By Marilyn Patterson
This pandemic has caused us to rethink the way we do the things that we thought could not and would not ever change, at least not in our lifetime.
One of the initial and, arguably, lasting impacts of the pandemic is the way that we interact socially. Limitations on gatherings influenced people everywhere to up their creativity and resourcefulness so that traditional celebrations could happen. The future planning of events is forever changed, so it is time to think differently.
You said, “Yes.” What’s next?
As I think about the journey that couples embark on as they plan a wedding in this phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, it takes me to the core considerations that follow saying, “Yes.” Wedding planning can be a breeze if you’re willing to follow a tried-and-true path that will help you build your wedding day on a firm foundation.
So many couples get caught up in the pretty, shiny things and quickly blow past their budget. This path will help you stay focused and lock in the big-ticket items without the need to compromise your vision.
First, take a realistic look at how much disposable income you will have to invest in your wedding day. COVID hit hard and things changed. Consider what can be gifted from friends and family that will reduce the cash that you need. Account for everything in the total amount of money that will be spent. Pro tip: Whoever gives you money may want a voice in decision making.
The guest list: Less is more
The most effective way to stay within your budget is to control the number of people on your guest list.
One result of the pandemic is the limitation on the number of people who gather for indoor or outdoor social events. While this may sound like a restriction, it could be a benefit in helping you reduce your expenses by limiting the number of guests who are invited.
Smaller, more intimate wedding experiences are absolutely on the rise and will continue to be the “avant-garde” way to celebrate your wedding day.
Own your date
Nontraditional days and dates rule. Weekdays and Sundays are options that will control both the expense and the guest count. When possible, avoid holiday weekends as they tend to be highly sought after and rated as premium, and they will leave you with fewer options for flexibility. It’s your day; choose a date that means something to you, not just for the convenience of your guests.
Hire an experienced wedding planner
For most couples, planning a wedding will be the biggest and most expensive party they’ve planned to date. Consulting a pro to help you think through what you don’t know that you don’t know is empowering. Regardless of the size of your budget, purchasing a couple of hours of knowledge before you buy anything will pay dividends later.
Should you then decide to engage the planner as your advocate, they’ll continue to guide and help you make good decisions, stay on track with your expenses and execute the day on your behalf.
While it may be hard to accept, the reality is that a seasoned planner can spend your allocated budget better than you can by utilizing their network to connect you to the best resources at your given price point.
Eat, drink and be married
As you envision the day and how it will flow, venue selection is key to realizing your vision.
Your guest count and the current gathering and capacity limitations will have an impact on the options that are available to you. If you opt to have meal service, whether selecting a venue that is full service or one that allows you to bring your own catering and bar, be aware that these services should not exceed 40% to 45% of your overall budget.
It’s important to note that the event coordinator at a venue is not your wedding planner. While he or she will be important in supporting the execution of your wedding day, their primary role is to ensure that they protect the interest of the venue.
Photography tells the love story
There are no do-overs in capturing the subtleties of your big moment. A seasoned wedding photographer understands, anticipates and tells the story of your wedding day seamlessly. When every guest is gone, the food has been consumed and the cake has been sliced, the memories that last the longest will be those candid images. Do not compromise here.
Don’t forget wedding insurance
Wedding insurance is not new; however, if the pandemic has taught couples and event planners anything it’s the value of wedding insurance. For a minimal cost, you can have the peace of mind that if another catastrophic situation occurs, you won’t lose everything. Make it a priority.
We have had to pivot and reimagine so many things in life over the last year. It’s easy to become overwhelmed, to overspend and overthink your wedding day. These pro tips will keep you focused.
Reimagine the possibilities by thinking differently, then go back to the basics with a planning strategy that is organized for success. Cheers to your wonderful wedding day.
Marilyn Patterson is the CEO of Joyous Events LLC, an event management and production company headquartered in Old Town. She also serves as the executive director and producer of First Night Alexandria