By CAROLINE LANGHAM
Your Wedding Has Been Postponed Again...
So how can you Covid proof Your wedding?
Here we are on Lockdown again and no doubt with lots of burning questions right now.
I know so many couples are still hoping to marry soon. But the burning question must be “how long can you keep postponing”, among many more like…
“How can you Covid Proof your Wedding?”
“How quick can I get married?”
“Can I easily rearrange my wedding?”
“How do I plan a Small Simple wedding?”
Sadly, many couples are at the end of their tether and thinking “Should I cancel my wedding until Covid has gone?”
My blunt opinion is that Covid will be with us for some considerable time. For the foreseeable future, this is the ‘new normal’. A phrase coined and hated by man. To help answer your questions, maybe you need to ask yourselves one question first.
"How much does getting married mean to you right now?"
If you are happy to wait a year or two then great, keep pushing back your dates if you can. But, if like many, you feel like your life is on hold and you want to get married, then this blog is for you.
I have been planning and hosting small and intimate weddings here at Cote How for over eight years. My tips and advice are based on my own experience and are my opinion only. After all, I am no scientist, but I do understand my couples and the wedding industry very well. My reviews speak for themselves.
Hopefully, you can take away a few helpful snippets that you can apply to your wedding, wherever that might be. Good luck! If you need any help or advice about your wedding, please add your comments in the box below.
Let’s start planning ways to Covid-Proof your wedding right now!
Little Thank You...
All of the images in this blog are from gorgeous weddings that have happened here this autumn – All Covid weddings in our Covid-Secure Venue. The photos are by kind permission of the fabulous photographers that I have had the real pleasure of working with this year. If you can spot your own wedding images, please pop your own experiences in the comments below for others to hear. We all need some help and support right now! Thank you
1 The Wedding Date
2020 has already demonstrated how ‘later’ isn’t necessarily better.
We are now about to enter our second national lockdown. In the midst of this, I have two couples who have already postponed from May to November. They now find themselves back in the same situation again. Hindsight tells us that if they had only delayed to September, their wedding would have gone ahead, and with greater guest numbers too! But hey, ho… If we all had the power of hindsight?
We are all hoping that the current lockdown will end on 2nd December, but there is always the real possibility that it will continue beyond this date. For those of you considering postponing to December, that may not be the best strategy. Here in Cumbria, for example, the registration service is unable to take new bookings or postponements for the remainder of 2020 due to unusually high demand. A similar situation may exist in other areas, so make sure you check this out before making plans for a December 2020 wedding.
Thinking into 2021...
On 28th September wedding guest numbers were reduced from 30 to 15, and we were advised that this guidance would be in place for the next six months, taking us to the end of March 2021.
Post-November lockdown, current information suggests that we may revert to 15 guests at wedding ceremonies under a continuation of the regional tiering system.
We hope that if Covid-19 starts to recede in the Spring, we may be in a brighter position when weddings begin to unlock a little more. But who knows? Realistically, it maybe 2022 before weddings look anything like the ‘old normal’ once again.
So, bear in mind the current guidance and think about how long that is likely to last when considering your wedding date. Also consider the previous lockdown restrictions unfolded for weddings, and try to anticipate what the government’s tactics might be when the latest lockdown ends. I believe rules will develop similarly, at least until a vaccine is widely available.
2 The Size of your Wedding
Following the first lockdown, we encountered ever-changing guidelines and numerous changes to permitted wedding guest numbers from 6 to 30, then 15, with and without food and drink. We can only take a stab in the dark at this point as to how post lockdown numbers might be pitched over coming months. Crucial things to consider when trying to Covid-proof your wedding are:
How low will you go? What’s the absolute minimum number of guests you would be willing to have at your wedding?
Don’t forget you can get married with just you and your partner. Many venues will be happy to provide witnesses.
Elopements and Intimate Weddings
We have seen a sharp rise in elopement enquiries this autumn. This was preceded in late summer by enquiries for small weddings for 30, then micro weddings for 15. This suggests that couples may be getting anxious. Many simply want to get married now, and to do this they are more willing to compromise on numbers. I also firmly believe that couples are looking at weddings that have happened this year and realising that a small and Covid-secure wedding isn’t a blocker to a wonderful day.
Expectations are certainly changing with time and risk. I would suggest that in 2021 we will not see weddings going above 30 guest numbers, and as Boris said back in September, 15 will be here for at least 6-months.
A final consideration of the size of your wedding. The more people in your guest list, the harder it is to adapt to sudden changes in restrictions. Think about how many people have to re-organise accommodation? Will the accommodation be available? Who would you lose from your list if the number had to be reduced? The smaller your wedding, the less impact any changes to the restrictions will have.
Do consider size when trying to Covid-proof your wedding.
3 Wedding Complexity
Faced with a scenario of ever-changing plans, think about how elaborate your wedding is. This will dictate how easy it will be to keep postponing it, reducing or even increasing its length and complexity.
We have started to advise our couples to think about their weddings in key components, like building blocks.
The Wedding Ceremony
Government guidance to date has clearly differentiated the wedding ceremony from the reception, with different rules for each. I believe it prudent, therefore, to keep these two elements separate to help Covid-proof your wedding.
Think about your reception as a separate addition, should government guidance allow. The reception is any part of the wedding where food and alcohol are served. This includes a short drinks reception post-ceremony, a wedding breakfast, and of course an evening reception.
Our typical weddings would include some or all of these elements, depending on the style of wedding you choose.
Rather than booking your wedding as a whole, maybe try to establish whether you, your venue and your suppliers could agree to a staggered approach. Your ceremony is then more likely to go ahead as planned. Then nearer the time, you could opt to add on extras such as increased guest numbers and drinks, canapes, or a meal, as restrictions ease.
Current rules of social distancing and wearing face coverings can be eased by choosing an outdoor ceremony. Having the flexibility to switch this to indoors at late notice, if the weather is against you, is always worth checking out.
The Wedding Breakfast
This would be in the form of a sit-down socially distanced meal in a Covid Secure Venue. Having successfully delivered many such weddings in 2020, I can honestly say that there’s very little difference to non-covid times, other than more elbow room at the table. Which, let’s face it, can make things quite comfortable going forward. So don’t be put off by social distancing! The venue will ensure that you and your guests are all seated safely in household bubbles with the correct distancing, and all the necessary safety measures in place too. These measures are there to provide a covid-safe environment for you and your loved ones and can be implemented very subtly.
It is important to remember that any form of wedding reception can only legally be held in a covid-secure-venue – More on that a little later.
The Evening Reception
Traditionally you would have three elements to your wedding. This third being the lovely evening reception. Perhaps with a little live music and entertainment. Sadly Covid restrictions have scuppered the evening reception as we know it.
The current rules prevent dancing, singing and vertical drinking, with all guests needing to remain seated at socially distanced tables.
Realistically we are not expecting evening receptions to make a come back in 2021 so maybe plan a lower key evening taking into account the 10 p.m. curfew! Use that extra couple of hours after your meal to relax and catch up with your loved ones in a safe environment with relaxing background music.
Let’s talk a little about all the different elements coming together in terms of flexibility.
How much are you prepared to compromise to get married?
What timescales are you working to?
How late can you make decisions?
How many changes to your plans?
Can you build in a little flexibility?
Flexibility is going to be a key consideration for 2021 wedding planning.
We are now considering ways of building in flexibility with pre-agreed parameters so that our couples know what they can add on, should future guidance allow it. This will involve agreeing on things such as:
Deciding on the minimum and maximum numbers.
Booking the ceremony, and planning the reception, with the ability to make a final decision on the reception as an optional extra, much closer to the wedding date. This will require careful thought, taking into consideration the needs of not only the couple but also the guests, suppliers and of course, the venue.
When it comes to budgeting, can you pay as you go and pay for those additional extras nearer to the wedding date? Some of you may be in a situation where you’re expecting refunds back from cancelled plans, which will affect your cashflow.
Talk to your venue, suppliers and guests about the options and try to remain as flexible as possible. Agree a cost per head for additional guests should they be allowed a later stage.
5 Other Wedding Options
Many may have large families and lots of friends. Some may be planning to travel here from abroad or from all corners of the UK.
Cutting the guest list is difficult, getting your loved ones there is also going to be tricky if restrictions on travel mean they cannot travel.
Accommodation is in high demand across the UK due to the boom in staycations.
Live Video Feed
If circumstances become too complicated you can still have these guests attend via live video feed. Many venues, including Cote How, have successfully installed the IT to facilitate this and is something that we would highly recommend. Its also a great way to protect those guests that are more vulnerable, without them feeling left out.
Splitting the wedding day
I know some of the larger wedding venues have come up with some fabulous ways of splitting the wedding. Offering a smaller wedding ceremony now with the full wedding party later may be possible. This is definitely something worth considering if you have a larger wedding booked and really want this party celebration to go ahead.
This way means that you can get married now, then invite all your friends and family to celebrate in style when Covid 19 has passed.
Downscaling your wedding doesn’t mean that you have to keep the style the same either. Rather than looking for refunds on your wedding, consider using that spare budget to splash out a little more on the finer things. This is a great way of treating your guests now there are less of them. The venues will be more than happy to upgrade your wedding and add lots of extras. This way you both share a better experience.
6 Choosing a Covid-Secure Wedding Venue
If the current lockdown is replaced by the three-tier system that preceded it, there are a few things that you need to bear in mind.
The rules affecting your wedding vary depending on the tier level of the location of your wedding venue.
Receptions are only permitted in licenced Covid-secure venues, which does not include restaurants, pubs, clubs or your own back garden!
Suppose this tiering system comes back in to play? In that case, this will mean that if the venue was in tier 1 or 2, it could continue hosting ceremonies and receptions. If the venue is located in a tier 3 area, it would be prevented from hosting the reception part of your wedding. This is a critical factor worth remembering when trying to covid-proof your wedding. Consider the possibility of booking your ceremony with the option of deciding on the reception element closer to the time.
Gone are the days where you could choose a fabulous location for your wedding ceremony, then all pile into the local pub for a meal and a few drinks to save on budget. This is not currently allowed, as it would be encouraging a large gathering. Pubs and restaurants have clear guidance and currently should not accept a table booking for a group of more than 6 individuals or admit a group of more than 6 people.
7 Keeping Your Loved Ones Safe at Your Wedding
If we are to crack Covid-19, then we must all work together, understand the rules and respect why they are there. A wedding does bring people together from across the UK and as such does pose a higher risk. We also all know how keen we are to cuddle our loved ones too. This is the primary reason why weddings are being so limited. They pose a very high risk.
Keeping safe also needs to be extended beyond you and your loved ones attending the wedding. Thought must also be given to your suppliers and the venue staff, not forgetting those lovely couples still to be married at that Venue. Whilst it doesn’t covid-proof your own wedding, the actions you take in the lead up to and during your wedding may have an impact on other couples’ weddings still to take place.
For example, suppose you and your guests don’t socially distance before and during your wedding. You risk not only contracting coronavirus yourself, but you put everyone at risk too.
Covid-Proof Your Wedding
So if you’re planning to covid-proof your wedding, hopefully, you have found this article of use.
Suppose you’re now considering downsizing your wedding and looking at how to make your wedding as flexible as possible?
In that case, you may find our blog on how to plan the perfect small wedding useful.
Also, keep a lookout for our future blogs on this topic too… I still have lots to say…
Thank you for reading this. Please leave any comments below if you have any burning issues, need any advice or you can spot your own wedding – We would all love to hear from you too!
Stay safe, stay happy and keep planning!
What can I say – These photographers are just amazing and hopefully their work speaks for itself.
They are all amazing people to work with and so supportive…
Think about your suppliers when Covid-Proofing your wedding, and let’s make it happen in a way that benefits all…
Very grateful appreciation to all of these wonderful professionals who are there for us when we are still tapping away on our keyboards at silly o’clock and need a photo NOW!