Ceremony -vs- Celebration (Covid Plan B)
Give Covid the middle finger! This is a blog post for anyone getting married in the thick of Covid, who feel overwhelmed with the idea of planning a wedding when life is so unpredictable.
I started writing this blog post in November 2021, but here we are in January 2022 and things are already rapidly changing. We are preparing for our borders to open up next month, and we are watching the outbreak of the Delta and Omicron variants in the East Coast. For the most part Western Australia has remained fairly free to hold a wedding celebration but our east coast or overseas families might not be able to attend the celebration, nor can any overseas folk (though this will soon change). Lockdowns are swift moving and unpredictable, as with outbreaks.
I know, Covid sucks. It’s ruining weddings and wedding plans and things just aren’t the same. But maybe we just need to rethink how we celebrate weddings? Maybe we need to lean into this predicament and come up with some creative solutions?
Planning a big wedding? Have a Plan B!
If you want to have a wedding celebration with 30 or more guests then you should have a Plan B in place. Having a Plan B means you’ll be able to adapt quickly to any new situation that comes your way, with much less stress.
You should ask yourselves:
What is our “why”? Why are we having this celebration? Is it important to get married, or is it important to have our family/friends with us?
If there is a lockdown, how far ahead will we postpone?
How does the venue affect numbers in the case of restrictions?
What if our venue needs to close because the staff have Covid – do you have a backup plan?
If there are restrictions will we still hold the celebration with less guests (or however the restrictions affect your day) or will we postpone?
If there are restrictions, will we consider eloping and celebrating later?
If someone in my immediate family gets Covid, will I go ahead with the wedding?
Now is a good time to check the contracts for your wedding vendors (Celebrant, photographer, venue, catering, flowers etc) to see what their cancellation or rescheduling policy is. Some vendors may not have a Covid action plan or policy in place yet, so you might need to ask them directly. In many cases wedding vendors are happy to reschedule if the wedding can not go ahead because of lockdown restrictions, but this policy may not extend to emotional based decisions such as a family member not being able to attend.
Plan the ceremony for you, plan the celebration for others
I’ve been thinking lately that maybe it’s easier if we start separating a wedding ceremony from a wedding celebration. There is the legal act of getting married and then there’s the ceremonious act of celebrating with loved ones, and they can still hold meaning and beauty if held separately. I say this from the perspective of someone who has witnessed many beautiful elopements without any family or friends present.
If having your family present at the wedding ceremony is important, then make sure your wedding vendors are aware of this.
Consider having the ceremony with just a handful of witnesses, or super private with your photographer and one other person as the witnesses. An elopement is an intimate way to be legally married, where the only two people that matter are the both of you. You can take your time, you can hold the ceremony nearly anywhere you like, and you can break all the rules. You are also given more time to reflect on your vows, together and privately.
Here are some ideas on how you can separate your ceremony and celebration:
Hire a videographer to capture the wedding ceremony and vows which can be watched, as a group, at your celebration
Renew your vows at your celebration
Hold the celebration on your first wedding anniversary
Keep your elopement secret and announce it at the wedding celebration
Phones are ok, but let's plan for it
Hard to think that pre-covid unplugged ceremonies were a thing – now there are phones and cameras everywhere, capturing the moments for those missing out. So now we should find a way to make this work for everyone.
My top tips for including live phone calls/streaming/zooms etc
If someone is holding the phone/ipad/laptop, get them to sit in the front row, close to the aisle (or get them to check in with the photographer so they don’t block each other’s view)
Consider borrowing a stand to hold the device, but position this in the front row so someone can keep an eye on it without having to stand up.
Feel free to take a moment after the ceremony to say hello to the people tuning in!
Better yet, consider getting your wedding livestreamed or hiring a videographer to capture it beautifully and professionally.
Find other ways to have your loved ones involved
Whilst Western Australia has been able to enjoy weddings more than the east coast, the disappointment comes from east coast and overseas family members that haven’t been able to join in. Soon we may experience loved ones contracting covid and not being able to attend at the last minute. This sort of problem (FOMO!) has always been around, elderly family members who can’t make such a big day, friends and family from afar who can’t afford the travel, and just bad timing. Personally, I couldn’t attend my best friend’s wedding in Europe because I had just had a baby and couldn’t travel overseas so soon! I feel those FOMO vibes.
So let’s get creative. Here are some ideas on how you could involve your loved ones who live far away:
Get your favourite people to pre-record a special message for you. (I will happily organise these for you and have them played at your ceremony!)
Get your favourite people to send letters (well ahead of time) or telegrams that can be read by your celebrant, or read privately before or after the celebration.
Include special momentos from those who can’t be there, like family heirlooms and favourite songs.
Bring framed photos of your favourite people to place nearby the ceremony so you feel them there.
Hire a livestream service, or set up your own livestream zoom call so those people can feel included and watch it happening.
You do you
If, for whatever reason, having the important people with you is an essential part of your wedding day, then plan your wedding for the easiest way to make that happen. Some examples are:
Choose an outdoor ceremony to allow more social distancing space
Choose locally grown flowers that are dried or naturally preserved so they can be used at any time, and also aren’t reliant on being shipped from other states or countries
Choose venues with a reasonable cancellation or rescheduling policy
Choose vendors who have backup policies in place (especially your Celebrant and Photographer)
Get masks made that match your outfits, just in case
Ask your immediate family to restrict their activities the week leading up to the wedding, to minimise potential contact with Covid.
At the end of the day it’s my job to capture your wedding however it plays out and I’ll support your decision no matter what it is!
Stay safe, folks!