Should you downsize, postpone, or cancel your wedding because of Coronavirus? Those are questions you probably never thought you’d have to discuss with your partner when you rang in the new year. But 2020 took us all by surprise. None of us can predict what the future holds, or when large gatherings will be acceptable again. July? August? 2022? Covid-19 ruined a lot of big plans, but we’re all trying to move forward. I spoke with several wedding planners & designers about their best advise for these hard decisions. We’ll guide you through your choices to downsize, postpone or cancel your wedding because of Coronavirus during this unprecedented time.
A Note About State-By-State Gathering Restrictions
If you were looking for a guide about when your specific State will begin allowing larger gatherings, unfortunately this is not it. For most States, each county within that State has varying guidelines and restrictions. That’s a whole lot of ever-changing rules to keep track of. Here in Denver, we have the green light for gatherings of 10 until the next announcement. Eagle county (100 miles west of Denver) will begin allowing gatherings of 50 on May 25th. Some States like Vermont have extended their stay-at-home order into June, while States like California have given no set re-open date. Once you know what your State/county is allowing for gatherings, this post will help guide you on your next steps.
For those that have been dreaming of a big wedding and are making the difficult decision to reschedule because of Coronavirus restrictions, check with your VIP guests and all your vendors on dates they’re available before you pick a new date. It’s heartbreaking when we have to tell our couples that we’re already booked for their new date, and it can be both emotionally and financially difficult for both the couple and vendor. Keep an open mind about rescheduling to a non-Saturday date next year.
SeaAnna & Krista from Curate Events + Design gave this tip, “If one of your vendors is unable to make your new date work, get creative! Is your florist booked on the date that everyone else is available? Maybe they can arrange a drop-off with an assistant. Maybe the rentals you hoped to have won’t be available on your new date, but the change of season may call for a reiteration of design anyhow. Flexibility will be your friend when prioritizing making a decision during the short timeframe that you have a soft-hold on your ‘could be’ dates.”
You may notice that each vendor for your wedding day has a different policy when it comes to rescheduling, and it’s important to be prepared. Some vendors (such as large companies with a team) will have more flexibility to transfer your deposit to your new date. Some vendors (particularly those running a one-person small business) will require an additional fee to reschedule to a prime weekend date in 2021. The change fee helps protect their bottom line so that their business will still be around in 2021.
2 – Elope in 2020 & Have Your Big Celebration in 2021
Find an Airbnb or VRBO in the mountains! It’s private property, so you won’t have to deal with any parks that may or may not reopen in time. Not all of them allow weddings, but if you find one that really catches your eye, email them to see if they’d make an exception for your elopement this year.
Elope in a National Park! Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most beautiful parks in the country and has dozens of designated locations to elope. Have your reception back at your Airbnb, or at an intimate restaurant or inn in Estes Park. Check out some gorgeous views at RMNP here!
Curate Events + Design said this, “Find a smaller location (or even elope somewhere in the mountains!) for your original date, and transfer your contract with your venue/vendors to a new date next year. Your original venue can be the home to a BIG party once all of this is over, to celebrate with your whole guest list (1-year anniversary vow renewals WILL be a trend in 2021)! In the meantime, eloping or celebrating with a smaller group of people on your original date can be a special, momentous time for you and your fiancé. This will allow you to avoid pricey cancellation costs, still get legally married on your planned wedding date, and create multiple anniversaries! Double the celebrations, double the memories!”
“We have been hesitant to recommend completely cancelling any of your vendor contracts (support those small businesses during this crazy time!), but if you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place and end up needing to cancel the event entirely, you will likely be losing out on those nonrefundable deposits,” Curate Events said. “If every venue in Colorado refunded every contract for this year, there likely won’t be even half as many venues in our state next year.” Yikes!
4- Downsize Your Big Wedding
No one can predict how long social distancing and restrictions on large gatherings will continue and many couples are trying to navigate how to downsize their 2020 wedding. Should I cancel with my large venue to find a more intimate location? Where’s the best place to have an intimate wedding? How do I figure out who gets invited?
Jillian, of Jillian Jensen Events said, “I would recommend staying with your current venue. You probably paid a non-refundable deposit (for the venue and for many of your other vendors). Changing your venue may mean extra added cost for you. Many venues are currently offering discounted “elopement” packages right now which allow you to keep your original date and just use a small part of their property for a shorter amount of time. Right now, venues have been given the green light to host 10 or fewer people on site for small weddings. I also think right now it’s important to continue to support your vendors and small businesses and this is a great way to do it! Should you choose to change your venue, make sure you review your venue contracts first to make sure you know what to expect with cancelling outright.”
Curate Events said, “If you simply cannot imagine hosting [a small gathering] in your 250-person capacity venue space, there are a lot of gorgeous, affordable options to look into for your intimate gathering. Consider public parks (places like Chautauqua Park in Boulder or Cheesman Park in Denver only require a very affordable permit fee – which will likely be available again for reservations starting after June 1), a friend/family members backyard with string bistro lighting throughout, or a remote location in the mountains with a fabulous view and a few of your closest friends. You may even consider reaching out to newer venues who might have discounted rates for small groups during this time.”
“I’ve seen some pretty amazing backyard weddings happening right now! If your backyard isn’t conducive, check with friends and relatives to see if you can use their space. Also keep your mind open to your FRONT yard… Bonus is you may be able to have more people join at a distance and stand near the street! Just make sure you let neighbors know beforehand,” Jillian Jensen Events said. Check out this backyard wedding for ideas!
Can you still have a wedding party if you have a smaller wedding? Yes, absolutely! I’ve seen weddings where half of the guests were in the wedding party and stood next to the couple at the ceremony. It’s going to look gorgeous if they’re all up there with you, or if you’re standing up there by yourselves. It’s your day, so that’s all up to you!
How to turn a large venue into a space perfect for your intimate wedding.
As someone who just got married at a ranch in California (on March 14th!) with only 42 guests, I’ve got plenty of insight for this one! The amazing wedding planners/designers for my own wedding, Jessica and Camille of Crowned Events said this, “We are big advocates for layout playing a large role in how your guests will experience your wedding. Helping enclose the space by having guests seated in a u-shape framing the dance floor or having an overhead installation to help draw the eye up or larger floral element to ground a larger space can contribute to a more intimate feeling experience.”
The venue where my husband and I got married, Whispering Rose Ranch, can hold 350+ guests. Crowned Events did an amazing job of making it look perfect for our intimate, 42-person wedding. Consider having a small tent like we did! The photos above and below are from our wedding by: Dear Lovers.
Crowned Events also recommends draping off a section of a large space for a more intimate feel. “We have draped everything from a barn to a a brick building to an outdoor space, so I think as long as you are comfortable with it aesthetically it can absolutely be an option anywhere.”
The photos above are an example of how Crowned Events set up a smaller wedding in a large venue. You can see they flipped the space from ceremony to reception. They used draping and tons of florals for an intimate feel. Photo credit: Christy Johnston.
Jillian Jensen Events added this advice, “Add extra decor (flowers, flowers and more flowers!). Keep everything pushed together instead of spacing it out. Keep the extra space on the outside that way close-up photos ensure the space looks full! Don’t be scared of a space looking ’empty’. Many of our venues here in Colorado are just so beautiful dressed simply and without a lot of frills!”
“Think about incorporating some fun elements to fill the space: an epic floral installation, different lounge area seating, and Insta-worthy backdrops can fill a room quickly. Also, talk to your planner about hosting your entire event in one space, and not “breaking down” your ceremony. Keeping your ceremony set-up in place and migrating to a different area of your venue can make the use of the space feel intentional, while providing a great spot for photos, lounging, etc., ” Curate said.
If we need to downsize our wedding, how do we determine who gets invited?
Here’s the guidelines my husband and I used in order to whittle down our guest list: No plus ones. That’s a precious invite that could go to a good friend or family member. Have you seen this friend in the last year? If not, put them in the maybe pile and come back to that if you have any invites left. Your parent’s friends who you haven’t seen since 2005 don’t need an invite. Remember, it’s not your parent’s wedding, it’s YOUR wedding. No kids. You might want to make an exception for some, but this will help shorten your guest list.
A growing trend we’re seeing now are car parades at weddings! All those people that can’t get a seat at your wedding can still drive by or stand across the street to be a part of your wedding.
One Last Tip to Help with Stress of Changing Plans…
In case you already sent out invites and now you’ve changed your date, or if you just want to keep everyone in the loop since they might have a lot of questions: make a private facebook group for your wedding! That way your guests don’t have to wait for a new invite and they won’t need to blow up your phone with constant questions about what you’ve decided to do.
Curate Events + Design: https://www.curateeventsanddesign.com/
Jillian Jensen Events: https://www.jillianjensenevents.com/
Crowned Events: http://www.crowned-events.com/
Dear Lovers Photo: https://dearlovers.com/
Christy Johnston Photo: http://christyjohnston.co/