With the recent order for banquet halls in British Columbia to shut their doors, I thought it was a good time to write a blog post to help couples plan their wedding around COVID-19 restrictions. Throughout this past summer I have had the privilege to capture many "COVID-19 weddings" where the couple worked around the provincial restrictions, tapped into their creativity, and planned UNIQUE and BEAUTIFUL weddings!!!!
While it can be discouraging to be unable to have the wedding you originally planned, let these photos inspire you to think OUTSIDE THE BOX to create a truly unique and memorable wedding day (not that a wedding day isn't memorable already...). Here are some of my tips for planning an amazing "COVID-19 wedding".
So COVID-19 has forced banquet halls to close? No problem!!! Create your own venue by finding a building that would not normally be used for a wedding. Now you've got a blank canvas to create with! Find a friend or mutual friend with an amazing backyard and offer them some money to host your small wedding there (see far left photo below). Hop on Airbnb and find a spot to rent that matches the theme you are going for with your wedding. A stunning example of this is in the middle photo below, where Hayden and Dee found an Airbnb by the ocean to host their Bohemian style wedding. BOTH a backyard and an Airbnb give you endless options to create the wedding you've envisioned, whether you do it yourself or with the help of a decor company.
Another option is to let nature be your venue. A venue in nature is ALREADY decorated! Find a grassy spot with mountains as your background, or a sandy spot with the ocean as your background. With most of the decor done, you can go pretty simple with seating, ceremony arch, etc. Check out an example of simple decor with a breathtaking mountain backdrop in the far right photo below!
We touched on this a little bit in the last section, but choosing a unique location for your ceremony means you can get creative with the decor in ways you couldn't in your previously booked ceremony location. Using Hayden and Dee as an example AGAIN (they just nailed it, okay?), you can see in the bottom left photo that their chosen decor company created a ceremony arch that could later be used as the perfect backdrop for their couples portraits.
If masks are required, provide custom masks or other hygiene related items for guests at the entrance to your ceremony. If you are providing masks, have them custom made in your wedding colours or with something printed on them for guests to use at the wedding and take home. Check out the middle photo below to see how good masks can look in your wedding colors!
You can get creative with seating at the ceremony since you have smaller guest numbers to work with. If you're doing more of a casual, backyard style wedding, you have the option of lawn chairs (see far right photo below)! Maybe even custom lawn chairs the guests can take home? Doing a country style wedding? Line up some hay bales for guests to sit on. Heck, you can even put couches out if it suits your theme. Your guests will thank you.
Ladies, feel free to get creative with your dress options!! You still want your white wedding dress? Of course you do!!! But if you've got another dress you'd love to wear for some photos, feel free to bring that along as well. Dee chose to wear a white wedding dress and then change into a beautiful purple gown for part of the couple portraits (see far left photo below). It may not be often that you get photos of yourself in a gown with your new husband in a suit, so take advantage!!!
Guys, if you're going for a more casual wedding now that your guest list has been reduced, you can find other options besides the classic tux. Find a dress shirt and a pair of dress shorts, or stay formal but summer-ready in a nice linen suit. See the lovely summer look of the couple in the photo on the right.
Get creative with wedding favors!! I have been so impressed with some of the wedding favors I've seen this summer. Couples have done a great job of making COVID-19 necessities classy and personalized. Check out the photos below, which feature customized hand sanitizers paired with an additional gift.
Rent a small space or tents for a more intimate reception with smaller guest numbers. Find a rooftop patio that you can rent or rent a few tents and have endless decor options.
Decide if you want to do a full meal or a "grazing" option with lots to share. If you have a smaller guest list, you have the option of doing a large platter of foods to share rather than a sit-down meal. Meats, cheese, crackers, etc. That photo on the far left looks pretty delicious to me.
Smaller guest numbers mean this is your chance to get your favorite takeout! Have you recommended restaurants to your closest family and friends and they still haven't tried it out? Well now they can, because you're going to order it for them! If you can't decide between sushi and pizza, WHY NOT GET BOTH like Josh and Megan in the middle photo below?? David and Sarah decided to go with Boston Pizza (far right photo), and I was happy they did!
Find a food truck that offers your favorite food. A smaller wedding is a great opportunity to have a food truck drive up to your location. Many of the small weddings I shot in the summer were outdoors, so a food truck was a perfect option for guests to go up and get as much food as they wanted. No need to worry about the food getting cold because it's hot, fresh, and ready to order! If you're unsure which truck to go with, I'd recommend a taco truck!!!
If you are using Zoom to share your wedding day with the family and friends who couldn't attend in person, then be sure to assign someone tech-saavy to be in charge of managing Zoom during your big day. It will be a load off of you to not have to worry about technical problems or one of your guests unknowingly sitting in front of the webcam and blocking the rest of your guest list from seeing you get married.
Be sure to get photos with the computer or phone you are using for Zoom so you can remember this strange, unique aspect of your wedding day forever. One day we will look back on this time when Zoom was necessary at weddings and it will seem so strange. Be sure to document it by taking a photo with some of your Zoom guests!
Use Zoom in creative ways to make guests feel like they are at your wedding. It has been heartbreaking to see that some couples' parents aren't able to attend their own child's wedding because of COVID-19 travel restrictions. However, you can find ways to include your family and friends in the day even if they can't be physically present. During one of my couples' ceremonies, the groom's Dad was able to pray for the couple over Zoom. Speeches can easily be done over Zoom. In the far right photo below, you will see that Hayden and Dee even had their family members on the dance floor with them. Their family was able to dance along with them from home. Such a SPECIAL idea!!!
My favorite section of course!!! I mentioned this already, but make sure to document all these COVID-19 related details to look back on. It will be so strange to look back in forty years and see photos of our masks, hand sanitizer favors, Zoom guests, and socially distanced seating and group shots.
If you have to socially distance in family photos or other group photos, fill the space between you and others to make the photo seem less "distant". To protect yourself and others you may need to distance yourself during group photos at your wedding. How do you fill the space between you and others for a better photo? If you are taking group photos outdoors, you can make the background busier so the space between you is filled with beautiful scenery. A stunning example is in the middle photo below, with the space between family being filled with the beautiful mountains behind them. If you are taking photos on a beach or elsewhere where there are large logs or rocks, you can be farther apart by sitting on different logs and rocks. For example, the couple in the photo on the far right did not have to socially distance for their group photos, but if they did we could have positioned them on the large rocks and chairs behind them to make the photo look more natural.
Bride and Groom Portraits
Yes, I already talked about wedding photos. BUT this deserves its OWN category because it's SO important!!!! Now that your wedding may be a smaller or shorter event, be sure to SEIZE the opportunity and make more time to get BOMB portraits!! Schedule your wedding around golden hour and sneak away for some stunning golden hour portraits like David and Sarah did in the far left photo below. OR spend more time exploring your surroundings and you may be surprised at the photo opportunities you discover. The couples below found a scenic trail and a row boat to take out on the water!!!
I hope these tips were helpful! It has been so meaningful to capture the unique ways couples have created their dream wedding despite COVID-19 restrictions. I am SO happy to pass their ideas onto you so you can do the same!!!