How to Plan Your Wedding During COVID-19

This is a blog post I never expected to write. Who would have thought that we would be in the midst of a global pandemic just a few months into 2020? I’ve seen so many posts on Facebook and Instagram of brides and grooms worrying about how to go about planning their wedding during this time. I wanted to make one comprehensive blog post answering all of the questions and concerns I’ve seen over the past few weeks. 

First of all, I want to say to every couple that is planning their wedding just how sorry I am. I got married on April 13, 2019. If this was going on this time last year, I would be in your shoes, and I cannot imagine how worried and saddened I would be. Wedding planning is supposed to be a time of joy and excitement, not of fear, health concerns, and stress. Please know that I am here for you! Here are all of the ways you can plan your wedding during COVID-19.

Stay Safe

The most important thing to remember during this time is to stay safe. This should be at the forefront of your mind, even as you plan your upcoming wedding. Nothing is worth losing a loved one to this virus, so the biggest priority right now should be to stay safe and healthy. I know that that may seem like a given, but I still think it is important to say! There are guidelines that have been put in place for your safety and health. Even if you’re not worried about being diagnosed with COVID-19 yourself, keep in mind that it is also your responsibility to keep your loved ones safe, as well as anyone you may come in contact with. 

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CDC Guidelines

I am not going to list the CDC guidelines here, and there are two reasons why.

  1. The guidelines have changed a few times over the last few weeks, and they will most likely continue to do so. I don’t want to write out those guidelines here and then find out that they’ve changed a week later! So instead, I’ll link the CDC website, which is constantly being updated. In order to see the most recent CDC guidelines, click here. There is also a specific page on the CDC website dedicated to mass gatherings (including weddings), and that can be found here.
  2. Even though the CDC has their own guidelines, each state and county has theirs as well, and they may be more strict than those of the CDC. Specific states and counties have put in place “safer at home”, “shelter in place”, or even lockdown orders, and that needs to be taken into account as well. While being mindful of the CDC guidelines, also be aware of those of your specific state and county.

When deciding what to do about your wedding, especially if it is within the eight week timeframe that the CDC announced on March 15th, make sure you’re taking into account the guidelines that have been put out by the CDC and your local government.

Intimate Weddings

Again, this completely depends on what the CDC guidelines are at the time of your wedding. But if your date is coming up soon and it is too difficult to postpone, consider having an intimate wedding that follows the CDC and local government guidelines. (Less than ____ number of people in attendance, social distancing, etc.) This will not work for every situation, so the most important thing to do here is reach out to your venue and see if this is even possible with the guidelines in place at the time of your wedding. If you choose to have an intimate wedding, remember that you can still throw a big party later in the year! After this is over, everyone will be excited to celebrate your marriage.

Postpone, Don’t Cancel

If your wedding is coming up soon and you’re being forced to make a decision now, postpone, don’t cancel. Your wedding vendors are working tirelessly to make sure that they can be here for you in your time of need, and they are ready and able to help you postpone your wedding to another date. Even though you may be so stressed that you just want to throw your hands in the air and give up, it is much easier on you and everyone involved (and less expensive!) to postpone until a later date! 

If you cancel altogether, be prepared to not necessarily get all of your money back. Wedding vendors will most likely keep retainers and deposits that cover any services already rendered. Wedding planners, for example, have often done a majority of the work before the wedding even happens. If you have questions about this, reach out to your specific vendors, as everyone will have their own policies. If you do decide to postpone, pick a new date as soon as possible, as many other couples are doing the same thing. Keep in mind that you may have to choose a Friday or Sunday, as Saturdays will fill up the fastest.

Jayna Biery Photography / Jayna Watkins Photography / Tennessee Wedding + Lifestyle Photographer Based in Knoxville, Tennessee / Immaculate Conception Catholic Church Wedding / The Standard Knoxville Wedding / Knoxville, Tennessee Wedding

Reach Out to Your Favorite Vendors First

In deciding to postpone, the first thing you should do is reach out to your top vendors first. For us, our top vendors were our wedding venue, our photographer, and our videographer. Whoever your top vendors are, reach out to them first to see what their rescheduling policy is, what dates they have available for you to postpone, their policy on their retainer, and how the rescheduling process would go. Do this before choosing a new date. Once you’ve found a date that all of your top vendors have available and can move you to, reach out to the rest of your vendors to see if they have that date available as well.

The most ideal situation is to find a date where 100% of your vendors are open, but that may not happen. That’s why it is important to reach out to the ones you can’t live without first. Then you can go from there! As previously mentioned, be prepared to move to a weekday or Sunday if Saturdays are unavailable.

Weddings After COVID-19

We don’t know when the craziness surrounding COVID-19 will be over. I think we all wish we could snap our fingers and go back to normal tomorrow, but the reality is that we have no idea when this virus will be contained. But if you are getting married later in 2020 or even in 2021, my advice would be to continue planning. Reach out to your vendors, especially your essential vendors, to see what their policy is regarding postponing if the guidelines keep getting extended and reach your wedding date so that you can be prepared if that happens. See if you can potentially reserve a second date with them. If so, take the steps I mentioned in the section above regarding finding a date that your top priority vendors all have available!

Jayna Biery Photography / Jayna Watkins Photography / Tennessee Wedding + Lifestyle Photographer Based in Knoxville, Tennessee / Knoxville, Tennessee Wedding / Knoxville Engagement Session / Knoxville Wedding Photographer / Tennessee Engagement Session / Tennessee Wedding Photographer / TN Engagement Session / TN Wedding Photographer / Whitestone Country Inn / Whitestone Country Inn Wedding / July Tennessee Wedding / July Wedding at Whitestone Country Inn

Stay Calm

I know this may seem impossible, but make sure to stay calm. This will end. Things will go back to normal, and you will get married. It may not be on the date you originally planned, but it will happen. Don’t let COVID-19 take away the joy that being engaged brings. At the end of the day, you will get married. You will be with the love of your life. That’s what matters…not the date!

I’m a wedding and lifestyle photographer based in Knoxville, Tennessee but available anywhere. If you have questions about booking me for a session or wedding, click here! To follow me on social media, check out my Facebook and Instagram.

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