ny wedding planning tips pandemic

How to Scale Down Your Wedding Plans in a Pandemic

Over the last several weeks, the State of New York has worked through a phase-based re-opening plan. During this time, I found myself answering the same questions over and over again. One of those questions was, “How do I scale down my wedding plans in this pandemic?” At first, I found myself unsure of how to proceed just as my couples were. After some thought, I came up with some creative ways to make planning in a pandemic a bit less stressful so my clients could proceed and feel more relaxed.

One of my superpowers as a wedding planner is to prepare for the unknown. It requires me to always have a plan B, act quickly, and be prepared to pivot on a moment’s notice. And that’s what my team and I are doing. Even though the last few weeks have felt uncertain, the one thing that has remained constant is that the show must go on! Each couple is still getting married at some point. It will be the same date for some couples, and for others, who chose to postpone, it will be at least 6 to 12 months off. In both scenarios, we still need to plan to scale down the wedding plans as it may be required.

So what’s scaling down look like?

Scaling back can be different for each couple. Some couples are seeking small weddings of 10 or less and others will scale back to as much as 50. In either case, we are taking a few critical steps for our couples who decide to scale down. We start with re-negotiating services with vendors. Then we find creative ways to seat people for dining, put safety plans together, and help them find new fun ways to entertain their guests. Even if you are planning to postpone to a few months or year from now, it’s important to have a scale back plan in place. We just don’t know what the future looks like. The best we can do is have an alternate plan ready.

guest list pandemic wedding

Here are a few things to consider in scaling back.

Make a Revised Guest List

This is something that always sends a couple into panic mode. It’s always been hard to cut people from the guest list, but now you have a valid reason that your guests will completely understand, so don’t stress!

Start by building off the basics. Your immediate family members (parents and siblings) should start your list, followed by your other VIPs. For some couples, those other VIPs can be bridal party members or aunts and uncles. The easiest way to determine which group should be next is to go through the list and downsize based on guests’ location. The locations that have travel restrictions would make it hard for those guests to come anyway. The point here is to pick your VIPs strategically so that you don’t choose between an aunt or uncle to a BFF. You can build out your list in increments of 10. If the allowable guest count for gatherings increases as your wedding date gets closer, you can easily add more guests.

Decide Whether You Need an Alternate Location

If your wedding was rather large before and your venue can hold up to 200 guests, maybe it’s time to change the site or use another space outside of the venue that won’t make your smaller group feel so little. Many venues have multiple rooms and outdoor patios that make for a cozier feel. I’ve had couples choose to use a family home or rental house instead of a large venue. Some venues are flexible; if they offer offsite catering, they can pivot and apply your deposit towards offsite catering.

dining room roundhouse

Think About the Dining Experience

Your floor plans for dining might have to look a bit different. If you were dining at long tables with 8 guests per table, perhaps you scale it back to 4 per table to allow each couple to be slightly spaced out. If you were using large round tables, maybe you change out the big 72″ tables for smaller 36″ round tables to seat each couple at their own table. It’s like dining at an outdoor restaurant. Your guests will feel comfortable knowing that others are not breathing over their food or touching their space.

Put Saftey Rules in Place Ahead of Time

Let your guests know through an invitation insert or your wedding website the details you have put in place for safety. With the minimal list of guests you are inviting, you want to be sure they feel comfortable attending your wedding. I would include information on the number of guests you have limited the event to and set out the safety rules, including wearing a mask. You can elect to include the type of dining service (ex. plated dinner) and provide a separate line for them to rsvp invidually to the ceremony and reception. This lets the guest know it’s okay to only attend the ceremony if you don’t feel comfortable dining with a group of guests.

photo booth - pandemic wedding planning

Decide on How to Repurpose Vendor Services

It might be time to chat with your vendors and see how you can repurpose their services if you don’t intend to have a big party anymore. For instance, if the restrictions say no dancing and you feel like the DJ is not necessary, maybe you can choose other services with your DJ. Check with your DJ to see if he can offer you a photo booth, uplighting, a slide show, dancers, etc. If you aren’t planning on a 5-hour reception anymore, you can reduce the hours you have the photographer for or split their service. Some photographers are open to doing a small elopement ceremony and then continuing the services in the future for the big party.

NY Pandemic Wedding Planner

Hire a Wedding Planner to Help You

There is no better time to realize you can’t DIY wedding planning than now, in a pandemic. In the last few weeks, I’ve spoken with lots of couples. They all share the same pain points:

I can’t stay on top of planning. It’s too stressful now.

I’m not sure how to pivot plans on a moment’s notice.

I find the ever-changing rules and regulations overwhelming.

I just don’t know what to do. Help!

If any of this sounds like you, what are you waiting for? It might be time to reach out to a planner to get you back in that happy place and put your mind at ease. It’s every wedding planner’s job to troubleshoot and handle crisis management. That’s what we do every day and have many years of experience doing it. You can’t afford to not have a planner is how we see it. Over the last few weeks, we have saved our couples time, money, and unnecessary stress. 

If you are struggling with how to scale down your wedding plans in a pandemic, feel free to reach out to us. We’d love to help put you at ease and come up with some creative ways to make your wedding day feel like you envisioned. You can send us an email at angela@elitewedevents.com or complete our contact form.

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