Pre-pandemic wedding planning was stressful and crazy enough. Ask any engaged couple or single woman with a Pinterest. Now with a global pandemic factored in, there are added complications and uncharted waters of regulations and health risks. While some have postponed their weddings, others have decided to adjust their plans to meet safety regulations, but we must look toward the positives in this situation.
The main change for pandemic weddings, of course, is the guest count. The number of guests allowed varies depending on your state, county and city. When the pandemic hit, COVID-19 brides had to throw out their dream of having a big wedding. However, we have seen an emergence of previously frowned-upon ceremony trends slowly becoming more mainstream. These blessings in disguise are micro-weddings, or "minimonies," and elopements. These are trends which I hope stay after the pandemic. A micro-wedding or elopement can be just as special as a big, crazy wedding. It is more intimate, and you have relatively more freedom to do what you want.
According to Anna Russell with The New Yorker, "In a survey conducted by Zola, the wedding-planning and registry company, of more than two thousand engaged couples planning their wedding during the pandemic, half were planning a minimony." Russell reports, "In another survey, by the Knot and WeddingWire, of six hundred and eighty-four couples in the U.S. with weddings between September and January, fifty-eight per cent planned to keep their original date, with many opting for a pared-down guest list, and just seven per cent were pulling the plug altogether."
Because of the health hazards prompted by the pandemic, small weddings were forced onto the scene and became an essential trend. However, small-scaled plans should have been more accepted before the pandemic, and they should continue after. For now, COVID-19 can be the out a couple needs to avoid the big wedding fiasco because not everyone wants a big wedding.
Before, society deemed it rude not to invite everyone whom you have ever met to one of the most important days of your life. Now, we have permission from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to rebel. According to Parag Mahale, Craig Rothfuss, Sarah Bly, Megan Kelley, Siiri Bennett, Sara Huston and Sara Robinson with the CDC in an article about COVID-19 outbreaks at a wedding, "To reduce transmission, persons should avoid large gatherings, practice physical distancing, wear masks, stay home when ill, and self-quarantine after exposure to a person with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection." Use that reference when someone suggests your wedding invites should include everyone you have not seen since you were in diapers.
Also, the CDC reported investigations have been underway for wedding receptions which caused the virus to spread. Overall, people's safety is important, and it should be at the forefront of weddings these days. I urge you, fellow COVID-19 brides, to find the balance of keeping others safe while still having a good time. A small ceremony or elopement can be just as fun. This is our time to get creative. If you want to get married on the side of a mountain on a horse in a pink jumpsuit, then do it. Your wedding is your day, and you now can feel free to break from traditions and obligations. If you want, have a Zoom wedding in your house, or you could recreate a Vegas-style drive-thru wedding. Anything can be fun as long as you view the present circumstances as an opportunity rather than a setback.
Lowered wedding budgets and prices are another possible upside to planning a pandemic wedding. Rosemary McClure with the Los Angeles Times notes how last year, U.S. couples spent an average of nearly $34,000 on their wedding, but with COVID-19 still persisting, the once $78-billion-a-year wedding industry is bound to take a hit, especially with florists, photographers, hotels and other venues lowering their costs to draw in more business.
Guest count is important because it is the primary factor that can blow your budget. Think about it for a minute. The food, the plates for the food, tables, the centerpieces for the tables and so much more all depend on how many people will be there. It is easy math that a smaller wedding equals a cheaper budget, but you should still be careful. A small wedding can still be expensive. It can also circle back to the idea of freedom. Instead of spending money on feeding 200 people, you could use the money on another aspect or a trip whenever travel is safer. It may be the end of the world, but a pandemic-era wedding is what you make of it.