Updated 31 March 2021
So I’m a recent bride myself, in the middle of this crazy weird world of panic and worry. After rescheduling my April 2020 wedding to November and then April 2021, before bringing it back to November 2020 and getting married during a circuit breaker; I can honestly say I have experienced every emotion possible.
As I’ve mentioned on my instagram, I deal with anxiety and stressful situations by researching. And I want to share with you what I’ve found so that you can put this whole situation into perspective and make the right decision for you and your wedding.
Let me start by saying that currently there is no reason why your wedding can’t go ahead as of now here in Northern Ireland! I’ve shot quite a few weddings since Covid and they have all been absolutely AMAZING!! So unbelievably special and beautiful as you can see below and in my 2020 blog post.
Some things will look slightly different, but the fact you want to marry the love of your life won’t so you could still be getting married. In the mean time though here are the answers to some of the questions I’ve had myself.
How will Covid-19 affect my wedding?
Right now, in Northern Ireland, weddings can go ahead, but as of 26th December 2020, restrictions mean that you can only have 25 people in attendance for a ceremony – this includes vendors and the couple. Whilst this is small, these weddings are incredible, and we are hopeful that risk assessed numbers for venues will be back soon. When that will be though, no one knows, but when it does go back to that; even if it doesn’t involve dancing, weddings are amazing.
Here are a few ways that couples have embraced the regulations and the practical things they’ve put in place to keep their guests safe:
- Vendors wearing masks in the house in the morning.
- A seating plan for the church/ceremony venue to keep people in bubbles.
- Hyms read out instead of singing them.
- Tea and coffee served directly to guests during the drinks reception.
- Temperature checks on the way into the venue.
- Hand sanitiser put out at different places throughout the wedding.
- Sweetie carts replaced with little pre made sweetie bags.
- Pub quiz/ bingo instead of a dancefloor.
- Acoustic music instead of a band.
- Group photos arranged by households.
As you can see, these are slight little things that I promise you don’t even notice on the day. On the whole, I genuinely feel that weddings feel even better than before. Guests are just so happy to be attending and celebrating with you. It makes it so special.
Also, I can’t stress enough, YOU ARE GETTING MARRIED – no matter what it looks like, that feeling will always be the same. And that is so special.
Will My Wedding Suppliers Turn Up?
I can’t speak for everyone, but as a photographer, I can assure you I will be there now that restrictions are lifted – like any other wedding. In the event I was to get sick I have backups in place, like I do at any other time because there are other bugs in the world. That’s a pretty standard policy for anyone working in the wedding industry.
Over the course of this pandemic, and I’d imagine even after this, I will be taking extra precautions at weddings. I have a vulnerable son at home so I want to minimise all risks. I will be asking all my clients to ensure they notify their guests that they would prefer them to stay home if they are showing any symptoms at all, in line with guidelines. I won’t be able to gather you for family portraits or ask you to break social distancing. But it’s not my job to enforce social distancing, it’s my job to capture your day. So if you’re beside each other, I’ll be capturing it. Apart from that it’s full steam ahead from my end now that restrictions have lifted, and I imagine 90% of suppliers are the same.
Touch base with them though if you want to make sure.
What Are My Options?
As this situation progresses and restrictions are lifted by governments, you have a few options. Which one you choose will depend on you as a couple, your priorities and your suppliers.
Firstly, you can reduce your number. I think we need to be realistic that it is likely that there will be some element of social distancing in place for the foreseeable future. What the numbers are depends on your venue and the restrictions in place at the time. Being flexible with your guest list is pretty much a requirement of getting married for the foreseeable future.
You will probably find numbers will reduce naturally themselves with those that are travelling or vulnerable preferring to stay at home, but if you’d been planning a large wedding, then it is likely to look VERY different to what you had planned.
That doesn’t mean you have to postpone though, and what I would say is that holding out for a super large wedding (200+) could mean waiting quite a while. None of us know when the vaccine will be fully rolled out or how this is going to play out this winter, so it’s one thing to keep in mind if holding out for a big gathering.
Intimate weddings are amazing, and so special. Whilst it isn’t ideal having to cut people from your guest list, everyone understands, so you don’t have to worry about offending anyone. And again, you’re marrying the love of your life, which is the most important thing. It’s not what you’d planned and that’s really hard to let go of, but it doesn’t mean it won’t be beautiful and incredibly meaningful.
If the vulnerable people who can’t make it are key people like your parents or siblings though this may not be an option for you. We all understand that everyone has different priorities. It’s so important though to be clear what YOUR priorities are as a couple, and put those before everything else.
Secondly, you can reschedule. Under normal circumstances this may be pretty tricky. And it’s still not the preferred option for most of suppliers. Now that weddings are back up and running, normal terms and conditions can be applied in your contracts, so it is essential that you keep this in mind. Rescheduling your wedding should be a last resort and you should be prepared that new booking fees may be required, or the costs may go up as a result of things like inflation and implications of Brexit etc.
Of course you must then get in contact with all of your other vendors to check what policies they are applying. The most important one is your venue. Please remember we are all small, one person businesses who are trying to get through this situation as you are. We want to work with you and support you, whilst also keeping a roof over our heads.
Before you make any big decision it is totally ok to drop everyone an email and check their policies. For my clients, I do not expect anyone to make a decision until they need to. Find out all the information possible, think about how you’re feeling and do what is right for you both. What I would say is that this situation has now progressed much further than any of us expected it to, with the number of postponements being much higher than we could have ever prepared for. Dates are going fast, so if you are pretty certain about postponing, I would advise not hesitating too long. Check out my tips for postponing your wedding here and all you need to know about planning an outdoor wedding in Northern Ireland here.
Small, Does NOT Mean Less
Please please know that by going ahead right now, it does not mean you are having any less of a wedding. It is just different. I’ve seen so many people presume that smaller means a lesser wedding. I personally find that insulting as I got married during lockdown and my wedding was bliss. It was every bit a wedding as every other I’ve ever shot. And just because I was having a smaller number of guests, it didn’t stop me having all the things I wanted. From the beautiful floral pillars to a cool car to cruise around. We also paid to professionally livestream our wedding so that those who couldn’t make it could hear everything perfectly. We got to celebrate with everyone we loved and we walked out married. And I know it sounds like cliché but that moment my foot hit the aisle, I could have had 2 guests or 200 because all I saw was my husband.
Don’t cut back because your numbers are smaller. Your wedding day is still your wedding day. It’s the day you’ll celebrate for years to come; the anniversary you’ll mark and the memories you’ll cherish.
People got married in the middle of wars, through famines and all sorts through history. You can get married right now, but obviously it’s going to be much more different to how you’d imagined and it’s up to you whether that’s right for you or not. That is a completely personal choice and one that no one has a right to judge you on.
No matter what you choose, especially if you are one of my clients, I’m here for you and we’ll get through this together. The run up to a wedding is a stressful time at the best of times, and this obviously takes that to a whole new level. Please make sure to take care of your mental health by doing things like:
- Move your body. Whether that is exercise or going for a walk.
- Drink lots of water and eat as well as you can.
- Turn off notifications on your phone, especially from News Apps.
- Have a conversation with a family or friend about the last book you read/meal you had or podcast you listened to. Keep it light.
- Think about what your future self will say about this time. Because you will get through this, it will be part of your story and you get to write how you will remember it.
- Write down 3 things that you are grateful for in your life today or 3 things that made you smile. Focus on the good.
- Give your partner a cuddle (but no one else 😉 )
Sending each of you so much love and good thoughts for these coming weeks. And remember, you will marry the love of your life. Lx