Sarah Compo Pierce and her husband Paul cut the cake at their wedding reception held at The Lincoln Loft in downtown Watertown. Sydney Schaefer Photography

While the past year and a half has been challenging, it has also taught us many life lessons. For most, it’s shown us the importance of being grateful—and not sweating the small stuff. Speaking from experience, I can tell you a bride planning her wedding through COVID knows this better than most. When you’re told you can only have a certain number of guests, can’t dance or worst, can’t have your celebration at all, the issues that crop up during planning don’t seem so big anymore. And, when your day comes, you’re tremendously grateful that it could happen at all.

If you’ve followed my day-of coordinating business, Lovely Day Event Services, on social media, or know me, you know my husband and I were supposed to tie the knot on New Year’s Eve of 2020. As the months inched closer, it became abundantly clear that wasn’t going to happen. We made the decision to move our date to Memorial Day Weekend 2021 and hoped for the best. In light of the ever-changing regulations and uncertainty, I adopted a new mantra when it came to my planning: simplify, simplify, simplify. What could I do to make things easier for myself as I worked to pull our wedding day together? That was the question I kept at the forefront of my mind during the planning process.

As luck would have it, most COVID-19 restrictions affecting large events were lifted just a couple weeks before our wedding day. As I write this, that’s still the case. Even though most restrictions are gone and it’s now easier to plan for your celebration, I’d encourage brides-to-be to follow my advice and “simplify” the process. I hope the below tips help you do just that and most importantly, help you to better enjoy your time as a bride-to-be, and ultimately, your big day.

Let your bridesmaids dress themselves: Your bridesmaids have one main job—and that’s to stand with you in support of your marriage on your wedding day. But if you’ve been a bridesmaid, you know you’re also responsible for helping the bride with tasks along the way. As a bride, one that I added to my maids’ list was picking out their own attire. Yes, I could have spent hours poring over websites to find the perfect dresses—but honestly, as the bride, I had enough on my plate. Give your bridesmaids a general idea of the look you’re going for (color, length, etc.) and let them do the legwork. It will give you more time to focus on other tasks and, trust me, your bridesmaids will be happier wearing something they have picked out themselves.

Forget the favors: Leading up to our wedding, I had a number of ideas for favors—seed packets as a nod to our love of vegetable gardening and jars of pasta sauce from my sister-in-law’s Italian market were two that came to mind. As the wedding drew closer and my to-do list grew longer, I found it was simpler to forget the favors and, instead, donate the money we’d budgeted for this purpose to local charities. If you’re struggling with what to give your guests, give this philanthropic option consideration. It’s not only a time-saver, but also an opportunity to give back.

Cut (out) the cake: Countless pieces of wedding cake sitting uneaten at the end of the night—unfortunately, that’s the scene at most weddings I’ve been to. At our wedding, we decided not to have cake for all and instead, offer a dessert bar. We had a small cake for the two of us to cut, Italian cookies and other traditional desserts made by family and cupcakes, along with coffee and espresso. Guests could help themselves, eliminating the need for catering staff to cut and serve cake and also cutting out the expense of our having to rent dessert plates and utensils.

Support independent artists—and save time--by using Etsy: Whether it’s your seating chart, program, table numbers or any other printed wedding necessity, Etsy features a very wide range of templates created by independent artists. Rather than ordering these items and waiting for them to be shipped, I downloaded templates from Etsy, changed them as I saw fit and then printed them locally. This was incredibly helpful, as it gave me the flexibility to be able to make last minute changes (especially to our seating chart) and have the items printed a day or two before our wedding.

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