How couples have changed weddings plans amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, wedding guests typically envisioned a champagne glass against their lips—not a thermometer. For many couples who had their weddings scheduled for sometime in the past six months, their plans have changed drastically.
COVID-19 restrictions bring postponed ceremonies, vendor cancellations, limits on the number of guests in a venue, and countless other challenges for weddings. Some couples have postponed their events for a date far in the future, and others have worked tirelessly to create a safe ceremony that still lives up to what they had originally hoped.
Most people don’t envision what some call the happiest day of one’s life to be a day where everyone’s smiles are hidden by masks, but couples everywhere have been able to turn a challenging situation around and make their day special—and safe.
Maria Oristian, a local bride who held her wedding in July, described a last-minute COVID-19 change to her ceremony that she ended up loving, “My favorite part was probably being able to have most of the reception outside,” Oristian wrote in an email. “Due to the pandemic, we were able to open the doors to the reception venue when the dancing started.” This modification allowed everyone at her wedding to dance and chat with each other while staying socially distanced, giving guests a little more peace of mind.
Many couples are going for outdoor ceremonies as well as other safety-related features, like integrating hand sanitizing stations and giving out custom masks as wedding favors.
Other couples have opted to go to their local courthouse and elope in private, while holding a virtual wedding ceremony over platforms like Zoom and Skype to share their special day with loved ones. These virtual ceremonies allow for at-risk family members and friends to watch the couple exchange vows and share stories while also getting the chance to share a toast or wish the couple well in a way that’s more meaningful than over text or email. For these virtual weddings, those looking to make the celebration extra special have even found ways to deliver a special meal from their caterer to their guest’s houses.
Despite many of the ceremony modifications available now, some just don’t feel satisfied holding a gathering during such a restricted time. Many couples would rather wait to hold their weddings when they will be able to have the number of guests they want and include all their family members without potentially risking lives. This means postponing ceremonies indefinitely or pushing to a date far in the future.
Megan Lusby, who teaches Geometry and AP Statistics at Blair, had to do just that. “I have two grandparents [that] we wanted to be there, as well as some older aunts and uncles who are very important to us,” she noted. “We knew they wouldn't be able to make it had we held our wedding on the original date.” Her ceremony was pushed an entire year forward to May of 2021, and she hopes that she can hold the wedding how they had originally planned.
Wedding vendors, photographers, and planners have all faced their own challenges in providing their services this season. Carrie Coleman, a local photographer based in the DC area, has shot less than half the weddings she typically does in a year. She also has not been able to shake hands with and hug clients during their ceremony takes somewhat of a toll on her business. “So much of what I do is people-driven and all about connection,” she wrote in an email. “It's definitely not easy… to be hidden behind a mask the whole day.”
Coleman has incorporated mask shots into her photos for couples who want to show what a unique and crazy time they got married in. She has also had to figure out how to capture meaningful shots while maintaining her distance from her clients. “Usually when I shoot, I get fairly close to my clients, but I have had to adjust that this year,” she said. “It's important to me that my clients feel like I have their best interest in mind and that I protect myself while shooting.”
No matter how couples’ plans have changed for their weddings this year, it is heartwarming to see people find creative and safe ways to celebrate their love. Coleman sums this up best, saying, “From elopements by waterfalls with just a bride and groom, to a small 16 person dinner in someone's backyard— events this year look a lot different, but… the beauty of them has only increased.”