The Year of the Wedding
As the Omicron wave subsides, there is a renewed sense of optimism around hosting large events — and 2022 is shaping up to be a huge year for tying the knot.
According to the Wedding Report trade group, almost 2.5 million weddings are expected in the U.S. this upcoming year. It’s the biggest bump in weddings since 1984. However, this optimistic outlook comes with a host of challenges that come with hosting large events during a pandemic.
I reached out to wedding planners for guidance and advice.
How is planning your wedding different now from during the previous pandemic?
“Couples are moving into the spring and summer with more confidence, for sure,” said Melissa Gabriel, the owner of Honey Bee Weddings & Events in New York City. “There’s less worry and anxiety about shutdowns,” she said, and she’s having fewer conversations about Covid protocols.
At this point in the pandemic, couples know what they’re comfortable with and they are implementing their own guidelines, Gabriel added. There’s also less talk about things like dance pods, capacity limits and plans B through D. “The plan Bs that we’re talking about now are more about weather plans as opposed to pandemic plans.”
That said, “the environment is still tough,” said Tzo Ai Ang, the owner of Ang Weddings and Events in New York City. The wedding industry is dealing with labor shortages and supply shortages — from flowers to paper. A last-minute illness could mean that the event is without a photographer or important guest.
What should couples remember?
Guests can travel from all over the country or the world to attend a wedding. However, local Covid restrictions may vary. “So for example, here in Chicago, we not only have a mask mandate, we have a vaccination mandate,” said Misse Daniel, the owner of Honey Bee Weddings in Chicago (no relation to Gabriel’s business). “So we have to communicate that to guests who are coming in from different states.”
Many weddings are multigenerational affairs, so some guests may be more vulnerable to the elements than others. “While we are entering a different phase, and Covid feels like less of a concern to a degree, let’s still also think of how we can keep the grandmas and grandpas — and other folks who are not as healthy — safe,” Gabriel said. It could be mandatory vaccinations, continuing to use masks even when not necessary, moving things outdoors or paying attention ventilation.
Also, don’t expect everyone to attend. Daniel said that while she’s seen invitation acceptance rates rise as cases drop, she’s still seeing rates below the prepandemic norm of 80 percent. The planners all agreed that it was important to consider the budget because things are more expensive these days.
What is your top advice?
Daniel stated that it is important to understand that pandemics can change very quickly. “I had a wedding last year where we found out on Thursday night that dancing was allowed again, and the couple could have a dance floor on Saturday,” she said. At the same time, an exposure in one family “could mean you lose a half dozen guests overnight.”
Ang’s advice was to hire people you trust. Designers, caterers, and venues are responsible for managing labor and sourcing issues. If you try and micromanage everything, it may result in a less desirable outcome, she stated. “But if you work with someone whose work you really love and who you really trust to execute the overall vision — and you can be flexible about that — you’ll end up with a better result in the end.”
Gabriel’s advice to Gabriel was to enjoy each moment. “My best advice would be to Celebrate,” she said. “I think that Covid has taught us that life is brief. And I think people are getting back at the essence of what really matters. It’s that love. It’s about getting our closest friends and loved ones together.”
Your pandemic-preventable wedding advice
We asked readers who are planning — or who held — big pandemic weddings and events for advice. We are grateful to everyone who contributed.
“While planning, our goal was to try to make the family and friends who were most concerned about Covid comfortable and then work backward from there. Everyone is asked to be vaccinated and boosted before attending. I am an epidemiologist by trade and used my knowledge to help answer guest’s questions and to make sure our wedding website was up-to-date with the latest recommendations. It was hard to put in the effort to plan a wedding when it might not happen. I kept sane by not letting the uncertainty change my goal to marry my partner this year.” — Chelsea Solmo, Washington, D.C.
“Read the contract! Venues have added a lot of language related to cancellation and Covid, so be sure to know what your liability is if the event needs to to be canceled.” — Christine C., Massachusetts
“You are going to be surprised by at least one person you never imagined wouldn’t be vaccinated. They may be much closer to you than you think.” — Sharon P., Brooklyn, N.Y.
The Coronavirus Pandemic – Key Facts to Know
“Do your last-minute checklist a month or two before the wedding. Shipping costs were a major factor in our decision to order everything we didn’t need, and have it delivered within days. Depending on your wedding ring maker, you might also find the lead times months out.” — Ryan L., Philadelphia
“Don’t be afraid to take stock of who’s still important to you, and who is no longer a priority. Friends you haven’t spoken to in two years? Relatives who refuse vaccination? Time to gently let them go from the guest list.” — Aquene Kimmel, Cleveland, Ohio
“Use a quality photographer and videographer to record the wedding to show later that day to your online wedding guests.” — Andres Martinez, Southern California
“Forget hurting feelings — it’s your day. For my best friend’s wedding in October 2021, as maid of honor I was also ‘Covid safety czar.’ It was important to the couple their event wasn’t going to be a super spreader, so they uninvited unvaccinated guests (except for in close in the family) and required all guests to test within three days of the event.” — Peggy, Seattle, Wash.
“The single best advice my wife and I can give is downsize! Make it smaller and more intimate. It will make your life much easier. Our wedding earlier this month was 30 guests, and even that was a challenge.” — Connor and Aline Graham, Tysons, Va.
“Plan everything outside. Transmission rates are much lower. Expect to see a lot of people, but be kind about it. No one’s being a jerk — people are scared.” — Morgan Miller, Portland, Ore.
“Just go for it. We’ve had so many fits and starts planning our wedding (thanks to various surges) that it’s worn our excitement a bit thin. My recommendation is to just pick a date, book your venue, and hope for the best.” — Laura, Oregon
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Source: NY Times