Once upon a time, it was spring 2020 and couples all over the world thought they’d be getting hitched sometime in the next 12 months. They sent out wedding invitations, playfully argued over color schemes and decided that lemon cake with raspberry filling was definitely the way to go. Then a viral outbreak changed everything about how we live and gather in groups and even best-laid plans were blown to bits.
Now it’s early 2021 and we’re once again looking to the future, this time with a little more trepidation. If you’re thinking about getting married this year, you can’t help but wonder… should you?
It’s not often that the CDC gets brought into the wedding planning process, but the current state of affairs calls for some official guidance. Science is science, but a relatively newly discovered virus means that the research is still in progress and what we know can still change.
In September 2020, Dr. Anthony Fauci (the President’s top infectious disease advisor) predicted that big wedding-like gatherings might not resume until summer 2022. However, that prediction assumed that a COVID-19 vaccine wouldn’t be available or distributed until well into 2021. With people all over country already getting their first and second doses ahead of schedule, we could see mask mandates lift and venue capacities increase much sooner than expected.
The bottom line: Anything could change at any time, but the world seems to be trending in the right direction and that’s a major plus for anyone hoping to get hitched soon.
We get it. You’ve waited forever (or at least a few months) to get married and the last thing you want to do is reschedule — perhaps for the second time. Before you decide whether you’re going to pause or forge ahead, here are a few things to consider.
A survey taken in April 2020 found that 63% of engaged couples had postponed their wedding in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. Now that celebration time is coming up once again, it’s imperative to revisit the plans you had in place and see if they’ll still work.
Until we get the all clear, which will likely come once the majority of the population has been vaccinated, most wedding experts have the same basic recommendations:
- Stick to smaller groups (check local mandates for guidance regarding crowd sizes and venue capacities)
- Hold your event outside where possible
- Allow for and even enforce social distancing and masks
Do your vendor, venues and Beyonce-inspired expertly choreography adhere to those recommendations? If not, you may want to make adjustments to avoid disappointment and any unnecessary last-minute stress.
If we’ve learned anything during this pandemic, it’s that everyone has their own comfort level and approach to navigating lockdown. Just because travel restrictions are lifted doesn’t mean your loved ones will be ready to fly. Others may be okay with a small gathering but draw the line at being in a ballroom with 75 strangers.
Look through your guest list and make a note of anyone who may be high risk, such as your elderly godparents or your cousin with a chronic illness. It’s also okay to send out an email asking guests outright whether they’d attend a wedding in 2021, and if so, what situation might make them feel most at ease. You don’t have to tailor your entire vision to the preferences of other people, but if you want friends and family to attend, you must consider their needs too.
In some cases, it’s simply going to feel better to postpone your wedding, and that’s okay. Your big day is a big deal. Make sure you get to say “I do” in a way that feels wonderful. If adhering to COVID event recommendations feels like you’re settling, it’s okay to have a small ceremony now and hold a larger party when everyone feels more comfortable traveling. When nearly two-thirds of couples were delaying their weddings in early 2020, another 8% chose an elopement or courthouse ceremony. Whatever you choose, prioritize your happiness.
If you’ve decided to wait until the world is a little less weird, there are change-the-date postcards to help you get the word out quickly — and with style!
If you’re going to forge ahead, adjust your game plan to create a social distanced wedding that meets both your and your guests’ expectations.
- Confirm current capacity caps with your venue and pare down your guest list as needed.
- Consider bringing in a wedding planner or sit down with your existing one to get a full understanding of all your options.
- Consider adding a videoconference or live stream option for loved ones who want to see you take your vows but can’t be there in person.
- Send out updates via email or a cute little card to let people now how your plans have changed and what accommodations you’re making for those concerned about coronavirus restrictions.
Remember that 63% we mentioned above? All those couples that postponed their weddings until 2021 are going to be rushing to tie the knot as soon as venues open up. That means potential scarcity for everything from officiants to caterers to the venues themselves. If you want to get married in 2021, you need to pick a date ASAP and put planning into high gear.
Did you know that approximately 73% of weddings are booked in somewhere between May and October? Try to avoid busy season (which will likely be exponentially busier this year) and look at less popular months. That means spring or winter, so you’ll either have to plan quickly or get used to the idea of getting married at the end of 2021 or even early 2022.
Do keep in mind that if your date doesn’t work out for COVID-related reasons, you may be on the hook for your deposits anyway. While many vendors have worked tirelessly to facilitate clients’ needs, there’s a limit to what those vendors can manage. Changing your wedding plans because of government closures is one thing. Backing out of a contract with your photographer or florist because you just don’t feel comfortable is another. Keep in mind that more than half of the couples who changed their wedding plans in 2020 lost money because of that decision, with an average of $3,320.50 going to pay off nonrefundable deposits and other unavoidable fees.
You always envisioned yourself having a beach wedding or embracing a summer theme, but everything is booked, and your date has been pushed well into cold weather season. Now what? Well, now you prioritize. If you can’t imagine not wearing a sundress or seersucker suit for July nuptials, you’ll either need to hit the pavement and find vendors with availability or fall in love with a 2022 wedding.
Being creative can be a fantastic solution. Get married in someone’s backyard. Find a VRBO or other private venue that isn’t typically used for weddings but would love to host your big day. Forget that your first three choices for fancy caterers were booked up and get your culinarily talented cousin to smoke enough pulled pork to serve an army. Or go all kinds of crazy and skip presents in favor of a potluck in a tent on your parents’ front lawn.
You can absolutely get married in 2021. The question is whether the compromises you’ll have to make will be worth it. At the end of the day, you’re marrying the love of your life. It’s okay if you want to wait so you can have all 300 of your favorite people there to witness that magic moment when you strut back down the aisle with your new spouse. It’s also okay if you rip up the contents of your wedding binder and run off to Vegas (assuming the chapels and airports are still open, of course).