowns, so it’s much harder to predict response rates before those RSVPs roll in,” says Lindenman Jervis. “As a result, seating can be more challenging. Plan for your ideal scenario and have a few back ups ready with your planner.” 

Say Yes (And Then No Thank You) To The Dress

If you’ve spoken to any brides who have seemingly been planning since Vine was still around, you probably know that something that happens when you’ve been working on your wedding for the gestational period of an elephant is that you may start to get tired of your dress. There’s so much pressure to know that the gown you’ve chosen is *the one*, but according to Campbell, it’s not that deep. 

“If you aren’t truly loving your dress, I would recommend getting a new one,” she says. “You can sell the dress you didn’t wear on a resale site and hopefully get most of the money back. You should LOVE what you wear for your wedding day.” 

If reselling isn’t something you’d like to take on (if you’ve ever gone through the fresh hell of selling something on Poshmark, I see you and I hear you), there are other options. “Can you alter it to make it something you love? I also love the trend of a second reception dress,” added Campbell. 

Whatever happens, try to remember that the point of wedding planning is to… plan a wedding. Not to outdo every wedding that has gone down in the history of the world. Obviously, it’s never great to feel lame, but if you still go hard for middle parts and skinny jeans, you can probably live with the knowledge that your wedding was full of stuff you love (even if it wasn’t totally innovative).

Image: Brooke Cagle / Unsplash

If You Wear Kendall’s Look To My Wedding, We’re No Longer Friends

Last week, Kendall Jenner took part in super mundane normal people things by attending her best friend Lauren Perez’ star-studded Miami Beach wedding as a bridesmaid, alongside bestie Bella Hadid. Only, rather than posting any evidence alongside the bride wearing a travesty of a bridesmaid gown, Kendall donned a not-so-mundane $1,450 diamond cutout maxi dress from New York-based brand Mônot. 

She documented the lavish event by posting photos of her drop-dead flawless physique in a series of bathroom mirror selfies alongside Hailey Bieber, who attended as a guest and was clearly informed about the attire being “beach formal wedding” and not “VMA after-party”. Naturally, Twitter erupted into a firestorm of ‘how dare she?!’ reactions, ranging from “blocked” to “Kendall really just said F you to her best friend on her wedding day.”

Kendall Jenner really said F you to her best friend on her wedding day pic.twitter.com/MGo0w8al9h

— Eleanore Hutch (@elehutch) November 12, 2021

Look, I know the Florida humidity is no match for fresh curls, sticky boobs, or basically any article of clothing heavier than single-ply rayon, but not even in the most swamp-assy climate should a wedding guest wear less material than Kylie’s crappy swimline. I guarantee you nowhere on The Knot does cut-out cloth constitute “beach formal”. Personally, I would’ve rather had Kendall show up to my wedding in custom ivory Vera Wang couture. 

Not only did Kendall probably cause more heads to turn than the bride’s own grand entrance, but prior to documenting her bold look, she appropriately donned a strapless baby blue BEC + BRIDGE dress while walking down the aisle, which should’ve been the only dress she wore all night. Isn’t it the first rule of Bridesmaiding 101 when signing your rights life away for half a year, to wear that frameless blush chiffon gown all night until your armpits are raw with third-degree burns?!

Also, if a friend, let alone my own bridesmaid, ever decided to do an outfit change during my nuptials, I would probably throw perfectly manicured hands. The only wedding attendee who should be partaking in multiple outfit changes is the bride herself (if that). 

As this story continued to make headlines, it was reported that Kendall actually swapped styles during the wedding reception, which looked like it was held at a Miami nightclub, so I guess the Fashion Nova vibes make sense, but isn’t it already enough of an attention-grab just being Kendall Jenner? The only second look my bridesmaids debuted during my dive bar after-party were sweatpants, messy buns, and remnants of smeared eyelash glue. 

Don’t get me wrong, as a wedding guest, I find joy in arriving in a subtly sexy ensemble and looking hotter than the bridesmaids sweating in their puffy sleeves, but let’s talk about practicality for a sec. Kendall’s dress would never pass the very first test every girl asks themselves when shopping for wedding guest dresses: “Will this dress allow me to get low on the dance floor?” 

I’d be willing to bet Kendall was unable to participate during “Thriller” or “The Electric Slide” and it truly pains me to think of such a tragedy. She’d be lucky if she can successfully complete “The Macarena” without an areola playing a game of Peek-A-Boo, but I don’t even want to think about the nightmare that would’ve ensued during “Shout”. On that note, if Kendall even dared to participate in the bouquet toss, things would’ve gone from zero to OnlyFans quicker than you can say “Single Ladies”.

But who am I kidding? If I had any self-control and a body like that, I’d probably wear the shit out of Kendall’s dress to my best friend’s wedding. Sue me.

Images: elehutch / Twitter; Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic / Getty Images

The Wedding Favors Nobody Actually Wants

I think the strangest thing about being in your early twenties, beyond the Sunday Scaries and unexplainable joint pain, is the number of weddings you get invited to. I’m not sure why I’m surprised—I’m a woman in my early twenties that went to a private college in the South—but I am absolutely perplexed by the fact that people my age are partaking in a very permanent and, depending on how you look at it, divine, institution. Maybe it’s because the internet algorithms know this about me and have a sick sense of humor, but I’ve somehow wound up deep in the trenches of WeddingTok. Although unexpected, I’m absolutely fascinated by the delicate minutiae of toxic mother-in-law management, appetizer tastings, bridal party elections, and reckoning with the aggressively patriarchal origins of some of the most beloved wedding traditions. 

After making myself at home on WeddingTok, I’ve found that a bride will forget very little, but one thing that seems to get hardly any attention is the importance of the wedding favor. It’s the final bow, the last thing your guests will remember—yet the trendiest favors are the ones that nobody, and I mean nobody, actually wants. The older I get, the less patience and bandwidth I have for junk, and I think I speak for everyone when I say yes, a koozie with you and your spouse’s face on it is indeed junk. 

Don’t get me wrong, your wedding is all about you, a celebration of the magnificent feat you’ve pulled off in finding someone that doesn’t absolutely repulse you. Which is why I’ll push through the small talk at cocktail hour, the cheesy bridesmaid speeches, even the inevitable runthrough of the Cupid Shuffle that gives me flashbacks to field day in middle school P.E. But the party favor is the one thing that is about me, the guest, what I will like, what will remind me of your joyful wedded bliss—but more importantly, that I can also enjoy objectively long after the night is over. 

As a child of divorce who’s never been in a serious relationship and corrects men’s grammar on dating apps for sport, it’s fairly obvious I am the last person that should be sharing my opinion on anything wedding or marriage related, which is why I asked wedding planner extraordinaire-turned-dating-TikToker Chelsey Lance about the worst of the worst she’s seen when it comes to wedding favors, and what is proven to be a hit among your guests. 

Before she made a name for herself on TikTok sharing hilariously candid dating stories from the dispatches of being a single twentysomething in Charlotte, North Carolina, Chelsey ran an award winning wedding and design firm that she launched at the age of 25. From a 60s retro fête to a tarot themed wedding where the bride wore all black, Chelsey’s seen it all, and she’s sharing some of her expertise so that you don’t have to see any abandoned favors on venue tabletops. 

Bottle Openers 

“You would think this functional favor would be a hit, but I think they are usually a miss,” Lance says. Because a bottle opener is really only something each couple or family needs one of, lots of them end up left behind on the tables. However, they still have potential when executed properly. “This could be a cool thing to add into a welcome package, alongside a bottled, refreshing drink that needs an opener,” she offers.

Matchbooks

You probably saw this idea and immediately thought about all the pun potential, like how you two are the perfect match or that you found the light of your life. However, it may not be as big of a hit as you think. “Most of the custom matchbook options are made out of flimsy cardboard, and couples almost always over-order. I will never have to buy matches again due to the hundreds of leftover matchbooks that I’ve been gifted from clients!”  

Koozies

“Ok, so this is the pumpkin spice latte of favors,” Lance says. She admits that when people first started giving these out in 2012, “they were amazing,” adding, “I filled up an entire drawer in my kitchen with them!” 

If you’ve already ordered your custom koozies, don’t freak. “I think having a small amount of koozies at the bar, for those that want them, is a great touch,” Lance says, adding, “But having it serve as the overall favor isn’t personally not my favorite—it just isn’t very exciting.” I think I speak for the masses on this one—even though I love a good White Claw as much as the next girl, I don’t think I’ll ever have enough cold drinks in my days on this Earth to  justify the amount of koozies I’ve been sent home with after a wedding—or any party, for that matter. If you really want them to be enjoyed in earnest, sprinkle them around and let the select few who want them take them home. 

When it comes to the favors your guests will never forget, Lance says opting for anything edible and individually wrapped is best. “Most of my clients chose stunning custom cookies with royal icing. We would take design elements from their invitation suite or table linens and get that drawn onto cookies. By incorporating other visual elements from the wedding, it shows a very high level of detail, and it’s always highly regarded by the guests who notice.” 

Although I can in no way empathize with the bridal experience, let me serve as a sort of focus group. Your wedding is all about you and your spouse, sure. But, there’s at least just a little bit of ego involved—I know every bride wants to throw a party that their guests will never forget. So let the last moment your guests are left with be a good one and opt for something edible, cute, and easily stuffed in a purse or clutch for later. And I beg you, if you’re going to choose something your guests take home, don’t put your initials or, even worse, your faces on it… unless you want to see it on the shelf at your local Goodwill six months later.

Image: Vladimir Tsarkov /Stocksy.com

How To Make Your Sister’s Wedding About You

After a year of putting wedding plans on hold, brides everywhere are finally ready to dust off their dresses and take that walk down the aisle. And while nuptial celebrations these days might look a little different, there are still time-honored traditions that you can uphold without violating CDC guidelines, like stealing the spotlight from your sister, the bride. Considering that she stole your senior year prom date (and your parents’ affection from the moment she was born) she definitely has it coming. Since the most important day in a woman’s life is the day her younger sister gets married before her, we created a step-by-step guide to help you make your little sister’s wedding all about you. 

Step 1: The Headpiece

Now, the most obvious way to upstage your sister on her wedding day would be to wear white, but since you’re her maid of honor (if she knows what’s good for her), and therefore already have an assigned dress, you’ll have to take a subtler, less cliche approach. Insist on wearing a headpiece! Whether you end up with a flower crown, a tiara, or even a veil—it doesn’t matter, as long as you threw a tantrum at a David’s Bridal along the way. 

Step 2: The Dress

According to Heteronormative Brides Weekly, most brides have been dreaming about their wedding dresses since they were little girls. But it’s not about what makes the bride feel beautiful on the most important day of her life, it’s about what you want, so be sure to let your opinions be heard! If there was ever a time to throw shade, it’s now, so be sure to make a snide remark about whatever dress she chooses. Remember, you want that comment to linger in the back of her mind all night long! Here are some examples of what to say when your sis says yes to the dress:

“No, I like it too! I mean, you wouldn’t want to upstage the groom.” 

“If you love it, we will learn to love it.”

“I just think your skin is too pasty to pull off lace, but what do I know?” 

“If YOU think you look good, then that’s all that matters!” 

“It’s so brave of you to go strapless!” 

Step 3: The Date

Bring your sister’s ex as your plus-one and then gaslight your family into thinking that that’s not inappropriate. “Why would it be weird? Brian and I have always been close. He’s practically family!” 

Step 4: The Borrowing

Traditionally, no bride’s outfit is complete without something borrowed, and since your sister has been borrowing your stuff since the 90s, this is the perfect opportunity for you to re-insert yourself into the spotlight. The plan? Lend your sister your diamond tennis bracelet, or something equally flashy and expensive, and then bring it up incessantly. After all, your sister’s wrist looks beautiful today because of your generosity, and you deserve credit for that. When Aunt Judy says your sister looks beautiful? Mention the bracelet. When they cut the cake? Mention the bracelet. When you give your speech? Mention the bracelet! Hell, you can even stir up some sisterly drama while you’re at it with a comment like, “You better not wreck my bracelet, like you did my car in high school.” Passive-aggressive is the new black! 

Step 5: The Speech

While we’re on the topic, the wedding speech is the one moment where everyone at the wedding will FINALLY be paying attention to you, so you’ll need to milk it for all it’s worth. This is your Super Bowl. My advice? Cry an inappropriate amount. Like, way too much… 

Once you’ve succeeded in making all of the guests and groomsmen uncomfortable, proceed to tell an embarrassing story about your sister from her slutty college days and incorporate as many of her ex-boyfriends as you possibly can. It doesn’t matter what story you tell as long as it makes your sister look like a drunken, hot mess. “Good thing that dress is off-white, right sis?” If her in-laws aren’t googling “annulment” by the end of your speech, you did it wrong. Also, if you had Covid over the past year, definitely mention it. This is your special day, after all, you deserve all the attention you can get. 

Step 6: The Dinner

You’ve most likely been drinking on an empty stomach all day long, so by the time dinner rolls around you should have just enough drunken confidence to feign an allergy to an obscure ingredient on the menu! Pretend to have a scratchy throat as you walk around telling guests that your sister doesn’t care about your coriander allergy because she’s a self-absorbed bitch! Leave her guests wondering, “is the maid of honor slurring her words because she’s drunk or because she’s going into anaphylactic shock?” 

Step 7: The Dance

Choreograph a dance and dedicate it to your sister. Blow her guests away with an overly sexualized interpretive hip-hop performance about sisterhood and ultimately, marriage. Guests and in-laws will be too busy talking about what a freak you are that nobody will be paying attention to your sister! Score! Totally worth it! 

Step 8: The Bouquet

After a long day of champagne and sabotage, you might think it’s finally time to just relax and enjoy the reception that totally should have been yours. That’s where you’d be wrong. The biggest part of your night is still ahead of you: the tossing of the bouquet. For centuries, the tossing and subsequent catching of the bouquet has been considered good luck, and superstition tells us that whoever catches the bouquet will be the next to wed. Considering that this should have been your wedding to begin with, you need to catch the bouquet AT ALL COSTS. I don’t care how many grandmas, flower girls, or bridesmaids you have to hip check to make it happen. This is not the time to show mercy, this is the time to take out your aggression about your sister getting married before you on all the single women in the room. Take. No. Prisoners. 

Step 9: The Hail Mary

If you tried steps 1-8 but were still unable to upstage the bride, then there’s one more trick you can pull out of your taffeta sleeve, but it’s not for those with a weak stomach. Seduce the groom. Just kidding! Unless he’s hot… then use your own discretion, girl. If that doesn’t work, make sure you get proposed to. Doesn’t matter by whom.

Well, there ya have it, ladies! My tips and tricks that are guaranteed to make you the star of your sister’s wedding. Join us next week to learn How To Steal the Spotlight at Your Niece’s Bat Mitzvah!

Image: Leah Flores / Stocksy.com

How To Get Ready At Home For Your Corona Wedding

Once upon a time, getting ready for a wedding (whether or not it was your own) meant endless salon trips and overpriced beauty treatments. As COVID-19 changed literally everything to do with modern celebrations, it makes sense that the global pandemic would royally f*ck up a bride’s beauty plan. While some salons have reopened, that doesn’t mean all brides have the option to go about the traditional pre-wedding glamming ritual. Whether your finances are all out of whack thanks to lost wages or you’re in a position (whether physically or morally) where you don’t want to risk spreading the virus, you’re probably wondering how tf you can still feel like a plucked, pruned, and polished bride the day of.

As someone who hated leaving her home even before the pandemic hit, I’m here to tell you that it’s totally possible to indulge in some hardcore beauty prep before the big day without ever setting foot outside your door. From teeth whitening to manicures, self-tanners to Botox, you can make all of them happen from home (yes, even the Botox). While it might not seem as glamorous as the prep plan you had back when the world wasn’t a dumpster fire, just think: If you film the process as you get ready, that’s content for TikTok.

Teeth Whitening

Myth: You have to be an influencer-level #girlboss to utilize teeth whitening kits. While they are the bread and butter of sellouts on Instagram, a teeth whitening kit is an easy way to up your look without doing things like exercising or leaving your house. Some kits take a few days while others take 30, so time it out to ensure your best results line up with the big day. A kit like Colgate’s version of those IG LED light whiteners is a great option since it only takes 10 days, you only have to use it for 10 minutes a day, and it doesn’t cause sensitivity like a lot of other products/strips do.

Colgate Optic White At-Home Teeth Whitening Kit

If you’d rather go the most classic route, these Crest Whitestrips have over 15K reviews on Amazon (with a majority of them being positive). Just make sure to use toothpaste for sensitivity during treatment to avoid discomfort if you’re not down for the whole “beauty is pain” thing. 

Crest 3D White Professional Effects Whitestrips

Waxing

If you feel the need to ditch the razor to eliminate any cuts or bumps on the big day (still, as someone who shaved hunched over in the shower, painfully hungover the morning or her wedding, it’s really nbd), waxing a few days before your wedding will ensure you’re stubble-free for your wedding night. For smaller areas (like the lip, fingers, toes, and even brows), simple wax strips will get the job done. Opt for something created for sensitive skin like these strips which are dermatologically tested, hypoallergenic, cruelty-free, and cheaper than bottomless brunch. 

TOPNaturePlus Hair Removal Wax Strips

If you’re looking to do larger areas like your legs, arms, or your (peace be with you) bikini area, depilatory wax (aka what the salon uses) is the answer. To make things simpler, a hard wax kit that doesn’t involve strips streamlines the process. This kit from Amazon is $35 and works like a charm. Just know that it will take much longer than however long you would spend shaving in the shower, so block out a good chunk of your day if you plan to go from “Corona au naturel” to hairless from the ears down.

Bella Verde Waxing Kit – Home Wax Warmer

Tanning

Having a ~glow~ is something most brides crave to make the white of their gowns pop. While spray tanning might give you flashbacks to the scene in Bride Wars when Anne Hathaway turns orange, not all of the options out there yield secondary color results. St. Tropez is one of those brands everyone seems to universally love, and for good reason. The products are high-end yet affordable and they don’t turn your skin orange. Snatch up the wildly popular bronzing water mousse which will give you more of a medium glowy tan that’s shockingly easy to apply. 

St. Tropez Self Tan Purity Bronzing Water Mousse

While the bronzing water is ideal for anyone wanting a medium tan, there are other options depending on what level of baked you’re looking for. If you want a dark tan, opt for the bronzing mousse, or if you just want an “I hung out at the pool and responsibly applied sunscreen” sun-kissed look, the gradual tinted body lotion will get the job done. Whichever you choose, make sure to use an applicator mitt to avoid telltale streaks and give you even coverage. 

St. Tropez Applicator Mitt

Manis & Pedis

Even the most laid-back bride usually opts for a mani and pedi on her wedding day. With plenty of ring shots, having at least polished nails is a simple way to feel put-together on your big day. If you want something quick and simple, swipe a polish on your nails the night before or morning of the big day after a quick shaping sesh with a file. Sally Hansen Insta-dri is great if you want a rich color and are notorious for smudging your mani. While it doesn’t actually dry instantly, it does dry faster than anything else out there (just keep your coats thin). Just make sure to use a top coat, obvi.

Insta-Dri Sally Hansen Finger Nail Polish

If you want a thicker, more salon-quality mani (and have the time/patience to do something more than a few swipes of traditional polish), consider getting a powder dip kit. While it will def help to watch a few YouTube videos before you accidentally spill blush-colored powder all over your bathroom, the results are just as good as a $50 mani after a bit of practice. 

Acrylic Dip Powder Nail Color Kit

Hair Coloring

oVertone Golden Brown Healthy Color Duo

While home hair coloring is a gamble, there’s a way to get rich hues without going to a salon or drying your hair out with box dyes. oVertone offers a variety of shades from traditional colors like brown, black, and ginger to vibrant ones like pink and blue. The semi-permanent dyes are great if you want to add some warmth or depth without the commitment or damage of a permanent dye. Try out a few options in the months leading up to your big day to figure out what feels right. If you’re looking for just a subtle change, the color conditioners add some richness without a full-blown color change. 

Deep Hair Conditioning 

Deep conditioning to hydrate your ends and eliminate frizz is Beauty Prep 101. While most people have their tried-and-true deep conditioner selections, now’s the time to up your game because uh, even if there’s a global pandemic, it’s still your wedding, dammit. And by God, you deserve to feel pampered AF. First, grab a deep conditioner or hair mask to soak into your follicles and soften all of your “I can’t f*cking believe I had to postpone my wedding twice” damage.

It’s a 10 Haircare Miracle Hair Mask

From the end-all-be-all line that makes your hair looks like you haven’t been swimming in split ends for months, It’s a 10 Miracle Hair Mask is under $30 yet still more high-end than the old bottle of Suave in the corner of the shower. After rinsing, spray some It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-In product on your damp hair and get yourself married with silky, “she didn’t just live through a pandemic, did she?”-worthy locks. Oh, and in a few days when your hair feels brittle and dull after drinking champagne and eating cake for an entire weekend, repeat the process and thank me later. 

Deep Moisturizing

Whether or not you plan to rock a wedding day tan, having smooth, sleek, hydrated skin will not only photograph better, but it will also give you a glow no matter your skin tone. In the days leading up to your wedding, lather on some hardcore moisturizer to glisten the day-of. CeraVe’s famous Moisturizing Cream is dermatologist-approved, gentle on skin conditions and your wallet, and wins tons of awards year after year.

SOL DE JANEIRO Brazilian Bum Bum Cream

If you want something a little less “everyday” and a little more special, Sol de Janeiro’s Brazilian Bum Bum Cream combines a blend of cupuaçu butter, antioxidant-rich açaí, and coconut oil which wakens dry, dull skin. Oh, and it smells like a tropical vacation, which will 100% up the exotic vibes day-of, even if you’re getting married in your backyard.

Extensions

Whether you have baby-thin hair that tangles in the slightest breeze, decided to give yourself a DIY cut during quarantine and lost more inches than you care to admit, or you just dream of rocking mermaid locks for your wedding photos, extensions are the key to getting those hair-envy wedding looks. If you’re forgoing a professional stylist and plan to do your own hair, however, selecting extensions that are easy to utilize by yourself is key. If you plan on wearing your hair down, Hidden Crown extensions are by far the simplest solution out there (and great for half-up half-down styles). Instead of clips or tape (which are tricky to perfect on your own, no matter how many YouTube vids your watch), Hidden Crowns are full crowns of hair that are secured with a piece of wire kind of like a headband. This means the chances of you throwing it across the room in frustration are greatly reduced.

Hidden Crown extensions

If you’re looking for something even simpler and plan to wear your hair in either an elegant pony, some sort of bun or updo, or get all boho with some braids, the Insert Name Here ponies are quite literally the simplest hair accessory I’ve ever used. You put your natural hair in a bun or ponytail, and then you just wrap the velcro of the pony extension around your elastic. It takes five minutes and gives enviable results. Add some Baby’s Breath or clips for an additional elegant pop.

Botox

No, I am not advising some back-alley at-home Botox injectables. If you’re looking for neck wrinkles and crows feet solutions for your bridal portraits and don’t feel like that’s a valid reason to leave your home and go to the doc for a non-essential visit (RESPECT), you can still have that “I’ve never squinted at my computer screen for 12 hours straight” wrinkle-free look. Firming creams and serums are literally everywhere, so don’t be afraid to test out products to see what works (bc wtf else are you going to do right now?). If you want a famous celeb-endorsed option, The Athena 7  Minute Lift cream is one of those products you’ll probably try once and then buy for the rest of your life. It’s all-natural, plant-based, and smooths out lines on the face, neck, and décolleté. Yes, it’s pricey, but it’s cheaper and less invasive than actual injectables, so it could be a solution for your wrinkles even after the world opens back up for good.

The Athena 7  Minute Lift

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how you prep for your wedding. 2020 is a whole new era of nuptials, so when it comes to prepping, do what makes you feel best. Whether that’s an entire home pampering day or just rolling out of bed and saying your “I dos” in your pajamas, as long as it’s with the person you love (and as long as you throw a kick-ass party when Corona is over), you’ll still make plenty of people jealous. And at the end of the day, isn’t that the point of weddings in the first place?

 

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Images: Elena Taranenko on Unsplash; Giphy; Amazon; Sephora; Ulta; oVertone; Alex Gaboury / YouTube; Hidden Crown Hair; 7 Minute Lift

Betches may receive a portion of revenue if you click a link and purchase a product or service. The links are independently placed and do not influence editorial content.

How To Make Masks Work For Your Wedding

When it comes to weddings, we’ve come a HELL of a long way since March and April. Less than six months ago, we were crossing out every special occasion in our planners for the foreseeable future, hunkering down at home, and limiting the extent of our socialization to comments in passing with our roommates, but the wedding world has come alive as of late. Thanks to slightly loosening state restrictions and the rise of scaled-back celebrations like elopements, microweddings, and minimonies, couples are getting their “I Dos” done and happily moving on with their lives. At present, love is not canceled, but that can all change if soon-to-be-weds start going rogue and cases start spiking.

Earlier this month AP unmasked a disturbing reality about COVID weddings, writing, “No-mask weddings, no social distancing and dance floors prohibited in many states have been the talk of online groups for vendors around the country.” And when we consider that these vendors are pretty much living on Purell and a prayer as they return to the soirees that used to fill their calendars and pay their bills, it hits as especially inconsiderate. We get it, couples want their weddings to be as close to their pre-pandemic dreams as possible, but the fact of the matter is the risk of a wedding-related outbreak should necessitate some simple precautions like mask-wearing, maintaining six feet distance, ditching the dance floor, etc. While we get that you probably never pictured getting married surrounded by a sea of masked faces when you were seven years old planning your wedding, you probably didn’t plan for a global pandemic either.

In an effort to curb all the potential bride Karening before it becomes a thing, we chatted with a number of wedding professionals (including a photographer who was a corona bride herself) on the subject of mask-wearing and common sense safety during these (say it with us) unprecedented times. It’s the year 2020, folks, and the official wedding mood involves a mask, so here’s how you can embrace the novelty of these nuptials and have a great day. 

Set Up Expectations

Whether you’re eloping, having a microwedding, or exchanging vows with a minimony, the best way to make everyone comfortable is to be transparent about expectations. This can be done easily through a “what to expect” insert included in your invitations. Betches co-founder and coronabride Sami sent something to her own wedding guests to give them a heads up on the ground rules for her upcoming wedding, including the steps she and her fiancé would be taking to keep everyone healthy and happy. 

 

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ok so the #1 question we’ve gotten from microwedding brides lately is “how do I invite my guests while letting them know we need to be extra safe?” (2020 is so weird). so we’re giving you a sneak peek at what @sami’s including in her microwedding invitations. DM us with your invites, custom masks, or any other social-distance-safe wedding touches and we’ll share on our story!

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In addition to being transparent with your guests, you should be open and honest with your vendors, too, about what you’re envisioning for your wedding photos, overall experience, and flow of the day. Nicole DeTone, the face of Nicole DeTone Photography, says that now, more than ever, it’s critical to discuss expectations before the wedding day. She and her second shooter will always wear masks and remain six feet away, but if her couple wants to omit face coverings for their (keyword: their) portrait sessions of the day, she’s okay with it—there just needs to be a plan in place to ensure safety for everyone. 

“If my couples prefer no masks for group photos, I recommend going over the plan with their wedding party and family members beforehand to make sure they’re comfortable taking photos without masks,” she explains. “It goes both ways, too: I’ve had some awkward situations where family members were asked by the couple to either not be in the photo or, reluctantly, have them join without their masks.”

For DeTone, it’s imperative that brides and grooms discuss the dynamics with their photographer and planner, so that everyone is in the know about any people who are uncomfortable wearing masks or, conversely, who feel good about getting together for a group shot. That way, it’s much easier to plan certain poses, the number of people in a photo, and the location of portraits. Working together to plan out these “photo pods” can be a major relief.

Courtesy of Jennifer Larsen Photography

Gift The Goods

We won’t lie, in the earlier part of this pandemic, we were quick to shake our heads at the mere suggestion of wedding or bridal masks. In our defense, at the time, having ANY kind of wedding was a bad, bad call and there was a critical shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for the people who needed it the most, our health care workers on the frontlines. So, yeah, we weren’t exactly pro-bedazzled facewear, especially when the costs were kind of hard to justify. Now, though, things have changed, and it’s hard to imagine a wedding without any sort of masks in sight.

Shameless plug, I ordered a pair of Plum Pretty Sugar’s face masks earlier in the pandemic, and they are so comfortable and so pretty. They also just came out with a white embroidered mask for brides. And they’re just $30 ($20 for two, for the bridesmaids), which is definitely a lot easier on the wallet than the hundred-dollar bedazzled ones out there. 

 

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#wearamask. This is our embroidery mask (although the pretty detail is hard to see here.) Shop our White Shop for all silhouettes in white… like these 🤍 #ppsgirls 📷@joncuphoto

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Now that things are much better on the shortage front (we seriously have so many cool masks to buy from both big and small businesses), and weddings are cautiously ramping up, we’re all for mask wearing at the main event. Our take: If you have to wear a mask on your best day ever, then it might as well be pretty. Claire Pettibone, the LA couturier responsible for some of the most stunning gowns on the planet, first felt a little conflicted about making something beautiful for this ugly virus. But her dissonance was quickly resolved when she realized that she could contribute to the cause, donating a mask for each one sold, and make brides feel comfortable on the day they need to most. 

“Brides have been ordering our masks for themselves, and even more, for their wedding party and guests. We’ve also had a lot of people purchasing them as gifts,” she reports. “Most brides planning a wedding right now have very limited guest lists, and depending on where they live the regulations may be different, but of course, keeping family and friends safe is a top priority, so outfitting their guests with attractive masks is something to consider.” 

 

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Our Slate fabric (bottom of these 3), sold out in less than a week! Sets will now be your choice: all Taupe, all Ivory, or a combination of the two. ⁠ For every mask sold, we are donating one to healthcare and front line workers. Your purchase enables our Los Angeles based team to keep working while helping our community. Thank you for supporting our small business!💕⁠ ⁠ #clairepettibone #lovemask #facemask #bridalstyle #handmade #fineartwedding #fineartbride #smallbusiness #smallbusinesslove #localbusiness #smallbusinessowner⁠

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Claire says that most of her brides are choosing her classic solid ivory with lace butterflies option to wear themselves, but looking at her printed floral patterns for their guests. And since adding new child sizes for the flower girls and ring bearers to rock, she’s gearing up to go all in for the entire group—grooms included. 

“We recently added a child size, and had a wedding where we outfitted all of the kids with custom plain ivory masks for the boys and butterflies for the girls, while the adult guests wore a variety of the prints,” describes Pettibone. “We’ve just had some requests for men’s, so that’s something we have in the works. Our masks are really well-made and comfortable, plus the adjustable silk ties have a more formal look, so they do work well for weddings.” 

 

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this couple had an intimate micro-wedding with a sign that said “spread love not germs” and honestly that’s my new motto for 2020. congrats to Sarina and Shon! 🥂 @thesarinamichelle 📷: @ashleecrianzaphotography

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If You Mask Them, They Will Come…

All it takes to have uniform classy photos is consistency in the masks your MVPs are wearing. Jennifer Larsen, lead photographer at her namesake, Jennifer Larsen Photography, put her camera down for the day to have her own minimony last month, and she couldn’t be happier with the way she made masks work. In her opinion, there’s nothing wrong with leaning into the COVID circumstances.  Just because masks are necessary for safety reasons, doesn’t mean they have to be ugly!

 

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“We provided our guests with white masks that read ‘Quarantined for Life: Jen and Ryan are Married!’ in rose gold foil,” she recalls. “We wanted to make the masks less of a burden and more like a party favor that would bring a little joy and commemorate this season. I love the way they came out, and so did our guests!” Perhaps because Larsen is a photographer herself, she had total confidence in her own photographer to document the day like she wanted; nevertheless, being able to trust in her photographer was such a key to her staying calm.

Lean On Your Photographers

We promise, a few masked moments aren’t going to read as a documentary of the pandemic, but if you’re truly concerned that your photos and video will be plagued by the state of affairs more than they already are, then opt for your couple portraits and those with close family to be done sans masks—in wide, open-air spaces. For Larsen, being flexible and inventive can be what turns a COVID-curated group shot into an avant-garde, glossy mag kind of vision. 

“For situations where you’d like to take a group photo, but still keep distance, I think getting creative with your setup makes the photo feel a lot less awkward. Group people together by couples/households, and space them out in clusters to create balance on either side of the bride and groom,” she says. “You can incorporate some chairs, to improvise a dynamic sitting and standing, staggered look, and it will feel like an intentional, creative choice rather than an awkward restriction. You can even try mixing in some fun cheering or stoic expressions to change it up from a typical ‘just smile at the camera’ shot to a more spacious Vanity Fair-esque portrait!”

You’re The F*cking Bride, But You’re Not Above The Rules

As Alexis Alvaraz, a wedding planner from Chicago, tells AP, “There’s just so much emotional baggage that has come with weddings this year that the idea of masks at their weddings is the last straw… but there is danger in that.” That’s especially true if people aren’t following state mandates and CDC codes of conduct. That’s why vendors, especially wedding planners and caterers, are doing even more to help couples navigate the nuances of wedding safety. Dance floor be damned, there’s a way to do it.

Emily DeLoach, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Sincerely Yours Events in Savannah, GA, has seen DJs and bands doing really cool things to make sure the guests have a good time, but safely. “I’ve worked with DJs and bands who have made QR codes that guests can scan at the event to submit song and announcement requests without having to have contact with their booth,” relays DeLoach. “This has been effective and fun, really engaging the crowd, curating perfect dance floor vibes, and getting loving announcements made to help bring the whole crew together!” 

An outdoor silent disco? We’re down. 

 

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This couple had a socially-distant silent disco at their microwedding as a fun alternative to regular dancing. Congrats Laura and Will! 🥂 “Obviously a reimagined ceremony during Coronavirus! But we were able to pull off a mini wedding with 40 family & friends in Will’s parents backyard on Cape Cod! I converted to Judaism during our engagement and Will and his two brother’s built the chuppah in the days leading up to the wedding. It was an epic evening with heartfelt speeches that ended with a silent disco with two channels – one of wedding classics and another live DJ’d by a friend with our favorite EDM mixes.” @theshensation 📷: @nicoleellengowan

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And when it comes to food and drink, very easy ways to cross contaminate, caterers like Main Course Catering + Marketplace in New Paltz, NY, are adopting new ways to wow their couples. During the planning process, the Captain of Catering, Hogan Popkess, says that he and his team have conversations with clients about some of the options they have for events, including glass dome coverings on passed hors d’oeuvres trays, exclusively-served plates instead of displayed or family-style options. When it comes to masks, MCC’s staff is coming dressed in in-house made masks that match the ties they wear with the uniforms, plus black disposable gloves, so they look sleek while still being safe—if you care about that sort of thing.

Popkess also says of masks, “Some of our clients prefer everyone to have masks on the entire event unless of course they are seated and eating. Others have been comfortable without masks for the duration of the event. Our staff wears them the entire event as well as gloves to ensure our own safety and also make everyone feel comfortable.” He acknowledges, “The tables are turned when you enter a client’s home and you are a stranger. We have to keep our staff safe while also respecting the safety of the client and their guests.”

Following The Rules Can Be A Legit Piece Of Cake

Jen Larsen and her handsome hubby made sure that their wedding cake could be done safely for their July “I Dos.”

“We served cake after the ceremony, and that boiled down to little things like having hand sanitizer readily available for our guests, having a dedicated server to carefully cut and plate each slice, and pre-rolling individual sets of disposable utensils, etc.” she remembers. “I tried to think through any areas that would make guests feel uncomfortable or would be a high germ-spreading point of contact.” 

The bottom line is that planning a wedding safely requires more thought and planning than before (as if planning a wedding wasn’t hard enough). But it can be done, and the extra effort of keeping yourself, your loved ones, and your vendors safe is well worth it.

 

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Images: Courtesy of Jennifer Larsen Photography; Courtesy of Tori Kelner Photography; betchesbrides (3), clairepettibone, plumprettysugar / Instagram