Back in early March, couples reckoned with postponing and cancelling weddings—milestone events that families planned for and saved for for years. And though the wedding industry put on a good face as vendors honored the crisis with refunds or promises to reschedule, the situation seemed dire. How can such a right of passage that is first dances, coordinated bridal parties and glorious sweet tables—poof—disappear into thin air?
Well, a few weeks into quarantine, and we already saw a trend: Covid weddings, as in, socially responsible gatherings that take the pandemic into account. In stark contrast to super spreader events, a Covid wedding follows social distancing guidelines, encourages masks and keeps guest lists within local gathering rules. And now, more than half a year into the pandemic, folks in the wedding industry are seeing the silver lining to this new way of life. Here, five positive changes to come out of Covid.
1. Couples Feel Less Stress (Emotionally & Financially)
Frances S., a 29-year-old New York City media director, had been planning her 200-person summer wedding up until Covid hit, which forced her to pivot and make things smaller. Surprisingly, she welcomed the change. “I was the epitome of ‘the anti-bride,’ and planning a large wedding gave me extreme anxiety,” Frances shared.
In normal times, many couples experience hurricanes of stress leading up to their events—who makes the guest list? What do we serve our vegan guests? How will we pay for the DJ? Because traditional weddings involve making tough decisions and negotiations involving those nearest and dearest to us (and our families and in-laws), the stakes can feel migraine-level high. Not to mention, the financial toll of paying for a typical wedding—even a small one—is no joke. A few unwise decisions can leave a newly married couple in debt for years to come. But when you strip things down to their basics, the pre-marital stress doesn’t have nearly as much room to fester.
And there’s also the day-off stress factor too. Daniella M., a 29-year-old Los Angeles interior designer who married this August in a dreamy backyard ceremony and reception for 30 people told us the intimacy of her wedding took the pressure off of the day. “I really got to enjoy every moment,” she says.
2. Reduced Head Count Means Upgrades Elsewhere
Did you want all 22 of your second cousins raging on the dance floor (and open bar)? Of course. But nixing the majority of the guestlist does have its perks, namely, that you can redirect your slush fund toward other things. “Reducing your guest count allows for more of your investment to be spent in other areas,” says Karen Sieger, Owner & Principal Planner of Blissfully Styled Events. “A great way to add value is to upgrade elements…like specialty flatware or glassware, menus or programs or custom calligraphy place cards at every seat,” she suggests. Siger also reminds us that with a smaller table count, you can redistribute florals and decor to other areas. Think: Blooming alters or dramatic tablescapes.
3. Families Can Really Meet and Engage
When it comes down to brass tacks, a wedding is about the merging of families. In normal times, this can be overshadowed by the hoopla of a major event. (When I think of a 100-person-plus wedding, the chaotic opening of Home Alone comes to mind.) Stripped down, however, you’re more easily reminded of what’s important. In Frances’s case, many family members had not met before and the small wedding provided the ideal opportunity to allow them to really get to know each other without the distractions of out-of-town guests and extended family. For Daniella, getting ready in her childhood home and marrying in her backyard surrounded by her close-knit family (and beloved dogs) kept her grounded and present.
4. Events Will Feel More Personal and Less Like Carbon Copies
What happens when you strip a wedding down to its bare necessities? You actually remember what it’s all about: The two people getting married.
See, when planning a big wedding, sometimes couples and their families get buried in the commotion of it all—doughnut walls are trending? Then we need a doughnut wall even though I don’t like doughnuts. In short, so much of what the couple actually stands for goes out the window.
But when pare things back, what's important become vividly clear. For example, Frances’ intimate church ceremony, drive-by parking lot celebration and small country club reception wound up being the ideal outcome: “Complete with a cake cutting and a spur-of-the-moment first dance, it ended up being very ‘us’ because when you eliminate most of the vendors it all becomes very DIY.” Daniella also reveled in sourcing and curating the tiny, personalized details for her guests—mini charcuterie boards, custom match boxes, masks and drink buckets. “We wouldn’t have been able to do that type of customization for 300 people, and it made it really special.”
5. Guests Won’t Feel the Typical Financial or Time Burden
Being a guest is no easy feat. There are dress codes, social niceties and financial obligations (hello, destination weddings and bachelorette parties) that can really stress a person out even if they’re not planning the wedding. But in a Covid world, guest safety and experience is the priority. Both Daniella and Frances cherished the intimacy of their events. Being one of 30 is a whole different experience than being 1 of 300—you really feel part of the action.
And there’s still the opportunity to incorporate guests virtually, which Kate Goddard, Founder and Senior Event Designer at Wild Sky Events, believes will become a much bigger part of the planning process: “Planners will need to go through all the options with their couples to ensure they have the right streaming software setup. Better yet, rather than just propping up an iPhone somewhere, work with the videography team to make sure high-quality video from the entire wedding is streamed for your guests.”