Border-closures, lockdowns, event capacity restrictions and general limits on the freedoms we are so used to… Covid-19 has wreaked havoc worldwide, especially for those who’d planned weddings in 2020.
As New Zealand returns to life post-lockdown for a second time (with event restrictions finally lifting), weddings have begun to resume across the country. Of course, they do have a notable absence of overseas guests. Personally, I’m not sure we ever could have really had our wedding, had we planned it this, or next, year. My family are in the UK, Blair’s are mostly Seattle-based, four of five of my bridesmaids are overseas, and at a rough count, around one third of our 75 person guest list are also offshore.
However, there may be silver linings, and as I wrote back in April after entering the first lockdown, this could be an opportunity to make your wedding better: more personal, budget-conscious and more mindful. I acknowledge that for some, like those with an offshore guest list like ours, there may not be a silver lining – weddings and all plans beyond will be delayed for an indefinite amount of time. Some will have simple registry office weddings and parties later, some may start the families they had already intended to and marriage will be on the back burner for a while, and others will just wait.
If you’re not sure whether to postpone or plan, you may wish to look at How to Prioritise your Wedding to work out what’s really important to both of you about getting married and having a wedding, and whether you can still plan to do so in the current climate.
For those still wedding planning, these silver linings are for you…
Trim your Guest List
One of the hardest aspect of wedding planning for most couples is organising and cutting down the guest list. Many couples with large families have lists of well over 100 or even 200 people and find it incredibly hard to a) find large venues to accommodate their guests and b) budget for such a large event.
Some feel pressured to make room for many more guests than they’d ideally like to, at the expense of other things, such as their dream venue, a seated reception meal, or other wedding elements they can no longer budget for.
With the potential of further event restrictions (such as the level 2 cap on 100 people per event), the silver lining for some may be that they can have a smaller guest list. Not only are there likely to be some from overseas who just can’t make it, but you may finally feel like you have a good reason not to invite lots of family or distant friends – especially if it means you can get married sooner. An excuse not to “walk the social tightrope” of trimming your guest list, to quote Claer Barrett.
Some may even wish to elope or have a pop-up wedding of just a few witnesses and family. If so many of your family and friends are overseas that there’s no point in planning a wedding now, you could choose to save your pennies for a big overseas trip/belated honeymoon and celebrate with them along the way rather than host a big event. You can still have the dress, the flowers and the photos if you wish, you can still have a meal to celebrate, and if you wait til longer for the personal catch-ups, you’ll even have more and better quality time with each of your ‘guests’. A “cere-mini” with 15 guests, and a “cere-many” at some future point when restrictions are lifted and they can have a much bigger party – as Hamish Shephard of Bridebook suggested.
Of course, you may not immediately be able to agree on what to do, so see this useful guide on how to Avoid Common Wedding Planning arguments.
Save Thousands on Your Wedding Budget
Regardless of whether the pandemic affects your guest list, you can still benefit from a reduced wedding budget if you choose to – this could be a massive silver lining.
Many of us, myself included, have had to reduce our personal budgets and cut back on spending to account for income decreases and business reductions. Having done so, you may not feel quite as comfortable spending upwards of $20, $30 or $40,000 on your wedding celebration. The good news is, it’s not too late to chage.
Wedding budgets are all about prioritising what’s most important. Having spent much of the year at home, many of us are wanting to improve our homes, or finally get our own place after sharing with flatmates. What will mean more to you over the next year? If you’re still feeling financially stable, is an expensive wedding the difference between being able to afford your first home together, or finally renovating your bathroom? Or would you rather spend more money getting far, far away from home on an extravagant honeymoon later instead?
A smaller guest list will of course save you money, but the main way to save will also be to only spend on those priorities you identify as most important, and cut down on the rest.
DIY Wedding Decor – You learned a new skill, right?
I have a toddler, so it should go without saying that I did not pick up any new and brilliant skills during either of our lockdowns, unless you count the skill of distraction as we bypassed every closed playground along our daily walks around the neighbourhood. However, if you’re that way inclined, maybe you’ve become a Macrame styling maestro, or this has been the perfect time to try your hand at calligraphy and you want to DIY your Wedding Invitations or signage.
Even if you haven’t picked up a particular talent, with more time on your hands there may still be things you can DIY – putting together bathroom baskets, bridesmaids boxes, or emergency kits, gilded table numbers (DIY tutorial), a simple guest book, or handwritten notes as wedding favours.
Your Honeymoon is a Staycation
Believe me, I miss travel just as much as you, and can’t wait to plan our next overseas trip (though, with a second baby coming in March, it may not be quite as soon as others). However, you’re certainly going to avoid a lot of organisation and possibly stress by planning your honeymoon locally.
You’ll save money, but also have the opportunity to do something more relaxing and romantic. No expensive flights, visas, travel insurance, currency exchange, language barriers, endless public transport, changes of hotels every few days, time spent at airports, delays… international travel has its fair share of stressors, so perhaps you can save them for a later date and just have a few days to relax together.
More time to focus on Planning with Purpose
If you are facing delays, you have more time to focus on what’s important to you. You can keep a detailed wedding journal of all your dream day desires for when it does eventuate, give lots of time to writing your vows and speeches, and more time to enjoy with your partner
Whatever you choose, if you take this extra time to make decisions which are truly for you, you’ll have no regrets. Again, I’m sending all my love to those of you who are struggling after having to postpone your weddings, and I wish you all the best with wedding planning during a pandemic – which I know will feel so far removed from what you expected when you got engaged.
Lots of love