Let's talk about wedding planning.
Even during 'normal times', planning a wedding can be an overwhelming experience.
With all of the moving parts, it is easy for things to fall through the cracks.
When the pandemic hit in 2020, planning a wedding suddenly became a drastically more complicated endeavor.
From navigating vendor contracts and local guidelines, to ensuring you and your guests are as safe as possible, trying to pull off the wedding of your dreams without loosing your mind is a seemingly impossible task.
That's where we come in.
As event professionals, we are used to chaos. In fact, we welcome it. We are trained to expect that whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.
In fact, at Higher Ground Entertainment we have a motto:
"We may not have everything we need to succeed, but with what we have- we will win."
That is why we put together this article to help layout some tips and best practices for planning a wedding with style and ease during these turbulent times.
First, a few statistics...
58% of couples are cutting their guest count by an average of 41%.
46% of couples are cutting their budget by an average of 31%.
41.5% of couples have rescheduled their 2020 event to 2021.
21% of couples postponed for late 2020.
7% of couples cancelled all together.
2020 will sustain a 49% reduction in total weddings.
2021 will see a surge of 30% in total weddings.
Buffets, traditional registries, and unassigned seating charts are all seeing a major decline in popularity.
Live streaming, elopements, and creative bachelor/bachelorette parties are on the rise.
The average cost of weddings, and vendors, by state.
Needless to say, the industry has been shaken up a bit.
So what can you do to make the most of the situation in 2021? Let's find out.
Wedding Planning: 2021 Current Tips & Resources
A lot of the tips we will recommend for planning a wedding in 2021 will also apply in 'normal times'.
If anything, the entire last year has been a stern reminder to 1) know your terms when it comes to vendor contracts and 2) plan for contingencies whenever and wherever possible.
Luckily, we have brought you all the best resources that will enable you to take advantage of these lessons learned.
Let's jump into it.
Even if you are planning an event for 2022, do not wait!
We repeat, DO NOT WAIT!
Every vendor we have spoken with has a 2021 calendar that is fully booked, if not just short of that.
Since many couples have rescheduled their 2020 events for 2021, many more are opting to push their dates out to 2022.
As a result, sure enough, 2022 is filling up as well!
The pandemic has created a massive bottleneck of bookings. If you have settled on a date, or have specific vendors in mind, we highly recommend making moves as soon as you can!
Pro Tip: Even if you are still in the 'research' phase, and are not quite ready to start booking vendors, you can always get ahead by collecting social media posts, making a wedding vision board on Pinterest, and creating a wedding website (or initial draft).
Hire A Wedding Planner
If you are of the mind frame that a wedding planner is unnecessary and that you can do everything yourself, so be it.
I only ask you this- do you really want to do everything yourself?
This is more true now than ever.
Bringing on a planner, not just a day-of coordinator, is likely the single most beneficial thing you can do to stay on top of your wedding planning, and ensure you do not drive yourself mad in the process.
At the very least, having someone to oversee all vendor relations and keep tabs on their respective contracts and covid policies will be well worth the money- not to mention the time and energy you will save in the process.
You may even be surprised, as many wedding planners go above and beyond to provide a TON of value!
Consider An Outdoor Venue
Selecting an outdoor venue may not always be possible based on your vision, location, time of year, etc., but if you are able to make it happen you will undoubtedly be setting yourself up for success.
Throughout the 2020 season, venues with large outdoors spaces were in a much better position adapting to the pandemic and the ever-evolving local restrictions.
Even if you cannot manage to book an outdoor venue per se, at the very least a venue that is better set up for social distancing and has safety precautions in place, may ultimately save you a world of hurt.
At the end of the day, your guests will also feel more comfortable knowing your event is at least partially outdoors.
Plus...the vibes will be great!
Communication Is Key
These are strange times, no doubt. Frankly planning anything right now is a challenge.
While many of us cannot wait to get back out into the world, there are many others who will find it hard to commit to anything at the moment.
Even if plans end up changing in the future (which they will) try and give your guests even more notice than usual when it comes to event details.
If you do not have a planner to stay on top of it for you, make sure you keep your vendors- especially your venue- up to date with any changes as they come in as well.
With regard to save the dates, invitations, and wedding website updates, consider extending the 'normal timeline' of communication and give your guests some extra notice.
Surely, considering the world right now, your friends and family will appreciate the heads up.
Discuss The Covid-Clause!
Fool me once, shame on thee. Fool me twice, shame on me.
In 2020, many wedding vendors and clients alike went through hell trying to figure out how to move forward in the face of the covid pandemic.
That being said, it is a new year and in 2021 and beyond, ignorance is no longer an alibi.
Make sure you ask every single one of your vendors (especially your venue!) extensive questions about their cancellation and postponement policies.
Here are a few of our favorite questions to ask:
What is your policy on postponement? Is there a fee associated with changing our date? How long will we have to pick a new date?
What is your cancellation policy? Do you have a covid-specific cancellation policy in case their are new lockdown restrictions?
What is your deposit? Is it refundable? Can it be transferred to a new date?
Do you offer reduced pricing for weekday or off-peak season weddings?
What is your policy if the guest count changes? How many guests can you accommodate?
Pro Tip: Let these questions also serve as a litmus test. If they can't give you an answer, they may not be the right match for you.
Livestream Your Ceremony
One thing you will have to face when planning your wedding in the midst of the pandemic is the fact that some people just won't be able to make it.
That being said, given the current tech available, there is no reason you cannot offer an alternative for those stuck at home.
Why not livestream your ceremony?
Especially considering the fact that even your grandmother is now a Zoom/Skype expert, why not take advantage of modern technology and invite those that cannot make it to your virtual wedding?
Now more than ever, photographers, videographers, and even DJ company's like yours truly, are specializing in providing live-streaming services.
If you have guests you know cannot be there in person, it may be nice to offer them an option to be there virtually.
Pro Tip: If you don't have the budget for a livestream setup, ask your tech-savy cousin to help oversee a DIY livestream. It's too easy!
Choose A Strategic (Refundable) Honeymoon
Just because we are in a global pandemic, does not mean you still can't have the honeymoon of your dreams!
If you are up for traveling during a pandemic, many airlines, hotels and resorts around the world are offering some jaw dropping deals at the moment.
That being said, there has never been a more convincing time to splurge on travel insurance.
Pro tip: If you don't already have one, get yourself a credit card with a great travel rewards program. Most of these credit cards, if you purchase your flight on them, will cover your trip in case you need to cancel.
Plan Contingencies At Every Level
It is worth saying again...
Fool me once, shame on thee. Fool me twice, shame on me.
A novel virus global pandemic really threw us all for a loop in 2020.
That being said, we can no longer say it has thrown us for a loop in 2021.
You have seen what is possible, how industry has reacted, and what needs to be done to mitigate risk and get through this next chapter of history.
You should be thinking about back up plans and contingencies at every step of the planning process. From venue floor-plans and seating charts, to decor, rentals and catering guest counts.
Here is another way to think about it: how can you red team your own wedding?
Ask yourself, what could go wrong? What would happen if this bad thing happened, or that new restriction was implemented?
At the very least, whatever surprises arise, make it a goal to say you had already planned for it.
Finally, don't loose your head.
Planning a wedding is already one of the most stressful life events you will deal with.
Add to that a global pandemic, and it will be easy to get overwhelmed with stress and anxiety.
Remember to eat the rainbow, exercise daily and that sleep is your superpower!
If you can't effectively turn off, you won't be able to effectively turn on.
Luckily, if you follow these tips accordingly, you will rest-assured knowing you are doing everything you can to take mitigate risk, take advantage of the opportunities available, keep your loved ones safe, and plan the night of your dreams.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, which is why we have included many other resources throughout the article.
There are also many other factors that can affect the state of wedding planning in 2021 and beyond.
That being said, getting started in your planning as soon as possible, building contingency plans at every level, and ensuring you are planning and communicating with your vendors effectively, are all key components of planning a wedding in the age of covid.
You deserve the wedding of your dreams, don't let covid stop you from that.
Have we missed anything? What do you see as critical factors when it comes to planning a wedding? What advice or predictions do you have about the future?