By: Sarah V. Compo, Owner and Operator Lovely Day Event Services
I’ve always been a planner. I’m the type of person who won’t start my day without making a to-do list—and admittedly, will add items I’ve already done, just to get the satisfaction of crossing them off.
It’s this type of thinking that led me to become a day-of event coordinator. In this role, my clients do the bulk of the planning and I step in on the day of to help their vision come to life. From small weddings in the Thousand Islands to 300 person affairs, I feel like I’ve done and seen it all. No task is too large, and I thrive on a challenge. Photographer cancel last minute? No problem—I’ll help you find a replacement. Speakers stop working ahead of the ceremony? I’m the girl who will track down new ones, with just minutes to spare.
So, as luck would have it, I’m now faced with my biggest coordinating challenge yet—planning my own wedding, during a pandemic. My fiancé and I got engaged at the end of January 2020, just before COVID-19 took hold of the United States We walked into our wedding planning knowing the possibility existed that we would need to modify things. Like many, though, we didn’t think living in this drastically changed world would last this long and assumed we’d be fine to proceed with our wedding on New Year’s Eve, as planned. Several months before the big day, though, it became more and more clear that wasn’t going to happen. So, we switched gears and are looking forward to a spring celebration.
Planning a wedding during a pandemic has been interesting, to say the least. If you’re a bride in the same postponing position, or are recently engaged, I hope the following tips will help you better navigate this very different, challenging and above all else, special time in your life:
Make choices that allow you to be flexible: As you plan your day, keep in mind you might have to move forward with a change in plans. In my situation, I was planning for a winter wedding, but I’ve made choices all along that would work any time of year—the biggest one of these being my dress. I tried on dozens, many that would be beautiful in winter (think long sleeves, and those that would have paired nice with a fur shawl). Ultimately, with the help of Bella Bridal in Watertown, I was able to get the dress of my dreams, that will work during any season.
Review contracts carefully: Now more than ever, it’s important to do your research on vendors and venues, along with the contracts they offer. Review every contract carefully and make sure important questions are addressed—like, what happens to your deposit if you’re forced to cancel? Will they allow you to shift your event to another date without penalty? Remember, vendors and venues are going through an extremely stressful time too, but from my experience, many will be more than willing to work with you.
Always have a “Plan B”—and be ready to move quickly: As our wedding date approached, it became increasingly clear that having the wedding we’re planning for—with more than 100 guests, indoors—just wasn’t going to be possible. Luckily, our venue allowed us to put a “soft hold” on a spring date, until we made the final decision to reschedule. Inquire with your vendors about whether they’re willing to place a “soft hold” on a backup date. Remember though, with so many weddings from 2020 being rescheduled, if you officially decide to postpone you’ll need to act quick, as many vendors and venues are booking up for 2021.
See the silver lining: During a typical summer, I’ll have nearly a dozen weddings I assist with. This summer, I had one—but for the couple and their guests, it was more special than they could have imagined. The same goes for a dear friend of mine, Julia, who tied the knot in November. She had been planning for a bigger wedding, but as COVID-19 numbers in the north country ticked up, that wasn’t possible. Looking back on her big day, though, she says there are major upsides to having a smaller celebration. “Take advantage of the small wedding,” Julia said. “You have the opportunity to spend quality time with each of your guests—versus a large wedding, where it’s a blur and you barely get to say “hi” to everyone. A small wedding is much more intimate and the people who are there are the most special people in your lives.”
Remember why you’re doing this in the first place: It’s easy to get caught up planning and your quest to make everything perfect—but don’t lose sight of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. As a good friend told me, “Remember, a wedding is just a way to get to your goal of spending the rest of your life together.” While it might not end up being what you’ve always envisioned the important thing is that you’re celebrating your love for each other. And, whether you postpone or decide to move forward with a small group (or even just the two of you) it will be memorable, it will be perfect and most importantly, it will mark the start of your lives together.