BECAUSE EXPERIENCE SHARING IS THE BEST KIND OF WORD VOMIT
Welcome to the Refine Blog
Article by Alexis Alvarez of Lillian Rose Events in Chicago, a Refine Collective Member
I’ve been re-reading all of the blog posts I’ve written in the last 4 years that are filled to the brim with actionable tips and sound wedding planning advice and it all reads as utterly useless. As I sat down to plan my August content calendar, every topic that ran through my head felt pointless and tone-deaf.
“8 Tasks to Tackle in the first 8 Weeks of Being Engaged”
“Why You Need a DJ Who Also Does Weddings vs A Wedding DJ”
“WTF is a… Translating Wedding Jargon into English”
All worthless when couples are grappling with how the hell to plan a wedding after watching the Wedding Industry Dumpster Fire of 2020 play out on every media outlet and news station.
Social distancing, mask requirements, guest limitations, no dancing, lost deposits, rescheduling fees, venues going bankrupt…. Weddings on fire.
Then add in an economy on the verge of catastrophe, on-going protests in many major cities across the country & outright unknowns as to the future of our global health crisis… how do engaged couples move forward?
I’ve spent the entire month of July talking to dozens of couples who want to start planning but are paralyzed with fear of the unknown. So here is my best attempt at creating a strategy for you to plan your 2021/2022 wedding as confidently as possible & hopefully avoid the tragic heartbreak that 2020 couples have experienced.
Start by accepting weddings are going to look different for a while or wait. Just because you’re engaged does not mean you HAVE to get married in the next 2 years. If you absolutely cannot wrap your mind around small events with masks, social distancing & Footloose-esque bans on dancing or eloping then just wait. At this point we have a pretty clear understanding of the possible concessions you’ll have to make if you choose to plan a wedding in the next year or so. You won’t face the possibility of compromise if you’re not already contracted into things. So, if you can’t wrap your mind around it, then it’s best to just wait it out. And if you DO decide to plan a wedding for 2021/2022, it has to be with the acceptance that it might not look the way you envisioned it.
Decide on a planning path. The way I see it, if you’re planning a wedding anytime in the next 2 years, you need to pick one of 3 paths:
Mini Wedding: Under 50 Guests.
Plan for mini with the capability to expand: Basically plan for 50 guests in all of your contracts (so your minimums reflect your worst-case scenario – think catering, floral, invitations etc), but select a venue that has the capacity to host your best-case scenario. Just make sure to be openly communicative with your vendors that your ideal is to increase your guest count to whatever that number is so that they can effectively plan out their staffing for the year.
Decide how far out you’re wanting to plan. If you’re eloping or planning a mini wedding, especially if it’s an all-inclusive offering that is super easy to execute, it’s probably not worth a 2-year wait, but if you’re taking path C, then it might be best to wait until 2022 in hopes that life will have returned to pre-COVID normalcy by that point.
Break your guest list into 3 categories:
A List: Your top 30-50 you can’t imagine your wedding without
B List: The people you’d love to host if legally allowed
C List: The people you’re feeling obligated to invite (like your mom’s bridge friend) and maybe you will if the pandemic is over (but honestly, why pay for someone you don’t want/need there?) but they aren’t critical to your wedding day.
Ask every single vendor about their COVID policies before you book & get it in writing in your contract. What are their safety requirements? What are their cancellation & postponement policies? Here’s the deal, wedding pros are people too and many are understandably uncomfortable working weddings in a pandemic. You don’t have to like their policies, but if you want to work with them, you do have to respect them. So it’s better that you get this info on the front end instead of feuding with a vendor after they are booked.
Create a wedding day emergency fund. I have said many times before that you need to save some of your wedding budget for unexpected emergencies and it’s never been more true. Save for the possibility of having to reprint invitations in the event of a postponement, save for postponement fees, save for additional tables and linens in case social distancing requirements mean fewer guests at each table & more tables. You should have at least a few thousand dollars to cover pandemic related expenses.
Know your breaking point. At what point are you ready to call it with this whole wedding thing? I have a couple right now who lost their venue for their original date in February, then postponed 2 months later because of COVID and is now looking at having to postpone again for next year & they are seriously considering, as my bride said, “cutting our losses” and moving on with their lives. You should decide now what that line in the sand is for you & what action steps you’ll take moving forward from there.
Work with a Wedding Planner. Whether it’s a Full Service Planner, a Wedding Manager, or something like our new Wedding Planning Collective – you NEED someone who is living and breathing the wedding industry, who is now a pro at postponing an event, and who can give you real advice and actionable steps to take when shit hits the fan.
The best form for keeping things on track & PROVING to your clients that you did, even the PITAs.