Tips for Wedding Planning During a Pandemic

It’s no secret that the coronavirus pandemic has had a large impact on the events industry and couples currently on, or thinking about starting, their wedding planning journey.  It can feel overwhelming trying to decide if you should start planning, or where to even begin.  Why are some couples still changing plans?  Will there be any 2021 dates still available?  How do I plan while everyone is still social distancing?  How could a vaccine change my options next year?  I completely understand how overwhelming wedding planning can feel during this season, that’s why today I’m talking all about my top tips for wedding planning during a pandemic.

photo of rings from a wedding during the pandemic
Photo by Lindsey Zitzke Photography

Yay, you’re engaged!  Once the initial surprise starts to wear off, it’s almost certain a hundred questions will begin running through your head.  First off, let me be the first to tell you – it’s perfectly okay (and expected) to celebrate this exciting life milestone, despite the craziness of a pandemic that’s taken over our world.  And while the start of your engaged journey might not look exactly like it would have pre-coronavirus, there’s no reason you can’t take steps toward your dream wedding right away.  Whether your wedding planning journey ultimately leads to an intimate ceremony or a larger affair, I’m here to help you get your thoughts sorted and to take next steps in the right direction.

Regardless of the type of wedding you decide to move forward with, there are plenty of wedding planning items to check off even in the midst of a global pandemic.  Here are a few of my top tips to get you started.

Start by deciding on the type of wedding you want to have

Maybe you don’t want to wait for your wedding day any longer than you have to—and that’s okay!  Sit down together, pour a glass of wine and start the conversation regarding wedding expectations, the sacrifices (if any) you’re okay with making and a timeline that makes the most sense for you as a couple.  Talk through things such as big verse small guest lists, Friday verse Saturday weddings, and the season you’re most interested in getting married.  Are you okay with waiting out the pandemic, or ready to get started? Although gatherings of more than 10 people are currently on pause, venues are still booking wedding 12 to 18 months in advance.  Getting the process started sooner rather than later is never a bad idea!

Set a realistic budget, then choose a date

If you’ve decided on a smaller guest count, does this mean you’ll go all out or save with a smaller budget?  If you’re planning for a larger affair, determining a budget and where that money is coming from first thing is so important.  Start by having the conversation with each other, then talk with parents, grandparents or whoever wants to contribute to your wedding. Once you’ve decided on a realistic budget (but not a second sooner), you can begin venue searching and set a date.  While it makes sense to get a feel for what venues cost, make sure not to book a venue without an understanding of how it works into your overall budget. You don’t want to be left with spending regret and a contract you can’t get out of if you realize you overspent on the venue itself.

Identify your wedding style

Start by dusting off those old Pinterest boards, seeing what you still love, then create a new one from scratch.  I always suggest that couples create a new space for saving inspiration since our preferences can change over time.  What you loved when you first started wedding dreaming isn’t necessarily what you’ll want now. Use this as an opportunity to identify what you and your fiancé both envision and create a wedding vision that works for you both.  Don’t be afraid to wander off Pinterest and check out real wedding from blogs such as Style Me Pretty, Wedding Chicks and Brides.  Still not sure where to start? Consider the look and feel of your venue and then build a wedding style around what works in that space.

Build your vendor team by meeting virtually

Your venue is the natural first step in booking vendors, since you’ll need a firm date before securing any others.  Keep in mind any preferred vendor lists your venue might require you use, then begin building out the rest of your vendor team from there.  Even in the midst of a pandemic, wedding vendors haven’t stopped putting their clients first.  The majority of vendors should have some type of process in place to meet remotely so that you still get a great feel for who’s the best fit.  Now more than ever it makes sense to book your vendors sooner rather than later so that you can rely on their expertise throughout the process.  Once you’ve secured the team of pros, you can start working on the detail that will ultimately bring your day to life such as menu ideas, floral inspiration and drafting a timeline.

Build your wedding website

I’ve always been a huge proponent of wedding websites, but now more than ever they’ve proven themselves as a vital wedding tool.  From the moment you make your guests aware of your wedding plans, they’ll have somewhere to go for the most up-to-date information regarding your wedding.  Throughout 2020, my couples have changed plans as many as three to four times, so having a landing page to share information was so necessary.  Start your website early and opt to use a URL that’s easy and memorable.  Share this link on your save the dates and keep the information up to date throughout your engagement.

Whether you’re planning for a 2021 wedding, intimate ceremony or holding out for a larger affair, you should start thinking about your various options and how your decision will influence your planning.  For instance, it’s no secret that 2021 wedding dates are filling quicker than normal due to the high number of postponed weddings.  Now, that’s not to say you should rule out a wedding for next year.  Just keep in mind that you’ll need to get to planning sooner rather than later!  Another option is considering a Friday, Sunday or off-season date for your event.  Couples are no longer feeling quite as obligated to stick to standard “wedding rules” and more open to changing things up to have their dream day happen.  No matter what type of wedding you choose to plan for, it’s now more beneficial than ever to have the right help on your team.  Are you considering hiring a wedding planner to take the stress out of planning your big day?  I’d love to chat about your wedding plans and see how Ivory Couture can help bring your vision to live.  Start by filling out our inquiry form here.

Looking for more way to jump-start your planning? Check out the related blog posts below!

12 Things to do After You Get Engaged

The Type of Wedding Planner You Need & When to Hire Them

How to Know if Full Service Wedding Planning is Right for You

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Lindsey & Colton – An Intimate Wedding During COVID-19

Like many couples, Lindsey and Colton’s wedding plans changed, and changed again, before their perfect intimate wedding day finally came to life.  Twenty-twenty brought with it a lot of wedding planning obstacles in Cincinnati and throughout the country, but these two truly handled it like pros!  Lindsey and Colton are one of the most easy-going couples I’ve had the chance to work with and continued to keep focus on what was most important to them – getting married and starting their lives together.

I began working with this sweet couple and their family in December and for most of our time planning together, Lindsey was living nearly 1,600 miles away in Arizona!  With a supportive family and fiancé, we figured out how to use technology to help Lindsey feel as much a part of the process and exciting moments as possible.  We toured venues, attended tastings and interviewed vendors all while using FaceTime and photos.  After months of planning a wedding with details so perfectly them, coronavirus threw everything into question.

After a couple rounds of changing plans, Lindsey and Colton decided to move their ceremony to Colton’s family’s property, affectionately referred to as “the Conover property.”  This is a place they spent many meaningful moments celebrating and growing closer over the course of their relationship, so it just made sense that they’d hold their intimate wedding ceremony with that beautiful property as the backdrop.  Their guest list was reduced to 30 of their closest family and friends, in an effort to keep their guests safe, as the couple made plans to push their full wedding reception to what will be the weekend of their first wedding anniversary next September.

While Lindsey and Colton’s wedding day didn’t end up as originally planned, it was undoubtedly the most perfect day for one of the sweetest couples.  During an intimate dinner at The Golden Lamb after the ceremony, Lindsey’s mom shared how their family had celebrated countless milestones at the historic restaurant over the years, so it was fitting that they’d end up celebrating Lindsey and Colton’s marriage there as well.  This wedding was the first of my couples’ intimate wedding celebrations and I have to admit, it made me a huge fan!  As much as I’ll always be drawn to a large celebration, there’s something so sweet and pure about an intimate wedding.  It gives you the opportunity to be present during one of the biggest moments of life, while taking the pressure off that tends to come with a larger event.

Enjoy these gorgeous images from Lindsey and Colton’s wedding day captured by Heather at Mandy Paige Photography.  Check out the full vendor team below.

Photography: Heather at Mandy Paige Photography
Wedding Planning & Design: Ivory Couture
Floral Design: Carly Messmer Floral Design
Bride’s Dress: Hayley Paige from La Jeune Mariee
Groom & Groomsmen’s Suites: Pursuit OTR
Bridesmaid’s Dresses: Birdy Grey
Stationery: Rock Paper Sisters
Hair: Paragon Downtown Cincinnati
Makeup: Benefit Salon
Celebration Dinner: The Golden Lamb
Wedding Cake: The Bon Bonerie

wedding invitation by Rock Paper Sisters
bride and groom portrait
bridal party robe photo
first look bride and father
first look bride and father
brides and bridesmaids
wedding party flowers
bride and sister
groom and groomsmen
groom's party
bridal party fall wedding
bridal party candid
bride and her parents
groom and his mom
wedding welcome sign
intimate wedding ceremony
groom reading letter
flower arch installation

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Planning My Wedding: How COVID-19 Has Impacted our Wedding Plans

At this point we all can agree—COVID-19 has impacted each of our lives in some way, and our weddings are no different. 

In case you missed it, I’m getting married this October at the Taft Museum of Art in downtown Cincinnati.  When my fiancé, AJ, and I got engaged last fall, I was so excited to experience wedding planning alongside my 2020 couples.  Little did I know what this year would eventually bring.  Like a lot of couples, we kept hope that the coronavirus would ease up as we went through summer and into fall, allowing us to resume a more “normal” routine and ultimately still hold our dream wedding.  We’re now 63 days out from our wedding day and quite a bit has changed.  In this post I’m sharing the biggest change we’ve gone through and ultimately, how we’re handling COVID-19 and our wedding.

First off, let me say this—these changes have been hard.  Like many of you, I’ve dreamed of my wedding day for a long time.  AJ and I have been talking about our wedding day together for five years.  I say this because I get you and I know where you’re coming from.

Here’s where we are:

Since the first time our future wedding came up in conversation years ago, AJ and I imagined a large celebration with our closest friends and family.  I love pretty details and a perfectly curated event, but through the entire journey, having the people we love the most together in one place has been where our dreaming starts and the thing we continuously go back to.  We found out almost a month ago that our guest list will likely be cut in half in order to move forward with holding our wedding this year.  We (quite literally) have since moved through the stages of grief.  First, we were in denial, then the anger kicked in, all before eventually making our way to acceptance.

Well before our own wedding was impacted, we began talking about the “what if” surrounding what we would do if our original wedding plans couldn’t happen.  Having the large wedding of our dreams was so important to us.  While my family is small, AJ comes from two very large, very close families.  We’re talking over 50 first-cousins kind of “large.”  We’ve made close friends through each phase of life—both separately and together—that we can’t imagine not having there to share in one of the happiest days of our lives.  Naturally, we thought that would be the driving decision maker.  But, at the end of the day, we want to be married.  We’ve waited a long time to get here and we don’t want to wait any longer!  I’m sure at least some of you find yourself thinking something similar.

Here’s how we’re handling it:

We started with a very intentionally put together list of 200 guests, which has now been cut in half (i.e. 100 total guests).  At first, the thought was overwhelming and seemed impossible, let alone the furthest thing from what we wanted.  Once we went back and forth, sorted through all of our options, then considered them each (about 3.5 times each!) we kept coming back to one constant: We want to be married. Whatever that might look like; however we can make that happen as close to our original plans as possible. 

After going through our guest list and determining which groups of guests we could include in a 100-person wedding day, we decided to just go for it.  All of our family and friends have been extremely understanding and gracious throughout this entire process, for which we’re so grateful.  It was still important to us to set a hard rule for who would be included in our wedding celebration.  We did this by breaking down our guest list into categories.  Here’s who our 100-person wedding includes:

  • Our wedding party and their significant others
  • My small family (parents, aunts, uncles and cousins only)
  • Part of AJ’s family (parents, aunts and uncles)
  • A few close friends (to bring our total to 100)

Before sending out these invitations, we already knew there would be guests who no longer could attend for various reasons.  However, it was still important to us to allow them to officially make that decision on their own. At the same time, it’s never (repeat after me: never, ever!) okay to invite more guests than your maximum allowed number.  So how are we handling this?  We’re sending two rounds of invitations!  And we’re doing this for two reasons.  The first, as I already touched on, so that we fill out the entire 100 allowed guests without exceeding our limit.  And secondly, in case regulations would begin to lift and we could have our entire guest list attend our wedding.  Once we begin to receive RSVPs back from our first round of guests, we’ll begin putting together a second set of invitations.

This is simply how we’ve chosen to make the best of a not-so-ideal situation, but it’s not something that will work for everyone.  If you’re feeling overwhelmed and questioning where to start, I suggest breaking down all of the options available to you and having a candid conversation about how that version of your wedding day would feel.  Consider how much time you have to make a decision, any vendor penalties you risk facing and talk to your families about your ideas.

Have more questions regarding your pandemic-impacted wedding?  I’m more than happy to answer your questions or help you figure out what’s right for your unique situation.  Start with an email to: ivorycouturebridal@gmail.com

Good luck, friend! We’re on this journey together. <3

XX,

Taylor

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Easy Wedding Ideas to Help Elevate Your Reception Design

You spend months (sometimes years) planning the perfect wedding day, trying to think of every last detail.  From the perfect menu to beautifully curated florals, you’ve hit all the high points, but have you considered the lasting impression attention to design details can leave?  I’ve teamed up with Roots Floral Design to share easy wedding ideas to elevate your reception.

“I truly believe that flowers are one of the best and easiest ways to elevate your wedding.”


Flowers

Kaytee from Roots Floral Design, a wedding florist in Cincinnati, shared that while she might be biased, “I truly believe that flowers are one of the best and easiest ways to elevate your wedding. Flowers bring color, texture, and an overall theme to your event. The best way to tie in your wedding colors will be through flowers. Flowers help fill in empty spaces (think about the center of your tables!) and can really bring to life a wedding venue.” 

As a flower-lover myself, I couldn’t agree more that flowers help elevate any space!  Centerpieces in general are a necessary aspect of your dinner table and are often a huge design statement piece for couples.  Suspend it, drape it, elevate it. 


Linens

Kaytee says, “Linens are another design element that can add color and texture to your wedding. Some may say that linens aren’t necessary to have for your wedding day, but I would have to disagree. I would say that linens are the one easy wedding idea that can completely alter a design and space.”

Your choice of table linens – a lot of times a quick decision for many couples – can completely transform the entire look of a tablescape.  I encourage you to give thought to your linen selection and don’t be afraid of color, texture or making a statement!  Even if you choose a few key tables, such as a head table and cake table, this easy design element can have a big impact.


Accent Décor

I completely agree with Kaytee about using accent décor to elevate your design!  She says, “One of my favorite arrangements to design are accent decor pieces. Accent decor is an added and luxury expense, but if you have the means it can really change up your wedding space.”

Many couples want guests to experience that ‘wow’ factor when entering the reception space. Consider going big with your seating chart or suspending a floral focal piece above the dance floor to enhance the ambience of your venue space.  While accent décor is an added expense, bringing in a dramatic detail practically guarantees a breathtaking effect.


Paper Goods

From signage to menus, paper goods are an easy element to add to your wedding design.  Are you showcasing unique ‘his & her’ cocktails?  Do you want something unique in place of the typical seating chart?  If so, use custom or unique signage in these places.  Another great option is to commission a custom monogram or crest to use throughout your paper suite and design.  Use this detail on signs, menus, wax seals, napkins and so much more!

No matter how you choose to elevate your wedding décor, it is always a great idea to have a fantastic florist on your vendor team to help bring your vision to life!  Check out Roots Floral Design if you’re looking for a Cincinnati-based florist.

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