It’s no secret that the pandemic has been a massive shock to the system for the wedding industry. What started as a sudden pause on all operations, which I talked about within the first few weeks, turned into an act of resilience, with couples, planners, and vendors reimagining what a celebration of love could look like in incredibly unusual circumstances.
For our team at Alicia Keats Weddings & Events, the start of the pandemic was scary. It felt like our world was flipped upside down and our identity as planners, which is so anchored in rising to challenges and solving problems, was replaced by a big question mark. The first few months was spent frantically postponing weddings and then I was finally able to regroup and I realized that this forced pause could actually be an opportunity, and that there would be so much to learn from it.
I’m not going to lie, the pandemic has been a huge test of character for me. I had to put my past experiences aside and figure out my work in a brand new context—while also acting as a lawyer, doctor, and news analyst for my couples as we decided how to pivot their wedding plans. Here are some of the things I learned along the way.
1. You’ll need to have candid conversations with your vendors
As you’re reaching out to vendors and selecting who makes the most sense for you, we recommend bringing up the pandemic so that you can understand how they are navigating it and whether they have any flexibility baked into their contract as a result. Depending on their own individual circumstances, different vendors are approaching things in a variety of ways, and it’s worth being on the same page. Have a chat with your vendors and have them confirm what their policies are (in writing, we love a paper trail!)—what they tell you in that conversation should be set in stone.
2. Supply chains are stretched
This may sound like a logistical point, but it’s an important one just the same. Like many other businesses, wedding vendors are working in situations that aren’t normal to them. Many vendors have been double booked over the summer as postponed weddings finally take place alongside the rest of the season—and that is putting a strain on the supply of key items like flowers, paper etc. This also applies to venues, hotels, and restaurants, who are all seeing a shortage in available labour.
Like with all the other learnings from the pandemic, this has taught us and our couples to be more adaptable as we plan for the big day. Celebrating on non-peak days, like a Thursday for instance, is one way to relieve the pressure on your vendors and ensure their availability.
3. Keeping your guests safe is a priority
Does the venue have enough space so that guests can keep a safe distance between each other if they need to? Are there enough hand sanitizer stations throughout the ceremony and reception spaces? Will you be asking guests to only attend if they are fully vaccinated? BC Provincial Health officers have just announced vaccine passports will be needed for anyone attending a wedding this fall. These are all considerations we’ve been dealing with throughout the pandemic, shifting as needed to align with any new regulations—and what our couples are open to.
4. Your guests’ comfort levels are also important to consider
Couples waiting to get married have had a uniquely tough time during this pandemic—and their guests may have also faced their own set of challenges. These different experiences and circumstances are worth keeping in mind as you plan your big day.
In the last year, I’ve been inspired by the gracefulness my clients have shown to their guests when it comes to travel, costs, and feeling safe. At each turn, they have made sure to avoid putting friends and family in uncomfortable situations, giving them the opportunity to choose what’s right for them without any fear of resentment.
5. Remember this above all
Now, I’ve been saving this one for last, as it’s the most important. Are you ready?
Go in knowing things will change.
Many people arrive at their wedding day with a very specific vision for what it will be, but if there’s anything this pandemic has taught the wedding industry it’s that that vision can change and still be special, unique, and beautiful.
For my team, this has meant developing a number of contingency plans with our couples. Throughout the planning process, we’ve had candid conversations to understand what the ideal day would look like, what they could compromise on if needed, and what non-negotiables would push them to postpone their wedding. We’ve experienced a number of these scenarios throughout the last year and a half, but one thing that has been wonderful to see is that couples that thought they were compromising on their vision had absolutely no regrets.
As we continue to plan and execute weddings over the next few months, my team and I have created a sort of mantra: there are no guarantees in a pandemic. As the virus and regulations keep evolving, we need to be ready to adapt and help our couples navigate the changes—whatever they may be.
If you have any questions about planning a wedding right now, please do not hesitate to reach out, we are happy to help.